The Grange, or the Patrons of Husbandry, Southold, New York Collection
Manuscript Collection 347

Materials dating from 1874-1878.
0.5 cubic ft.


"The Grange" or "The Farmers' Movement" in American political history was the general name for a movement between 1867 and 1896, remarkable for its radical socioeconomic propaganda that came from what was considered the most conservative class of American society. This movement consisted of three periods, popularly known as Granger, Alliance, and Populist. The Grange, or Order of the Patrons of Husbandry (the latter being the official name of the national organization, while the former was the name of local chapters, including a supervisory National Grange at Washington) was a secret order founded in 1867 to advance the social needs and combat the "economic backwardness" of farm life. It grew remarkably from 1873-1874, as it attained a membership of approximately 800,000. The causes of its growth included dissention against high tariffs and railway freight rates. Other grievances were mingled with agricultural troubles, such as the fall of wheat prices and the increase of mortgage rates. The original objectives of the Grange were primarily educational, but these were soon overbourne by an anti-middleman, co-operative movement.

In a declaration of principles in 1874, Grangers were declared to be "not enemies of railroads," and their cause to stand for "no communism, no agrarianism." To conservatives, however, co-operation was equated with communism, and "Grange Laws" with agrarianism; thus from 1873-1874, the growth of the movement aroused extraordinary interest and much uneasiness.

The Farmer's Movement was much misunderstood, abused, and ridiculed, yet it accomplished a vast amount of good. The Movement, especially the Grange, was instrumental in the establishment of travelling and local rural libraries, reading courses, lyceums, farmers' institutes, and rural-free mail delivery (inaugurated experimentally in 1896 and adopted as part of the permanent postal system in 1902). This organization implemented agricultural exhibits, worked for an improved agricultural press, and supported agricultural colleges. It was instrumental in the establishment of the United States Department of Agriculture (1885). The Patrons of Husbandry's goals of lessening rural isolation, bettering farmers' opportunities, installing irrigation systems in the semi-arid West, and adopting a national policy in 1902 were realized. As a result of their efforts, a number of laws were enacted, including the Pure-Food Laws of 1906, the Interstate-Commerce Law of 1887, the Railway-Rate Laws of 1903 and 1906, the Bureau of Commerce-and-Labor Law of 1903, and the Anti-Trust Laws of 1903.

(Reference: Encyclopedia Britannica , 11th ed., s.v. "Farmers' Movement.")

Folder Listing

1. Charter Document for the Chapter, signed and sealed from the National Grange in Washington.

2. Form letter stamped, indicating that the application for a Dispensation had been received; also mentions materials for use by the Secretary.

3. The Roll Book, with manuscript entries of names of charter members; manufactured for use by the National Grange.

4. Confidential Circular, dated 1875, the New York State Grange, regarding some "embarassments" and mishandling of funds and deliveries from a vendor; includes the original mailer.

5. Pamphlet: Private Instructions to Deputies, Masters and Stewards of Subordinate Granges.

6. Two blank 'Applications for Membership.'

7. Booklet of 'Songs of the Grange,' dedicated to the Order of Patrons of Husbandry, Philadelphia, 1874.

8. By-Laws of the New York State Grange, adopted at the annual session at Albany, March 18, 1874.

9. By-Laws of the New York State Grange, adopted at the annual session at Syracuse, January 12, 1875.

10. Proceedings of the Seventh Session of the National Grange of the Patrons of Husbandry, New York, 1874.

11. The Patrons' Parliamentary Guide, with decisions of the Masters and Executive Committees, Washington, 1874.

12. Manual of Subordinate Granges of the Patrons of Husbandry, adopted and issued by the National Grange, Fourth Edition, Philadelphia, 1873.

13. Manual of Subordinate Granges of the Patrons of Husbandry, adopted and issued by the National Grange, Fifth Edition, Philadelphia 1878.