Justin Morrill Portrait
At Dedication Exercises held on June 20, 1883, as part of Cornell’s annual commencement, Henry W. Sage unveiled the portrait of Justin S. Morrill that he and his fellow Trustees of Cornell University had commissioned the noted artist Eastman Johnson to paint.
In his remarks that day, Cornell co-founder and first president, Andrew D. White, proclaimed: “I ask you to look a moment at the passage of that bill. Centuries hence men shall look back upon it as one of the noblest things in American annals.”
Morrill was so pleased with this portrait that he had Johnson paint a replica of it for his Washington, D.C. home. That painting is now on display in the U. S. Capitol.
That same day, the Trustees passed a resolution “that South University building be hereafter known and designated Morrill Hall, and North University building be hereafter known and designated White Hall.”
The memorial plaque on the original frame was inscribed:
JUSTIN S. MORRILL
SENATOR OF THE UNITED STATES FROM VERMONT,
AUTHOR OF THE
“Morrill Bill of 1862,”
WHICH, IN THE MIDST OF A WAR FOR THE NATIONAL
EXISTENCE, MADE PROVISION FOR SCIENTIFIC,
LITERARY, INDUSTRIAL AND MILITARY
EDUCATION IN EVERY STATE
OF THE UNION.
THIS PORTRAIT IS PAINTED BY ORDER OF THE TRUS-
TEES OF CORNELL UNIVERSITY AS A TRIBUTE
OF GRATITUDE AND RESPECT TO
A NATIONAL BENEFACTOR.
|Proceedings at the Unveiling of the Portrait of the Honorable Justin S. Morrill Senator of the United States from Vermont at the Annual Commencement of Cornell University. June 20, 1883. Ithaca, NY: 1884.
At ceremonies attended by New York Governor Grover Cleveland on June 20, 1883, two new buildings were dedicated (Franklin Hall and Military Hall), two cornerstones were laid (for the new Memorial Antechapel addition to Sage Chapel and the new student hospital), and two buildings were renamed, the South and North University Buildings became Morrill Hall and White Hall. Senator Morrill was also honored with the unveiling of his portrait. Speeches by both Andrew D. White and Morrill are contained in this pamphlet. In his speech White stated, “Let his name be long remembered. Statues shall be erected to him long after the little great men who tried to thwart him are forgotten.”
|Autograph Original of Senator Morrill’s Address at Cornell. June 20, 1883.
In the speech that he gave at the unveiling of his new portrait, Justin Morrill recounted the legislative history of his Land-Grant College Bill and humbly told President White and the Board of Trustees, “…I tender my profound thanks for the honor here conferred, and only regret that the recipient had not been more worthy of your distinguished consideration.”