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National Grange Celebrates 150th Anniversary of Morrill Act

By National Grange Press Release (7/2/12)

  JULY 2, 2012 --

The National Grange today is celebrating the 150th anniversary of the creation of the Public Land-Grant University System, established under the Morrill Act of 1862.

The legislation, better known as the Morrill Land Grant Act, named after its sponsor, Justin Morrill, founded the system of federal funding for public institutions that agreed to "teach such branches of learning as are related to agriculture and the mechanic arts ... in order to promote the liberal and practical education of the industrial classes..."  

"Tens of millions of Americans, many of whom are or have been Grange members, have benefited from the educational opportunities extended as a result of the Morrill Act," National Grange President Ed Luttrell said. "As we look forward to our own 150th anniversary in 2017, we understand the importance of celebrating roots, heritage, success and impact over a century and a half." 

Under the Morrill Act, each state received 30,000 acres of federal land for every member of Congress representing their state. Total, the Act allocated 17,400,000 acres of land that provided an endowment of $7.55 million in 1862. 

The Act helped spark the establishment and growth of numerous universities, including the University of California, Kansas State University, and Rutgers University. Today, more than 100 Land-Grant colleges and universities are in operation.

The state of Iowa was the first to accept funds provided by the Act, which helped to grow Ames College, now known as Iowa State University, still in the top ten agricultural schools in the United States.

"Many top institutions of higher education are Land-Grant colleges and universities that continue to advance knowledge and research in the field of agriculture," Luttrell said. "Without the foresight of Congress in 1862, American agriculture could not have grown and prospered so much in the past 150 years, today providing food, fiber and fuel for our nation and much of the world."

Although provision six of the Morrill Act originally stated; "No State while in a condition of rebellion or insurrection against the government of the United States shall be entitled to the benefit of this act," the Act was eventually extended to all Southern states as well.

As part of the celebration, the National Grange is asking any Grange member who is a graduate of a Public Land-Grant University to submit their information for recognition. Specifically, members should submit their information using the form on the National Grange website under News called "Land-Grant Alumni Members" by Oct. 2. Information for deceased members may be submitted as well. 

To learn if your college or university was one established because of the Morrill Land Grant Act, please view the map above or view it on the National Grange website.  CLICK HERE  

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