The Land Act That Built Universities

justin_smith_morrill_-_brady-handy-blogMillions of Americans—including our own Bob Boze Bell—got their college education from “land grant colleges” like the University of Arizona in Tucson. That’s thanks to Justin Smith Morrill, a congressman from Vermont who sponsored the land-grant bill that President Abraham Lincoln signed into law on July 2, 1862.

The Morrill Act of 1862 provided federal land in each state and territory that could be sold for an endowment to finance a university.

Morrill wanted everyone, regardless of social class, to have a chance at a higher education. The land grant colleges focused on agriculture, home economics, mechanical arts and other practical studies and have grown into some of the nation’s outstanding universities. In the west, land-grant colleges include Colorado State University, Montana State, the University of Nevada and the University of Wyoming.

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