Saturday, May 19, 2012

A Nation of Homesteaders

#Mountainair's "foundation narratives"  (the Anglo ones) and the 2003 Centennial subtext center on homesteading. Old ranching families date back to homesteading in territorial days. For an outstanding collection of historical pictures, 

Solomon Butcher Collection: Nebraska State Historical Society Here's a picture of homesteader Solomon Butcher's first house in Nebraska on land he received under the 1862 Homestead Act. His home was build in 1880 out of "Neb. Brick." The Homestead Act will be 150 years old this Sunday.

Chris Clayton reminds us that this is the 150th anniversary of the Homestead Act, signed into law by President Lincoln in 1862.  Here's a little of a longer article that you should read:
The law was a culmination of decades of government initiatives for westward expansion to continue to fuel economic growth and agricultural production. The federal government had created land offices as far back as 1812 to sell or give away land, as well as assure rightful claims. 
Homesteaders were given a claim for 160 acres, which conformed to Thomas Jefferson's vision of a nation of small farmers. The country's third president had argued that 160 acres, a quarter section, was the ideal acreage for a small farmer....
A bill in 1860 that would have given away federal lands made it to President James Buchanan's desk. He vetoed it, fearing it would upset Southerners who were already on their way to leaving the Union.
Lincoln would sign the Homestead Act on May 20, 1862. The official bill was four pages long.
150th anniversary of the Homestead Act this Sunday & more in Weekend Roundup: A Nation of Homesteaders: catch the rest of the stories • Walmart profits are up • Postal Service moves ahead with plans to close processing centers