Introduction to Homesteading
“In America's ideal of freedom, citizens find the dignity and security of economic independence, instead of laboring on the edge of subsistence. This is a broader definition of liberty that motivated the Homestead Act … ” George W. Bush, Second Inaugural Address, January 20, 2005.
To see what other Presidents said about the Homestead Act go here.
Homestead, Custer County, Nebraska
Soloman butcher Collection
The Homestead Act of 1862
was one of the most significant and enduring events in the westward expansion of the United States. By granting 160 acres of free land to claimants, it allowed nearly any man or woman a chance to live the American dream. Homestead National Monument of America, located in Southeast Nebraska, commemorates this Act and the far-reaching effects it had upon the landscape and people. Located on the site of the one of the first homesteads claimed, this National Monument is a tribute to the courage and tenacity of the settlers and original inhabitants of this land. Visit Homestead National Monument of America to explore this tallgrass prairie landscape, tour historic buildings and view museum exhibits that tell the story of this important era of American history.
The success of the Homestead Act was hastened by the passage of several other laws that include the Emancipation Proclamation and the Railroad Act [see Abraham Lincoln and the West]. It was also influenced by Thomas Jefferson's Land Ordiance of 1785. These laws were instrumental in the settlement of the western United States.
Are you a descendent of a homesteader? Learn more about finding homestead records here. Do you have a homesteading story to tell? Go here to learn how to tell your story.
The lasting legacy of the impact of the 2 million people who filed claims can be seen in the Homestead Legacy Banners hanging at the Visitor Center. These banners honor a notable homesteader or descendant.
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