Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Webfoot Wednesday: Powered by Orange

Another interesting tidbit from "This Day in Oregon": "The cornerstone of the new building of the state agricultural college was laid, on the college farm near the city of Corvallis, this day in 1887, by the Grand Lodge of A.F. & A.M. of Oregon."

This college would become Oregon State University. Go Beavs!

OSU was one of many land grant universities established following passage of the Morrill Act in 1862. The Republican Party of the 1850s and 1860s was descended from the Whig Party of the 1840s, a party advocating internal improvements, protective tariffs and developing America's infrastructure as a path toward growth and prominence. The almost exclusively Democratic antebellum South, on the other hand, favored low tariffs, as little federal government as possible and did not share the Whigs'--or later, the Republicans'--enthusiasm for technological development and infrastructure, because these were simply not necessary in a land-based economy that with low labor costs (i.e., slavery).

Once the South left Congress with the onset of Civil War, northern Republicans were suddenly in a position to pass all sorts of legislation that would previously have foundered on the shoals of sectionalism, including the Homestead Act (western settlement had been the hottest of hot-button issues when North and South were engaged in a zero-sum game of preserving "balance" between slave and free), the transcontinental railroad (before the South left, deciding which route it would take was an intractable problem), and the Morrill Act (scientific agriculture was the key to developing America's resources without the benefits of cheap slave labor). The results of the Morrill Act, in particular, range from Michigan State to Oregon State, and many universities in between.

See "This Day in Oregon" full citation Aug. 3.

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