This Day in History

June 21, 1866: Southern Homestead Act

Time Periods: 1865
Themes: African American, Reconstruction, Labor, Racism & Racial Identity

The Southern Homestead Act of 1866 was signed on June 21, 1866.

In teaching about any of the Homestead Acts, it is important to include how the land was stolen from Native Americans.

The Act opened 46 million acres of federal land in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi. African Americans were granted priority access until January 1, 1867. However, a lack of agricultural resources (seeds, tools, and farm animals), the poor quality of most of the land, and persecution by whites made it difficult for African Americans to take advantage of this opportunity.

Southern Homestead Act | Zinn Education Project

Learn more at History Engine and find primary documents about this story.

Teach about the Reconstruction era.