• In 1859, US Representative Justin Morrill helped shape the future of Tennessee and the rest of the nation with the idea that higher education should be available to everyone. President Abraham Lincoln signed into law the Morrill Act of 1862, which established land-grant colleges to teach agriculture and the mechanical arts to anyone who desired to learn, not just the privileged. The spirit of the “people’s colleges” continues at UT today through teaching, research, and extension work.