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ERIC Number: ED472106
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2003-Jan-14
Pages: 13
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
The Homestead Act of 1862. Teaching with Documents.
National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, DC.
On January 1, 1863, Daniel Freeman, a Union Army scout convinced a land office clerk in St. Louis (Missouri) to open the office shortly after midnight so that Freeman could file a land claim. In doing so, Freeman became one of the first to take advantage of the opportunities provided by the Homestead Act, a law signed by President Abraham Lincoln on May 20, 1862. At the time of the signing, 11 states had left the Union, and this piece of legislation would continue to have regional and political overtones. Six months after the Homestead Act was passed, the Railroad Act was signed, and by May 1869, a transcontinental railroad stretched across the U.S. frontier. The new railroads provided easy transportation for homesteaders, and new immigrants were lured westward by railroad companies eager to sell excess land at inflated prices. Before the act was repealed in 1934, over 1.6 million homestead applications were processed and more than 270 million acres, 10% of all U.S. lands, passed into the hands of individuals. This lesson plan provides extensive historical background on the Homestead Act and uses three primary source documents: (Daniel Freeman's Homestead Application; Daniel Freeman's Proof of Improvements; and Daniel Freeman's Certificate of Eligibility) to focus on this phase in United States history. The lesson plan addresses National History Standards correlations and cross-curricular connections. (BT)
National Archives and Records Administration, 8601 Adelphi Road, College Park, MD 20740-6001. Tel: 866-272-6272 (Toll Free); Fax: 301-837-0483; e-mail: For full text:
Publication Type: Guides - Classroom - Teacher
Education Level: N/A
Audience: Practitioners; Teachers
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, DC.