The Jungle Chapter 9
After joining the union, Jurgis enrolls in free night school to learn English so that he might participate in the meetings. He learns about democracy and politics. Jurgis discovers that in America, like everywhere else, the rich men own almost everything. After Jurgis has been working at Brown's for three weeks, a night watchman asks him if he wants to become a naturalized citizen of the United States. Jurgis does and is taken, along with a number of his co-workers, to big gray buildings where he fills out paperwork. Then the man treats them to rounds of drinks and Brown's gives Jurgis days off work to complete the process. Jurgis doesn't realize he's involved in a corrupt operation, though. Men bribe the workers to vote a certain way during elections, paying them for a vote, and giving them free drinks at the saloons where the voting booths are located. Jurgis realizes something is not right when Jonas comes home one night and says that he offered to vote three times for four dollars-and that his offer has been accepted!
Jurgis's co-workers explain Chicago politics to him: officials, who rule by graft, have to be elected. So, there are two sets of grafters called "political parties" and the party that "buys" the most votes gets elected. The ruler of the stockyards district is an Irishman named Mike Scully. He is a democratic boss and the very illustration of corruption and graft, with his hand in a number of industries in the city. His signature can secure any job in the yards. His supporters have formed a club called the War Whoop League. On election days, these men will be out on the streets in the hundreds, with large wads of money in their pockets. Chicago is a maze of corruption, with bosses who have hands in every industry, every business, and every arm of government. Yet Scully stands as the people's man and workers adored him. The government inspectors are corrupt, too-the American people see their presence in the slaughterhouses and assume that meat is disease-free. They are wrong. The packers themselves appointed these inspectors, and in addition, the rules regarding safe handling are hazy-there are many loopholes. Tubercular steers and choleric hogs are turned into lard and the inspectors are paid off in the thousands to keep quiet about it. Jurgis also hears horror stories from the butchers and learns the "recipes" of Durham's and Brown's goods-tripe, hearts, waste products and tongues, all dyed with chemicals. Up until a year before Jurgis arrived at the yards, they had even used horsemeat. That has stopped, for the moment, because of an investigation. But once in a while, a goat is passed off as mutton. Sometimes men even fell into the vats of lard and perished and it will be days before someone will discover the bones, mixed in with the lard. And "all but the bones of them has gone out to the world as Durham's Pure Leaf Lard." Chapter 9, pg. 117