University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota
Celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Land Grant Act


Land-Grant History

"The land-grant university system is being built on behalf of the people, who have invested in these public universities their hopes, their support, and their confidence."
— President Abraham Lincoln upon signing the Morrill Act, July 2, 1862

1851: Seven years before Minnesota was admitted into the union as a state, the territorial legislature and Governor Alexander Ramsey charters the University of Minnesota, selecting a site just downstream from St. Anthony Falls.

1862: President Abraham Lincoln signs into law the Morrill Act, establishing the first land grant colleges. States are given federal land, the sale of which is used to fund public colleges “that will promote the liberal and practical education of the industrial classes.” The effect is to expand higher education beyond the privileged few, educating many people to be productive citizens and members of the workforce.

1867: The University of Minnesota re-opens after temporary closure during the Civil War. Influential businessman and politician John Sargent Pillsbury secures land-grant status for the campus.

1887: The Hatch Act gives federal funds to land-grant institutions for conducting agricultural and scientific research.

1890: The Second Morrill Act provides further funding, part of which is to be used for institutions for black students, leading to the creation of historically black land-grant colleges.

1914: The Smith-Lever Act designates federal support for land-grant institutions to offer educational programs and share research locally and throughout the state.

1966: The University of Minnesota, Duluth (UMD), becomes a National Sea Grant College, a program launched by the federal government based on an idea by a UMD faculty member

1994: Congress extends land-grant status to 29 Native American colleges, creating Tribal Colleges.

2012: The University of Minnesota is one of 73 land-grant universities in the country; there are also 30 tribal land-grant institutions (two in Minnesota) and 17 historically black land-grant colleges.