Date of this Version
Published in THESE FIFTY YEARS: A HISTORY OF THE COLLEGE OF AGRICULTURE OF THE UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA (Lincoln, 1925).
THE FEDERAL LAND GRANT
THE modern-day agricultural college with its four-year collegiate course, its high schools and short courses, its well-developed scientific research, and its extension activities, has been a development of hardly more than the last quarter century. Certainly fifty years will cover the outstanding accomplishments. After the passage of the Morrill Land-Grant Act of 1862 it was many years before the agricultural or industrial colleges (as they were often called) began to lay the foundations of agricultural education and research as they are known today.
Because the prosperity of the New World hinged to a large extent on the development of its agricultural resources, well-intentioned but often feeble attempts at agricultural instruction were frequently made. Perhaps the first record of any agricultural instruction in America is that of the Franciscan monks who in 1629 endeavored to supplement "primitive practices with the more scientific and fruitful methods of agriculture brought from the Old World" among the Pueblo Indians of the Southwest.
In 1751 William Smith issued a prospectus designed as a model for colleges in which he provided for a course to be known as the chemistry of agriculture. His plan was carried out in the Philadelphia Academy, now the University of Pennsylvania. Animal husbandry was mentioned in the original prospectus of King's College (Columbia University) in 1754, and a professorship of botany and agriculture was established there in 1792. "An attempt is made by the professor, who is a practical farmer, to elucidate and explain the economy of plants, and affinity to animals, and the organization, stimuli, life diseases and death of both classes of beings," reads a report of this course.