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Justin Morrill

 

Justin Morrill

Justin Smith Morrill
United States Senator
from Vermont
In office
March 4, 1867 – December 28, 1898
Preceded by Luke P. Poland
Succeeded by Jonathan Ross
Personal details
Born (1810-04-14)April 14, 1810
Strafford, Vermont, U.S.
Died December 28, 1898(1898-12-28) (aged 88)
Washington, D.C., U.S.
Political party Whig, Republican
Spouse(s) Ruth Barrell Swan (1821-1898)
Profession Politician, Merchant, Clerk
Signature

Justin Smith Morrill (April 14, 1810 – December 28, 1898) was a Representative (1855–1867) and a Senator (1867–1898) from Vermont, most widely remembered today for the Morrill Land-Grant Colleges Act that established federal funding for establishing many of the United States' public colleges and universities. He was one of the founders of the Republican Party.[1]

Biography

Born in Strafford, Vermont, Morrill attended the common schools, Thetford Academy and Randolph Academy. While he never attended university, he was granted an honorary degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1884. He worked as a merchant’s clerk in Strafford 1825–1828 and in Portland, Maine, 1828–1831; merchant in Strafford 1831–1848; engaged in agriculture and horticulture 1848–1855. He was initiated into the Delta Upsilon Fraternity as an honorary member in 1860.

In 1854 Morrill was elected as a Whig to the Thirty-fourth Congress and as a Republican to the five succeeding Congresses (March 4, 1855–March 4, 1867). He was the author of the Tariff Act of 1861 as well as the college land-grant act mentioned above. He served as chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means in the Thirty-ninth Congress. As a congressman, he served on the Joint Committee on Reconstruction which drafted the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.


In 1866 Morrill was elected as a Union Republican to the U.S. Senate. He was reelected as a Republican in 1872, 1878, 1884, 1890, and again in 1896, and served from March 4, 1867, until his death, almost thirty-one years. He served as chairman of the Committee on Public Buildings and Grounds (Forty-first through Forty-fourth Congresses) where he played a vital role in obtaining the current Library of Congress main building through his work on the Joint Select Committee on Additional Accommodations for the Library. He also served on the Committee on Finance (Forty-fifth, Forty-seventh through Fifty-second, Fifty-fourth and Fifty-fifth Congresses), as regent of the Smithsonian Institution 1883–1898 and as trustee of the University of Vermont 1865–1898. He died in Washington, D.C., December 28, 1898. He is buried in Strafford Cemetery in Strafford, Vermont.

Legislation

Justin Smith Morrill is most widely known for sponsoring the Morrill Act, also known as the Land Grant College Act. This act was signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln in 1862. This act established federal funding for higher education in every state of the country. In his own words:

"This bill proposes to establish at least one college in every State upon a sure and perpetual foundation, accessible to all, but especially to the sons of toil, where all of needful science for the practical avocations of life shall be taught, where neither the higher graces of classical studies nor that military drill our country now so greatly appreciates will be entirely ignored, and where agriculture, the foundation of all present and future prosperity, may look for troops of earnest friends, studying its familiar and recondite economies, and at last elevating it to that higher level where it may fearlessly invoke comparison with the most advanced standards of the world."
—1862, as quoted by William Belmont Parker, The Life and Public Services of Justin Smith Morrill

Many colleges established under this act have a 'Morrill Hall' named in honor of Justin Smith Morrill's contribution to higher education. In 1999, the U.S. Postal Service issued a 55¢ Great Americans series postage stamp of Morrill to honor his role in establishing the land grant colleges, the forerunners of many state universities.

He also authored the Morrill Anti-Bigamy Act of 1862, which targeted The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, based on the then-existing practice of plural marriage (polygamy). It imposed a five-hundred dollar fine and up to five years imprisonment for the crime of polygamy. On January 6, 1879, in Reynolds v. United States the Supreme Court, upheld the Anti-Bigamy Act's ban on plural marriage.

The Morrill Tariff of 1861 was a protective tariff law adopted on March 2, 1861. Morrill was its House sponsor; he designed it with the advice of Pennsylvania economist Henry C. Carey. It was one of the last acts signed into law by President James Buchanan, a Democrat from the pro-tariff state of Pennsylvania. The Morrill Tariff replaced the Tariff of 1857, which was considered favorable to free trade. Two additional tariffs sponsored by Rep. Morrill, each one higher, were passed during Lincoln's administration to raise urgently needed revenue during the Civil War.

The Morrill tariff was adopted against the backdrop of the secession movement, and provided an issue for secessionist agitation in some southern states. The law's critics compared it to the 1828 Tariff of Abominations that sparked the Nullification Crisis, although its overall rate was significantly lower.

References

Further reading

  • Cross, Coy F. Justin Smith Morrill Father of the Land-Grant Colleges. Michigan State University Press: 1999. ISBN 978-0-87013-508-8.
  • Memorial Address on the Life and Character of Justin S. Morrill. Government Printing Office: 1899.

External links

Template:1911Enc Template:CongBio. Includes Guide to Research Collections where his papers are located.

  • Find a Grave
  • NDSU shrine to Morrill
  • Vermont Division for Historic Preservation
  • Friends of the Morrill Homestead
  • Vermont Public Television
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Preceded by
Andrew Tracy
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Vermont's 2nd congressional district

March 4, 1855 – March 4, 1867 (obsolete district)
Succeeded by
Luke P. Poland
Template:Error
Preceded by
Luke P. Poland
United States Senator (Class 3) from Vermont
March 4, 1867 – December 28, 1898
Served alongside: George F. Edmunds and Redfield Proctor
Succeeded by
Jonathan Ross
Political offices
Preceded by
John Sherman
Ohio
Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance
1877-1879
Succeeded by
Thomas F. Bayard
Delaware
Preceded by
Thomas F. Bayard
Delaware
Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance
1881-1893
Succeeded by
Daniel Voorhees
Indiana
Preceded by
Daniel Voorhees
Indiana
Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance
1895-1898
Succeeded by
Nelson Aldrich
Rhode Island

Template:USSenVT

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