Land Acts that defined the United States

Land Acts defined and dictated everything from our Constitution to our migration and settlement

Between the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776 and the first shots at Ft. Sumter in 1861, there were a large variety of land acts that governed public domain lands. Understanding these acts and how each supersedes the last or effects different areas will give insight to why land records are written as they are and how they dictated migration across the United States.


In this presentation, I will discuss the following fourteen Land Acts that influenced our American ancestry:


Bounty Land Legislation – 16 Sep 1776

Land Ordinance of 1784 – 23 Apr 1784 

Land Ordinance of 1785 - 20 May 1785

Northwest Ordinance – 13 Jul 1787 

Harrison act of 1800 – 10 May 1800

Preemption act of 1801 – 3 Mar 1801 

Preemption act of 1807 – 3 Mar 1807

Intrusion Act of 1807 – 3 Mar 1807 

Illinois Preemption Act - 5 February 1813

Land act of 1820 – 24 Apr 1820 

Preemption Act of 1841 - 4 Sep 1841

Donation Land Act – 27 Sep 1850 

Bounty Land Act of 1855 – 3 Mar 1855

Homestead Act - 20 May 1862