Morrill Land-Grant Colleges Act

Morrill Land-Grant Colleges Act

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The Morrill Land-Grant Acts are United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 statutes that allowed for the creation of land-grant colleges, including the Morrill Act of 1862 ( et seq.) and the Morrill Act of 1890 (the Agricultural College Act of 1890, )


Passage of original bill


For 20 years prior to the first introduction of the bill in 1857, there was a political movement calling for the creation of agriculture colleges. The movement was led by Professor Jonathan Baldwin Turner
Jonathan Baldwin Turner
Jonathan Baldwin Turner Born in Templeton, Massachusetts, Turner was a classical scholar, botanist, dedicated Christian, and political activist. He was perhaps the leading voice in the social movement of the 1850's that produced the land grant universities that pioneered public higher education in...

 of Illinois College
Illinois College
Illinois College is a private, liberal arts college, affiliated with the United Church of Christ and the Presbyterian Church , and located in Jacksonville, Illinois. It was the second college founded in Illinois, but the first to grant a degree . It was founded in 1829 by the Illinois Band,...

. On February 8, 1853, the Illinois Legislature adopted a resolution
Resolution (law)
A resolution is a written motion adopted by a deliberative body. The substance of the resolution can be anything that can normally be proposed as a motion. For long or important motions, though, it is often better to have them written out so that discussion is easier or so that it can be...

, drafted by Turner, calling for the Illinois congressional delegation to work to enact a land-grant bill to fund a system of industrial colleges, one in each state. Senator Lyman Trumbull
Lyman Trumbull
Lyman Trumbull was a United States Senator from Illinois during the American Civil War, and co-author of the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.-Education and early career:...

 of Illinois believed it was advisable that the bill should be introduced by an eastern congressman, and two months later Representative Justin Smith Morrill
Justin Smith Morrill
Justin Smith Morrill was a Representative and a Senator from Vermont, most widely remembered today for the Morrill Land-Grant Colleges Act that established federal funding for establishing many of the United States' public colleges and universities...

 of Vermont
Vermont
Vermont is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. The state ranks 43rd in land area, , and 45th in total area. Its population according to the 2010 census, 630,337, is the second smallest in the country, larger only than Wyoming. It is the only New England...

 introduced his bill.

Unlike the Turner Plan, which provided an equal grant to each state, the Morrill bill allocated land based on the number of senators and representatives each state had in Congress. This was more advantageous to the more populous eastern states.

The Morrill Act was first proposed in 1857, and was passed by Congress in 1859, but it was vetoed by President James Buchanan. In 1861, Morrill resubmitted the act with the amendment that the proposed institutions would teach military tactics as well as engineering and agriculture. Aided by the secession of many states that did not support the plans, this reconfigured Morrill Act was signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States, serving from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. He successfully led his country through a great constitutional, military and moral crisis – the American Civil War – preserving the Union, while ending slavery, and...

 on July 2, 1862.

Land-grant colleges


The purpose of the land-grant colleges was:
without excluding other scientific and classical studies and including military tactic, to teach such branches of learning as are related to agriculture and the mechanic arts, in such manner as the legislatures of the States may respectively prescribe, in order to promote the liberal and practical education of the industrial classes in the several pursuits and professions in life.


Under the act, each eligible state received a total of 30000 acres (121.4 km²) of federal land, either within or contiguous to its boundaries, for each member of congress the state had as of the census of 1860. This land, or the proceeds from its sale, was to be used toward establishing and funding the educational institutions described above. Under provision six of the Act, "No State while in a condition of rebellion or insurrection against the government of the United States shall be entitled to the benefit of this act," in reference to the recent secession
Secession
Secession is the act of withdrawing from an organization, union, or especially a political entity. Threats of secession also can be a strategy for achieving more limited goals.-Secession theory:...

 of several Southern
Southern United States
The Southern United States—commonly referred to as the American South, Dixie, or simply the South—constitutes a large distinctive area in the southeastern and south-central United States...

 states and the currently raging American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

.

After the war, however, the 1862 Act was extended to the former Confederate states; it was eventually extended to every state and territory, including those created after 1862. If the federal land within a state was insufficient to meet that state's land grant, the state was issued "scrip" which authorized the state to select federal lands in other states to fund its institution. For example, New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

 carefully selected valuable timber land in Wisconsin to fund Cornell University
Cornell University
Cornell University is an Ivy League university located in Ithaca, New York, United States. It is a private land-grant university, receiving annual funding from the State of New York for certain educational missions...

. The resulting management of this scrip by the university yielded one third of the total grant revenues generated by all the states, even though New York received only one-tenth of the 1862 land grant. Overall, the 1862 Morrill Act allocated 17400000 acres (70,415.4 km²) of land, which when sold yielded a collective endowment of $7.55 million. The state of Iowa was the first to accept the terms of the Morrill Act which provided the funding boost needed for the fledgling Ames College (now Iowa State University
Iowa State University
Iowa State University of Science and Technology, more commonly known as Iowa State University , is a public land-grant and space-grant research university located in Ames, Iowa, United States. Iowa State has produced astronauts, scientists, and Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winners, along with a host of...

