1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Morrill, Justin Smith

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MORRILL, JUSTIN SMITH (1810-1898), American political leader and financier, was born at Strafford, Vermont, on the 14th of April 1810. He was a clerk in a store at Strafford in 1825-1828, and at Portland, Maine, in 1828-1831, and was a merchant and then a farmer in his native town in 1831-1855. He was elected to the national house of representatives as an anti-slavery Whig in 1854, soon afterwards joining the new Republican party, and served in the house from 1855 until 1867. From 1867 until his death in Washington on the 28th of December 1898 he represented Vermont in the Senate. In the house he was continuously a member of the ways and means committee (of which he was chairman in 1865-1867), and in the Senate of the finance committee (of which he was chairman in 1877-1879, 1881-1893 and 1893-1898). Soon after entering Congress he became the acknowledged leader of the protectionists, and at the request of John Sherman, then chairman of the ways and means committee, he prepared a new tariff bill, which was introduced in the house in March 1860. To this relatively conservative bill, which substituted in many instances ad valorem for specific duties, and was intended by its author to be a revenue as well as a protective measure, were added many amendments which made the bill more strongly protectionist, and in some cases were vigorously opposed by Merrill. The bill was finally passed by the Senate on the 20th of February 1861, and was signed by President Buchanan on the 2nd of March following. Morrill is probably best known as the author of the Land Grant Act of 1862, which led to the development of the highly important system of state educational institutions, aided by the Federal government. On the 14th of December 1857, Morrill introduced in the house a bill “donating public lands to the several states and Territories which may provide colleges for the benefit of agriculture and the mechanic arts.” This bill passed both houses, but was vetoed in February 1859 by President Buchanan on the ground that it would cause friction between the states, that it would be uneconomical, that it might encourage fraudulent speculation, that it would injure existing institutions, and that it was unconstitutional. A similar bill was introduced by Morrill on the 16th of December 1861, and five months afterwards was presented to the Senate by Benjamin Wade of Ohio. The measure had a negative report from committee in the house, and was strongly opposed in the Senate; but it passed both branches, and on the 2nd of July 1862 was signed by President Lincoln. This measure provided for the foundation and maintenance of colleges “where the leading object shall be, without excluding other scientific and classical studies, and including military tactics [which had not been included in the original bill], to teach such branches of learning as are related to agriculture and the mechanic arts. . . in order to promote the liberal and practical education of the industrial classes in the several pursuits and professions in life.” In 1890 Morrill introduced in the Senate the so-called “Second Morrill Act,” under which $25,000 is given annually by the Federal government to each of the “land-grant” colleges.