The Homestead Act 1862

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  • The Homestead Act, 1862
    • Promotes the settlement of the West; provided an incentive for people to take up unclaimed land in the west and build a new life.
      • Made smaller plots of land and essentially gave then away to ordinary people.
        • 160 acre homesteads for a family house and enough land to support a family.
        • just $10 to register a claim to a homestead plot.
          • encouraged the settlement of lots of individual families rather than rich landowners.
          • head of the family, or single and over 21 - slaves and single women.
          • had to live on the land and work it themselves.
          • they could pay $30 and own their homestead outright.
    • Significance of the Homestead Act
      • Achievements
        • over six million acres of government land had successfully become homestead
        • ensured that parts of the Great Plains were being settled for the first time
          • eventually 8 million acres of public land was settled as a direct consequence
        • encouraged  immigration from Europe.
      • Limitations
        • only 13 million acres of claims had been 'proved up'. by 1884.
        • only 16% of public land was for homesteads, most went to railroads and cattle ranches.
        • more homesteads were formed by people buying land from railroad companies.
        • 60% of homestead claims were never proved up, challenges of farming the Plains.
        • Rich land owners were able to use it to get more land very cheaply.
        • many filed claims in order to sell it at a profit.


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