The Homestead Act

Essay by fdatilusUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, August 2005

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To my understanding, and from what I have read in the book and throughout the course links, I believe that the intent of the Homestead Act was to defeat land monopoly. Many farmers, however, lacked the economic means to move west and manage a farm. . By this, fewer still understood the new type of agriculture, in which technology was used to farm the land that the Great Plains required. Instead, speculators and corporate interests were able to reap in profits, and fraud and corruption, and often marked the process farmland for transportation (the railroads). The Homestead Act's biggest weakness however, was not taking into account conditions on the frontier. I also think that the eastern framers did not consider that some of their land was too large for irrigated farming and too small for dry farming. The role of the private capital in the American West was towards the rich.

The poor individuals did not have any control of most of the land even if they were the first occupants. The rich people were also in control of the railroad system, in which the well to do folks had the only say so.

Farmers finally received a break, with the railroads. Under the Pacific Railroad Act, land grants made possible the speedy construction of the Union Pacific, Central Pacific, Northern Pacific, Santa Fe, and Southern Pacific railroads. They were Lead by railroad promoters to believe in a bountiful West harvest, in which mass amounts of European immigrants were caught up in the movement West. I think that the railroads provided exactly what the Homestead Acts did not: credit terms, good quality advertisement, larger land tracts, special passenger rates, and farming support for future Western settlers. There were a lot of motivated businessmen of the Great Northern Railway, who planned...