Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/211

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.
199
THE RISE OF THE GRANGER MOVEMENT.

the common strawberry into the same division as the white-flowered European P. fragarioides while I would put the Indian species into the same division with the yellow-flowered P. friglda of your Mount Washington range.

 

THE RISE OF THE GRANGER MOVEMENT.
By CHARLES W. PIERSON.

SOME wise men of the press are saying that the Knights of Labor are like the Grangers. As the exact points of resemblance are not stated, the assertion serves merely to call up a recollection of the unique secret society, which, a dozen years ago, seemed far more powerful than ever the Knights of Labor were. The Grange still lives, but its glory is departed, and its history is recorded only in the distorted statements of partisans and of misinformed review-writers.

In the latter part of 1868 certain Minnesota farmers received a printed sheet which began as follows: "In response to numerous inquiries in regard to our order, this circular is issued. The order was organized by a number of distinguished agriculturists of various States of the Union at Washington in December, 1867, and since then has met with most encouraging success, giving assurances that it will soon become one of the most useful and powerful organizations in the United States. Its grand object is not only general improvement in husbandry, but to increase the general happiness, wealth, and prosperity of the country." As an aid in accomplishing its author's design, this circular was certainly a success. As a statement of truth it was a conspicuous failure. Instead of having "met with most encouraging success," the order had scarcely been heard of; while the "distinguished agriculturists" who had "organized" it comprised one fruit-grower and six Government clerks, equally distributed among the Post-Office, Treasury, and Agricultural Departments. Of these seven Immortal Founder, as enthusiastic Grangers were calling them a few years later, six are living. Nevertheless, it is difficult to determine just how much of the plan and its execution was due to each. The truth seems to be about as follows: In 1866 one O. H. Kelley, a clerk in the Agricultural Department, was sent by the Commissioner of Agriculture on a tour of inspection through the Southern States. Impressed with the demoralization of the farming population, he hit upon the idea of organization for social and educational purposes, as a means for these people to better their condition. An ardent Mason, he naturally thought of an organization similar to the Masonic, in whose ritual, secrecy, and fraternity he saw the secret of that permanence which all agricultural societies had failed to attain. A niece in Boston, to whom he first mentioned the idea, recommended that women be given membership, thus originating an important feature.