1862: The Homestead Act

Moment in History:

The Homestead Act was passed on May 20, 1862 and accelerated the settlement of the United States by providing settlers in need with public land, in exchange the settlers would pay an $18.00 filing fee and promise to reside on the land for at least five years. Homesteaders, as they were called, had to be 21 years of age or the head of a household. After they applied for land, they were required to build a home and cultivate and maintain the land in order to gain full ownership at the end of a five year period. Eventually, 270 million acres of what had been Indian Territory was given away to an overwhelmingly white portion of the population.

An Expert’s Perspective

More information at:

National Park Service’s About the Homestead Act