Senator Justin S. Morrill of Vermont left his name on one of the most significant pieces of wartime legislation. First proposed when Morrill was serving in the House of Representatives, the Morrill Land Grant College Act of 1862 set aside federal lands to create colleges to “benefit the agricultural and mechanical arts.” The president signed the bill into law on July 2, 1862. It granted each state 30,000 acres of western land, to be distributed by each senator and representative, and funded the construction of agricultural and mechanical schools. Early land-grant schools included the University of Wisconsin, Iowa State University, the State University of New Jersey (Rutgers), and the University of Missouri.
Citation: Act of July 2, 1862 (Morrill Act), Public Law 37-108, which established land grant colleges, 07/02/1862; Enrolled Acts and Resolutions of Congress, 1789-1996; Record Group 11; General Records of the United States Government; National Archives