Land - Grant Institutions

  • Educational institutions in the United States during the 17th and 18th centuries were strongly elitist, with little access for members of working class families. By the middle of the 19th century, there emerged strong socioeconomic and political pressures for a more pragmatic form of education to be accessible to the masses. This development led to the establishment of the National Land Grant System under the first Morrill Act signed by Abraham Lincoln in 1862. Its primary tenet was that all Americans should have equal access to higher education and occupations in agriculture and the industrial and mechanical arts. This land-grant system was further strengthened in 1887 by the passage of the Hatch Act, which established experiment stations for research at each land-grant institution; and in 1914 by the passage of the Smith-Lever Act, which established Cooperative Extension at each of the same.

    In 1865, nearly four million hard-working, but primarily illiterate and untrained blacks were set free from slavery. To satisfy the need for additional funds to support instruction at land grant institutions that had been established in 1862, Congress passed the second Morrill Act of 1890 to include a stipulation that African Americans were to be included in the U.S. higher educational system without discrimination. This requirement was partially addressed by the seventeen southern and border states by founding at least a second land grant institution in each, which would be accessible to African Americans, as set forth in the Act. These institutions became known as the "Negro Land Grant Institutions," now more commonly known as the 1890 Land Grant Universities and Tuskegee University, or the 1890s, which include Tuskegee.