An Explanation of the First Morrill Act
Grants: First Morrill Act
Act of July 2, 1862,
ch.130, 12 Stat.503,7 U.S.C.301 et.seq.
Chap. CXXX. — AN ACT
Donating Public Lands to the several States and Territories which may provide
Colleges for the Benefit of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts.
Be it enacted by the
Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress
assembled,(1) That there be granted to the several States,(2) for the purpose
hereinafter mentioned, an amount of public land, to be apportioned to each
State a quantity equal to thirty thousand acres for each senator and representative
in Congress to which the States are respectively entitled by the apportionment
under the census of eighteen hundred and sixty:(3) Provided, That no mineral
lands shall be selected or purchased under the provisions of this Act.
Sec. 2.(4) And be it
further enacted, That the land aforesaid, after being surveyed, shall be apportioned
to the several States in sections or subdivisions of sections, not less than
one quarter of a section; and whenever there are public lands in a State subject
to sale at private entry at one dollar and twenty-five cents per acre, the
quantity to which said State shall be entitled shall be selected from such
lands within the limits of such State, and the Secretary of the Interior is
hereby directed to issue to each of the States in which there is not the quantity
of public lands subject to sale at private entry at one dollar and twenty-five
cents per acre, to which said State may be entitled under the provisions of
this act, land scrip to the amount in acres for the deficiency of its distributive
share: said scrip to be sold by said States and the proceeds thereof applied
to the uses and purposes prescribed in this Act, and for no other purpose
whatsoever: Provided, That in no case shall any State to which land scrip
may thus be issued be allowed to locate the same within the limits of any
other State, or of any Territory of the United States, but their assignees
may thus locate said land scrip upon any of the unappropriated lands of the
United States subject to the sale at private entry at one dollar and twenty-five
cents, or less, per acre: And provided, further, That not more than one million
acres shall be located by such assignees in any one of the States: And provided,
further, That no such location shall be made before one year from the passage
of this Act.
Sec.3.(5) And be it
further enacted, That all the expenses of management, superintendence, and
taxes from date of selection of said lands, previous to their sales, and all
expenses incurred in the management and disbursement of the moneys which may
be received therefrom, shall be paid by the States to which they may belong,
out of the treasury of said States, so that the entire proceeds of the sale
of said lands shall be applied without any diminution whatever to the purposes
Sec.4.(6) That all moneys
derived from the sales of lands aforesaid by the States to which lands are
apportioned and from the sales of land scrip hereinbefore provided for shall
be invested in bonds of the United States or of the States or some other safe
bonds;(7) or the same may be invested by the States having no State bonds
in any manner after the legislatures of such States shall have assented thereto
and engaged that such funds shall yield a fair and reasonable rate of return,
to be fixed by the State legislatures, and that the principal thereof shall
forever remain unimpaired: (8) Provided, That the moneys so invested or loaned
shall constitute a perpetual fund, the capital of which shall remain forever
undiminished (except so far as may be provided in section 5 of this Act),
and the interest of which shall be inviolably appropriated, by each State
which may take and claim the benefit of this Act, to the endowment, support,
and maintenance of at least one college where the leading object shall be,
without excluding other scientific and classical studies and including military
tactics, to teach such branches of learning as are related to agriculture
and the mechanic arts, in such manner as the legislatures of the States may
respectively prescribe, in order to promote the liberal and practical education
of the industrial classes on the several pursuits and professions in life.
Sec.5.(9) And be it
further enacted, That the grant of land and land scrip hereby authorized shall
be made on the following conditions, to which, as well as to the provisions
hereinbefore contained, the previous assent of the several States shall be
signified by legislative acts:
First. If any portion
of the fund invested, as provided by the foregoing section, or any portion
of the interest thereon,shall,by any action or contingency, be diminished
or lost, it shall be replaced by the State to which it belongs, so that the
capital of the fund shall remain forever undiminished; and the annual interest
shall be regularly applied without diminution to the purposes mentioned in
the fourth section of this act, except that a sum, not exceeding ten per centum
upon the amount received by any State under the provisions of this act may
be expended for the purchase of lands for sites or experimental farms, whenever
authorized by the respective legislatures of said States.
