Homestead National Monument of America Quarter
The first America the Beautiful Quarter® released in 2015 pays homage to the Homestead National Monument of America. Just south of Lincoln, Nebraska, this park helps visitors learn about what homesteaders needed to survive: food, housing and water. These elements are represented on the quarter’s reverse design.
The park was established as a national site in 1936. It has a uniquely designed Heritage Center that offers a hilltop vista of the tallgrass prairie much like American pioneers would have seen it.
The Homestead Act of 1862
The Homestead Act of 1862, signed into law by President Lincoln, granted 160 acres of free government land to each claimant in 30 states. The act allowed nearly any man or woman a “fair chance” to realize the American dream of owning his or her own land. More than 1.6 million settlers from all walks of life – including new immigrants, single women, and former slaves – stepped up and claimed 270 million acres…more than 10 percent of the country.
Some cool and fun facts about how this act changed our country:
- The act was highly advertised overseas and drove new immigrants to the United States. During the height of the Homesteading era, Ellis Island was established to process the millions of people immigrating to America to acquire land.
- Women were allowed to claim land under the Homestead Act 60 years before they earned the right to vote.
- The Homestead Act revolutionized agriculture. By World War I, the United States was known as “the breadbasket of the world.”
- Homesteading also hastened America’s Industrial Revolution, as these farmers needed bigger, better and more equipment and tools.
- Homesteading under this act was still available until 1986 in Alaska!
- Each homesteader had to “prove up” to officially claim their land. That meant within five years they had to live on the land, build a home, make improvements and farm before the 160 acres was theirs to keep.
- While plowing one acre of ground, a homesteader walked 10 miles. To plow the required 10 acres of farmed land, the homesteader had to walk at least 100 miles.