Homestead and Morrill Acts

The Homestead Act provided that any adult citizen who had never borne arms against the U.S. government could claim 160 acres of surveyed government land. They were required to improve the land by building a dwelling and cultivating the land. After 5 years on the land, the original filer was entitled to the land with a small registration fee. Title could also be acquired after only a 6-month residency and trivial improvements, provided the claimant paid the government $1.25 per acre. The act didn’t help poverty. Few laborers and farmers could afford to build a farm or acquire the necessary tools, seed, and livestock.
The Morrill Act of 1862 was also known as the Land Grant College Act. The land-grant act was introduced by a congressman from Vermont named Justin Smith Morrill. He envisioned the financing of agricultural and mechanical education. He wanted to assure that education would be available to those in all social classes.
It was a major boost to higher education in America. The grant was originally set up to establish institutions is each state that would educate people in agriculture, home economics, mechanical arts, and other professions that were practical at the time.

http://www.history.com/topics/homestead-act

http://www.loc.gov/rr/program/bib/ourdocs/Morrill.html

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