Imágenes de páginas

FBIDAY MORNING, 9:30 O'CLOCK. Address. Grant's First March.

Mr. Ensley Moore, Jacksonville, Ill. Address. Illinois and the Revolution in the West, 1779-1780.

J. A. James, Ph. D., Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill. A Brief Account of the Work of the Illinois State Historical Library.

President E. J. James, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

FRIDAY AFTERNOON, 2:30 O'CLOCK. Address. The Ninety-Sixth Illinois at Chickamauga.

Gen. Charles A. Partridge, Chicago, Ill. Address. The Illinois Bill of Rights.

Herman G. James, J. D., Member of the Illinois Bar, Urbana, Ill. Address. Mrs. S. P. Wheeler, Springfield, Ill. Address. The Kensington Runestone.

George T. Flom, Ph. D., Urbana, Ill.

FRIDAY EVENING, 8:00 O'CLOCK. Annual Address. The West and the Growth of the National Ideal.

F. L. Paxson, Ph. D., University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Mich. Reception. In Mlinois State Library.



By Solon J. Buck, University of Illinois. From very early times, isolated farmers' clubs and agricultural societies existed in many localities throughout the United States, usually in or near some of the large cities, and as early as 1819 an Agricultural Society of Illinois was organized, with Morris Birkbeck, the famous English emigrant, as its president'. These early bodies, however, confined their attention almost wholly to topics of practical agriculture, and it was not until the decade following the Civil War that the tendency of American industrial society toward organization began to take hold of the agricultural class. This movement, which slowly gathered headway for a few years and then suddenly culminated in a series of startling manifestations, political and economic, during the years from 1873 to 1875, though national in its scope, was strongest in the states of the upper Mississippi Valley and in no state did it have more important or permanent results than in Illinois.

The causes of rural unrest during the later sixties and the seventies are to be sought in the economic and to a less extent in the political and social conditions which prevailed among the farmers during this period. Economically the farmers, and especially those in the North Central group of states, were not prosperous at this

1 Faux, Memorable Days in America, 281, Thwaites, Early Western Travels, XI, 262.

time? Largely as a result of the great agricultural expansion which had taken place and was still going on, wheat and corn, the staple products of these states, were selling at prices so low as to be quite unremunerative to the farmers. Indeed there were times when they found it advisable to burn corn for fuel rather than to sell it for fifteen cents a bushel and purchase coal or wood. At the same time agricultural products were bringing fairly good prices in the eastern markets and it was quite natural for the farmers to seek the remedy for their troubles in a reduction of the cost of transportation. This they proposed to bring about in one or both of two ways; either through the construction of more railroads and canals or by a legislative reduction of freight tariffs on existing roads. In order to accomplish anything in this direction, organization was necessary.

Not only were the farmers dissatisfied with the prices which they received for their products; they were also convinced that they were paying too much for the supplies which they purchased, or to use their own expression, that they were supporting an army of unnecessary middlemen“. Here again was an incentive for them to organize in order to eliminate the middlemen by cooperative buying and selling.

Then there were a number of politico-economic questions about which the farmers felt aggrieved. They

2 For discussion of the causes of agricultural depression, see: Hibbard. Arriculture in Dane County, Wisconsin, 121, 134. Nation, XVII, 68, (July 31, 1873, XIX, 36, (July 16, 1874); Atlan, Mo., XXXII, 508-512. (Oct., 1873); C. W. Pierson in Pop. Sci. Mo., XXXII, 202, (Dec. 1887); C. F. Adams in No, Am. Rev., XCVIII, 421-424, (April, 1874); E. D. Fite, Prosperity During the Civil War. (Harvard Univ. MSS. thesis) ch. ll; W. G. Moody, Land and Labor; C. F. Emerick, Agricultural Discontent in Pol. Sci. Quart., XI, 640-643, (Sept. 1896); J. R. Elliott, American Farms.

