Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/212
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.
bill was rushed through for printing and distributing to the farmers certain agricultural documents, at an expense of $500,000! W. W. Phelps opposed it, only to be bitterly attacked on the score of sympathy with monopolists and lack of sympathy with farmers. One fervid orator from Kansas went over his whole record for proofs of this, and alleged many damaging facts — among them that he was rich, that he was interested in banks and railroads, and that he had been graduated with honor from Yale College. “These Grangers,” exclaimed the orator, “mean business; . . . they are chosen to be the sovereigns of the mightiest republic of earth.” Various cities strove for the honor of having the National Grange offices located within their limits, one offering to give a splendid building, another, to furnish necessary office-room and an annuity of $5,000 for five years, but the Grange was rich and independent in those days. At the seventh annual session held at St. Louis in 1874, a declaration of purposes was adopted which still remains the official statement. I can quote but fragments of this creditable document: “We shall endeavor . . . to enhance the comforts and attractions of our homes, and strengthen our attachment to our pursuits; to foster co-operation; . . . to diversify our crops; to condense the weight of our exports, selling less in the bushel and more on hoof and in fleece; to discountenance the credit system, the mortgage system, the fashion system, and every other system tending to prodigality and bankruptcy. We propose meeting together, buying together, selling together. We wage no aggressive warfare against any other interests whatever; . . . we hold that transportation companies are necessary to our success, that their interests are intimately connected with our interests, and that harmonious action is mutually advantageous. We are not enemies of railroads. In our noble order there is no communism, no agrarianism; we emphatically assert the truth taught in our organic law that the Grange is not a political or party organization. No Grange, if true to its obligations, can discuss political or religious questions, nor call political conventions, nor nominate candidates, nor even discuss their merits in its meetings.” It is to be noted that this is 1874, at the height of the “Anti-Railroad” and “Farmers' party” excitement.
The Grange had now reached the zenith of its power. One year later, in the stormy meeting held at Charleston, a measure was passed for the distribution of the surplus revenue of the National Grange, which may be said to mark the beginning of Grange decadence. But a consideration of this decadence may well be postponed for a time.
Any discussion of the causes of the Grange's astonishing growth has been deferred to this point, in order that they may be considered in connection with the railroad legislation of the early seventies, wdth which the Grange, to most minds, is so entangled. The spirit of enterprise following the war found vent in developing the resources of the upper Mississippi Valley. Emigration from Europe thither in-