Labor and Farmer Parties in the United States, 1828-1928

By Nathan Fine | Go to book overview

CHAPTER III
GRANGERS, GREENBACKERS, AND POPULISTS

DURING and immediately after the Civil War the farmers of the North enjoyed unusually prosperous times; indeed, those were their halcyon days. There were also some prosperous periods for them interspersed during the seventies, eighties, and nineties, but the western tillers of the soil knew what adversity meant in those decades. The agriculturists of the South were bankrupt after the war. They did not recover rapidly. They suffered far worse than even the western farmers. The granger, greenback, and populist movements represented the efforts of the agricultural producers of the West and the South to find a solution for their ills.

§

When one of the leading grangers, James Dabney McCabe, wrote his History of the Grange Movement, he described it as the farmers' war against monopolies: being a full and authentic account of the struggle of the American farmers against the extortions of the railroad companies. Before the Civil War the farmers demanded the building of railroads. Illinois was the center of the granger uprising. It was this state which first secured from Congress on September 20, 1850, a grant of six sections of land per mile of track to be given to the Illinois Central Railroad. The farmers not only petitioned Congress to give away land, but they themselves subscribed for stock, mortgaging their farms to do so. The municipalities, counties, and states also subscribed and raised money by issuing bonds. The deflation after the war and the methods of the Frankenstein which they had in part

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