Homestead Act Law and Legal Definition

The Homestead Act of 1862 provided for the disposition of land for the homesteads. The Act permits any person who is above twenty one years of age or is the head of a family to acquire 160 acres of land. A person can apply under the Act after s/he stays in the property by paying a nominal amount after staying in the property for a continuous period of five years, and cultivated there. The Act also permits homestead to purchase land after staying in for more than six months. In this case the person can purchase the land by paying $1.25 per acre.

Any person like immigrants, farmers, single women, and former slave can acquire homestead under the Act.

The Act does not permit a person who has taken arms against the U.S. Government to acquire land under the Act.