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Morrill Land-Grant Colleges Act

The Morrill Land-Grant Colleges Acts are pieces of US legislation which allowed for the creation land-grant universities, which would be funded by the grant of federally-controlled land to each of the states.

The Morrill Act was first proposed by Representative Justin Smith Morrill in 1857. This was passed in 1859, but President Buchanan vetoed it. In 1861, Morill resubmitted the act with the addition that the proposed institutions would teach military tactics.

The second Morrill Act was signed by President Lincoln on July 2, 1862.

There was a third Morrill Act in 1890, which created a group of land-grant institutions devoted to instructing blacks. Several of today's historically black colleges were funded through this act.


The initial act of 1859 granted 30,000 acres, or $ equivalent, to the state of each Senator. The 1890 Act supplemented this with direct appropriations. This act also required each state to show that race was not an admissions criterion, or else designate a separate and segregated land-grant university.

See also: National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges, Hatch Act of 1887, Smith Lever Act of 1914, US Department of Agriculture, USDA Cooperative State Research Service