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The Homestead Act, 1862


he Homestead Act of 1862 was the culmination of decades of work to organize and distribute government lands. Every 160-acre parcel largely went to new settlers, but fraudulent schemes placed much of the land in corporate hands. Homesteaders struggled to settle their land grants and many abandoned the land before receiving ownership. But overall, the Homestead Act was instrumental in settling the frontier, providing land for family farms and creating the legacy of the American West.

Other: By 1934
More than 270 million acres—10 percent of U.S. lands--were granted to individuals
20 May 1862
Requirements for a Claim: 4
Improve the land by building and planting crops
Requirements for a Claim: 1
Live on the land for 5 years
Requirements for a Claim: 5
Never taken arms against the United States
Requirements for a Claim: 6
Paying a filing fee of $10
Requirements for a Claim: 3
At least 21 years old
Requirements for a Claim: 2
Must be A U.S. citizen or filing for citizenship
Other: Land Grant
160 acres
Major States Settled: State
Major States Settled: State
South Dakota
Major States Settled: State
Major States Settled: State
North Dakota
Major States Settled: State
Other: By 1900
Homesteaders had filed 600,000 claims for 80 million acres
The Homestead Act
Becoming a Law: Approved by House
28 Feb 1862
Becoming a Law: Signed by President Lincoln
20 May 1862
Becoming a Law: Approved by Senate
6 May 1862

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Created: 15 Sep 2008

Modified: 18 Jan 2012

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