Library marks 1862 creation of land-grant colleges

June 22, 2012 - 3:15 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Library of Congress is celebrating key decisions made 150 years ago that spread access to higher education and knowledge from the wealthy to the masses.

On Monday, the library is hosting a symposium celebrating the law that created land-grant colleges across the country. The event also is marking the creation of the National Academy of Science and the founding of Carnegie public libraries.

The 1862 passage the Morrill Act came in the midst of the Civil War. It provided each state with federal land to be sold to fund public colleges. It passed after some Southern states seceded. President Abraham Lincoln signed it into law.

Today millions of students attend these colleges.

Librarian of Congress James Billington says the vision behind the Morrill Act democratized education throughout the U.S.