The Granger movement was initiated by Oliver Hudson Kelley, an official of the Department of Agriculture, in 1867. Its founding body, the Patrons of Husbandry (the Grange), was dedicated to modernizing farming practice. From its origins in the Midwest, the movement spread across the country, reaching a peak membership of around 800,000. Their central focus became the exorbitant transportation costs charged by monopolistic railroads. In the 1870s, the Grangers managed to win a series of court rulings imposing caps on the charges railroads could levy in Illinois, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa. Maximum rates were also established for grain storage facilities. The Illinois ruling was upheld in the Supreme Court (1877). A particular abuse was exorbitant charges for short-hauls: by 1890, the four ‘prairie railroads’ heading to the eastern seaboard from the Midwest and covering 18,000 miles (29,000 km) of track, had converted to rates compliant with Grange-inspired legislation.
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