The Morrill Act at Auburn

Celebrating 150 Years of Public Higher Education


Land Grant University Historical Marker

On July 2, 1862, Abraham Lincoln signed the Morrill Land-Grant Act which provided grants of land to each state to establish a public college to teach agriculture, the mechanical arts, and humanities to the sons and daughters of the working classes. Proposed by then Rep. Justin Smith Morrill of Vermont, the legislation was passed by Congress after initially failing in 1858. One hundred and fifty years later, Morrill's vision of a "liberal and practical education" for all citizens "in the several pursuits and professions in life" is still at work at just over 100 Land-Grant universities across the nation.

In 1872, under the Morrill Act, Auburn became the first land-grant college in the South. Since then, Auburn University has developed into one of the largest institutions of higher education in the South, and one of the few to carry the torch as a land, sea and space grant university. Today, Auburn remains true to its Land-Grant heritage of educational excellence, discovery and innovation, and engagement for the public good.

Click here to download a timeline of Morrill Act Milestones at Auburn University (1862-2012).


*Text credited to the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities and to Auburn University



Last Updated: October 12, 2012

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