End Poverty In California

End Poverty in California movement

Short for End Poverty in California, EPIC was an effort for well-known muckraking writer and former Socialist Upton Sinclair to implement Socialist reforms through California's Democratic Party during the Great Depression by recruiting supporters into the party and then securing that party's nomination for Governor of California.

The EPIC plan was based on Sinclair's proposal that the state of California take over idle factories and farmland, which would then be run as cooperatives in the theme of production for use, instead of production for profit. The idea was to use these cooperatives to put the unemployed back to work. To run the cooperatives, Sinclair proposed the formation of an agency to be called the California Authority for Production. The proposal received widespread attention, and supporters formed EPIC clubs to promote it.

Sinclair's movement aroused the strong opposition of business leaders and Republicans in the state, including Louis B. Mayer, head of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer movie studio, who was chair of the California Republican Party in 1932 and 1933. Meanwhile, many moderate Democrats and Republicans alike, who found Sinclair's proposals extreme, rallied around third-party candidate Raymond L. Haight. The effort to stop Sinclair marked the birth of modern media politics including the use of ad agencies, attack ads, motion picture propaganda, and professional campaign strategists.

Upton Sinclair received 879,537 votes, or 37% of the vote in the 1934 election. His Republican opponent, Frank Merriam, won the election with 1,138,620 votes, or 48%. Raymond L. Haight for the Commonwealth Party took 13% of the vote (302,000 votes), making Merriam a minority Governor.


  • I, Candidate for Governor, and How I Got Licked (1935) by Upton Sinclair ISBN 0-520-08198-6
  • The Campaign of the Century: Upton Sinclair and the EPIC Movement in Calfifornia (1992) by Greg Mitchell ISBN 0-679-74854-7
  • Endangered Dreams (1996) by Kevin Starr ISBN 0-19-510080-8

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