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***Justin Morrill Homestead
Special Features: Architectural, Historical, Natural
Walking Conditions: Trail
Bring: Boots, Compass
Senator Justin Morrill (1810 – 1898) was born in Strafford, the son of a blacksmith. At age 15, he had to leave school to work as a merchant’s clerk, and in later years he became a legislator. He worked tirelessly to provide others with the opportunities he himself lacked.
Inspired by his own lack of formal education, Senator Morrill was the chief sponsor of the Land Grant Act, signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln in 1862. The goal of the Act being to create a land grant to each state to provide an education to farmers, mechanics, artisans and laborers. However, colleges in former Confederate states denied this opportunity to African Americans. The subsequent 1890 Morrill Act forced all states to either establish separate colleges for African Americans or to desegregate the colleges established under the first legislation. The southern states chose to establish 16 black colleges and universities. Ultimately the 1890 legislation provided federal funding for the founding of 105 black colleges and universities established before 1964. Students and alumni of these institutions played pivotal roles in the passage of civil rights laws in the U.S. (See Source – VT African American Heritage Trail for more information).
The Morrill Homestead is an example of Gothic Revival Architecture. It was designed and built by Justin Morrill before embarking on his political career. The Justin Morrill Homestead is a Vermont owned Historic Site. Find out more about this place and many others at: www.historicvermont.org.