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On December 4 1867 the National Grange of the Patrons of Husbandry an organization founded by Oliver H Kelley and six friends helped spark a long-awaited movement to help improve the social economic and political status of farmers The organization was originally founded for educational and social purposes and had 40000 members This secret fraternal society had mostly local branches called Granges in Minnesota the hometown of the founder Oliver Kelley Its members were known as Grangers The local Granges would meet in town halls They were a way for farmer families to meet and socialize In 1868 the movement spread to Illinois and the Granges eventually formed into political forums and grew as channels of farmer protest against economic abuses Some of these abuses were the declining prices of farm products the rising debts farmers owed to businesses and banks because of a vanishing grain market the unfair freight rates forced on farmers by the railroads and the purchase of land by the railroads formerly used by pioneer farmers as new farmland In 1873 a National Depression set in National railroads had to cut back on services and because of their power would secretly over-weigh the grain and charge farmers too much Farmers had funded for much of the railroad construction in the 1850s so the railroads also controlled the 14 main grain elevators in the country The railroads did find themselves responsible for telling the farmers how much grain was in storage so the debts grew as the grain crops vanished Coops were formed to try and correct these abuses They were successful in the establishment of grain elevators mills and stores By 1875 there were 850000 members As a result of all the members and the political forums many political parties such as the Reform Party and the Anti-Monopoly Party were started in different states in the 1870s and 1880s These parties succeeded in electing state officials and in some
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