Texas A&M was started by the passing of the Morrill Act in 1862 that allowed donation of public land to the states for the purpose of funding higher education whose “leading object shall be, without excluding other scientific and classical studies, and including military tactics, to teach such branches of learning as are related to agriculture and mechanic arts.” The Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas was then established in 1871 by the Texas state legislature. The location was decided once the citizens of Brazos County offered 2,416 acres of land. Instruction began in 1876 for only white males and as required by the Morrill Act, all students were required to participate in military training. In the 1960s under the presidency of Gen. James Earl Rudder, A&M opened its doors to African-Americans and women and made the Corps of Cadets voluntary. In 1963, the Texas legislature officially renamed the school to Texas A&M University with the “A” and “M” being a symbolic link to the school’s past but no longer officially standing for “Agricultural and Mechanical.”
Information courtesy of Texas A&M University and Texas State Historical Association. Photo below is of the first building built on the Texas A&M campus. The Old Main building that was built in 1876. This photo was taken in 1900 before it burned down in 1912. Photo courtesy of Texas A&M University Archives.