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Federal Law Relating to State Agricultural Experiment
Federal Law Relating to Cooperative Extension Work in
Development of the Land-Grant System of Colleges and Universities
URING THE HUNDRED YEARS since their establishment, the land-grant colleges and universities have grown to represent to the world a unique system of universal education. In the colonial days higher education in the United States was available only in a few institutions, such as Harvard, Yale, and William and Mary. These institutions at different times were subject to varying degrees of public control, but were essentially privately controlled. After the Revolutionary War, the States began to organize universities as publicly controlled institutions. They were not essentially different from the privately controlled ones which by that time had grown relatively strong and were setting the pace for the development of collegiate education throughout the country.
Classical or Professional
During the first half of the 19th century the two types of colleges and universities, publicly controlled and privately controlled, developed side by side. Both were greatly influenced by the European universities of which their leading professors were products. But these European universities were organized to serve a society not predominantly democratic. University education was for the leisure classes, the government leaders, and members of the professions.
The American institutions, functioning in somewhat the same fashion, maintained chiefly the classical and professional curricula. They made only slight adaptations to the needs of a pioneer people. A study of such fields as agriculture and the mechanic arts was beneath their academic dignity.
The mild protest against this too exclusively classical type of college and university grew into a widespread agitation by the middle of the 19th century. Agricultural societies in many States were insisting that colleges must be available where agriculture could be studied. The already established colleges and universities remained
largely uninfluenced, however, by this agitation. Hence, during the 1850's the Congress debated the issue and finally passed the Morrill Act of 1859. President Buchanan vetoed it essentially on the ground that it was in violation of the traditional policy of the Federal Government which had up to that time left the control of education to the States. On July 2, 1862, the Morrill Act was passed again and signed by President Lincoln.
There has been much discussion since the passage of the First Morrill Act as to its true intent. In the act the purpose is stated in the following words:
... 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 in the several pursuits and professions in life.'
Speaking at the Massachusetts Agricultural College in 1887, 25 years after passage of the act, Mr. Morrill again set forth his views on the general purpose of the Morrill Act in the following words:
The land-grant colleges were founded on the idea that a higher and broader education should be placed in every State within the reach of those whose destiny assigns them to, or who may have the courage to choose industrial vocations where the wealth of nations is produced; where advanced civilization unfolds its comforts, and where a much larger number of the people need wider educational advantages, and impatiently await their possession . . . . It would be a mistake to suppose it was intended that every student should become either a farmer or a mechanic when the design comprehended not only instruction for those who may hold the plow or follow a trade, but such instruction as any person might need-with "the world all before them where to choose"-and without the exclusion of those who might prefer to adhere to the classics.'
Speaking before the Vermont Legislature in 1888, Mr. Morrill said:
Only the interest from the land-grant fund can be expended, and that must be expended, first-without excluding other scientific and classical studies for teaching such branches of learning as are related to agriculture and the mechanic arts the latter as absolutely as the former. Obviously not manual, but intellectual instruction was the paramount
1 Morrill Act of 1862, sec. 4, see p. 55.
Hon. Justin W. Morrill. Address, 1887. Reprinted under title, "I Would Have Higher Learning More Widely Disseminated," by University of Massachusetts, Amherst, 1961.
object. It was not provided that agricultural labor in the field should be practically taught, any more than that the mechanical trade of a carpenter or blacksmith should be taught. Secondly, it was a liberal education that was proposed. Classical studies were not to be excluded, and, therefore, must be included. The Act of 1862 proposed a system of broad education by colleges, not limited to a superficial and dwarfed training, such as might be supplied by a foreman of a workshop or by a foreman of an experimental farm. If any would have only a school with equal scraps of labor and of instruction, or something other than a college, they would not obey the national law. . . .
The fundamental idea was to offer an opportunity in every State for a liberal and larger education to larger numbers, not merely to those destined to sedentary professions, but to those much needing higher instruction for the world's business, for the industrial pursuits and professions of life.'
From the legislation itself and from Mr. Morrill's statements it seems clear that at least three purposes were embodied in the legislalation:
1. A protest against the then characteristic dominance of the classics in higher education.
2. A desire to develop, at the college level, instruction relating to the practical activities of life.
3. An attempt to offer to those belonging to the industrial classes preparation for the "professions of life.""
The Federal Support
A system of colleges and universities, managed by each State but conforming to certain broad policy stipulations of Federal law, has thus grown up. The Federal support contemplated in the initial Morrill Act was to be the income from public lands (30,000 acres or equivalent in scrip for each Representative and Senator) made available to each State. The State was expected to contribute to the maintenance of its land-grant institution as well as to provide its buildings.
From this modest beginning the Federal Government has expanded its contributions to the land-grant colleges and universities. Recognizing the need for research as a basis for developing agriculture, the Congress passed the Hatch Act in 1887 setting up in the land-grant institutions the system of agricultural experiment stations. In 1890 the Second Morrill Act was passed, supplementing by direct ap
* Hon. Justin W. Morrill. An address in behalf of the University of Vermont and State Agricultural College. Free Press Assoc., Burlington, Vt., 1888. p. 1-6. The Land-Grant Colleges. The Advisory ComU.S. Government Printing Office, Washington,
• George A. Works and Barton Morgan. mittee on Education, Staff Study No. 10. 1939. p. 11.
For summary of Hatch Act, see p. 70.
propriation the income from the land-grants for instruction. 1914 the Smith-Lever Act was passed, establishing the system of cooperative extension services to bring to adults the benefits of current developments in the field of agriculture. Thus, these institutions, designed to foster a program of education suited to the needs of the agricultural and industrial classes, were established on a foundation of research, and encompassed a program for both the youth on the campus and the adult population throughout the rural areas of the Nation.
In the decades following 1914, numerous acts have been passed expanding the scope and increasing the support of all three aspects of the program-research, campus instruction, and extension education. Now, in addition to the income from the original land grants, the appropriations of Federal funds to aid the States in the maintenance of land-grant institutions amount to more than $100 million annually. For the year ending June 30, 1962, the appropriations totaled: for experiment stations, $34,725,021; for campus instruction, $10,744,000; and for extension education, $59,590,000.
These funds are distributed to the States on several different bases. Some funds go in equal amounts to all States; some to the States on the basis of their farm population, or on their total population in relation to the total population of the U.S. The funds for campus instruction are distributed and administered by the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, Office of Education. The funds for experiment stations and extension education are distributed and administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The total annual income from the original land grants and the total appropriations from the Federal funds for the support of resident instruction in the land-grant institutions are shown by years in the accompanying table 1.
For text of Second Morrill Act, see p. 59.