What was the importance of the Morrill Act?
The Morrill Act, first passed in 1862, provided land grants so that new western states could establish colleges, thus giving farmers and people of the working class access to higher education which they would not otherwise have been able to enjoy. The original institutions which were established focused largely on the fields of agriculture and the mechanical arts. The Morrill Act changed the face of higher education in two significant ways. It was the first time government became directly involved in the support of higher education. Also, whereas the focus of learning at the post-secondary school level had been concentrated on the classical arts, the land-grant schools allowed students to develop the practical skills they would need in the working world.
The current system of state colleges and universities found across the nation is a direct result of the trend begun with the type of government aid provided by the Morrill Act.
The Morrill Act of 1862 was also known as the Land Grant College Act. It was a major boost to higher education in America. The grant was originally set up to establish institutions is each state that would educate people in agriculture, home economics, mechanical arts, and other professions that were practical at the time. The land-grant act was introduced by a congressman from Vermont named Justin Smith Morrill. He envisioned the financing of agricultural and mechanical education. He wanted to assure that education would be available to those in all social classes.
The Morill Act, which was first passed in 1862 by President Abraham Lincoln, which was to provide land grants, so that the new western states could fund to build a system of industrial colleges, and creating agriculture colleges, so that lower-class people, like farmers and people of the working-class could have greater access to more advanced education.
Firstly, it improved the lives of many millions of American citizens. Also, in the past, these institutions focused mainly on classical studies, agriculture and mechanics and home economics that were practical at that period of time but not in this fast modernizing world. So, with this act passed, they break free from old traditions. It allowed for more applied studies that would better prepare the students for the outside world when they left the classroom and start making a living in the merciless world out there, allowing them to have a head-start and a experience of working life right in their face, providing them practical skills and first-hand encounter to survive the brutal world when they graduate. The government also directly provide educational support to these schools.
However, these measure proved to be a flaw on its own. It supported the separation of races, racial segregation. In the south, blacks were not allowed to attend land-grant institutions but after the passing of the revamped Second Morrill Act, that ghastly situation was rectified and land grants was included amongst black schools.
These two acts change the whole foundation of the education system and prove to be the tipping-point of education, as financial support flood in and government support come in mass numbers to support these institutions.