Congressmen Adrian Smith (R-NE), Lee Terry (R-NE), Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) and Senators Ben Nelson (D-NE) and Mike Johanns (R-NE) released the following joint statement in advance of the 150th Anniversary of the Homestead Act:
"This simple, four-page document brought about significant and lasting changes to the United States," said the Nebraska lawmakers in a joint statement. "This historic law gave millions of people a chance to pursue opportunity and live the American Dream. In Nebraska, the enduring impacts of the Homestead Act remain evident in our state's culture, where reliance on personal responsibility, hard work, and common sense continue to serve us well."
President Abraham Lincoln signed the Homestead Act into law on May 20, 1862, accelerating the settlement of the western territories. In total, 1.6 million people from 30 states claimed 270 million acres of land. The Homestead Act is currently on loan from the National Archives to the Homestead National Monument's Heritage Center in Beatrice, NE through May 28, 2012.