1962 4¢ Homestead Act
Issue Date: May 20, 1962
City: Beatrice, Nebraska
Printed By: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Printing Method: Rotary Press
Perforations: 11 x 10 ½
U.S. #1198 was issued in honor of the 100th anniversary of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln signing the Homestead Act, which allowed qualified people to gain land at cheap prices. The stamp was issued in Beatrice, Nebraska, near where Daniel Freeman filed the first claim for land under the new Act. The stamp shows a settler and his wife in front of a sod hut, which was the common way to build a dwelling in a land with few wood resources.
The Homestead Act Speeds Nebraska’s Settlement
After the Revolutionary War, the U.S. government sold its public lands to raise money. Farmers believed undeveloped land should be free, or at least sold at a very affordable price. During the 1840s and 1850s, the “homestead” movement became a national issue. Like many other political issues of the time, it became embroiled in the battle between the North and the South over slavery. The Homestead Act was passed after the Southern states seceded from the Union, in May 1862.
The Homestead Act allowed any person over 21, who was the head of a family, and a citizen or an alien intending to become a citizen, to obtain 160 acres of public land. All that was required was that the person would live on the land for five years and work to improve it. This meant turning it into productive agricultural land. A settler could also buy land for $1.25 an acre – with no obligation. Between 1860 and 1900, the Homestead Act attracted about 500,000 families to the West.