HOME

TheInfoList




The Homestead Acts were several laws in the United States by which an applicant could acquire ownership of government land or the
public domain The public domain consists of all the creative work A creative work is a manifestation of creativity, creative effort including Work of art, fine artwork (sculpture, paintings, drawing, Sketch (drawing), sketching, performance art), dance, wr ...
, typically called a homestead. In all, more than of public land, or nearly 10 percent of the total area of the United States, was given away free to 1.6 million homesteaders; most of the homesteads were west of the
Mississippi River The Mississippi River is the second-longest river and chief river A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, sea, lake or another river. In some cases, a river flows into the ground and b ...

Mississippi River
. An extension of the
homestead principle The homestead principle is the principle by which one gains ownership of an unowned natural resource Natural resources are resource Resource refers to all the materials available in our environment which help us to satisfy our needs a ...
in law, the Homestead Acts were an expression of the
Free Soil The Free Soil Party was a short-lived coalition political party A political party is an organization that coordinates candidates to compete in a particular country's elections. It is common for the members of a party to hold similar ideas ...
policy of Northerners who wanted individual farmers to own and operate their own farms, as opposed to
Southern The name Southern may refer to: * South South is one of the cardinal directions or compass points. South is the opposite of north and is perpendicular to the east and west. Etymology The word ''south'' comes from Old English ''sūþ'', from earl ...
slave-owners who wanted to buy up large tracts of land and use slave labor, thereby shutting out free white farmers. The first of the acts, the Homestead Act of 1862, opened up millions of acres. Any adult who had never taken up arms against the
Federal government of the United States The federal government of the United States (U.S. federal government or U.S. government) is the Federation#Federal governments, national government of the United States, a federal republic in North America, composed of 50 U.S. state, state ...
could apply. Women and immigrants who had applied for citizenship were eligible. The 1866 Act explicitly included black Americans and encouraged them to participate, but rampant discrimination, systemic barriers and bureaucratic inertia slowed black gains. Historian Michael Lanza argues that while the 1866 law was not as beneficial as it might have been, it was part of the reason that by 1900 one quarter of all Southern black farmers owned their own farms. Several additional laws were enacted in the latter half of the 19th and early 20th centuries. The
Southern Homestead Act of 1866 The Southern Homestead Act of 1866 is a United States federal law The law of the United States comprises many levels of codified and uncodified forms of law, of which the most important is the United States Constitution, which prescribes the founda ...
sought to address land ownership inequalities in the south during
Reconstruction Reconstruction may refer to: Politics, history, and sociology *Reconstruction (law), the transfer of a company's (or several companies') business to a new company *''Perestroika'' (Russian for "reconstruction"), a late 20th century Soviet Union ...
. The
Timber Culture Act The Timber Culture Act was a follow-up act to the Homestead Act The Homestead Acts were several laws in the United States by which an applicant could acquire ownership of government land or the public domain, typically called a homestead. In ...
of 1873 granted land to a claimant who was required to plant trees—the tract could be added to an existing homestead claim and had no residency requirement. The Kinkaid Amendment of 1904 granted a full section——to new homesteaders settling in western Nebraska. An amendment to the Homestead Act of 1862, the Enlarged Homestead Act, was passed in 1909 and doubled the allotted acreage from in marginal areas. Another amended act, the national Stock-Raising Homestead Act, was passed in 1916 and granted for ranching purposes.


Background

Land-grant laws similar to the Homestead Acts had been proposed by northern
Republican Republican can refer to: Political ideology * An advocate of a republic, a type of government that is not a monarchy or dictatorship, and is usually associated with the rule of law. ** Republicanism, the ideology in support of republics or against ...
s before the Civil War, but had been repeatedly blocked in Congress by southern
Democrat Democrat, Democrats, or Democratic may refer to: *A proponent of democracy, or democratic government; a form of government involving rule by the people. *A member of a Democratic Party: **Democratic Party (United States) (D) **Democratic Party (Cy ...
s who wanted western lands open for purchase by slave-owners. The
Homestead Act of 1860 The Homestead Act of 1860 in the United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It co ...
did pass in Congress, but it was vetoed by President
James Buchanan James Buchanan Jr. ( ; April 23, 1791June 1, 1868) was an American lawyer and politician who served as the 15th president of the United States The president of the United States (POTUS) is the and of the . The president directs the ...

James Buchanan
, a Democrat. After the Southern states seceded from the Union in 1861 (and their representatives had left Congress), the bill passed and was signed into law by President
Abraham Lincoln Abraham Lincoln (; February 12, 1809 – April 15, 1865) was an American statesman and lawyer who served as the 16th president of the United States The president of the United States (POTUS) is the head of state and head of governme ...

Abraham Lincoln
(May 20, 1862).
Daniel Freeman Daniel Freeman (April 26, 1826 – December 30, 1908) was an United States, American Homesteading, homesteader and American Civil War, Civil War veteran. He was recognized as the first person to file a claim under the Homestead Act of 1862. Fre ...
became the first person to file a claim under the new act. Between 1862 and 1934, the federal government granted 1.6 million homesteads and distributed of federal land for private ownership. This was a total of 10% of all land in the United States. Homesteading was discontinued in 1976, except in Alaska, where it continued until 1986. About 40% of the applicants who started the process were able to complete it and obtain title to their homesteaded land after paying a small fee in cash.


