The Homestead Act of 1862 was relatively, and remarkably, free of gender bias. Given its 19th-century context, this is surprising. At a time when women could neither vote nor hold elective office, Congress granted women the same opportunity for potential economic gain as men. The Act allowed women to apply for land under the same conditions, requiring only that they be at least 21 years old, single, widowed, divorced, or the head of a household. In other words, any woman—except for a currently married woman who, it was assumed, acknowledged her husband as the head of their household—could file for her own stake on the public domain. The government's offer was this: the homesteader paid a nominal filing fee (approximately $12-$15), selected up to 160 ...

  • Loading...
locked icon

Sign in to access this content

Get a 30 day FREE TRIAL

  • Watch videos from a variety of sources bringing classroom topics to life
  • Read modern, diverse business cases
  • Explore hundreds of books and reference titles