Grand Army of the Republic
In 1866 northern Civil War veterans organized the Grand Army of the Republic to fight for veterans' pensions and other benefits. Michigan's first chapter was formed the next year. National Membership peaked in 1890 with 409,489 men, while Michigan's rolls crested in 1889 with more than 21,000 members. In its heyday, the G.A.R. was a powerful political pressure group. The society also provided food and clothing for indigent widows and orphans. The last state encampment was held in 1948.