Second. No portion
of said fund, nor the interest thereon, shall be applied, directly or indirectly,
under any pretence whatever, to the purchase, erection, preservation, or
repair of any building or buildings.
Third. Any State which
may take and claim the benefit of the provisions of this act shall provide,
within five years from the time of its acceptance as provided in subdivision
seven of this section,(10) at least not less than one college, as described
in the fourth section of this act, or the grant to such State shall cease;
and said State shall be bound to pay the United States the amount received
of any lands previously sold; and that the title to purchasers under the
State shall be valid.
Fourth. An annual
report shall be made regarding the progress of each college, recording any
improvements and experiments made, with their cost and results, and such
other matters, including State industrial and economical statistics, as
may be supposed useful; one copy of which shall be transmitted by mail [free](11)
by each, to all the other colleges which may be endowed under the provisions
of this act, and also one copy to the Secretary of the Interior.
Fifth. When lands
shall be selected from those which have been raised to double the minimum
price, in consequence of railroad grants, they shall be computed to the
States at the maximum price, and the number of acres proportionally diminished.
Sixth. No State while
in a condition of rebellion or insurrection against the government of the
United States shall be entitled to the benefit of this act.
Seventh. No State
shall be entitled to the benefits of this act unless it shall express its
acceptance thereof by its legislature within three years from July 23, 1866:(12)
Provided, That when any Territory shall become a State and be admitted to
the Union, such a new State shall be entitled to the benefits of the said
act of July two, eighteen hundred and sixty-two, by expressing the acceptance
therein required within three years from the date of its admission into
the Union, and providing the college or colleges within five years after
such acceptance, as prescribed in this act.(13)
Sec.7.(15) And be it
further enacted, That the land officers shall received the same fees for locating
land scrip issued under the provisions of this act as is now allowed for the
location of military bounty land warrants under existing laws: Provided, their
maximum compensation shall not be thereby increased.
Sec.8.(16) And be it
further enacted, That the Governors of the several States to which scrip shall
be issued under this act shall be required to report annually to Congress
all sales made of such script until the whole shall be disposed of, the amount
received for the same, and what appropriation has been made of the proceeds.
(1) U.S.C. 301.
(2) The College of the
Virgin Islands and the University of Guam were included as land grant colleges
by the Act of June 23, 1972, Public Law 92-318, sec. 506(a) and (b), 86 Stat.
350, 7 U.S.C. 301, note, as follows:
“LAND-GRANT STATUS FOR
THE COLLEGE OF THE VIRGIN ISLANDS AND THE UNIVERSITY OF GUAM
“Sec. 506(a) The College
of the Virgin Islands and the University of Guam shall be considered land-grant
colleges established for the benefit of agriculture and mechanic arts in accordance
with the provisions of the Act of July 2, 1862, as amended (12 Stat. 503;
7 U.S.C. 301-305, 307, 308).
“(b) In lieu of extending
to the Virgin Islands and Guam those provisions of the Act of July 2, 1862,
as amended, relating to donations of public land or land scrip for the endowment
and maintenance of colleges for the benefit of agriculture and the mechanic
arts, there is authorized to be appropriated $3,000,000 to the Virgin Islands
and $300,000.000 to Guam. Amount appropriated pursuant to this section shall
be held and considered to have been granted to the Virgin Islands and Guam
subject to the provisions of that Act applicable to the proceeds from the
sale of land or land scrip.”
Land grants under the Act
of July 2, 1862, do not extend to the State of Alaska. Admission of Alaska into
the union was accomplished January 3, 1959, upon issuance of Proc. No. 3269,
January 3, 1959, 24 F.R. 81, 73 Stat. c.16, as required by sections 1 and 8
(c) of Act of July 7, 1958, Public Law 85-508, 72 Stat. 339, 48 U.S.C. sec.
