The Homestead Act and the exodusters
- The Homestead Act of 1862 parceled out millions of acres of land to settlers. All US citizens, including women, African Americans, freed slaves, and immigrants, were eligible to apply to the federal government for a “homestead,” or 160-acre plot of land.
- Homesteading was a contentious issue, because Northerners and Republicans wanted to open the land to settlement by individual farmers, while Southern Democrats sought to make the land available only to slaveholders.
- The exodusters were African American migrants who left the South after the Civil War to settle in the states of Colorado, Kansas, and Oklahoma.