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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/383

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the Grangers. Meanwhile, the Executive Committee was busy in another direction. Congressman Aiken of South Carolina, one of its members, says that they "visited the manufacturers who supplied the market with such implements as the farmers needed, from a scooter-plow to a parlor-organ, proposing to concentrate the purchases of the order where the greatest discounts were obtained for cash. In no instance did they fail to secure a reduction of twenty-five to fifty per cent." Mr. Aiken notes the astonishment of one cutlery-maker at a single order for ten thousand pruning-knives of a particular pattern. Such enormous reductions from regular prices were obtained only under a pledge of secrecy. But as information had to be distributed by thousands of printed sheets, the Patrons could not keep the secret. The contracts leaked out, causing the withdrawal of many firms from their agreements. What experiments the National Grange might have tried with the great sums in its treasury can only be conjectured, as its resources and influence over the subordinate lodges were crippled almost fatally in the Charleston meeting in 1875. It probably would have continued the crop reports, which, though costly, and often unreliable through the ignorance and carelessness of Granges about furnishing statistics, had proved valuable. Like the State Granges, which had full treasuries, it might have squandered its capital and come to grief on co-operative ventures. Such is the inference to be drawn from utterances like the following, from the Executive Committee: "To secure rights to manufacture leading implements. . . is pre-eminently a duty of the National Grange, and a measure of the greatest importance, directly, because the profits of manufacture will thus be controlled by the Order, as well as the profits of transfer or dealing; indirectly, by securing facilities that will favor the introduction of manufacturing establishments in districts at present far removed from them, and where their products are in demand." The plan of having the farmer's machinery manufactured at his door and under his supervision was much better as a statement of protectionist doctrine than as a guide to safe investment. The policy of the meeting of 1875 indicated that, before it was too late, the National Grange recognized that there was danger of going too fast, and that its province was rather to devise plans for the use of the order than to plunge into enterprises itself. It therefore sounded a note of caution, and first issuing a scheme for co-operative joint-stock stores based on something found in this country, proceeded to work out a more elaborate system on the model of the Rochdale Pioneers. Various English publications on co-operation were distributed among the order, and an envoy was sent to England to confer with English co-operators. The result was a new set of rules, closely following the Rochdale plan, and insisting on the feature of investing the profits of trade for the stockholders on the basis of purchases, as opposed to the simple joint-stock arrangement of the earlier scheme, which had