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The Granger Movement: American Agricultural Communities Uprising

The press of the country again and again uttered its protest against these misappropriations of the national property, but Congress, with characteristic contempt of the popular will, continued its land grants (McCabe, 179).

Finally, to add to the farmers' economic woes, the very profession of farming was starting to lose its cache. The increasing growth of cities offered social and economic advantages that rural areas could not offer, such as libraries, universities, theaters, and museums. Social aspiration was best fed and nurtured in the cities, and farmers began to see the benefit of equipping their progeny to survive in the city rather than teaching them how to own and operate the family farm. The farmers believed that the esteem their profession once had was evaporating. In the midst of these economic and social conditions, The Patrons of Husbandry, which transformed into the Granger Movement, emerged in 1867.

Oliver Kelley, a clerk in Washington, D.C., is generally credited with conceiving of the Granger Movement, as it came to be known. Kelley was born in Boston, worked for the Chicago Tribune at one point, and eventually became both a farmer in Minnesota and a Mason. He was a leader among Minnesota farmers and gradually concluded that a secret order of farmers was needed to counter the effects of the economy.

He soon developed a list of grievances and established an organization based on the Masonic Lodge, exclusively for farmers. One aspect of the granges that was shared with the Masons was the inclusion of degrees, the ritualistic aspect of membership. The Granger Movement involved development of symbols, emblems, and a whole system of esoteric knowledge. The rituals was an important aspect of the movement, helping to build within its various local organizations a sense of cohesiveness.

The philosophy of the group was largely derived from the Bible, with an invocation and benediction at every official meeting. Revere...

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