Governor Brewer Honors Morrill Act Sesquicentennial with Proclamation

Proclamation issued by Governor Jan Brewer honoring the 150th anniversary of the Morrill Land Grant Act.
Proclamation issued by Governor Jan Brewer honoring the 150th anniversary of the Morrill Land Grant Act.

Arizona Governor Janice K. Brewer joined with the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the University of Arizona this month in commemorating the Morrill Land-Grant Act by issuing a proclamation honoring its sesquicentennial.

July 2 marked the 150th anniversary of this landmark Civil War-era legislation by which the federal government provided for the establishment of colleges to educate America’s working classes in agriculture, engineering, and other practical sciences.

President Lincoln signed a series of acts in 1862 designed to stimulate westward migration and drive agricultural and economic development. The Department of Agriculture was founded on May 15. Five days later, the Homestead Act opened the frontier by promising free land to farmers. The Morrill Act was the third in this series and ultimately prompted the establishment of 106 land-grant universities across the United States.

Arizona was still a territory in 1885 when it took advantage of the Morrill Act and founded a university to be based in Tucson. Today, public universities around the world emulate the land-grant model of teaching, research and extension.

“CALS is proud to honor this tradition by positioning ourselves for leadership in the global community,” said Shane Burgess, vice provost and dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

Featured below is the text of Governor Brewer’s proclamation, issued June 21, 2012 at the Capitol in Phoenix, Arizona.


WHEREAS, on July 2, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed into law the Morrill Act, setting forth a mechanism by which the federal government could grant public lands to states or territories to fund the establishment of colleges for education in agriculture, mechanic arts, the English language, and mathematical, physical, natural and economic sciences; and

WHEREAS, at the time this legislation was enacted, a war-torn nation with vast riches in land in the American West was breaking with the tradition of a classical education for the elite, by  educating the general population in the practical application of the sciences, for the needs of a growing nation’s economic development; and

WHEREAS, the Territorial Legislature of Arizona took advantage of the provisions of this Act and passed legislation in 1885 establishing the first Arizona university to be based in Tucson, which began with the agricultural sciences, and where the children of Arizona’s early miners, ranchers, and farmers found affordable access to higher education -- a university which grew in size and scope, and helped the territory as it achieved statehood in 1912; and

WHEREAS, The University of Arizona continues to be recognized for the comprehensive, high-quality education it offers to the diverse citizens of Arizona and beyond, for its innovation in all fields including agriculture, energy, social science, water, planetary science, optics, biotechnology, the arts and humanities, medicine and entrepreneurship, and for empowering its graduates to be leaders in solving complex societal problems; and

WHEREAS, the Morrill Act offers an opportunity to reflect on the fundamental role this legislation has played in transforming higher education and forging a model of teaching, research, and extension aspired to by public universities around the world; and

WHEREAS, this sesquicentennial offers an opportunity for all Arizonans to celebrate the role that land-grant universities play in driving economic growth, enhancing agricultural and industrial productivity, and improving the quality of life for the people of Arizona. 

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Janice K. Brewer, Governor of the State of Arizona, do hereby recognize and celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the


and encourage all Arizonans to commemorate and honor the history, traditions and contributions of the land-grant university system in fostering education, discovery and engagement across the Nation. 

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and caused to be affixed the Great Seal of the State of Arizona

Janice K. Brewer

DONE at the Capitol in Phoenix on this twenty-first day of June in the year Two Thousand and Twelve, and of the Independence of the United States of America the Two Hundred and Thirty-Sixth.

Ken Bennett
Secretary of State

For more information on the Morrill Act and the UA’s contributions as a land-grant institution, see

Date released: 
Jul 13 2012
Shane Burgess