a special act of Congress (1862) that made public lands in the West available to settlers without payment, usually in lots of 160 acres, to be used as farms.
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British Dictionary definitions for homestead act
an act passed by the US Congress in 1862 making available to settlers 160-acre tracts of public land for cultivation
(in Canada) a similar act passed by the Canadian Parliament in 1872
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Cultural definitions for homestead act
A law passed in the 1860s that offered up to 160 acres of public land to any head of a family who paid a registration fee, lived on the land for five years, and cultivated it or built on it.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.