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Morrill Land Grant Act, July 2, 1862

Signed by President Abraham Lincoln on July 2, 1862, and named for its greatest advocate, Representative Justin Morrill of Vermont, this act provided the first Federal support to higher education. It distributed Federal land to states to sell, with the proceeds used to fund public colleges. These new land-grant institutions, which focused on agriculture and mechanic arts, opened up opportunities to farmers and working people previously excluded from higher education. Many major state colleges and universities were chartered as land-grant schools.

General Records of the U.S. Government, National Archives and Records Administration

Morrill Land Grant Act Morrill Land Grant Act

Legislative Highlights

The U.S. Constitution states that “The Congress shall have Power…To make all Laws.” The original laws enacted by Congress are preserved at the National Archives. This page highlights some of the most historically significant laws Congress has passed throughout the nation’s history.