3 Ill. State Grange, Proc., IV, 102, (1875); Martin, The Granger Movement, ch. V; W. C. Flagg, (Pres. Ill. State Farmers' Assn.) in Am. Soc. Sci. Journal, VI, 109 (July, 1874); Senator Sherman, Campaign Speech, at Alliance, O., in Oin. Semi-Weekly Gazette, Sept. 26, 1876, p. 5.

4R. H. Ferguson, Address on co-operation, in III. State Grange, Proc., IV, 91-96, (1875); Carr, Patrons of Husbandry on the Pacific Coast, 131-140.

believed that in many instances taxes were so adjusted as to lay a greater proportionate burden upon agricultural than upon other property, and many became convinced that the protective tariff was operating to their disadvantage. The great majority of western farmers were in debt at this time and therefore wanted laws reducing the legal rate of interest, and for the same reason a large proportion of them were strongly opposed to the resumption of specie payment. Again, they complained about extortion practiced by patentright monopolies and especially by the manufacturers of agricultural implements. Many of the more discerning among the farmers began to feel that the trouble lay in the relatively small amount of influence which they exercised in politics and the result was a desire for organization to strengthen the political influence of the agricultural class and to put the farmers in a position to make effective their demands along legislative lines'.

The social element in the movement for agricultural organization is readily understood. This was before the day of rural free delivery, interurban railroads, and farmers' telephone lines; and life on the isolated farms in the western states was monotonous in the extreme. Undoubtedly the monthly or bi-monthly meetings of the farmers' club or local grange filled a long felt want in many a rural neighborhood. Such are a few of the factors which help to explain the rapid sweep of the movement for agricultural organization, the most important being the demand for cheap transportation and the desire to attempt business co-operation.

The lead in this movement was taken by the order of the Patrons of Husbandry or the Grange as it was popularly known. This organization, which was a secret order with an elaborate ritual, owed its inception to the fertile brain of one Oliver H. Kelley, a clerk in the agri. cultural bureau of the United States government, and was first established at Washington in 1867 by a number of government clerks. The next year Kelley started for his home in Minnesota with the purpose of introducing the order to the farmers of the Northwest; stopping at Fredonia, New York, where he organized the first regular, active, and permanent local grange of the Patrons of Husbandry. When he reached Chicago, an attempt was made with the assistance of H. D. Emery, editor of the Prairie Farmer, to establish a grange there, but this proved a failure?. During 1868 and 1869 Kelley succeeded in establishing a few granges in Minnesota and Iowa and in November, 1869, he organized the first working grange in Illinois at Nunda (Eureka Grange.) This was followed in the next month by the second grange , also organized by Kelley, at Henry, Illinois'.

5 Peffer, The Farmers' Side; Elliott, American Farms; Sparks, The Distribution of Wealth; Cloud, Monopolies and the People; Flagg in Am. Soc. Sci. Journal, VI, (July, 1874); California Patron Nov. 14, 1874, p. 2.

During the year 1870 the work of organization progressed but slowly. In Illinois the feeling of antagonism to railroads had lead to the calling of a “Producer's Convention,” which met at Bloomington, April 11, and appointed a committee to take measures for the establishment of town and county transportation leagues. Efforts were made by Kelley and W. W. Corbett, the editor of the Prairie Farmer, to capture this movement for the Patrons of Husbandry; and in June, 1870, they revived Garden City Grange, the one which had been organized by Kelley on his trip to the West in 1868, and then proceeded to organize a temporary State Grange made up largely of deputies, but with H. C. Wheeler, a member of the committee on organization appointed by the Bloomington Convention, as its secretary. This

B Kelley wrote an account of the inception, organization and early years of the Grange in a book entitled: Origin and Progress of the Order of the Patrons of Husbandry in the United States; a History from 1866 to 1873.

7 Kelley, Patrons of Husbandry, 97.
8 Ibid, 212
9 Ibid, 215.

« AnteriorContinuar »