What It Means to Be American
A National Conversation

Engagements

The Midwest Farmers Movement That Challenged Gilded Age Capitalism

In the 19th Century, the Grange Was an Agricultural Brotherhood That Sought to Foster Mutual Self-Reliance and Free Themselves From Middlemen and Monopolies

By by Jenny Bourne

Perhaps you’ve seen them on a leisurely weekend drive through the countryside—small white structures with the sign “Grange Hall.” Although the Grange is now a mere shadow of its former self, its legacy looms large in American history. As one of the largest grassroots movements in 19th-century America, the Grange left a broad imprint, including laws that still undergird modern governmental regulation of private enterprise.

Minnesotan Oliver Hudson Kelley, along with several colleagues, formed the Grange shortly after the Civil …

Event
Ideas

The Pioneering Cornell Anatomist Who Sought to Bring ‘Honor’ and ‘Duty’ to College Life

At the Turn of the 20th Century, Burton Green Wilder Railed Against Frivolous Activities and Thought Privileged Students Should Hold Each Other to Higher Standards

By Richard M. Reid

In 1901, Cornell University students created a new holiday on campus, called “Spring Day.”

Many faculty members objected to the holiday, but few were as visible and vocal as professor Burt Green Wilder, who would go on to become a defining, if little-known, figure in American higher education.

Spring Day built upon a relatively new tradition: During the 1890s students began holding a dance and fundraiser, the Navy Ball, prior to major fall regattas. Not surprisingly, on the day of the regatta, …