Commemorating the Sesquicentennial of
the ratification of the 14th amendment
Justin Morrill’s journey from the son of a Blacksmith in Strafford, Vermont to one of the most accomplished legislators in United States history left an indelible mark: A lifelong desire to extend equal opportunities and legal rights to United States citizens. Many know Morrill as the father of the Land Grant Acts that made higher education available to people from all walks of life, but few realize that Morrill served on the Joint Committee on Reconstruction (1866) that drafted the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, providing equal protection to life, liberty and property under the law in response to the rights of freed slaves in the aftermath of the Civil War. This groundbreaking exhibit highlights the critical aspects of the 14th Amendment and elucidates Morrill’s role in drafting the amendment. It explores some of the major legal decisions that have been based in the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, such as Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas (1954); Gideon v. Wainwright (1963), Loving v. Virginia (1967), Roe v. Wade (1973), and Obergefell v. Hodges (2015).