The Morrill Act and the Legend of the Rivalry
In honor of the 150th anniversary of the Morrill Act, Auburn University and the Ralph Brown Draughon Library hosted a special lecture with Dr. Dwayne Cox, Head of the Special Collections and Archives for Auburn University, as the guest speaker.
Dr. Dwayne Cox lectures on "Auburn v. Alabama: The Origin of the Rivalry."
The lecture took a look at how Auburn University became a land grant institution and what impact that has had on everything from the way the education is set up to the famous Auburn. VS. Alabama rivalry.
The Morrill Act was first proposed by a Vermont senator who thought that public land should be used to support public and practical education. Unlike most colleges during that period, a land grant institution had free reign to teach whatever subjects they wished so long as they include three specific classes: Agriculture, mechanics, and military tactics. All of which are still being taught at Auburn today.
Both Auburn and Alabama wanted to be the state’s land grant institution, but Auburn won the bid, which fueled the already present rivalry between the two schools.
Even without football, Auburn and Alabama have had an intense rivalry and Cox argues that the most intense period of this was in the early 1900s. Several different factors played into the rivalry including state money, the Carnegie Foundation’s national standards and the teacher education fund. It wasn’t until 1948 that football was even brought back into the picture.
While most people think that the Auburn Vs. Alabama rivalry is solely based on football, Cox says that it’s much more then that. The roots run deep and it all seemed to start with the 1862 Morrill Act.