Homestead Act and Preemption


The Homestead Act of 1862. coupled with the Preemption Act of 1841, brought dramatic and significant changes to Arizona. The National Government would hereafter dispose of public lands to settlers to encourage settlements and promote the public wealth. 
Prior to passage of the Homestead Act of 1862, public lands were sold to raise revenue to operate the Government. Under the Homestead Act of 1862, signed into law by President Lincoln, settlers were entitled to file for 160 acres of land free, The History of the Public Land Policies McMillan C. 1924 P/347 provided: the homesteaders met all the requirements of homestead laws or Preemption Act of 1841. "He (applicants) must file application, stating name, residence, P.O. Box address, description describing the land he desires to enter, make an affidavit that he is not the proprietor of more than 160 acres of land in any state or territory - that he is a citizen of the United States or that he has filed his intention to become such - that he is head of a family or over the age of twenty one years of age - that his application is honestly and in good faith made for the purpose of actual settlement and cultivation, and not for the benefit of any other persons, corporations" 

The principle of preemption became rooted in public land laws in 1801 when "squatter's rights" were recognized, to 1841 when "squatters" gained a "priority" right over all others, to buy their claim of public lands, up to 160 acres, at the Government established price. Exhibits used are all from the National Archives, Pacific Southwest Region, except 8.2 from National Archives, Wash., D.C., and, 20.1 Arizona State Bureau of Land Management, Phoenix, and 20.2 from Legislative History of Arizona, compiled by George H. Kelly. (Exhibit 9.2 Nicolas Soza) and 
(Exhibit 9.3 Juan Soza Preemption Proof)

The same Preemption Act of September 4, 1841 "made land available to aliens declaring intention of citizenship" (Exhibit 9.4 Refino Chavarria Declaration) and persons seeking to preempt "may send their declaratory statement to the land office by mail, or any other way. It is not required to be sworn". (Exhibit 9.5 P.G. Benson)

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