As the official 100th anniversary of the Reserve Officer’s Training Corps approaches, military members around the nation today are celebrating the birth of a Republican senator whose law helped plant early seeds for the ROTC.
Justin Smith Morrill was born on this day in 1810. It was his law, the Morrill Land-Grant Colleges Act, that formed an early version of the ROTC. As a federal requirement, the colleges would only be established if they featured a military training component. This isn’t the only root connected to the forming of the ROTC but it is considered the most significant.
In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed the National Defense Act which made the ROTC official and bolstered the nation’s military exponentially. Today, there are 24 active ROTC programs at HBCU’s, and over 300 such programs across the United States, Guam, and Puerto Rico.