Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Upton Upton (1878-1951)


  Born with quite the imaginative name, Mr. Upton A. Upton was for many years a prominent figure within the Socialist Labor Party of the United States, and was that party's candidate for high office in Oregon on a number of occasions throughout the 1920s and 30s. The above picture of him (featured in the Socialist Labor Party's official paper, The Weekly People) is rather blurry, but it stands as the only available portrait of the man that I could find.
  Upton Alma Upton was born in the village of Springerton, Illinois on September 6, 1878 and removed to Oregon with his family in 1886. For many years he was employed as a post office worker and first joined the Socialist Labor Party in 1905. Nothing could be found on Upton's personal life, although mention is given to his having at least one son, Keith Upton. Over the succeeding years Upton worked his way up the hierarchy of the Socialist Labor party, serving terms as Oregon State Secretary and was a member of the SLP's National Executive Committee for two terms beginning in 1928.
  In 1920 Upton became the Industrial Labor candidate for Secretary of the State of Oregon. During that year's contest he faced off against Republican candidate Samuel Kozer and Socialist candidate J.P. Sears. On election day Upton managed to poll 11,318 votes to Kozer's winning total of 178,722. A result from that contest appeared in the November 30, 1920 edition of the Morning Oregonian and is shown below.


  Undeterred by the lopsided electoral results, Upton A. Upton mounted a candidacy for the U.S. House of Representatives from Oregon in 1924, this time running on the Socialist Labor ticket. He received only 3,061 votes in this contest compared to the winning total of 72,910 for Republican incumbent Willis Chatman Hawley. Upton made three further attempts at a house seat, running in the elections of 1928, 1932 and 1940, but polled low numbers each time. 
  While unsuccessful at gaining political office, Upton was still considered a prominent figure within the Socialist Labor party ranks, and sources of the time denote that he was frequently sought after to lecture on problems plaguing the working class, as well as to tout the party platform to interested persons. Upton was also a regular contributor to The People, authoring columns on such topics as "Pacific Coast Strikes" and "Election Day Aftermath Exposes Shoddiness of Capitalist Reform". 
  Upton continued to be involved in Socialist Labor affairs until illness curbed his activity. He died in Portland shortly after his 73rd birthday on September 30, 1951, and was memorialized by The People in the following quotation: "Our comrade felt that he had a mission to preform in life, and like to think of himself as born into this world to fulfill this mission. He discovered in the Socialist Labor Party his field of activity. He often stated that when we come into contact with the true Socialist thought, a whole new world is opened to our vision."

From the November 17, 1951 Weekly People.

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