It is the purpose of our government "to elevate the condition of men, to lift artificial burdens from all shoulders and to give everyone an unfettered start and a fair chance in the race of life." President Abraham Lincoln, July 4, 1861. The cry was FREE LAND!! The Homestead Act of 1862 was one of the most significant and enduring events in the westward expansion of the United States. By granting 160 acres of free land to claimants, it allowed nearly any man or woman a "fair chance." Homestead National Historical Park, located in Southeast Nebraska, commemorates this Act and the far-reaching effects it had upon the landscape and people.