- American farmers were the most individualistic of citizens, and had made the most effect to organize.
- first major farm organization appeared in the 1860s: The grange
- Appeared shortly after the Civil war in ta tour throughout the South by Oilver Kelley, a minor Agricultural Department official. He was appalled by what he considered the isolation and drabness of rural life. 1867, he left government and with others, founded the National Grange of the PAtrons of Husbandry.
- At first, their purposes were modest - they attempted to bring farmers together to learn new scientific agricultural techniques.
- They also hoped to create a community, relieving the loneliness of rural life.
- By 1875, Grange claimed more than 800,000 members.
- As membership grew, the lodges in the MW began to focus less on social benefits of organization and more on economic possibilities. They attempted to organize marketing cooperatives to allow farmers to circumvent the hated "middle man" (people who managed the sale of farmers' crops, taking a large cut of the profit for themselves).
- Urged cooperative political action to curb monopolistic practices by railroads and warehouses.
- Set up cooperative stores, creameries, elevators, warehouses, insurance companies, factories that produced machines, stoves and other items.
- One corporation emerged to specifically meet the need of Grangers: The first mail-order business, founded by Montgomery Ward and Company in 1872.
- Grangers worked to elect state legislators pledged to their program. At their peak, they managed to gain control of the legislatures in most of the MW states.
- Their purpose was to subject the railroads to government controls. The granger laws of the early 1870s imposed strict regulations on railroad rates and practices.
- New Regulations were soon destroyed by courts leading to the decline of the power of the association