One hundred and fifty years ago this month (May), President Abraham Lincoln launched the greatest land giveaway in U.S. history and destined Ken Deardorff for one of the longest nights of his life.
The Homestead Act, signed by Lincoln on May 20, 1862, embodied a radical promise: free land for the masses. Until then the federal government had generally sold its unoccupied property, favoring men with capital. As a result, by the 1840s big farms were consuming smaller ones, and efforts to change the system were gridlocked as Congressional debate over slavery intensified. The problem became so pressing that Representative Galusha Grow, a Pennsylvania Republican, warned in 1860 that the nation was courting “a system of land monopoly—one of the direst, deadliest curses that ever paralyzed the energies of a nation or palsied the arm of industry.”
[ ]…From the moment the first homesteader, Daniel Freeman, stepped foot into his local land office in 1863 to apply for 160 acres in Beatrice, Nebraska, to the day in 1979 when the last homesteader, Ken Deardorff, of Alaska, filed for a title to his 50-acre claim, four million settlers—men and women, former slaves and new immigrants—attempted it. About 1.6 million succeeded, homesteading a combined total of 270 million acres, or 10 percent of the country.
Some of the commentary following the article suggests that the Smithsonian does a disservice to the history of native Americans by not mentioning the genocidal consequences of the Homestead Act. That issue aside for the moment the Homestead Act was a huge land giveaway. While it caused some tremendous pain for a lot of indigenous peoples it also was an economically progressive act. Until the HA the federal government sold land to the wealthy. We were becoming a nation of a few haves and mostly have nots. An important facet of U.S. history for those who think now we’re slipping into some kind of socialistic paradise. That said there were consequences for tribes that had lived on those lands for centuries, “In California, the decrease from about a quarter of a million to less than 20,000 is primarily due to the cruelties and wholesale massacres perpetrated by the miners and early settlers.” There was an Indian Homestead Act or Dawes Act. This was an attempt to make members of the tribes into individual land owners, and to make their culture more into that resembling white European settlers. It was hardly a fair trade. A tribe may have had access to historical territory of hundreds of thousands of acres. Forcing Indians into even 100 acre homesteads and further forcing the adoption of lifestyles that did not suit them was hardly a fair trade. The Dawes Act turned into a debacle.
“Walter Davidson, the first president of the Harley Davidson Motor Company, poses with his bike after winning the 1908 Federation of American Motorcyclists’ endurance run.” (copyrighted image). A little American steampunk and turns the Harley-Davidson stereotype of the bearded tattooed denim wearing biker on its head.
Alex Cassie, Who Aided ‘Great Escape’ From Nazis, Dies at 95. The movie with James garner, Steve McQueen and Donald Pleasence ( who played a character based on Cassie) was not historically accurate , but Cassie was the master forger/artist in the movie, talents he had in real life.
Bush and the RNC filled every government post they could with cronies – Even After Bush Scandals, GOP Still Politicizing Civil Service. They believeeee in small govmint.
Green Day – When I Come Around