Homestead Act and Bundy Claims

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My kindred, Senator Thomas Hart Benton was the sole proprietor of the Oregon Territory, and helped the Homestead Act become the law of the land. Freed Slaves were encouraged to take part in this Government Giveaway Program. John Fremont and Jessie Benton were Abolitionists. John emancipated the slaves of Missouri, hoping they would come into the Oregon Territory and lay claim to the wilderness the British had lay claim to. The British retreated and gave up their rights to Oregon, thanks to my kindred.

Cliven Bundy, the father of Ammon Bundy, used the word “Negro” in making his bullshit claim that white rugged cowboy types should take what they want. This echoes ‘Manifest Destiny’ that Senator Benton promoted which had its drawbacks. The important aspect is, the Bundyites are basing their takeover of Oregon land upon real historic legislation my kindred made. Therefore, I have more right to said lands then the Bundy family according to their flawed logic. I am ordering the Bundyites off my land.

Get out! Now! You are trespassers, squatters, and parasites of my Family Legacy!

I will be making a replica of Fremont’s flag to take with me to Burns. I am the anointed Government Giver of the West. The Bundys speak with forked-tongue because they want the Federal Government to give them more land. Well, Cliven tore up his Homestead contract, and is a dirty racist pig – who suggested black people were better off as slaves!

Vacate my ancestral land – varmints!

Jon Presco

a.k.a Uncle Samaclaus

President: Royal Rosamond Press

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The leader of militants at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge gave two demands to FBI officials Friday for negotiations toward a resolution to continue. The exchange happened outside an FBI staging area near Burns, Oregon.

In a brief meeting with FBI officials, Ammon Bundy made it clear he will not talk about or negotiate a resolution to the three-week occupation of the refuge until his demands are met.

First, he required someone from the FBI meet him face-to-face for the discussions. A brief negotiation took place over the phone Thursday between Bundy and an FBI negotiator.

When the anti-government rancher Cliven Bundy stepped before the cameras to “tell you one more thing I know about the Negro,” he also stepped into far-reaching and noxious American historical myths about self-sufficiency, race, and rugged individualism. Bundy’s actual words – delivered in a Western drawl by a man in cowboy hat and boots, against a backdrop of sagebrush and desert scenery – were mostly the same old “government makes people dependent” arguments that saturate the right-wing blogosphere and FOX News.

But there was something else embedded in Bundy’s observations about “the Negro” that bears mentioning.

Students of the history of the American West have long known that the strong, rugged individualists that populate our movies, TV shows, and myths always depended on government – to give them ownership of their farms and ranches, to subsidize private corporations like railroads for access to markets, for federal troops for protection from Indians, and federally funded dams and canals for irrigating their fields and sustaining their livestock and towns.

The idea that Bundy’s pioneer ancestors somehow made their fortunes (“built that”) without any help, before the invention of government assistance, the Bureau of Land Management or federal regulations, is preposterous.

Bundy’s claims also echoed Mitt Romney’s “47 percent” remarks to wealthy contributors during the 2012 campaign, when the Republican nominee intimated that nearly half of Americans believe they are victims and entitled to a range of government support to which they have become dependent. But Romney’s division of Americans into “makers” and “takers” gets a lot more complicated if you examine
our country’s complex history of clearing, settling and subduing the West.


The question of what to do with the nearly unfathomable bounty of public lands west of the Mississippi River (land both bought and conquered by the United States at the expense of Native Americans) roiled our nation’s politics almost exactly 150 years ago. In May 1862, the first Republican President – Abraham Lincoln – signed the Homestead Act, passed by a Republican Congress only after Southern representatives had resigned their seats and their states seceded from the Union (the legislation was rightly viewed by Southerners as profoundly anti-slavery, since a West settled by independent proprietors would always vote to keep slaveholders out).

