The Morrill Act of 1862 was also known as the Land Grant College Act. It was a major boost to higher education in America. The grant was originally set up to establish institutions is each state that would educate people in agriculture, home economics, mechanical arts, and other professions that were practical at the time. The land-grant act was introduced by a congressman from Vermont named Justin Smith Morrill. He envisioned the financing of agricultural and mechanical education. He wanted to assure that education would be available to those in all social classes.

There were several of these grants, but the first passed in 1862. This bill was signed by Abraham Lincoln on July 2. This gave each state 30,000 acres of public land for each Senator and Representative. These numbers were based on the census of 1860. The land was then to be sold and the money from the sale of the land was to be put in an endowment fund which would provide support for the colleges in each of the states.

The land-grant has improved the lives of millions of Americans. This was not the case in the early stages. At the time the grants were established, there was a separation of races. In the South, blacks were not allowed to attend the original land-grant institutions. There was a provision for separate but equal facilities, but only Mississippi and Kentucky set up any such institution. This situation was rectified when the Second Morrill Act was passed and expanded the system of grants to include black institutions.

The Morrill Acts have become a major educational resource for our nation. This program is available to all people who are in search of higher education. Over the years it has proven to be an important part of our educational system. This Act changed the course of higher education. The purpose of education shifted from the classical studies and allowed for more applied studies that would prepare the students for the world that they would face once leaving the classroom. This Act also gave education support directly from the government. The Morrill Act changed the face of education and made room for our growing and ever changing country and ensured that there would always be money to finance educational facilities and that there would be continual government support of these institutions.

Prepared by Brad Lightcap