Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/385

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371
THE OUTCOME OF THE GRANGER MOVEMENT.

Patronesses preferred to buy their own dresses, and it finally expired. The States did not stop with agencies. They too began to buy patent-rights. There was an idea that all the principal machinery used by the order should be manufactured within it. Flouring-mills, elevators, tobacco and grain warehouses, were established. Some ventures were unsuccessful from the start, and at once clamored for subsidies. Others boasted of the greatest prosperity, one making a dividend of fifty per cent the first year. In 1874 two thirds of the elevators in Iowa were in Grange hands. The experiment of shipping provisions directly to Southern Grange centers was undertaken. In 1876 the Patrons were said to own five steamboat or packet lines, thirty-two grain-elevators, and twenty-two warehouses. Some of these were local ventures, but the full treasuries of the State Granges furnished the capital for most of them. It is always easy to experiment with other men's money, and the State Grange officials found no difficulty in getting, with the Grange funds, into enterprises where disaster was inevitable. It came in every instance. The blow was so overwhelming in some States (Arkansas and Nebraska for example), that they dropped at once from the order. District Granges disbanded for fear of being held individually liable for State Grange debts, and the very name Granger became a reproach. In other States the Grange was greatly weakened, but survived. In Iowa a few hundred of the faithful have struggled on for years, the officers receiving no salaries, but devoting all receipts to the debt, left as a reminder of past glories. Professor R. T. Ely, in his recent book on "The Labor Movement in America," expatiates on the "grand results" achieved by the Patrons in co-operation, and credits the absurd statement that Grange savings in this way amounted to twelve million dollars in one year! Unfortunately, the greater number of enterprises were "grand" chiefly in failure, a fact of which Professor Ely seems never to have heard. About all that survived the wreck of the later seventies were mutual insurance companies, principally fire-insurance, and co-operative stores. At present, Grange insurance companies are reported from more than half the States and from Canada, and Grange co-operative stores are even more widespread. Successful buying-agencies still exist in five States, and the Delaware Patrons have a fruit-exchange. The most interesting state of things is found in Texas, where there are about one hundred and twenty-five Grange stores established on the modification of the Rochdale rules, and banded together in a State association. This holds annual meetings, contributes two thousand dollars to keep Grange lecturers in the field, and reports steady prosperity.

Much of the later history of the Grange has been anticipated in treating of railroad legislation and co-operation, but its decadence merits a little closer attention. Only those interested in agricultural pursuits were eligible for membership, but, in the unprecedented growth of the order under the labors of twelve hundred deputies, it