Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/216

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Mobilier,” “watered stock,” and “Wall Street speculation,” were in everybody's mouth. Most of the stock was owned in the East and in Europe, and the expression “absentee ownership” began to arouse somewhat the same feeling as in Ireland. The “Nation” pleaded for the widows and orphans who were kept from want only by their railroad-stock, but the farmer replied that the stock was in the hands of such orphans as Commodore Vanderbilt and Jay Gould, who could look out for themselves. Add the fact that the railroads felt the hard times as much as the farmers; that for very self-preservation the traffic at competing points was so furiously fought for as to make rates ruinously low, while each road extorted all it could squeeze where there was no competition, and it will not seem strange that the “Farmers' Movement” developed, on one side, into a political organization to fight railroads. But this was not the Grange. A misconception exists on this point. In everything published on the subject, the anti-railroad movement is called the Granger movement; the resulting legislation, the Granger legislation; the cases that arose, the Granger cases. It must be granted that the same farmers often were engaged in both movements, and that certain subordinate parts of the Grange did sometimes disobey their organic law so far as to engage as bodies in the agitation, chiefly by memorializing Legislatures. It was impossible to control completely the rank and file of such a vast order. But, with these reservations, the Grange, as an organization, took no part in the anti-railroad agitation. The two were not cause and effect, but parallel effects of the same general causes. In the way of proof the “Declaration of Purposes” of 1874 has already been quoted, to the effect that the Grange is not hostile to railroads, and that all political action and discussion is totally excluded. The published proceedings of the National Grange show the same thing. In 1874 the executive committee reported: “Unfortunately for the order, the impression prevails to some extent that its chief mission is to fight railroads.” In 1875 a resolution from Texas favoring railroad legislation was suppressed. In 1873 the Master of the Minnesota State Grange, being informed that certain Granges in his jurisdiction had appointed delegates to a State anti-railroad convention, ordered the offending Granges to recall their delegates. Congressman D. W. Aiken, of South Carolina, long a member of the National Executive Committee, said in an address four years ago: “Frequently had the Grange to bear the odium of other men's sins. . . . For instance, there existed in Illinois and Wisconsin, and other sections of the Northwest, agricultural clubs whose province seemed to be to wage war against transportation companies. Anathemas were hurled upon the Grange for making this attack, whereas every Patron of Husbandry knew that the Grange as such was not a participant in the fight from beginning to end.” It may seem surprising that such an error should have arisen, but it is not inexplicable. The newspapers first applied the name “Grangers”