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U.S. History Topics » States & Regions » West

The Homestead Act of 1862

recounts efforts to improve homesteading laws and make land ownership possible for more settlers. The distribution of government lands had been an issue since the Revolutionary War. "Preemption" -- settling the land first and paying for it later -- became national policy; however, supporting legislation was stymied until the secession of Southern states. See one of the first applications for land under this law. Teaching activities are included. (National Archives and Records Administration)

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A family poses with the wagon in which they live and travel daily during their pursuit of a homestead, 1886.

Pursuing a homestead

 This website also appears in:
U.S. Time Periods »  1801-1861: Expansion » 
U.S. Time Periods »  1850-1877: Civil War & Reconstruction » 

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