History


Donation Land Claim Act of 1850

The Donation Land Claim Act allowed settlers to claim land in the
Oregon Territory The Territory of Oregon was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from August 14, 1848, until February 14, 1859, when the southwestern portion of the territory was admitted to the United States, Union as the Orego ...
, then including the modern states of Washington, Oregon, Idaho and parts of Wyoming. The Oregon Donation Land Claim Act was passed in 1850 and allowed white settlers to claim 320 acres or 640 to married couples between 1850 and 1855 when the act was repealed. Before it was repealed in 1855, the land was sold for $1.25 per acre. After the creation of the Oregon territory in 1848, the US government had passed the most generous land distribution bill in US history. The Oregon land Donation Act of 1850 had many negative effects on Indigenous people as well as black people in the
Pacific Northwest The Pacific Northwest (PNW) is a geographic region in western North America bounded by its coastal waters of the Pacific Ocean to the west and, loosely, by the Rocky Mountains to the east. Though no official boundary exists, the most common co ...
. Not only did the act use the land taken away from the Indigenous people in the Pacific Northwest, but the act also barred black citizens from owning land and real estate. The act guaranteed land for white settlers and "half-breed" Indian men to the Oregon territory. This act followed the passing of the 1848 territorial
organic act In Law of the United States, United States law, an organic act is an Act of Congress, act of the United States Congress that establishes a territories of the United States, territory of the United States and specifies how it is to be governe ...
which allowed any white settler to claim a maximum of six hundred and forty acres. The Land Donation Act, however, also acknowledged women’s property rights due to congress allowing the donation of four-hundred acres to settlers—land that could be claimed by heads of households—including women. This act differed from the Homestead Act of 1866 due to the ineligibility of black citizens from applying.


Homestead Act of 1862

The "
yeoman farmer Yeoman was first documented in mid-14th-century England, referring to the middle ranks of servants in an English royal or noble household. Yeomanry was the name applied to groups of freeborn commoners engaged as household guards, or raised as an ...

yeoman farmer
" ideal of
Jeffersonian democracy#REDIRECT Jeffersonian democracy Jeffersonian democracy, named after its advocate Thomas Jefferson Thomas Jefferson (April 13, 1743 – July 4, 1826) was an American statesman, diplomat, lawyer, architect, philosopher, and Founding Father ...
was still a powerful influence in American politics during the 1840–1850s, with many politicians believing a homestead act would help increase the number of "virtuous yeomen". The Free Soil Party of 1848–52, and the new Republican Party after 1854, demanded that the new lands opening up in the west be made available to independent farmers, rather than wealthy planters who would develop it with the use of slaves forcing the yeomen farmers onto
marginal land Marginal land is land that is of little agricultural value because crops produced from the area would be worth less than any rent paid for access to the area. Although the term '' marginal'' is often used in a subjective sense for less-than-ideal la ...
s. Southern Democrats had continually fought (and defeated) previous homestead law proposals, as they feared free land would attract
Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmass A landmass, or land mass, is a large region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of scienc ...

Europe
an immigrants and poor Southern whites to the west. After the South seceded and their delegates left Congress in 1861, the Republicans and other supporters from the upper South passed a homestead act.McPherson; pp. 450–451. The intent of the first Homestead Act, passed in 1862, was to liberalize the homesteading requirements of the
Preemption Act of 1841 The Preemption Act of 1841, also known as the Distributive Preemption Act ( 27 Cong., Ch. 16; ), was a US federal law The law of the United States comprises many levels of codified and uncodified forms of law Law is a system A system is a ...
. It was signed by
Abraham Lincoln Abraham Lincoln (; February 12, 1809 – April 15, 1865) was an American statesman and lawyer who served as the 16th president of the United States The president of the United States (POTUS) is the head of state and head of governme ...

Abraham Lincoln
on May 20, 1862, as following the
Secession in the United States In the context of the United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country in . It consists of 50 , a , five major , 326 , and some . At , it is the world ...
, the most vocal opposition in Congress, the Southern States, had been removed. Its leading advocates were
Andrew Johnson Andrew Johnson (December 29, 1808 July 31, 1875) was the 17th president of the United States The president of the United States (POTUS) is the and of the . The president directs the of the and is the of the . The power of the pre ...

Andrew Johnson
,
George Henry EvansGeorge H Evans (March 25, 1805February 2, 1856) was a radical reformer who was in the Working Men's movement of 1829 and the trade union movements of the 1830s. Evans was born in Bromyard, Herefordshire, England, the son of George Evans and Sarah ...
and
Horace Greeley Horace Greeley (February 3, 1811 – November 29, 1872) was an American newspaper editor and publisher who was the founder and editor Editing is the process of selecting and preparing written Writing is a medium of human commun ...

