In February 1874, the Patrons of Husbandry held a session of the National Grange, during a time in which the organization claimed the allegiance of nearly 500,000 members, At this meeting, the group adopted a platform which summarized its beliefs and goals:
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.
While the high-water mark of the Granger Movement was in the early 1870s, the movement continued to echo throughout the 20th century. Not only did the organization continue, but the ideas found expression in other areas. Many of the ideas contained in
McCabe, James Dabney. History of the Grange Movement; Or, The Farmer's War Against Monopolies. Chicago: National, 1874.
Bowers, Claude G. The Tragic Era. Cambridge: Riverside, 1929.
Unfortunately, transportation proved to be as expensive even with the increase in railroad construction, and many of the railway builders were unscrupulous enough to send their companies through receivership if it meant that their own personal fortunes would be protected. This left farmers with mortgaged farms and worthless stock. Furthermore, competition was not bringing equilibrium to the railroads. Monopolies were the order of the day, and the railroad owners were accused of having undue influence on Congress. In short, the system suffered from pervasive corruption, and the farmers were getting the worst of it. The railroad barons were also the beneficiaries of highly suspect land grants. A contemporary account describes the situation this way:
The grange began to decline soon after this event. The intense growth of the organization led to conditions such as that of I