Session S3a (Sunday, 2-5pm, Paterno 104)

P15: Justin Smith Morrill and the Land Grant College Act of 1862

Roger Egolf (Pennsylvania State University – Lehigh Valley Campus, USA)

Justin Smith Morrill of Vermont was a son of the working class who could not afford a college education.  He was elected to the House of Representatives in 1854 and soon became known as a strong advocate for public funding of higher education, specifically in the fields of agricultural and the mechanical arts.  He first sponsored a bill to fund the establishment of state colleges through federal land grants in 1857 and succeeded in getting his bill passed in 1858, but President Buchanan vetoed it.  He was finally successful in getting his bill passed again and signed by President Lincoln in 1862.  This paper will examine the career of Justin Morrill and the history of the battle to pass this historic act of Congress that we are celebrating in this symposium.


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