has been called the most important act for the welfare of the people ever
passed in the United States. Under this law any man or woman twenty-one
years old or the head of a family can have 160 acres of land by living on
it five years and paying about eighteen dollars in fees. For the first
eighty years of United States history there were no free homesteads.
The settlers were obliged to buy their land. The price was low but they
were often very poor and in many cases lost their land after living upon
and improving it because they had no money to pay for it.
In 1852 a party, called the Free Soil party,
demanded free homesteads for the people. In 1854 the first free homestead
bill was introduced in Congress by Congressman Galusha A. Grow of
Pennsylvania. The people of the West and poor people everywhere were in
favor of the bill. There was strong opposition to it, however.
The first Homestead Act required the settler to pay twenty-five cents an acre for his
land and was passed in 1860. This bill was vetoed by President
Buchanan. It was not until May 20, 1862, that the free Homestead Act was finally passed and signed by President Abraham Lincoln.
The law took effect on January 1, 1863.
Daniel Freeman when older,