On July 2, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed into law the Morrill Act 0f 1862, or the Land Grant Colleges Act. Justin Morrill, the major proponent of the act, intended these colleges “to teach such branches of learning as are related to agriculture and the mechanic arts, in such manner as the legislatures of the States may respectively prescribe, in order to promote the liberal and practical education of the industrial classes in the several pursuits and professions in life.” 1
In order to fund these colleges, the act specified that each state receive 30,000 acres of federal land for every member of Congress in order to lease and eventually sell. The proceeds went to funding the creation of the college, creating a curriculum, and general campus maintenance. On September 11, 1862, Iowa became the first state legislature to officially accept the provisions of the Morrill Act, raising funds for the Iowa State Agricultural College and Model Farm – which later became known as Iowa State University.
1 7 U.S. Code § 304.