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Justin S. Morrill Papers

An inventory of his papers at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: EL
Date: Aug 1979

Biographical History

Justin Smith Morrill (1810-1898) was an American politician; he served as both Senator and Representative from Vermont.

Born in the first of ten children to Nathaniel and Mary (Hunt) Morrill, Justin attended village schools in Strafford, Vermont where both his father and grandfather had been farmers and blacksmiths since 1795. He became a partner with his friend Jedediah H. Harris in the village store in 1831 with great success, and in 1848 he was able to retire from store keeping to his farm. In 1852 he was chosen to represent the local Whig party at their national convention, and in 1854 he was elected to the House of Representatives. From that point he was continuously re-elected to either the House or the Senate for the next forty-four years.

One of his most lasting accomplishments was the Land-Grant College Act, proposed in 1857 but not signed until 1862, which led to the founding and growth of state colleges across the country. In 1890 Congress passed the Second Morrill Act which gave $25,000 in federal funds annually to each land-grant college. He was a significant contributor to the planning and execution of the terraces, fountains, and gardens of the Capitol and the completion of the Washington Monument, as well as to the founding of the Library of Congress. He is also well known in some circles for his authorship of the Morrill Anti-Bigamy Act of 1862.

[Portions of this biographical sketch adapted from the article on Morrill in the Dictionary of American Biography.]

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Justin Smith Morrill Papers comprise correspondence, speeches, and writings, with small amounts of biographical material and memorabilia. Items date from 1835-1866, preceding his election to the U.S. Senate, but many items, especially the speeches, are undated.

Correspondence dates from 1836-1866 and amounts to 24 letters: five from Morrill, 12 incoming to Morrill, and seven others. Among the correspondents are Pennsylvania congressman John Covode (1808-1871), Maryland congressman Henry Winter Davis (1817-1865), and Vermont jurist Jacob Collamer (1791-1865). Other corespondents are principally fellow-Vermonters. An index to the correspondence appears at the end of this inventory.

Eighteen holograph Speeches are all on political topics. The presidential campaign of 1848 was the occasion for many of them. Morrill's Writings are represented by five verses and two miscellaneous items.

A folder of photocopied Biographical information and four items of Memorabilia complete the collection.

Arrangement of the Collection

Correspondence and speeches are arranged chronologically. Writings are arranged alphabetically by type and then by title.


Access Restrictions:

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions:

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

Related Material

Special Collections Research Center has made a concerted effort over the years to ensure that its manuscript and rare books holdings complement each other. As a result, many of our manuscript collections are supported by books, pamphlets, serials and other items which are cataloged in the Rare Books Collection. Please be sure to search the Classic Catalog for these related materials.

Subject Headings


Morrill, Justin S. (Justin Smith), 1810-1898.


Legislators -- United States.
Vermont -- Politics and government.
Whig Party (U.S.)

Genres and Forms

Letters (correspondence)
Speeches (documents)



Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Justin S. Morrill Papers,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Acquired 1963.

Table of Contents

Biographical material





Index of correspondents


Index of correspondents