21, note. For provisions making the land grant under Alaska Statehood provisions
in lieu of grant of acreage under 7 U.S.C. see 301 et seq. (declared not to
extend to Alaska), see sec. 6(1) of the Act of July 7, 1958, Public Law 85-
508, 72 Stat. 339, 48 U.S.C., sec 21, note.
(3) An exchange of land
in the State of Missouri was authorized by the Act of September 4, 1957, Public
Law 85-282, sections 1-3, 71 Stat. 607, 7 U.S.C. 301, note, as follows:
the provisions of the Act entitled ‘An Act donating public lands to the several
States and Territories which may provide colleges for the benefit of agriculture
and the mechanic arts’, approved July 2, 1862, (7 U.S.C., secs. 301-308),
the State of Missouri is authorized to convey to the United States all right,
title, and interest of such State in and to any land granted to such State
under authority of such Act of July 2, 1862, which is located within the exterior
boundaries of the national forests situated within such State, and, in exchange
therefor, the Secretary of Agriculture is authorized to convey to the State
of Missouri all right, title, and interest of the United States in and to
not to exceed an equal value of national forest lands (as determined by the
Secretary)situated within such State.
“Sec 2. Any exchange authorized
by the first section of this Act shall be made in accordance with the applicable
provisions of section 7 or the Act of March 1, 1911, commonly referred to as
the Weeks Law (16 U.S.C., sec. 516), and the applicable provisions of the Act
entitled ‘An Act to consolidate national forest lands’, approved March 20, 1922
(16 U.S.C., sec. 485 and 486).
“Sec.3. Any land conveyed
to the State of Missouri under authority of this Act shall, upon acceptance
of such conveyance by such State, be held and considered to be granted to
such State subject to the provisions of the Act of July 2, 1862, referred
to in the first section of this Act.”
(4) 7 U.S.C. 302.
(5) 7 U.S.C. 303.
(6) 7 U.S.C. 304.
(7) The Act of April
13, 1926, ch. 130, 44 Stat. 247, substituted “bonds” for “stocks” and “a fair
and reasonable rate of return, to be fixed by the State legislatures” for
“not less than 5 per centum upon the amount so invested”, before proviso.
(8) The Act of March
3, 1883, ch. 102, 22 Stat. 484. added after the words “other safe stocks”
the words “or the same may be invested by the States having no State stocks
in any other manner after the legislatures of such States shall have assented
thereto, and engaged that such funds shall” and substituted “yield” for “yielding”,
“principal” for “capital” and “unimpaired” for “undiminished”.
(9) 7 U.S.C. 305.
(10) Added by the Act
of July 23, 1866, ch. 209, 14 Stat. 208.
(11) Authority for free
mail was repealed by act March 3, 1873, which provided in part: “That all
laws and parts of laws permitting the transmission by mail of any free matter
whatever be, and the same are hereby, repealed from and after June thirtieth,
eighteen hundred and seventy-three.”
(12) The Act of July
23, 1866, ch. 209, 14 Stat. 208, added “within three years from July 23, 1866:”
in lieu of “within two years from the date of its approval by the President.”
(13) Proviso added by
the Act of July 23, 1866, ch. 209, 14 Stat. 208. This provision does not apply
to Alaska. See note 2 above. Another proviso from the Act of July 23, 1866,
which was formerly set out at the end of subdivision seventh and read: “Provided
further, That any State which heretofore expressed its acceptance of the act
herein referred to shall have the period of five years within which to provide
aty least one college, as described in the fourth section of said act, after
the time for providing said college according to the act of July second, eighteen
hundred and sixty-two, shall have expired”, has been omitted.
(14) 7 U.S.C. 306, Sec.
6, which related to time of location of land scrip, was repealed by the Act
of December 16, 1930, ch. 14, sec. 1, 46 Stat. 1028.
(15) 7 U.S.C. 307.
(16) 7 U.S.C. 308.
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