Horace Greeley
.
George Henry EvansGeorge H Evans (March 25, 1805February 2, 1856) was a radical reformer who was in the Working Men's movement of 1829 and the trade union movements of the 1830s. Evans was born in Bromyard, Herefordshire, England, the son of George Evans and Sarah ...
famously coined the phrase "Vote Yourself a Farm" in a bid to garner support for the movement. The homestead was an area of
public land In all modern states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper in Colum ...
in the West (usually ) granted to any US citizen willing to settle on and farm the land. The law (and those following it) required a three-step procedure: file an application, improve the land, and file for the patent (deed). Any citizen who had never taken up arms against the U.S. government (including
former slaves
former slaves
after the fourteenth amendment) and was at least 21 years old or the head of a household, could file an application to claim a federal land grant. Women were eligible. The occupant had to reside on the land for five years, and show evidence of having made improvements. The process had to be complete within seven years. The act depleted the
Native Americans in the United States Native Americans, also known as American Indians, First Americans, Indigenous Americans and other terms, are the Indigenous peoples Indigenous peoples, also referred to as first peoples, first nations, aboriginal peoples, native peopl ...
of much of their land and natural resources as a result of it being allocated and sold to settlers.


Southern Homestead Act of 1866

Enacted to allow poor
tenant farmer A tenant farmer is one who resides on land owned by a landlord A landlord is the owner of a house A house is a single-unit residential building A building, or edifice, is a structure with a roof and walls standing more or less perma ...

tenant farmer
s and
sharecropper Sharecropping is a legal arrangement with regard to agricultural land in which a landowner allows a tenant to use the land in return for a share of the crops produced on that land. Sharecropping has a long history and there are a wide range ...
s in the
South South is one of the cardinal directions or compass points. South is the opposite of north and is perpendicular to the east and west. Etymology The word ''south'' comes from Old English ''sūþ'', from earlier Proto-Germanic language, Proto-Germa ...
to become landowners in the
Southern United States The Southern United States, also referred to as the Southern States, the American South, Dixie, the Southland, or simply the South, is a geographic and cultural region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally ...
during
Reconstruction Reconstruction may refer to: Politics, history, and sociology *Reconstruction (law), the transfer of a company's (or several companies') business to a new company *''Perestroika'' (Russian for "reconstruction"), a late 20th century Soviet Union ...
. It was not very successful, as even the low prices and fees were often too much for the applicants to afford.


Timber Culture Act of 1873

The Timber Culture Act granted up to 160 acres of land to a homesteader who would plant at least 40 acres (revised to 10) of trees over a period of several years. This quarter-section could be added to an existing homestead claim, offering a total of 320 acres to a settler. This offered a cheap plot of land to homesteaders.


Kinkaid Amendment of 1904

Recognizing that the
Sandhills (Nebraska)Sandhills or Sand Hills may refer to: * Sandhill Canada * Sand Hills, Ontario, near Houghton Centre, Ontario, on Lake Erie Lake Erie is the fourth-largest lake (by surface area) of the five Great Lakes in North America North Am ...
of north-central Nebraska, required more than 160 acres for a claimant to support a family, Congress passed the Kinkaid Act which granted larger homestead tracts, up to 640 acres, to homesteaders in Nebraska.


Forest Homestead Act of 1906

This act allowed homesteads within Forest Reserves (created from 1891 on) and National Forests (from 1905? on), responding to opponents of the nation's Forest Reserves who felt land suited for agriculture was being withheld from private development. Homestead applications were reviewed by the U.S. Forest Service (created in 1905). While at first five years residency was required (per the 1862 Act), in 1913 this act was amended to allow proving up in just three years.


Enlarged Homestead Act of 1909

Because by the early 1900s much of the prime low-lying alluvial land along rivers had been homesteaded, the ''Enlarged Homestead Act'' was passed in 1909. To enable
dryland farming Dryland farming in the Granada region of Spain Dryland farming and dry farming encompass specific agricultural Agriculture is the practice of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of sedentar ...
, it increased the number of acres for a homestead to given to farmers who accepted more
marginal lands Marginal land is land that is of little agricultural value because crops produced from the area would be worth less than any rent paid for access to the area. Although the term ''marginal'' is often used in a subjective sense for less-than-ideal la ...
(especially in the
Great Plains The Great Plains (french: Grandes Plaines), sometimes simply "the Plains", is a broad expanse of flatland ''Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions'' is a satire, satirical novella by the English schoolmaster Edwin Abbott Abbott, first publi ...
), which could not be easily irrigated.Realty and Resource Protection /bmps.Par.41235.File.dat/Split%20Estate%20Presentation%202006.pdf Split EstatePrivate Surface / Public Minerals: What Does it Mean to You?
a 2006
Bureau of Land Management The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is an agency within the responsible for administering . Headquartered in and with oversight over , it governs one eighth of the country's landmass. President created the BLM in 1946 by combining two ex ...
presentation
A massive influx of these new farmers, combined with inappropriate cultivation techniques and misunderstanding of the ecology, led to immense land erosion and eventually the
Dust Bowl The Dust Bowl was a period of severe dust storm A dust storm, also called a sandstorm, is a meteorological phenomenon common in arid A region is arid when it is characterized by a severe lack of available water, to the extent o ...
of the 1930s.


