The Homestead Act

The Homestead Act

For several years, Congress had hotly debated a Republican-backed plan to give free land to settlers in the West. But Southern Congressmen had thrown it out at every opportunity, fearing that a rise in the number of small farms would threaten large plantations. Southern secession gave the Republican Party the chance it needed, and the Homestead Act came into effect on January 1, 1863, the same day as the Emancipation Proclamation.

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