Homestead Acts

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The Homestead Acts are a series of acts made by the United States from 1850 to 1916. They essentially declared that the United States government would give a piece of land (typically 160 acres), especially that West of the Mississippi River, to an applicant for free for the individual to farm. Negroes were explicitly included, though discrimination barriers made inclusion difficult. Homesteading was officially ended in 1976, though very little actually took place after the 1930s. The Homestead Acts were significant to post-Civil War America for its immense westward expansion. Homesteads accounted for about 10 percent of the United States. Additionally, they were significant for their inclusion. Women and Negroes were eligible to claim a homestead. Only some minor exclusions were made, such as the exclusion of those who had previously taken up arms against the United States federal government.