Before the Civil War, Representative Justin S. Morrill of Vermont introduced legislation supporting state agricultural and technical colleges through federal land grants, sales of which would fund the institutions. By the late nineteenth century, many land-grant colleges wanted federal endowments. In 1890 Morrill, by then a senator, sponsored a bill to provide funds for the colleges and address racial discrimination. The Second Morrill Act required states either to prove that race was not a factor for land-grant college admissions or to designate separate colleges for African Americans.
They [freedmen] have never had the means, and have not now, to educate themselves. On our part their education is not charity, but a debt overdue.
Senator Justin S. Morrill of Vermont, Speech to the U.S. Senate, December 15, 1880