Homestead Act of 1862

What was the Homestead Act of 1862?

This act was put in place during the American Civil War.

It meant that any adult citizen, or intended citizen, (provided that they supported the USA in the Civil War and had not previously fought against them) could apply to claim 160 acres of surveyed government land. 

The only requirement was that they “improve” the plot by building a dwelling and developing the land. 

After 5 years on the land, the original applicant would become the free owner of the property (claimed plot of land), asides from a small registration fee. 

Ownership of the land could also be achieved after only a 6-month residency and minor improvements if the applicant paid the government $1.25 per acre. 

After the Civil War, Union soldiers could deduct the time they had served from the 5 year requirement.