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The Order—of the—Patrons of Husbandry



(From the Rural Carolinian for June, 1872, Charleston, South Carolina.)


Much interest has lately been aroused throughout the United States upon the subject of the "Patrons of Husbandry," and innumerable inquiries made as to "Who are they?" or "What is it?" It is the purpose of this article to introduce them familiarly to the readers of The Rural Carolinian.

The Order of Patrons is a secret association of persons, males over eighteen years of age and females over sixteen, interested in agricultural pursuits, and bound together by mystic ties for the purpose of mutual benefit and protection. The organization consists of subordinate or local Granges, State Granges, and a National Grange. The word Grange, derived from the Latin Granium, simply means a farm with all its outfit, buildings, lots, and fields, and is therefore a more appropriate and symbolical word than either club or lodge.

According to the constitution of the Order, there are nine male and four female officers in each local Grange elected annually. The presiding officer is styled the Master, and if not re-elected is of course a Past Master. The State Grange has likewise nine officers, and its membership is composed of the Masters and Past Masters of the local Granges; hence there must be nine local Granges in a State before there can be a State Grange. The National Grange is composed of the Masters and Past Masters of the State Granges. This beautiful organization prevents concentration of power in the National Grange, located at Washington city, and the entire system constitutes a grand net-work of reciprocal assistance that spreads all over the thousands of agriculturists through out the Union who may become Patrons. In this organization the little State of Rhode Island, represented by her single Master, has the same potent voice in the National Council that Texas may have; and South


Carolina, if represented with ability, is equally powerful there with the great State of New York.

So much for the organization. What of its object?

It proposes to further the interests of agriculture in every possible way. The organization of a Grange in any locality induces a community of thought, thereby increasing the sociality of the neighborhood and improving it intellectually. If the Order did nothing more than this, who could measure its advantages to the people of this Union, a vast majority of whom are agriculturists? And, throughout the South, this feature of the Order should commend itself as a sort of quickening spirit divinely appointed; for we are all interested in agriculture, and at this moment society seems to be rapidly segregating, and children by the thousands are growing up in ignorance. To check this disintegration, to banish ignorance from our doors, to elevate the farmer intellectually, and to teach him he has mind as well as muscle, is one of the grand objects of the Patrons of Husbandry.

But it goes further. It proposes to impress upon the farmer the mournful, but long since patent truth, that he has heretofore been the pack-horse for all other parties; that he has been the dupe, the very scapegoat, of spectators and middle-men of every shape, size, color, and description; that he has rights which, from ignorance, he has never dared maintain; that if he has the energy and patience to labor diligently, from seed time to harvest, he certainly should have the intelligence to know what he never has known — the true, proper marketable value of his hard-earned products; that if in union there is strength, so in this organization ends may be aimed at and effects produced which, in the future, will relieve the farmer from that industrial thraldom to which he has been subjected in the past. These, and many other similar lessons, practical every whit, and profitable to the purse as well as to the mind, do the Patrons of Husbandry teach to those farmers all over the Union who will unite with the Order; and wherefore should any farmer refuse to do so?

The advantages accruing from organization need not be discussed in this article; they are trite to every reflecting mind. Were it otherwise, we would seldom hear of Boards of Trade, Chambers of Commerce, Trades Unions, and the like. Mercantile men, commercial men, professional men, and mechanics of every kind appreciate fully the value to their respective vocations of union, concert, and singleness of purpose. But farmers everywhere have always acted as though their vocation aimed at nothing, and as if their duty was to labor patiently, year in and year out, to produce for market something that other people set a price upon. And the most menial laborer, the most abject slave to such a policy as this, has always been the Southern cotton planter. His harvest time seldom over comes; his moments of recreation are always in the future. The work required, the time consumed, and the expenses incurred to prepare his crop for sale, so surely burthen him with debt, that, year after year, he goes a beggar into market, humbly receiving for his wares just so much as his masters are disposed to give. The Patrons of Husbandry propose in a thousand ways to put a stop to this impoverishing policy.


But, says straight-jacket, your Order is a secret organization. To be sure it is, and is therefore to be prized; otherwise, it would have no cohesiveness. Ask any man if his most valuable thoughts are not kept to himself? Why do all deliberative bodies hold their "executive sessions" (their most important meetings) in secret? Ask the merchant why his "cost mark" is an enigma? Wherefore are we taught that our right hands should not know about the doings of our left? To my mind this objection is futile.

But the Southern Bourbon accuses the Order of being an "ism" from Yankee land. So be it. If it be good and worthy accept it, even though it comes from "Nazareth." Let him who opposes the Order upon the grounds of its being of Yankee origin ask himself the questions, Whence comes the hat I wear? Whence the very shirt that covers my nakedness? Whence the hoe that chops my cotton? Whence the greater portion of my daily subsistence? His answers will relieve me from further argument on this point.

But you admit women, says another; do you advocate woman's rights? Fortunately the constitution precludes the introduction of any political or religious discussion in the work of the Order, but it requires a certain proportion of females in every Grange. This wise provision will enhance its social worth. The presence of woman will give to the Order virtue, dignity, and character. Were farmers never seen in their associations with the outside world except in the company of women, they themselves would be far purer men. Indolence, ignorance, profanity, vulgarity, and all the baser emotions of man's nature are ever held in abeyance in the presence of pure and refined women.

Most peculiarly should this feature of the Order commend the Patrons to the Southern farmer, for where on earth do women need the active cooperation and assistance of man more than in the Southern States, where thousand of widows are living upon farms managed by agents or middlemen, many of whom are working assiduously to accumulate for themselves at the expense of their employers?

The Patrons of Husbandry inculcate charity, sobriety, energy, industry, economy, and honesty. Hence, any farmer becoming a Patron cannot be injured in person or estate, but may, by co-operation with his fellows, greatly benefit himself, and extend his beneficent influence to those around him.
General Deputy for South Carolina.


We are prospering finely. Have outgrown our old hall and built a new one at a cost of $1,000.
F. G. HALL, Secretary.

PINE ISLAND, MINNESOTA, January 30,1872.

We were organized on the 5th with only six members. At this time we have sixty members. We think in a few weeks it will reach a hundred. The farmers throughout our vicinity are all wide awake to the cause.
WM. M. THOMPSON, Secretary.


January 28, 1872.

BROTHER KELLEY: The documents came safe to hand. I think in a few weeks we will have every farmer in our township. It is going like wildfire through our State. God speed the cause!
In haste, yours truly,

AINSWORTH, IOWA, April 29, 1872.

We farmers are making this Order pay, getting all our own machinery at prices to suit the times.


I have heard that there was some opposition to the origin of the Order, specially in Columbus. We invite an expression of the reasons which make it consistent to reject this, and accept other enterprises and products of the Northern brain. The objection fails in that it proves too much for one's practice in every-day life.

Its aims are all beneficent, and are the qualities cognizable in an investigation of its merits. Let us not desert this practical test in daily use by men of its professions.

Manly adherence to its principles, and zealous cultivation of the virtues it inculcates, will secure concert of action and sameness of purpose among that class of men when energy and worth is the stay of every other class.

We cordially invite, as essential "help meets," the wives and sisters of our members to join us, that our success may be made doubly sure. I am a Patron, and expect to do all I can in giving an impetus to what I am, in my judgment, satisfied is a matter of prime importance in developing our resources of every kind, and bringing happiness to every fireside.
Special Deputy of National Grange.

For information relative to organizing Subordinate Granges, address —
Secretary of the National Grange, Washington, D. C.