Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/215

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THE RISE OF THE GRANGER MOVEMENT.

to Western farmers in general, and consequently to those fighting railroads. From this it was an easy step to the assertion that the Grange was the fighting organization. There were some exceptions. The “Tribune” sent a special correspondent West, and afterward published a “Farmers' Extra,” in which it is expressly recognized that the Grange is not fighting railroads, though some Grangers are. The “Times” published the same discovery with the comment that the general impression on this point was a mistaken one. But the “Nation,” which talked loudest of all, and the press in general, made no such distinction. It is not strange that Mr. C. F. Adams and other writers on railroads have followed this leading, as it was of no consequence to them whether the Western agitators were known as “Grangers” or by any other name. The principal difficulty is with those who wrote from the farmers' standpoint. It can only be said that they wrote before the railroad legislation had been given a fair trial, and that they wanted to claim for the order the credit of what looked like a success. Their books, in general, are of a hortatory and prophetic rather than historical character.

From this point of view it may seem foreign to our subject to discuss the railroad agitation further. Its intimate connection with the Granger movement, however, and the causal relation between the two in the public mind, may furnish excuse. In 1867, when the Grange was founded at Washington, most of the Western States were still passing laws to facilitate municipal and other aid to railroads. A few, however, were beginning to take the alarm, and about 1867 six made feeble attempts to check the growing abuses; from Iowa, which merely affirmed the full liability of the railroads as common carriers, to Ohio, where a “Commissioner of Railroads and Telegraph” was provided for. The feeling grew during the next three years. Illinois, for example, passed an act in 1869 providing that “all railroad corporations shall be limited to a just, reasonable, and uniform toll.” These facts are mentioned to show — not tangible results, for they were not attained, but the growth of public feeling prior to the adoption of the new State Constitution by Illinois in 1870, which, with the bills immediately following, first awakened the country at large to the fact that something was brewing among the Western farmers. The Constitution of 1870 declares: “Railroads . . . are hereby declared public highways, and the General Assembly shall . . . pass laws establishing reasonable maximum rates. . . . No municipality shall ever become subscriber to the capital stock of any railroad.” The attack was followed up in 1871 by an act establishing a system of maxima, and providing for a Board of Commissioners to put to each company forty-one specified questions and as many more as their ingenuity might devise. The railroads, relying on the Dartmouth College case, declared the law unconstitutional and refused to obey it. In the suits that arose. Judge Lawrence, of the State Supreme Court, pronounced the fixing of maxima