Write a factual essay that:
(a) explains the major ideas/philosophies that led to homesteading laws and who originated them
(b) describes how the U.S. was assembled - how was the land acquired (Louisiana Purchase, Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, etc.)?
(c) discusses the specific purposes and policies of major homesteading laws/bills (Homestead Act, Desert Land Act, Timber Culture Act, Mining Law of 1872, Enlarged Homestead Act), that disposed of former Indian land and resources and transferred them to settlers
(d) concludes with the lessons we learned from the Homesteading period (aridity, size of land needed for a family, the need for science, etc.)
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There were differing philosophies as to how to best distribute land. Thomas Jefferson believed that economic democracy, including opportunities and resources for acquiring property, was the foundation of political democracy. He proposed that the United States, with a seemingly endless supply of available land, could best evolve as a nation of independent farmers and supported a policy of cheap land to attract foreign and domestic laborers to growing areas in the West and South. Jefferson died in 1826, 36 years before the actual Homestead bill that embodied many of these principles passed, but incremental changes were made along the way to shift from typical sales of large tracts of land at high prices to the sale and distribution of smaller plots of land at reduced prices. Eventually the Homestead Act allowed individuals who were willing to develop a plot of land over an extended time period to be granted full title to that land at no formal cost. Over seven decades, the Homestead Act influenced many aspects of rural land use that still have implications for these areas today....
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