Dakota Datebook

Homestead’s Second Vote

Sunday, May 20, 2012


After a forty-year battle in Congress, President Abraham Lincoln approved the Homestead Law on this date in 1862. Initial passage of the bill had been blocked “…on the theory that Congress had no right to give away public property.” Many southerners opposed the law, believing settlers would flood the northern territories and upset the balance of power in Congress. However, when these states seceded from the Union, northerners remaining in Congress quickly passed the bill. The law opened the surveyed lands within Dakota Territory to homesteading and, starting in 1863, settlers could apply for a quarter section of land, improve it, and obtain the deed after five years. At 12:01 am on New Year’s Day 1863, Mahlon Gore of Michigan was the first settler to make a Homestead entry in Dakota.


Dakota Datebook written by Jayme Job



Lounsberry, Clement Augustus. 1919 Early History of North Dakota: Essential Outlines

of American History. Liberty Press: New York: pp. 228, 264.



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Dakota Datebook is a project of Prairie Public, in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, with funding from the North Dakota Humanities Council.

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