Sunday, May 20, 2007


This Day in American History

On this day in 1862 Congress passed the Homestead Act, giving 160 acres of land in the West free to homesteaders if they agreed to stay, live off the land, and improve it for five years. The Act excluded Southerners and non-citizens, but it was a boon to settlement of the West after the Indian Wars and helped to populate, such as they are, Montana, Wyoming and Idaho. Many of the current large ranches in those states have sections in them still named after the original homesteaders, whose decaying husks of first dwellings are still extant.

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