Homesteading In American West Essays Example
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Homesteading refers to a lifestyle which is rooted in the essence of self-dependency. Those who choose this lifestyle choose to agriculturally sustain themselves while building up small industries such as textile, craftwork, food stuff preservation etc. It is a lifestyle that mostly is adapted in rural villages rather than urban settings.
Homesteading laws were the a set of laws introduced in United States of America which allowed applicants the authority to own a piece of land which they could turn into a homestead. The laws were basically introduced to allow Northerners to be able to own their own land and build farms around them in contrast to the South where the land was run by slaves. The Northerners felt that they were entitled to land in order to make their own living conditions better and could have a better future if they were allowed to sustain themselves independently. This was the basis of the 1862, Homesteading Act which was signed by President Lincoln and according to it; citizens who were 21 or older could acquire land.
In order to understand the division and acquisition of land, it is imperative to note the division of land that was carried out in wake of the Revolutionary War. The 13 colonies were not demarcated properly and the boundaries set for them were just from geographical plots. In 1785, according to the Land Ordinance, the land was finally divided properly. According to this ordinance, areas were divided into 6 mile squares and were called settlements and townships. Each of these settlements was 640 acres each. The price of each settlement was settled at $1 per acre.
The Homestead Act of 1862 was one of the major laws which was introduced to make certain that the Southern lands were allocated to individuals who were interested in building homesteads, farms and acquiring ownership. Southern democratic parties were not interested and had for some time been rejecting all homestead laws that were passed.
There were many myths regarding the climate of the west which made farmers and homestead owners believe that the land was suitable for farming and agriculture. One of these myths was that the “rain would follow the plow”. According to this myth, many people believed that if they ventured out to the land and chose to cultivate it, the rain would soon follow to and naturally irrigate their lands. It can be said that this myth was developed out of sheer desperation for the need of better living standards and rather than actually determining if the land was suitable enough for agricultural many chose to believe the myth and moved to the west. Another myth that was derived out of similar needs was that it was the end of the era of a weak government and there was plenty of land available in the west which would increase job opportunities and allow people to have better standards of living. However, this myth caused them to forget the fact that the land in fact was arid and there was little hope for it to be salvaged with cultivation.
Homesteading was in fact in that era an effective means of living for many people, however, there were also those who had to face loss because of the fact that they chose to set up farms in areas which were not climatically suitable.
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