Friday, August 13, 2010

Homestead Act Had Larger Impact Than You Think

Forty-five percent of all the land in Nebraska was given away under the provisions of the Homestead Act of 1862. This is the highest percentage of any state where settlers received land under the Homestead Act. But in many other states large percentages of land were successfully claimed by homesteaders [see chart at right].

But you will be amazed to learn that in some states where a low percentage of land was successfully claimed by homesteaders the Homestead Act had a much bigger impact that you would first think.

Take California for example, only 10% of California was successfully homesteaded. However, 45% of California is still owned by the Federal Government and managed by Bureau of Land Management, the US Forest Service, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Park Service, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the US Department of Defense, the US Army Corps of Engineers, or the US Bureau of Reclamation. Also, a great deal of the land in California is owned by the State and managed by the California Department of Resources and other state agencies. Therefore, the 10% that was successfully homesteaded is much more significant when you know far less than 55% of California is privately owned.

Another example would be Nevada. Only 1% of Nevada was successfully homesteaded, but 85% of Nevada is still owned by the Federal Government. The means one out of every fifteen acres privately owned in Nevada were transferred from the Public Domain through the Homestead Act.

The chart below shows how the Homestead Act had a significant impact even in states where the overall percentage of land distributed by the Homestead Act wasn’t that large.

The chart below shows that considering the high percentage of federally owned land in Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, New Mexico, and Colorado; the significance of the Homestead Act in those states is extremely large.


Overall, about 20% of the privately owned land in the United States was transferred from the Public Domain to successful homesteaders. [see chart below]



For more:
Go to Homesteading by the Numbers
Go to State by State Numbers
Go to graph of Total Number of Acres that were Successfully Homesteaded in Each State
Go to graph of Total Number of Claims that were Successfully Homesteaded in Each State
Go to graph of Percentage of Total Acres in Each State that were Successfully Homesteaded
Go to graph Showing Number of Successful Homesteaders Decade by Decade
Go to graph Showing Number of Acres Successfully Transferred to Homesteaders

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