Stock-Raising Homestead Act of 1916

In 1916, the ''Stock-Raising Homestead Act'' was passed for settlers seeking of
public land In all modern states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper in Colum ...
for
ranch A ranch (from es, rancho) is an area of landscape, land, including various structures, given primarily to ranching, the practice of raising grazing livestock such as cattle and sheep. It is a subtype of a farm. These terms are most often appl ...
ing purposes.


Subsistence Homesteads provisions under the New Deal – 1930

Renewed interest in homesteading was brought about by U.S. President
Franklin D. Roosevelt Franklin Delano Roosevelt (, ; January 30, 1882April 12, 1945), often referred to by his initials FDR, was an American politician who served as the 32nd president of the United States from 1933 until his death in 1945. A member of the De ...

Franklin D. Roosevelt
's program of Subsistence Homesteading implemented in the 1930s under the
New Deal The New Deal was a series of programs, public work projects, financial reforms, and regulations Regulation is the management of complex systems according to a set of rules and trends. In systems theory Systems theory is the interdisciplina ...
. ;Small Tracts Act: In 1938 Congress passed a law, called the Small Tract Act (STA) of 1938, by which it is possible for any citizen to obtain certain lands from the Federal Government for residence, recreation, or business purposes. These tracts may not usually be larger than 5 acres. A 5-acre tract would be one which is 660 feet long and 330 feet wide, or its equivalent. The property was to be improved with a building. Starting July 1955, improvement was required to be minimum of 400 sq. feet of space. 4,000 previously classified Small Tracts were offered at public auction at fair market value, circa 1958, by the Los Angeles Office of BLM.


Homesteading requirements

The Homestead Acts had few qualifying requirements. A ''homesteader'' had to be the head of the household or at least twenty-one years old. They had to live on the designated land, build a home, make improvements, and farm it for a minimum of five years. The filing fee was eighteen dollars (or ten to temporarily hold a claim to the land).


In practice

Settlers found land and filed their claims at the regional land office, usually in individual family units, although others formed closer knit communities. Often, the homestead consisted of several buildings or structures besides the main house. The Homestead Act of 1862 gave rise later to a new phenomenon, large land rushes, such as the Oklahoma Land Runs of the 1880s and 90s.


End of homesteading

The
Federal Land Policy and Management Act The Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) is a United States federal law The law of the United States comprises many levels of codified and uncodified forms of law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, int ...
of 1976 ended homesteading; (paragraphs.3,6&13) (Includes data on the U.S. Homestead Act) by that time, federal government policy had shifted to retaining control of western public lands. The only exception to this new policy was in
Alaska Alaska (; ale, Alax̂sxax̂; ; ems, Alas'kaaq; Central Alaskan Yup'ik language, Yup'ik: ''Alaskaq''; tli, Anáaski) is a U.S. state in the Western United States, on the northwest extremity of the country's West Coast of the United State ...

Alaska
, for which the law allowed homesteading until 1986. The last claim under this Act was made by Ken Deardorff for of land on the Stony River in southwestern Alaska. He fulfilled all requirements of the homestead act in 1979 but did not receive his deed until May 1988. He is the last person to receive title to land claimed under the Homestead Acts.


Criticism

The homestead acts were sometimes abused, but historians continue to debate the extent. In the 1950s and 1960s historians Fred Shannon, Roy Robbins and
Paul Wallace Gates Paul Wallace Gates (December 14, 1901 – January 5, 1999) was a professor of history and general historian who is widely considered to be the foremost authority on the history of federal land policy in the United States. Gates wrote 10 books and 7 ...
emphasized fraudulent episodes, and historians largely turned away from the issue. In recent decades, however, the argument has mostly been that on the whole fraud was a relatively minor element and that strongly positive impacts regarding women and the family have only recently been appreciated. Robert Higgs argues that the Homestead Act induced no long-term misallocation of resources. In 1995, a random survey of 178 members of the
Economic History Association The Economic History Association (EHA) was founded in 1940 to "encourage and promote teaching, research, and publication on every phase of economic history Economic history is the academic study of economies or economic events of the past. Resea ...
found that 70 percent of economists and 84 percent of economic historians disagreed that "Nineteenth-century U.S. land policy, which attempted to give away free land, probably represented a net drain on the productive capacity of the country." Although the intent was to grant land for agriculture, in the arid areas just east of the
Rocky Mountains The Rocky Mountains, also known as the Rockies, are a major mountain range A mountain range is a series of mountains ranged in a line and connected by high ground. A mountain system or mountain belt is a group of mountain ranges with simila ...

