1862 - First Homestead Act

Homesteaders on the plains

        Settlement of the West, mostly in violation of existing treaties, begins in earnest with the passage of the Homestead Act.  This act is followed by three more, opening up Indian country to white settlers in violation of dozens of treaties and leading to the theft of tens of millions of acres of treaty protected lands owned by Indian tribes.

Homesteaders - Agrarian Expansion

  A homesteaders sod house on the American Great Plains.


 The Homestead Act of 1862 simply opened up Indian country to the customary land speculation and monopolization that had already characterized land acquisition in the east.  The use of dummy gentrymen was pandemic on the frontier, permitting speculation, mining, timber and cattle companies to acquire huge blocks of land under false claims.  The swaths claimed by railroads and grants to states, and patents to veterans for former debts, often reduced the size