How Did The Homestead Act Affect Women

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The Homestead Act is a special Act that promoted migration to the western part of US. Public lands were made easily accessible to settlers with a small filing fee in exchange for 160 acres of land to be used for farming. Homesteaders received ownership of the land after continuously residing on the land for five years. Homesteaders also had an alternative of acquiring the land from the government by paying a specified amount per acre, after six months of residency. The Homestead Act resulted in the distribution of million acres of public land (Library of Congress n.p). The Act made it possible everyone, including, women from the middle and lower classes of the society to gain financial freedom and independence. In the early twentieth century, …show more content…

The women were expected to create a happy home, guard the religion, and the morality of her family. The unmarried and married women who tried to seek work outside the home faced limited employment opportunities because of their gender. Women were expected to only focus on domestic duties and her role were limited to continue living in the man’s world. Women roles were expected to be in line with the culture and norms set by the society. The American culture perceived that women were not intellectually and emotionally stable to be involved in the complex world of work and, therefore, women did not take up leadership and political roles. Some women who tried to go against the set norms in most cases were ridiculed and scorned. Such actions made the American women also believed that being at home, caring, and supporting their family was their only duty (Wishart …show more content…

In 1869, the Wyoming territory was first to grant women suffrage, hoping to attract women to the territory. Not all Western states promoted gender equality—in fact, in 1870 Wyoming denied women the right to serve on juries. Even so, it was the Western state of Montana that elected the first female member of the House of Representatives, Jeannette Rankin, in 1916, and the first female governors also hailed from the West (Hensley). In the West, women were allowed to own property in their own name through homesteading. Men encouraged women to make claims for homestead land so that they could double the size of the family's holdings. But the land was still in the women's name and she often had the final say in what should be done with it. As a result of their access to land and the booming agricultural economy in the West, some women ran ranches and farms by themselves. Along with their success owning and running farms and ranches, some women became real estate agents and speculators, buying and selling Western land

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