Rocky Mountains
, was generally too little land for a viable farm (at least prior to major federal public investments in irrigation projects). In these areas, people manipulated the provisions of the act to gain control of resources, especially water. A common scheme was for an individual, acting as a front for a large cattle operation, to file for a homestead surrounding a water source, under the pretense that the land was to be used as a farm. Once the land was granted, other cattle ranchers would be denied the use of that water source, effectively closing off the adjacent public land to competition. That method was also used by large businesses and speculators to gain ownership of timber and oil-producing land. The federal government charged royalties for extraction of these resources from public lands. On the other hand, homesteading schemes were generally pointless for land containing "locatable minerals," such as gold and silver, which could be controlled through mining claims under the
Mining Act of 1872 The General Mining Act of 1872 is a United States federal law The law of the United States comprises many levels of codified and uncodified forms of law, of which the most important is the United States Constitution, which prescribes the foundation ...
, for which the federal government did not charge royalties. The government developed no systematic method to evaluate claims under the homestead acts. Land offices relied on affidavits from witnesses that the claimant had lived on the land for the required period of time and made the required improvements. In practice, some of these witnesses were bribed or otherwise colluded with the claimant. It was common practice and not fraudulent for the eligible children of a large family to claim nearby land as soon as possible. After a few generations, a family could build up a sizable estate.Hansen, Zeynep K., and Gary D. Libecap
"Small Farms, Externalities, and the Dust Bowl of the 1930s"
''Journal of Political Economy'', Volume: 112(3). – pp.665–94. – 21 November 2003
The homesteads were criticized as too small for the environmental conditions on the Great Plains; a homesteader using 19th-century animal-powered tilling and harvesting could not have cultivated the 1500 acres later recommended for dry land farming. Some scholars believe the acreage limits were reasonable when the act was written, but reveal that no one understood the physical conditions of the plains. According to
Hugh Nibley Hugh Winder Nibley (March 27, 1910 – February 24, 2005) was an American scholar and an Mormon studies#Apologetics, apologist of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) who was a professor at Brigham Young University (BYU) fo ...
, much of the rain forest west of
Portland, Oregon Portland (, ) is the list of cities in Oregon, largest and most populous city in the U.S. state of Oregon, and the county seat, seat of Multnomah County, Oregon, Multnomah County. It is a major port in the Willamette Valley region of the Pacif ...

Portland, Oregon
was acquired by the Oregon Lumber Company by illegal claims under the Act.


Related acts in other countries


Canada

Similar laws were passed in Canada: The
Legislative Assembly of Ontario The Legislative Assembly of Ontario (french: Assemblée législative de l'Ontario) is the Unicameralism, unicameral legislative chamber of the Provinces and territories of Canada, Canadian province of Ontario. Along with the Monarchy in Ontari ...
passed ''The Free Grants and Homestead Act'' in 1868, which introduced a conditional scheme to an existing free grant plan previously authorized by the
Province of Canada The Province of Canada (or the United Province of Canada or the United Canadas) (french: link=no, Province du Canada) was a British colony Within the British Empire, a Crown colony or royal colony was a colony In political science, ...
in ''The Public Lands Act'' of 1860. It was extended to include settlement in the
Rainy River District Rainy River District is a district A district is a type of administrative division that, in some countries, is managed by local government. Across the world, areas known as "districts" vary greatly in size, spanning regions or counties, sever ...
under ''The Rainy River Free Grants and Homestead Act, 1886'', These Acts were consolidated in 1913 in ''The Public Lands Act'', which was further extended in 1948 to provide for free grants to former members of the
Canadian Forces The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF; french: Forces armées canadiennes; ''FAC'') is the unified military A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare ...
. The original free grant provisions for settlers were repealed in 1951, and the remaining provisions were repealed in 1961. The
Parliament of Canada The Parliament of Canada (french: Parlement du Canada) is the federal Federal or foederal (archaic) may refer to: Politics General *Federal monarchy, a federation of monarchies *Federation, or ''Federal state'' (federal system), a type of gov ...

Parliament of Canada
passed the ''
Dominion Lands Act The ''Dominion Lands Act'' (long title: ''An Act Respecting the Public Lands of the Dominion'') was an 1872 Canadian law that aimed to encourage the settlement of the Canadian Prairies The Canadian Prairies (usually referred to as simply the ...
'' in 1872 in order to encourage settlement in the
Northwest Territories The Northwest Territories (commonly abbreviated as NT or NWT; french: Territoires du Nord-Ouest) is a federal territory A territory is an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subd ...

Northwest Territories
. Its application was restricted after the passage of the
Natural Resources Acts The Natural Resources Acts were a series of Acts passed by the Parliament of Canada and the provinces of Alberta ("Strong and free") , image_map = Alberta in Canada 2.svg , Label_map = yes , coordinates ...
in 1930, and it was finally repealed in 1950. The
Legislative Assembly of Quebec The Legislative Assembly of Quebec (French: ''Assemblée législative du Québec'') was the name of the lower house of Quebec's legislature until December 31, 1968, when it was renamed the National Assembly of Quebec. At the same time, the upper ...
did not expand the scope of the 1860 Province of Canada Act (which modern day Quebec was part of in 1860), but did provide in 1868 that such lands were exempt from seizure, and chattels thereon were also exempt for the first ten years of occupation. Later known as the ''Settlers Protection Act'', it was repealed in 1984.
Newfoundland and Labrador Newfoundland and Labrador (; sometimes abbreviated as NL) is the easternmost province of Canada The Province of Canada (or the United Province of Canada or the United Canadas) (french: link=no, Province du Canada) was a British North Am ...
provided for free grants of land upon proof of possession for twenty years prior to 1977, with continuous use for agricultural, business or residential purposes during that time. Similar programs continued to operate in
Alberta ("Strong and free") , image_map = Alberta in Canada 2.svg , Label_map = yes , coordinates = , official_lang = English , capital = Edmonton Edmonton ( ) is the capital ...