The Homestead Act was one of the most far-reaching and important pieces of legislation ever enacted in the United States. It was also undeniably a massive (and successful) social welfare program. It gave an applicant ownership – at no cost! – of farmland made up of 160 acres of undeveloped federal land. The land wasn’t what some on the libertarian right would archly call a “handout”: a would-be homesteader was required to file an application, improve the land by building fences and structures, and, after five years’ residency and toil, file for a permanent deed of title. But it was a government program designed both to settle the West with farmers and ranchers and to dispose of the public lands. “Winners” were undoubtably picked.

In a remarkably bold and broad stroke, homesteads were technically made available to all heads of household who had never taken up arms against the U.S. government, so claimants could include women, immigrants who intended to become citizens, and ex-slaves. Eventually the federal government granted 1.6 million homesteads and distributed 270,000,000 acres (420,000 sq. mi) of federal land for private ownership between 1862 and 1934, a total of 10 percent of all lands in the United States. But as anyone who has read Little House on the Prairie or O Pioneers! knows, making it on the Great Plains or in the Mountain West as a homesteader was difficult work. Blizzards, grasshoppers, withering droughts, financial panics, and plain old bad luck prevented a full 60 percent of those filing claims from successfully “proving up” and taking ownership of their land.

African American homesteaders

Those who were successful tended not to be the urban working class, formerly-enslaved blacks, or the indigent (the parts of society the originators of the homestead laws had in mind in the 1840s and 50s). Instead, when the program really got going in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, it was immigrants from Europe who joined farmers from the Ohio and Mississippi valleys in populating the plains and West with homesteads. Making a farm work required significant agricultural know-how, and enough capital to get to your claim, buy seed, acquire tools, and put up a surplus in case of hard times. These factors all discriminated against the extremely poor, which included most people of color.

The government offered several revisions and updates to the original Homestead Act after 1862, including a Southern Homestead Act of 1866 (a failed program intended to turn ex-slaves and sharecroppers into landowners), the Enlarged Homestead Act of 1909 (enacted to enable dryland farming in the Plains and Mountain West), the Stock-Raising Homestead Act of 1916 (to allow ranchers 640 acres of land for grazing purposes instead of the normal 160).

In the last century several different models were tried to encourage ranchers like Bundy’s ancestors to use public lands – property owned by all Americans, in common – to graze cattle, including the U.S. Grazing Service (a creation of the Taylor Grazing Act of 1934) and today’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM), founded in the 1940s. Both federal agencies installed token costs per head of livestock called a grazing fee, and issued grazing permits that were periodically renewed.

Cliven Bundy tore up his grazing permit in 1992 because he disagreed with its terms. Since that time he has grazed his cattle with no permit on government lands. This makes him worse than a “moocher” – it makes him a trespasser, on property that every one of us owns in common.

The two most visible legacies of the Homestead Act and its successors remain our nation’s huge rural middle class and the checkerboard grid of quarter-sections you can see from the window of an airplane flying seven miles up. But a third can be found hidden in our current, still-unresolved debates about race and the role of government.

Jonathan Earle is associate professor of history and director of the University of Kansas’ Honors Program.

Missouri delivering speeches on slavery. In Jefferson City, he declared, “My personal sentiments, then, are against the institution of slavery, and against its introduction into places in which it does not exist. If there was no slavery in Missouri today, I should oppose its coming in.”

Benton spent his last session in Congress speaking against slavery. This change in position cost Benton much support, and he lost the 1851 senatorial election.

In 1854 Benton’s wife, Elizabeth, died, leaving him heartbroken. To distract himself from his grief, he undertook a long lecture tour across the U.S. from 1856 to 1857. He gave lectures on slavery, warning listeners of terrible consequences if the North and South did not end their dispute.

