The history of homesteading in the United States has always centered on issues of land ownership. This entry first describes the Homestead Act of 1862 and its place in the history of land ownership in the United States. It then looks at efforts to create a new tradition of farm and rural life that embodies environmental values such as sustainability.


The first major federal land act in the United States was the Land Act of 1796, under which lands were divided into townships of 6 square miles. This legislation specified that half of each township was to be divided into sections of 640 acres, the smallest unit available for sale. This minimum, with its fee of $2 per acre, was far beyond the means of ...

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