Morrill, Justin S.


Vermont US Rep & Senator, drafted Land Grant College Act, controversial tariff and anti-polygamy legislation in 43-year congressional career


Autograph ID: 7039
Condition: Very good, small ink blot at top of “J”
Description: “(1810-1898) A founder of the Republican Party, Vermont US Rep 1855–67, Senator 1867–98. Most remembered for the Morrill Land-Grant Colleges Act that created federal funding for establishing many public colleges and universities. In 1854 Morrill was elected as a Whig to Congress and as a Republican to the next 5 Congresses. He authored the Tariff Act of 1861 as well as the college land-grant act. He was chairman of the House Committee on Ways and means 1865-67 and served on the Joint Committee on Reconstruction that drafted the 14th Amendment. In 1866, he was elected as a Union Republican to the Senate and served almost 31 years. As chairman of the Committee on Public Buildings and Grounds (1869-77), he played a vital role in obtaining the current Library of Congress main building while on the Joint Select Committee on Additional Accommodations for the Library. Smithsonian Institution Regent 1883–98 and a trustee of the University of Vermont 1865–98. The Morrill Act, also known as the Land Grant College Act, was signed into law by President Lincoln in 1862. Many colleges created under this act have a “Morrill Hall” named in his honor. In 1999, the US Postal Service issued a postage stamp to honor his role in establishing land grant colleges, forerunners of many state universities. He also authored the Morrill Anti-Bigamy Act of 1862, which targeted the Mormon Church based on the then-existing practice of plural marriage, imposing a $500 fine and up to 5 years imprisonment for polygamy. In 1879, the Supreme Court upheld the Act’s ban on plural marriage. The Morrill Tariff of 1861, adopted March 2, 1861, was one of the last acts signed into law by President Buchanan, and provided an issue for southern secessionist agitation. Two additional tariffs sponsored by Rep. Morrill, each one higher, were passed during Lincoln’s administration to raise revenue during the Civil War.

Signature “J.S. Morrill/Vermont” on 2 ¾ x 5 ¼ autograph album page fragment signed likely as US Senator; undated but ca. 1878.”
Type: Signature

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