The Homestead Act was signed on May 20, 1862 by Abraham Lincoln. The Homestead Act was proposed by northern republicans. Southern representatives in congress kept voting against the Homestead Act because they saw it as an opportunity for the development of Free states that would tip the scale in the free vs. slave states. It was originally passed by congress in 1860 but then vetoed by President James Buchanan. After southern representatives left congress was when the act was then passed.
The act motivated people to settle west by giving them the incentive of 160 acres of land. There was a small fee and after 5 years of working and living on the land it would become theirs. Or, after six months, the settlers had the option to buy the land at $1. 25 per acre from the government. The act was so successful that over 80 million acres of land were given out by the year 1990. To be a “qualifying homesteader,” a person had to be either twenty one years old or the head of their household. It costed eighteen dollars to for an initial filing fee.
The homesteaders had to build a house farm the land for a minimum of five years. It wasn’t just families and white males that were settling west under the Homestead Act. Immigrants, single women and freed slaves all took advantage of this great opportunity. The Indian Removal Act was passed on May 28, 1830 by congress under the Jackson administration. This new law allowed for the United States Government to negotiate with southern Native Americans. The U. S. wanted the Indians to give up their ancestral homelands and move west of the Mississippi River.
Those who wanted and I the South were in favor of the Indian Removal Act but Christians opposed it and protested against it. This new law resulted in the Chickasaw, Choctaw, Muscogee-Creek, Seminole, and original Cherokee Nations to walk west in what is called The Trail of Tears, where more than ten thousand Indians died from disease, exposure and starvation. Some tribes left peacefully, some did not. The Seminoles fought for seven years, vowing to never give up their sacred land. The United States finally allowed them to live in the southern swamplands in Florida.
The Worcester vs. Georgia (1832) was a case that involved Samuel Worcester vs. Georgia. This case was presented in the United States Supreme Court. This case started because President Andrew Jackson passed the Indian removal Act. Most Native Americans resettled from Georgia and Florida to the Great Plains. The Cherokee tribe of Georgia did not move. This group of Native Americans wanted to stay in Georgia because they had established communities and laws. The Cherokee Tribe wanted to remain on its territory and be viewed as independent and self-governing (sovereign) nation.
In 1825 Samuel Worcester moved to Georgia to support the Cherokee Nation. Worcester became a close friend of the Cherokees and provided advice to this tribe about their legal rights. The state of Georgia was not pleased with the Cherokees that they were refusing to leave. This case was about Samuel Worcester trying to live in a non-native American territory. The state of Georgia said that nonnative (white) people had to obtain a license from the state to live in Cherokee County. Georgia was arguing no non-native Americans can live in a native territory without a license.
If people lived in a Native territory Georgia wanted to call it a criminal activity. The Cherokees challenged this license requirements to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court agreed with the Cherokees stating that the State of Georgia was unconstitutional because they violated the Cherokees rights. The judge ordered state officials to honor Cherokee property rights. President Jackson refused to honor the judge’s decision. President Jackson did not enforce the Supreme Court’s decision in Worcester vs. Georgia. The President did not support Native Americans and pushed out of the land.
This event started to separate and divide different groups of people living in the United States. The Native Americans did not feel supported from the government. Native Americans and the United Government had different point of views. Many of the Native Americans supported the South during the Civil War. One of the major reasons for immigration to the United States was when there were times of economic struggle in other countries like the potato famine. Immigration was the main way that the United States population was able to grow at such a large rate in a relatively short period of time.
By 1850 about 10% of those in the United States were foreign born, and this does not include the children of these immigrants that were born in the US. Although before 1820 immigration had not played a major role in the growth of the population within the U. S. At this point Irish people accounted for about 38 percent of the population that immigrated, with Germany coming in second with about 30 percent of the immigrants that came. During this time the government left immigration policies up to the states and had no real guidelines for them to follow.
In the early 1820’s the government eventually did start keeping track of how many people were coming to the U. S. They did this by introducing the Steerage Act, this gave the government information about who the people were and it gave the ships passenger lists that they would have to give to customs officials. Slavery was a major player when it came to people migrating to different parts of the United States. Those who did not want to work on a farm, and work in a more industrialized part of the United States would likely move to the North where there were many more abolitionists than there were in the South.
Many of those in the South wanted there to be slavery so that they would be able to get very cheap labor. There was also much controversy when the United States started moving westward because whenever another state was added to the union it would have to be decided whether or not the state would be a slave state or a free state. The Missouri Compromise is what drew the line for what states would be free, and which states would be slave states with the exception of Missouri. This compromise would add Maine to the Union as a free states, and in turn it would make Missouri a slave state.