The Homestead Act of 1862 established one of the most influential models for disposing of public land in American history. Signed by President Abraham Lincoln on May 20, 1862, the Homestead Act entitled settlers to enter a quarter section of undeveloped federal land (160 acres), resulting in the eventual transfer of some 285 million acres of the public domain to private citizens over the course of nearly 125 years. Any head of a family or individual 21 years of age, including both citizens and immigrants filing declarations of intention to ...

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