The Homestead Act
On May 20, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Homestead Act into law.
Since the American Revolution, the distribution of government lands was a matter of great debate. In America’s early years, setting boundaries on new land was unorganized, causing frequent overlapping claims and disputes. When land ordinance laws were introduced in 1785, the plots were large and pricey. People repeatedly called for cheaper plots or preemption – an arrangement where they would settle first and pay later.