Alberta
and
British Columbia ( en, Splendour without diminishment) , image_map = British Columbia in Canada 2.svg , Label_map = yes , coordinates = , official_lang = None , Slogan = Beautiful British C ...

British Columbia
until 1970. In the early 21st century, some land is still being granted in the
Yukon Territory Yukon (; ; also called Yukon Territory and referred to by some as the Yukon) is the smallest and westernmost of Canada's three territories. It also is the least populated province or territory in Canada, with a population of 35,874 people as of ...
under its Agricultural Lands Program.


New Zealand

Despite the 1840
Treaty of Waitangi The Treaty of Waitangi ( mi, Te Tiriti o Waitangi) is a treaty A treaty is a formal, legally binding written agreement between actors in international law International law, also known as public international law and law of nations, ...
provisions for sale of land, the Māori Land Court decided that all land not cultivated by Māori was 'waste land' and belonged to
the Crown The Crown is the state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper i ...

the Crown
without purchase. Most
provinces A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, first-level subdivision, as well as many similar terms, are g ...
in colonial New Zealand had Waste Lands Acts enacted between 1854 and 1877. The 1874 Waste Lands Act in
Auckland Province The Auckland Province was a province of New Zealand from 1853 until the abolition of provincial government in 1876. Area The province covered roughly half of the North Island The North Island, also officially named Te Ika-a-Māui, is one of ...
used the term Homestead, with allocation administered by a Crown Lands Board. There was similar legislation in Westland. It gave up to , with
settler A settler is a person who has migrated to an area and established a permanent residence there, often to colonize Colonization, or colonisation refers to large-scale population movements where the migrants maintain strong links with their or ...
s just paying the cost of a survey. They had to live there for five years, build a house and cultivate a third of the land, if already open, or a fifth if bush had to be cleared. The land was forfeited if they didn't clear enough bush. Further amendments were made in 1877, 1882 and 1885, adding details such as pastoral and perpetual leases and village and special settlements. This contributed to rapid
deforestation deforestation in 1750-2004 (net loss) showing anthropogenic modification of remaining forest. File:MODIS (2020-08-01).jpg, 300px, Dry seasons, exacerbated by climate change, and the use of slash-and-burn methods for clearing tropical forest ...
.


Australia

Several selection acts were passed in
colonial Australia The history of Australia is the story of the land and peoples of the continent of Australia. Aboriginal Australians first arrived on the Australian mainland by sea from Maritime Southeast Asia between 50,000 and 65,000 years ago, and penetra ...
which were based on the Crown Lands Acts. They were passed in all six of the
Australian colonies The history of Australia is the story of the land and peoples of the continent of Australia. Aboriginal Australians Aboriginal Australians are the various Indigenous peoples of the Mainland Australia, Australian mainland and many of its i ...
prior to
federation A federation (also known as a federal state) is a political entity A polity is an identifiable political Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with Decision-making, making decisions in Social group, groups, ...
, with the first one,
New South Wales New South Wales (abbreviated as NSW) is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspape ...
, passing such legislation in 1861.


In popular culture

*
Laura Ingalls Wilder Laura Elizabeth Ingalls Wilder (February 7, 1867 – February 10, 1957) was an American writer, mostly known for the ''Little House on the Prairie ''The "Little House" Books'' is a series of American children's novels written by Laura Ingal ...

Laura Ingalls Wilder
's ''
Little House on the Prairie ''The "Little House" Books'' is a series of American children's novels written by Laura Ingalls Wilder, based on her childhood and adolescence in the Midwestern United States, American Midwest (Wisconsin, Kansas, Minnesota, South Dakota, and Mis ...
'' series describes her father and family claiming a homestead in
Kansas Kansas () is a U.S. state, state in the Midwestern United States, Midwestern United States. Its Capital city, capital is Topeka and its largest city is Wichita, Kansas, Wichita. Kansas is a landlocked state bordered by Nebraska to the north; ...

Kansas
, and later
Dakota Territory The Territory of Dakota was an organized incorporated territory of the United States and the founding of the United States: Kingdom of Great Britain, British claims are indicated in red and pink, while Spanish claims are in orange and yellow. ...
. Wilder's daughter
Rose Wilder Lane Rose Wilder Lane (December 5, 1886 – October 30, 1968) was an American journalist, travel writer, novelist, political theorist and daughter of American writer Laura Ingalls Wilder. Along with two other female writers, Ayn Rand and Isabel Pater ...
published a novel, '' Free Land'', which describes the trials of homesteaders in what is now
South Dakota South Dakota () (Sioux The Sioux or Oceti Sakowin (; Dakota Dakota may refer to: * Dakota people, a sub-tribe of the Sioux ** Dakota language, their language From this origin, Dakota may also refer to: Places United States * Dako ...

