In the early 1600s, hundreds of colonists crossed the ocean to settle in the “new world.” These folks arrived with just a few tools, seeds, and the drive to carve out a new life. Many died in the attempt, but many others survived and thrived.
Fast forward to 1862, when the amended Homestead Act was put into place by Abraham Lincoln. The act allowed US citizens (or future citizens) to have up to 160 acres of public land. They just had to pay a small registration fee. Then they needed to build a home, live on the land, and farm it.
As long as you were an adult over 21, and you had never taken up arms against the federal government, you could apply for this land. Unmarried women were allowed to apply, as were immigrants waiting for citizenship approval. Congress amended the act in 1866 to include black Americans, though these applicants faced atrocious discrimination and barriers.
So many people applied for land under these acts that they were officially ended in 1976