Upton Sinclair, muckraking author and hero of workers around the world, had notable and wealthy ancestors, including a great-grandfather who commanded American naval forces in Lake Huron during the War of 1812. His immediate family, however, was not so distinguished. Sinclair was born in a boardinghouse in Baltimore in 1878. When Upton was nine, the family moved to New York. The Sinclairs lived in one wretched apartment after another, and young Upton spent hours smashing bedbugs. One day he discovered his alcoholic father, an itinerant salesman, in a gutter down in the Bowery.