South Dakota
. *
Willa Cather Willa Sibert Cather (; born Wilella Sibert Cather; December 7, 1873 – April 24, 1947) was an American writer known for her novels of life on the Great Plains The Great Plains (french: Grandes Plaines), sometimes simply "the Plains", is a ...
's novels ''
O Pioneers! ''O Pioneers!'' is a 1913 novel by American author Willa Cather Willa Sibert Cather (; born Wilella Sibert Cather; December 7, 1873 – April 24, 1947) was an American writer known for her novels of life on the Great Plains, including ''O Pion ...
'' and ''
My Ántonia ''My Ántonia'' ( ) is a novel published in 1918 by American writer Willa Cather, considered one of her best works. The novel tells the stories of an orphaned boy from Virginia, Jim Burden, and the elder daughter in a family of Bohemian immigr ...
'' feature families homesteading on the Great Plains. *
Oscar Micheaux Oscar Devereaux Micheaux (; January 2, 1884 – March 25, 1951) was an African-American African Americans (also referred to as Black Americans or Afro-Americans) are an ethnic group of Americans with total or partial ancestry from any of the ...

Oscar Micheaux
's novel ''The Homesteader: a Novel'' (1917) is a semi-autobiographical story of an
African American African Americans (also referred to as Black Americans or Afro-Americans) are an ethnic group An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping of people A people is any plurality of person A person (plural people or persons) is a being t ...

African American
homesteader in South Dakota shortly after the turn of the 20th century. * Kirby Larson's young-adult novel ''Hattie Big Sky'' explores one woman's attempts to "improve" on her family's homestead before the deadline to retain her rights. * The
Rodgers and Hammerstein Rodgers and Hammerstein refers to the theatre-writing team of composer Richard Rodgers Richard Charles Rodgers (June 28, 1902 – December 30, 1979) was an American Musical composition, composer, known largely for his work in musical ...
musical ''
Oklahoma! ''Oklahoma!'' is the first musical Musical is the adjective of music Music is the of arranging s in time through the of melody, harmony, rhythm, and timbre. It is one of the aspects of all human societies. General include common el ...
'' is based in the
Oklahoma land rush A land run or land rush was an event in which previously restricted land of the United States was opened to Homestead Act, homestead on a first-arrival basis. Lands were opened and sold first-come or by bid, or won by lottery, or by means other than ...

Oklahoma land rush
. * The 1962
Elvis Presley Elvis Aaron Presley (January 8, 1935 – August 16, 1977) was an American singer and actor. Dubbed the " King of Rock and Roll", he is regarded as one of the most significant cultural icons of the 20th century. His energized interpreta ...

Elvis Presley
musical film ''
Follow That Dream ''Follow That Dream'' is a 1962 American musical film Musical film is a film genre in which songs by the Character (arts), characters are interwoven into the narrative, sometimes accompanied by dancing. The songs usually advance the plot or deve ...
'', adapted from ''
Pioneer, Go Home! ''Pioneer, Go Home!'' is a satirical novel by Richard P. Powell, first published in 1959 in literature, 1959. The novel follows a New Jersey family, The Kwimpers, who move to Columbiana, a fictional state that resembles Florida, and squat on the sid ...
'' (1959), features a family that homesteads in
Florida Florida is a U.S. state, state located in the Southeastern United States, Southeastern region of the United States. Florida is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the northwest by Alabama, to the north by Georgia (U.S. state), Geor ...

Florida
. * The movie ''
Far and Away ''Far and Away'' is a 1992 American epic Epic commonly refers to: * Epic poetry, a long narrative poem celebrating heroic deeds and events significant to a culture or nation * Epic film, a genre of film with heroic elements Epic or EPIC may als ...
'', starring
Tom Cruise Thomas Cruise Mapother IV (born July 3, 1962) is an American actor and producer. One of the world's highest-paid actors, he has received various accolades throughout his career, including three Golden Globe Awards The Golden Globe Awar ...
and
Nicole Kidman Nicole Mary Kidman (born 20 June 1967) is an American-born Australian actress and producer. She is the recipient of numerous accolades, including an Academy Award The Academy Awards, popularly known as the Oscars, are awards for arti ...

Nicole Kidman
, centers on the main characters' struggle to "obtain their 160 acres." * The miniseries ''Centennial'' depicts the homestead development of an eastern Colorado town. * The 1953 movie '' Shane'' depicts some early homesteaders in Wyoming opposed by a cattle baron who abuses, threatens and terrorizes them, calling them "pig farmers," "sod-busters," "squatters" and other taunts and insults. When the rancher gets violent, the homesteaders are divided over whether to leave or to hold onto their claims. A drifter working on one of the homesteads reluctantly tries to take action. * The 2016 film ''
The Magnificent Seven ''The Magnificent Seven'' is a 1960 American Western (genre), Western film directed by John Sturges and starring Yul Brynner, Eli Wallach and Steve McQueen. The supporting cast features Charles Bronson, Robert Vaughn, Brad Dexter, James Coburn a ...
'', loosely adapted from the 1960 film of the same name, features Sam Chisolm, an African American U.S. Marshal raised on a homestead in
Lincoln, Kansas Lincoln Center, more commonly known as Lincoln, is a city in and the county seat of Lincoln County, Kansas, Lincoln County, Kansas, United States. As of the 2010 United States Census, 2010 census, the city population was 1,297. History Settler ...
. His family had been
lynched Lynching is an extrajudicial killing by a group. It is most often used to characterize informal public executions by a mob in order to punish an alleged transgressor, punish a convicted transgressor, or intimidate. It can also be an extreme f ...
in 1867 by former
Confederate Army The Confederate States Army, also called the Confederate Army or the Southern Army, was the military A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare ...
soldiers, hired by a robber baron to drive off settlers and free up real estate on the
American frontier The American frontier, also known as the Old West or the Wild West, includes the geography, history, folklore, and culture in the forward wave of American expansion that began with European colonial settlements in the early 17th century and e ...
.


