Customised search for historical information

4 October 2009

On this day in history: First higher-education institute in Texas opened, 1871

In July 1862 the U.S. Congress signed the Morrill Act into law. First proposed by Representative Justin Smith Morrill of Vermont in 1857, the Act provided the legislative framework for the providing Federal land to be auctioned in order to create funds for the foundation of Land-Grant Colleges - institutions to provide higher education particularly in agriculture and mechanical engineering. The plan originated with Professor Jonathan Baldwin Turner of Illinois College, who suggested that the funds be divided equally between the states; however, the Morrill Act allocated land in proportion to the number of delegates they sent to Congress.

In April 1871, the Texas state legislature established the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas, the first higher-education institute in the state. The legislature provided the funds for the construction of the college buildings, and invested money made available by the sale of federal lands to create a permanent endowment. Over the next few months the campus was built on land donated by Brazos County, through which wild animals continued to roam.

On 4th October 1871, the college officially opened and the six professors started teaching their first forty students. By the end of the first academic year over one-hundred students were in attendance. The college did not admit female students, and required those attending to join the Corps of Cadets to receive military training.

Related posts
First university founded in Americas: 12th May, 1551
First university inaugurated in Australia: 11th October, 1852