.)

With a few exceptions (including Cornell University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is a private research university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. MIT has five schools and one college, containing a total of 32 academic departments, with a strong emphasis on scientific and technological education and research.Founded in 1861 in...

), nearly all of the Land-Grant Colleges are public. (Cornell University, while private, administers several state-supported contract college
Statutory college
In American higher education, particular to the state of New York, a statutory college or contract college is a college or school that is a component of an independent, private university that has been designated by the state legislature to receive significant, ongoing public funding from the state...

s that fulfill its public land-grant mission to the state of New York.)

Expansion


A second Morrill Act in 1890 was also aimed at the former Confederate states
Confederate States of America
The Confederate States of America was a government set up from 1861 to 1865 by 11 Southern slave states of the United States of America that had declared their secession from the U.S...

. This act required each state to show that race was not an admissions criterion, or else to designate a separate land-grant institution for persons of color. Among the seventy colleges and universities which eventually evolved from the Morrill Acts are several of today's historically Black colleges and universities
Historically Black Colleges and Universities
Historically black colleges and universities are institutions of higher education in the United States that were established before 1964 with the intention of serving the black community....

. Though the 1890 Act granted cash instead of land, it granted colleges under that act the same legal standing as the 1862 Act colleges; hence the term "land-grant college" properly applies to both groups.

Later on, other colleges such as the University of the District of Columbia
University of the District of Columbia
The University of the District of Columbia is a historically black, public university located in Washington, D.C. UDC is one of only a few urban land-grant universities in the country and a member of the Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund...

 and the "1994 land-grant colleges" for Native Americans were also awarded cash by Congress in lieu of land to achieve "land-grant" status.

In imitation of the land-grant colleges' focus on agricultural and mechanical research, Congress later established programs of sea grant colleges
Sea grant colleges
The National Sea Grant College Program is a program of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration within the U.S. Department of Commerce...

 (aquatic research, in 1966), urban grant colleges (urban research, in 1985), space grant colleges
Space grant colleges
The space-grant colleges compose a network of 52 consortia, based at universities across the United States, for outer space-related research. Each consortium is based in one of the 50 states, the District of Columbia or Puerto Rico and consists of multiple independent institutions, with one of the...

 (space research, in 1988), and sun grant colleges
Sun grant colleges
The Sun Grant Association is a group of five U.S. universities that serve as regional centers of the Sun Grant Initiative, established by the U.S. Congress in the Sun Grant Research Initiative Act of 2003. They research and develop sustainable and environmentally friendly bio-based energy...

 (sustainable energy research, in 2003).

Cooperative extensions


Congress later recognized the need to disseminate the knowledge gained at the land-grant colleges to farmers and homemakers. The Smith-Lever Act of 1914
Smith-Lever Act of 1914
The Smith–Lever Act of 1914 is a United States federal law that established a system of cooperative extension services, connected to the land-grant universities, in order to inform people about current developments in agriculture, home economics, and related subjects. The Smith–Lever Act of 1914 is...

 started federal funding of cooperative extension, with the land-grant universities' agents being sent to virtually every county of every state. Starting in 1887, Congress also funded agricultural experiment station
Agricultural experiment station
An agricultural experiment station is a research center that conducts scientific investigations to solve problems and suggest improvements in the food and agriculture industry...

s and various categories of agricultural and veterinary research "under direction of" the land-grant universities. In some states, the annual federal appropriations to the land-grant college under these laws exceed the current income from the original land grants. In the fiscal year 2006 USDA Budget, $1.033 billion went to research and cooperative extension activities nationwide. For this purpose, former president Bush proposed a $1.035 billion appropriation for fiscal year 2008.

See also

  • Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities
    Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities
    The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities is an American voluntary, non-profit association of public research universities, land-grant institutions, and state university systems. It has member campuses in all 50 states and the U.S. territories...

  • Hatch Act of 1887
    Hatch Act of 1887
    The Hatch Act of 1887 gave federal funds, initially of $15,000 each, to state land-grant colleges in order to create a series of agricultural experiment stations, as well as pass along new information, especially in the areas of soil minerals and plant growth...

  • Smith-Lever Act of 1914
    Smith-Lever Act of 1914
    The Smith–Lever Act of 1914 is a United States federal law that established a system of cooperative extension services, connected to the land-grant universities, in order to inform people about current developments in agriculture, home economics, and related subjects. The Smith–Lever Act of 1914 is...

  • United States Department of Agriculture
    United States Department of Agriculture
    The United States Department of Agriculture is the United States federal executive department responsible for developing and executing U.S. federal government policy on farming, agriculture, and food...