Monday marks the 151st anniversary of one of the signing of one most generous U.S. property laws. On May 20, 1862 President Abraham Lincoln signed the first Homestead Act into law. The Homestead Act which went into effect the next January 1 gave everyone, including former slaves and women, who were over 21 or a head of household and had never taken up arms against the US (this was during the Civil War) a claim for 160 acres of unappropriated federal land. To be awarded their deed homesteaders had to live on their claim for 5 years and show proof of having improved the land.
The quarter section grant fulfilled Thomas Jefferson's vision that a nation of small farmers would help protect American democracy, 160 acres was in his view the perfect sized family farm. The aim was to populate the territory of the Louisiana Purchase.
Oklahoma Land Rush