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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/212

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On returning to Washington, Kelley took the other six immortals into his confidence, and the seven set about developing the plan and constructing a ritual. It would be a long story to tell how, by two years' labor in the intervals of their regular work, they constructed a constitution providing for a national. State, county, and district organization, and a ritual with seven degrees; how the names—Patrons of Husbandry for the body in general and Grangers for the subordinate chapters—were finally hit upon, the latter being taken, not on account of its etymological meaning (Latin granum), but from the name of a recent novel. Suffice it to say that on December 4, 1867, a day still celebrated as the birthday of the order, the seven assembled, and, with an assurance almost sublime, solemnly organized themselves as the "National Grange of the Patrons of Husbandry." There was none to dispute the title, and they enjoyed it alone for the next five years. It is hard to tell just what were the expectations of these men. Kelley has been called everything from an unselfish philanthropist to a scheming adventurer. One can not but admire the pluck with which he persevered through great discouragements, and the unselfish spirit in which he and his fellow-workers surrendered control of the movement when it had become a power in the land. Their first step was to organize a mock Grange among their fellow-clerks and their wives, to experiment with the ritual. The experiment proving satisfactory, Kelley resigned his clerkship and started out to proclaim the Grange to the world, armed only with a few dollars and a sort of introductory letter from the other six to mankind at large.

He was not a success as a lecturer. Moreover, he made the mistake of laboring in the larger towns, instead of in the country. The four or five Granges that he coaxed into life at once proceeded to die, and he finally reached Minnesota penniless, but not discouraged. Even while the six at Washington were becoming faint-hearted, and writing to him that the landlady was pressing them grievously for hall-rent, and that it would be wise to give up the whole business, he could issue the circular with which I began, dilating upon the success of the order and the distinguished agriculturists at Washington who founded it. At his home, near Itasca, he worked on furiously, now dodging a creditor, again obliged to postpone answering letters for want of means to buy postage-stamps, till finally signs of success began to appear. He had organized a few Granges in Minnesota, and was able to detect a growing interest in other States. The prime necessity now was to encourage this feeble beginning, and by all means to keep it under the delusion that it was part of a powerful national organization. To this end every cent that could be earned or borrowed was used in distributing photographs of the founders, along with a mass of circulars and documents purporting to come from the national office at Washington. Every important question was ostensibly referred by Kelley to the Executive Committee at the same