Representatives from 30 states will take part in a ceremony at the National Monument of America in the Nebraska town of Beatrice, representing the states where nearly 2 million people each received 160 acres of free land under the program.
The act was in effect for 123 years. Homesteading ended in the continental United States in 1976. It ended in Alaska in 1986. In addition to the American West, homesteading took place in the South because land confiscated from plantation owners after the Civil War was deemed public land. Texas had no homesteading because it did not have federal public land.
Engler said the Homestead Act contributed to the expansion of the U.S. economy, spurred immigration and advanced transportation and communications networks.
The "not everyone benefited" paragraph is the only negative thing in the article about the Homestead Act. Here's a less benign view:
The Subsidy of History
History can't be done a priori.
The first and probably the most important subsidy of history is land theft, by which peasant majorities were deprived of their just property rights and turned into tenants forced to pay rent based on the artificial “property” titles of state-privileged elites.
Of course, all such artificial titles not founded on appropriation by individual labor are completely illegitimate.
As Ludwig von Mises pointed out in Socialism, the normal functioning of the market never results in a state of affairs in which most of the land of a country is “owned” by a tiny class of absentee landlords and the peasant majority pay rent for the land they work. Wherever it is found, it is the result of past coercion and robbery.
Much of today's concentrated wealth began with government subsidies to railroads, ranchers, miners, and drillers. So our "free market" economy has always been a crock. The country was "built" by elitists using government power to enrich themselves at the expense of Indians and other Americans.
For more on the subject, see:
Ayn Rand, racist
Land theft in My Little Pony
Jefferson's Indian removal policy
Capitalism killed the Indians
Great Plains in Years of Dust