13 July 2013

Society Saturday: Grange

It is only fitting to cover the Grange this Society Saturday since today - 13 July - is Grange Day! The Grange is a fraternal organization known as The National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry. The Grange was founded in 1867 to promote the economic and political health of the agricultural community. It is therefore the oldest agricultural advocacy group.

Oliver Kelly was commissioned by then President Andrew Jackson to access the situation of the Southern farmer after the Civil War. Many Southerners did not trust Kelly but, using his Masonic connections, he was able to meet with many farmers and came to realize some sort of organization was needed to unite farmers across the mending nation. The Grange was that answer.

The first Grange Hall was Potomac Grange #1 in Washington, D.C. It was founded by seven men and one woman. Kelly was one of those founding members. The lone female founding member was Caroline Hall, Kelly's niece. Having women members was unusual at this time but the Grange not only admitted women but required four of the elected officers be women!

Over the years the Grange was instrumental in many areas, especially those of concern to the agricultural community and to women. They are credited with pushing through rural free mail delivery, Granger Laws, regulating railroads, regulating grain warehouses, and women's suffrage.

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