The New International Encyclopædia/Grange

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GRANGE. The name popularly applied to the Patrons of Husbandry, but in fact denoting the constituent and subsidiary lodges of that organization. The Society of Patrons of Husbandry was founded at Washington, D. C. in December, 1807, to advance the interests of husbandry. The chief founder of the society was O. H. Kelley, a clerk in the Department of Agriculture, deputed by the Government in 1866 to make a tour of inspection through the Southern States, and to report upon their agricultural conditions and the best means of improving them. The widespread demoralization of the farming population there convinced Kelley that organization was vitally necessary, as well for the farmers' self-protection as for their advancement by the use of scientific methods of cultivation and the enactment of laws favorable to them. Upon his return to Washington, therefore, he, with six others, established the ‘National Grange of Patrons of Husbandry.’ The other founders were William Saunders, J. R. Thompson, A. B. Gresh, F. M. McDowell, L. M. Trimble, and William M. Ireland. The organization was secret, and membership was limited to those actually engaged in agriculture. Women were admitted on an equality with men; and this feature, novel at that time, had much to do with the society's rapid growth. The constitution provided for local, district, State, and national organizations, for the conferring of degrees, and for the election of women to office. Aided by the efforts of Kelley, who was a zealous promoter, the society, after a few years, gained rapidly in numbers and influence. In 1873 there were 13,000 subordinate granges, and in 1875 the total membership reached 1,500,000. At about this time the Grange had become prominently identified with legislative measures, both State and national, intended to curb railroads and trusts, to prevent discrimination in rates and prices, and in other ways, not always justifiable, to advance the farmers' interests. Although supposedly a non-partisan and non-political order, a good deal of ‘wildcat’ legislation was laid at the Grange's door, and eventually brought it into disrepute. In the meantime, however, it had been largely instrumental in securing the passage of the Interstate Commerce Act, the Oleomargarine Law, the Hatch Act, founding experiment stations, and the law making the head of the Department of Agriculture a Cabinet officer. The Grange also endeavored to gain control of elevators, warehouses, and terminal facilities, and instituted coöperative buying and selling on a large scale for the advantage of its members. The public, not easily distinguishing the official acts of the Grange from the efforts and purposes of the farmers generally, came to designate the whole class as Grangers, and their legislative ends as the Granger Movement. Doubtless from this derived meaning also came the term Granger roads, applying to the principal railroads carrying grain and wheat. Of late years the political activity of the Grange has practically ceased; or, more properly, it has been successively transferred to the Farmers' Alliance (q.v.) and to the Populist Party (q.v.). On the other hand, the social aspects of the Grange have been more largely developed, and it promises, though with a smaller membership than it once had, to remain a permanent institution. Consult: Popular Science Monthly, vol. xxxii.; American Annals of Political Science, vol. iv.; New Jersey Labor Statistics for 1886.