University of Vermont

Office of the President

The Great Justin Morrill to Speak at UVM June 28

Performance commemorates 150th anniversary of the land grant act, launches UVM’s fifth season of historic tours

Justin Morrill
Vermont Rep. Justin Morrill. (Photo: Library of Congress)

WHAT:  Vermont representative and senator Justin Morrill, portrayed by David McWilliams, will deliver one of the great Vermonter’s most stirring speeches, an appeal  to the House of Representatives in 1858 to pass his Land Grant Colleges Act. The speech commemorates both the 150th anniversary of the legislation and the launch of UVM’s fifth season of free, weekly historic tours

WHO:  Justin Morrill (1810-1898) was a representative and a senator from Vermont, remembered today for the Morrill Land Grant Colleges Act, which provided federal funding to establish many of the United States' public colleges and universities.

The groundbreaking legislation became law in 1862, democratizing higher education and creating a modern curriculum based on agriculture, engineering and science. By giving rise to America’s great public research universities, many credit the act with propelling America to its ascendent postion in the world today.

McWilliams, a board member at the Justin Morrill Homestead in Strafford, regularly portrays Justin Morrill. On June 26, he will be the opening speaker at the American Public and Land Grant University’s Morrill Act anniversary celebration at the Ronald Reagan Office and International Trade Center in Washington, D.C. He will perform the same speech he is giving at UVM. 

WHEN:  Thursday, June 28, at noon.

WHERE:  In front of Morrill Hall on the UVM campus.

WHAT ELSE:  After McWilliams’ performance, emeritus UVM professor Bill Averyt, who leads UVM’s free weekly historic tours during the summer and fall, will speak about the history of Morrill Hall and take visitors inside the building to view a portrait and bust of Morrill.