Due to his extensive travels throughout the western stations of the HBC, Governor Pelly instructed George Simpson to draft a plan for the British Government if hostilities were to arise with the Americans.[52] Finalizing the proposal on 29 March 1845, Simpson called for two areas to launch offensives. The Red River Colony would be the base of operations for forays into the Great Plains, an expansive region then only lightly colonized by Americans.[52] A militia composed of Métis riflemen and neighboring First Nations like the Ojibwe would be created, along with a garrison of Regular Army infantry. To secure the Pacific Northwest and the Columbia River, Simpson felt Cape Disappointment was of critical importance. A naval force of two steamboats and two ships of the line would bring a detachment of Royal Marines to create a coastal battery there.[52] Recruitment was hoped by Simpson to gain a force led by Regular Army officers of 2,000 Métis and indigenous peoples in the region. His proposal quickly earned the interest of the British Government as he met with Prime Minister Peel and Foreign Secretary Aberdeen on 2 April. £1,000 were awarded to lay the ground work for defensive operations in the Pacific Northwest.[52] Secretary of State for War and the Colonies Lord Stanley favored the plan, declaring that the HBC had to maintain military operations west of Sault Ste. Marie.[42]

The homestead was an area of public land in the West (usually 160 acres or 0.65 km2) granted to any US citizen willing to settle on and farm the land for at least five years. The law (and those following it) required a three-step procedure: file an application, improve the land, and file for deed of title. Anyone who had never taken up arms against the U.S. government (including freed slaves) and was at least 21 years old or the head of a household, could file an application to claim a federal land grant. The occupant had to reside on the land for five years, and show evidence of having made improvements.

The Homestead Acts were several United States federal laws that gave an applicant ownership of land, typically called a “homestead“, at little or no cost. It gave settlers 160 acres (65 hectares). An extension of the Homestead Principle in law, the Homestead Acts were an expression of the “Free Soil” policy of Northerners who wanted individual farmers to own and operate their own farms, as opposed to Southern slave-owners who wanted to buy up large tracts of land and use slave labor, thereby shutting out free white men.

The first of the acts, the Homestead Act of 1862, opened up millions of acres. Any adult who had never taken up arms against the U.S. government, could apply. Women, blacks, and immigrants were eligible.

Benton was related by marriage or blood to a number of 19th Century luminaries. Two of his nephews—Confederate Colonel and posthumous Brigadier General Samuel Benton[12] of Mississippi and Union Colonel and Brevet Brigadier General Thomas H. Benton, Jr. of Iowa[13]—fought on opposite sides during the Civil War. He was brother-in-law of Senator/Governor James McDowell of Virginia; father-in-law of explorer, Union Major General, and presidential candidate John C. Frémont; and cousin-in-law of Senators Henry Clay[14] and James Brown, both of whom married cousins of Benton. His great-nephew was Congressman Maecenas Eason Benton, the father of painter Thomas Hart Benton.

The Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 ended homesteading;[21][22] by that time, federal government policy had shifted to retaining control of western public lands. The only exception to this new policy was in Alaska, for which the law allowed homesteading until 1986.[21]

The last claim under this Act was made by Ken Deardorff for 80 acres (32 ha) of land on the Stony River in southwestern Alaska. He fulfilled all requirements of the homestead act in 1979 but did not receive his deed until May 1988. He is the last person to receive title to land claimed under the Homestead Acts.[23]

Second, Bundy wanted to know if Harney County Sheriff David Ward gave authorization for the FBI to operate in the county.

“If you’re not acting under the authority of the sheriff, then that’s another constitutional violation,” Bundy said to the FBI during a brief phone call.

“If you haven’t got sanctioned by the sheriff, then there’s no reason for me to be talking to you,” Bundy added. “I need to just go down to the sheriff and talk to him.”

Bundy then went to the sheriff’s office, but Ward declined to meet with him,

About Royal Rosamond Press

I am an artist, a writer, and a theologian.
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1 Response to Homestead Act and Bundy Claims

  1. Reblogged this on Rosamond Press and commented:

    I back Kate – all he way! Fremont opposed the Fugitive Slave Act. We got State Rights – here!

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