Exhibit Theme

The First Homesteaders

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H.R. 125, The Homestead Act,...
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H.R. 125, The Homestead Act, printed House bill with Senate changes, March 3, 1862

Congress passed the Homestead Act during the Civil War and included in the legislation a bounty for Union soldiers, who could deduct their period of military service from the five-year residency required for title to the land. Homesteads were granted only to those who had “never borne arms against the United States government.”

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To secure homesteads to actual settlers on the public domain, and to provide a bounty for soldiers, in lieu of grants of the public lands.

Records of the U.S. Senate, National Archives and Records Administration