Justin Smith Morrill
Justin S. Morrill (1810-1898) was the chief sponsor of the 1862 and 1890 Land-Grant Acts. These were the most important pieces of legislation for American higher education in the 19th century. For the first time, America’s working class and minority citizens had the opportunity to pursue higher education.
Justin Morrill grew up in Strafford, Vermont and had to leave school at age 15. He desperately wanted to attend college, yet his family did not have the means to send him. This did not deter Justin’s intellectual curiosity. He became self-educated in business, architecture, horticulture, and politics. He entered politics in 1854 and served in both the United States House of Representatives and Senate for nearly 44 years.
Morrill’s 1862 Land-Grant Act, followed by the second Act in 1890, allocated the funds from the sale of federal lands to support new Land-Grant colleges and universities that taught agriculture, business, engineering, mechanics and home economics. Today the 105 Land-Grant colleges and universities have over 25 million graduates worldwide.
Senator Morrill’s Homestead in Strafford, Vermont, a prime example of Gothic Revival architecture, is a Vermont State Historic Site and open to the public Memorial Day through Columbus Day.
For tour information please contact:
The Vermont Division for Historic Preservation
National Life Building
Montpelier, VT 05620-0501
Summer: (802) 765-4288
Winter: (802) 828-3051
To learn more about the life and times of Senator Justin Morrill, his homestead and educational programs, please contact us.