The Granger Movement

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The late nineteenth century was a hallmark of both economic growth and struggle for the United States. This era housed major events such as the Industrial Revolution and the implementation of major immigration policies. These events are typically considered subordinating “staples” of the era, and affected the economy in monumental ways, although not necessarily for the better. For example, the relationship between businesses and their employees, or the working class, grew wider as the result of the working conditions to which employees were being subjected. Furthermore, the relationship between states and companies became strenuous as laws used to control labor conditions were being implemented. In a “triangle” relationship such as this one,…show more content…
An example of such effort was the Granger movement. The Granger movement’s original purpose was to unify farmers for educational discussions; however, what later attracted most of its members were their protests against monopolistic railroad companies. Railroad companies in western America banded together rather than competing in order to control the flow of grain being exported from western farmers. Railroad trips required stops at major cities when traveling west; the most common stop being Chicago, Illinois. This meant that there was no “single-trip” trains that ran directly from western farms to eastern cities. Railroad companies took advantage of these stops and designed routes to stop in cities where they owned grain storage warehouses. Since railroad owners were working together in a coalition of near-monopolies -- known as a trust -- they were able to successfully prevent other routes of transportation for grain. Farmers, having been left with no other available options, paid the onerous rates to store their crop. In response, members of the Granger movement, known as Granges, pressed States to set maximum rates on the pricing of grain storage. With Chicago being the most popular “grain-elevator” city, the State of Illinois was the first to act, and set a maximum storage charge for grain. Railroad owners challenged the constitutionality of the 1871…show more content…
Moreover, even with the rise of unionization and recognition of corporate power abuse things still didn’t change. However, when governmental regulations stepped in to check the powers of corporations, the working class benefitted permanently. This was seen in Munn v Illinois where the State of Illinois implemented a maximum warehouse rate to return the exportation of grain eastward. Conversely, on the occasions where the government did not step in to check the power of corporation, companies operated abusively towards their employees. This was seen in Parsons writings where he talks about the bribing of court officials and the environment that it created. This environment led to apathy towards workers on the part of corporations. This is outlined in Gompers’ writings when he talks about the direct relationship between the working class and their employers. He shows the relationship is one-sided, meaning that the corporations had been treating their employees negatively. Nevertheless, when considering the success that the initial implementation government regulations had with balancing the relationship between employers and employees, it would have been beneficial to all if there was more widespread regulations throughout the early nineteenth
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