See also

*
Desert Land Act The Desert Land Act was passed by the United States Congress The United States Congress or U.S. Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States and consists of the House of Representatives and the Se ...
*
Homestead National Monument of America Homestead National Historical Park, a unit of the National Park System known as the Homestead National Monument of America prior to 2021, commemorates passage of the Homestead Act of 1862 The Homestead Acts were several laws in the United Sta ...
* Land Act of 1804 *
Forty acres and a mule Forty acres and a mule is part of Special Field Orders No. 15, a wartime order proclaimed by Union General William Tecumseh Sherman on January 16, 1865, during the American Civil War, to allot land to some freed families, in plots of land no larg ...
* Russian Homestead Act


Notes


References

* *


Further reading

* Combs, H. Jason, Natasha Winfield, and Paul R. Burger. (2019) "Nebraska's Pioneer and Heritage Farms: A Geographical and Historical Perspective." ''Great Plains Quarterly'' 39.1 (2019): 59-75. * Dick, Everett. ''The Lure of the Land: A Social History of the Public Lands from the Articles of Confederation to the New Deal''. (1970). * Edwards, Richard. (2009) "Changing perceptions of homesteading as a policy of public domain disposal." ''Great Plains Quarterly'' 29.3 (2009): 179-202
online
* Edwards, Richard. "Invited Essay: The New Learning about Homesteading." ''Great Plains Quarterly'' 38.1 (2018): 1-23
online
* Edwards, Richard. "To Commute or Not Commute, the Homesteader's Dilemma." ''Great Plains Quarterly'' 38.2 (2018): 129-150
online
* Edwards, Richard, Jacob K. Friefeld, and Rebecca S. Wingo. ''Homesteading the Plains: Toward a New History'' (2019
excerpt
* Gates, Paul Wallace. "The homestead law in an incongruous land system." ''American Historical Review'' 41.4 (1936): 652-681
online
* Gates, Paul Wallace. ''Free homesteads for all Americans: the Homestead act of 1862'' (1963
online
* Hansen, Karen V., Grey Osterud, and Valerie Grim. "'Land Was One of the Greatest Gifts': Women's Landownership in Dakota Indian, Immigrant Scandinavian, and African American Communities." ''Great Plains Quarterly'' 38.3 (2018): 251-272
online
* Hyman, Harold M. ''American Singularity: The 1787 Northwest Ordinance, the 1862 Homestead and Morrill Acts, and the 1944 G.I. Bill''. (1986
online
* Lause, Mark A. ''Young America: Land, Labor, and the Republican Community''. (2005) * Phillips, Sarah T. "Antebellum Agricultural Reform, Republican Ideology, and Sectional Tension." ''Agricultural History'' (2000) 74(4): 799–822. * Patterson-Black, Sheryll. "Women homesteaders on the Great Plains frontier." ''Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies'' (1976): 67–88
in JSTOR
* Richardson, Heather Cox. ''The Greatest Nation of the Earth: Republican Economic Policies during the Civil War''. (1997). * Robbins, Roy M. ''Our Landed Heritage: The Public Domain, 1776–1936''. (194
online
* Shanks, Trina R.W. "The Homestead Act: A major asset-building policy in American history." in pp: 20–41. * Smith, Sherry L. "Single women homesteaders: the perplexing case of Elinore Pruitt Stewart." ''Western Historical Quarterly'' (1991): 163–183
in JSTOR
with additional citations * Smith, Henry Nash. ''Virgin Land: The American West as Symbol and Myth''. (1959)
online
* * Wilm, Julius. "‘The Indians must yield’: Antebellum Free Land, the Homestead Act, and the Displacement of Native Peoples." ''Bulletin of the German Historical Institute'' (Winter 2020): 17-39
online


External links


U.S. Bureau of Land Management Homesteading Timeline


– Library of Congress
Text of 1862 Homestead Act


– National Park Service
Homestead Act of 1862
– National Archives and Records Administration
"Adeline Hornbek and the Homestead Act: A Colorado Success Story"
– National Park Service Teaching with Historic Places (TwHP) lesson plan. – National Park Service
Homesteaders and Pioneers on the Olympic Peninsula
– an exhibit from the University of Washington Library {{DEFAULTSORT:Homestead Acts 1862 in American law Economic history of the United States American frontier United States federal public land legislation 1862 in American politics History of agriculture in the United States Settlement schemes