Grange Hall is a residence hall in East Campus
at the University of Connecticut, named for the Connecticut Grange Society,
a supporter of the University of Connecticut. The State Grange was part
of the larger Granger Movement, a group of primarily Midwest farmers who
fought monopolistic practices regarding grain transporting in the 1870s.
Oliver Hudson Kelley, an employee with the Department
of Agriculture, made a trip through the southern United States in 1866. While
doing so he was stunned by the lack of sound agrarian practices.
In 1867 he formed the Patrons of Husbandry, which
he hoped would unite farmers for educational discussion and social purposes.
The organization involved secret rituals and was divided up into local unites
called "Granges." In the beginning only Minnesota, Kelly's home
state, got involved, but by 1870 nine states had Granges, and by the middle
of the decade almost every state had at least one Grange. National membership
grew to 800,000.
Most farmers were drawn to the group to combat the
monopolistic railroads, and the grain elevators often owned by them, which
charged high rates for transporting farmers' crops and products.
After 1870 the group became more political as farmers
in Illinois, Minnesota, and Wisconsin pushed regulatory laws through their
state legislatures. These laws were challenged in court and became known as
the "Granger Cases," reaching the Supreme Court in 1877. During
this time, independent farmers' parties formed across the nation. Ignatius
Donnely's weekly newspaper, the Anti-Monopolist, expressed the independent
sentiment. Granger leaders urged members to vote for pro-agricultural political
candidates, and if the two political parties refused to curtail monopolistic
practices, the Grangers turned to their own party.
As other groups, like the Farmers Alliance and the
Greenbacks, rose to power in the later 1870s, the Granger movement lost
members. One reason for this was poorly planned, cash-only cooperative stores
which failed to take on farmers' real dilemmas; most farmers did not have the
cash to participate. By 1880 membership dropped to 100,000, but the group resurged
in the twentieth century. The National Grange today is a fraternal organization
of farmers who are active in agricultural politics.
The University of Connecticut has always been indebted
to the Grange. On more than one occasion it marched on the State Capital to
demand and get new laws, building, or larger appropriations for the university.
Former UConn president R.W. Stimson attributed much of the success in getting
the appropriation for Storrs Hall to the Grange.
--back to University of Connecticut