Justin Smith Morrill

As we celebrate our nation's independence this week, we also mark the anniversary of another landmark event-the creation of the United States land-grant colleges. On July 2, 1862, in the midst of a nation torn by a civil war, strife and dissent, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Morrill Act into law.  


The act made higher education a possibility for people in every state. It paved the way to create our own Texas A&M University, and became the foundation of an unparalleled educational and scientific land-grant system with the addition of agricultural experiment stations (Hatch Act, 1887) and the cooperative extension service (Smith-Lever Act, 1914).


Today, we live the land-grant mission through our teaching, research, extension and service across Texas, our nation and the world. The land-grant system promises a different kind of independence for millions of people. The education, discovery and service provided by the land-grant system gives us the ability to be free in thought, in opportunity, in dreams and to strive for a better world.


In 2012 our Texas A&M land-grant legacy means feeding our world, protecting our environment, growing our economy, enriching our youth and improving our health. In the words of President Lincoln... 

"The land-grant university system is being built on behalf of the people, who have invested in these public universities their hopes, their support, and their confidence."


Congratulations on being part of this proud tradition.


Mark A. Hussey, Ph.D
Vice Chancellor and Dean
Agriculture and Life Sciences 


Celebrating 150 Years of Learning, 
Discovery, Extension, and Service 
How it Worked


The Morrill Act gave each state 30,000 acres of Federal land for each member in its Congressional delegation. Each state then sold the land and used the proceeds to fund public universities focused on agriculture and mechanical arts.


Who is Morrill?


The Morrill Act is so named as it was written by Vermont Congressman Justin Smith Morrill. At the time, higher education was only accessible to the children of the elite. Congressman Morrill envisioned universities that were accessible to all, including the working class. Unlike existing higher education institutions at the time, these universities would reach out to improve communities and make their research widely available to the public.

What it Means Today


The Morrill Act established an innovative approach to higher education that remains strong today. Congressman Morrill envisioned an education system that provided equal opportunity to learn, a drive to discover, and a fervent mission to share those discoveries with communities to solve local and regional problems. Through teaching, research, extension and service, our communities have been enriched by the land-grant mission.