florida homestead exemption act



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The Florida Homestead Act of 1862

homestead 1) n. the house and lot of a homeowner which the head of the household (usually either spouse) can declare to be the principal dwelling of the family and thereby exempt part of its value (based on state statutes) from judgment creditors. A similar exemption is available in bankruptcy without filing a declaration of homestead. 2) v. jargon for filing a declaration of homestead, as in "he homesteaded the property."

Homestead laws exist in many states in the United States generally serves two main purposes:

  1. to prevent forced sale of the home by unsecured creditors

  2. to provide a surviving spouse and family with shelter and from misfortune

Homestead Act

An act passed by Congress in 1862 promising ownership of a 160-acre tract of public land to a citizen or head of a family who had resided on and cultivated the land for five years after the initial claim.  A homestead is one's primary residence no matter where they live. It can be a farm, with the buildings around it, or any place of abode such as a shack, villa, boat, condo or tent.

Florida Homestead Act: To claim homestead is to establish ownership of previously owned or unowned property in writing.

Florida - The Homestead Act of 1862 was originally passed by the U.S. Congress. It provided for the transfer of 160 acres (65 hectares) of unoccupied public land to each homesteader on payment of a nominal fee after five years of residence. The land could also be acquired after six months of residence at $1.25 an acre. The government had previously sold land to settlers in the west for revenue purposes. As the west became politically stronger, however, pressure was increased upon Congress to guarantee free land to settlers (see Foot Resolution offered in 1829 by Samuel Augustus Foot in the U.S. Senate). This resolution instructed the committee on public lands to inquire into the limiting of public land sale. The Jacksonian Democrats, who wished to encourage migration to the West, opposed the resolution. The New England manufacturing interests, who demanded a ready labor supply, backed it. When the Foot statute passed in 1841 by the U.S. Congress in response to the demands of the Western states that squatters be allowed to preempt lands.

Pioneers often settled on public lands before they could be surveyed and auctioned by the U.S. government. At first the squatter claims were not recognized, but in 1830 the first of a series of temporary preemption laws was passed. Several bills providing for free distribution of land were defeated in Congress. In 1860 a bill was passed in Congress but was vetoed by President Buchanan. With the ascendancy of the Republican party (which had committed itself to homestead legislation) and with the secession of the South (which had opposed free distribution of land), the Federal Homestead Act, sponsored by Galusha A. Grow, became law. In 1976 it expired in all the states but Alaska, where it ended in 1986.

Florida and the Homestead Act

In US history, an act of Congress in May 1862 that encouraged settlement of land in the west by offering plots of up to 65-ha/160-acres, cheaply or even free, to citizens aged 21 years and over, or heads of family. In return, they had to promise to stay on the plot for five years, and to cultivate and improve the land, as well as build a house. The law was designed to prevent people from controlling vast amounts of land in order to make a quick fortune. By 1900 about 32 million ha/80 million acres had been distributed. Homestead lands are available to this day.

Homesteaders could buy their land after living on it for six months for $1.25 per acre, or they could expand the amount of land by paying $50 for 16 ha/40 acres, a huge amount of money at that time. A later act allowed homesteaders to file a timber claim, which allowed them to get another 65 ha/160 acres free if they planted at least 4 ha/10 acres in timber producing trees. The soil in the Plains area was very hard to plough, and the settlers were unable to plant very much until John Deere invented the Grand Detour steel plough, which had a suitably tough blade.

HOMESTEAD AND EXEMPTION LAWS are laws (principally in the United States) designed primarily either to aid the head of a family to acquire title to a place of residence or to protect the owner against loss of that title through seizure for almost any debt. These laws have all been enacted in America since about the middle of the 19th century, and owe their origin to the demand for a population of the right sort in a new country, to the conviction that the freeholder rather than the tenant is the natural supporter of popular government, to the effort to prevent insolvent debtors from becoming useless members of society, and to the belief that such laws encourage the stability of the family.

By the cessions of several of the older states, and by various treaties with foreign countries, public lands have been acquired for the United States in every state and territory of the Union except the original thirteen, and Maine, Vermont, Kentucky, Tennessee and Texas. For a time they were regarded chiefly as a source of revenue, but about 1820, as the need of revenue for the payment of the national debt decreased and the inhabitants of an increasing number of new states became eager to have tile vacant lands within their bounds occupied, the demand that the public lands should be disposed of more in the interest of the settler became increasingly strong, and the homestead idea originated. Until the advent of railways, however, the older states of the North were opposed to promoting the development of the West in this manner, and soon afterwards the Southern representatives in Congress opposed the general homestead bills in the interests of slavery, so that except in isolated cases where settlers were desired to protect some frontier, as in Florida and Oregon, and to a limited extent in the case of the Pre-emption Act of 1841, the homestead principle was not applied by tile national government until the Civil War had begun. A general homestead bill was passed by Congress in 1860, but this was vetoed by President James Buchanan. Two years later, however, a similar bill became law.

The act of 1862 originally provided that any Citizen of the United States, or applicant for citizenship, who was the head of a family, or twenty-one years of age, or if younger, had served not less than fourteen days in the army or navy of the United States during an actual war, might apply for 160 acres or less of unappropriated public lands, and might acquire title to this amount of land by residing upon and cultivating it for five years immediately following, and paying such fees as were necessary to cover the cost of administration. A homestead acquired in this manner was exempted from seizure for any debt contracted prior to the date of issuing the patent. A commutation clause of this act permitted title to be acquired after only six months of residence by paying $1.25 per acre, as provided in the Pre-emption Act of 1841. Act of 1872, amended in 1901, allows any soldier or seaman, who has served at least ninety days in the army or navy of the United States during the Civil War, the Spanish-American War or in the suppression of the insurrection in the Philippines, and was honorably discharged, to apply for a homestead, and permits the deduction of the time of such service, or if discharged on account of wounds or other disability incurred in the line of duty, the full term of his enlistment, from the five years otherwise required for perfecting title, except that in any case he shall have resided upon and cultivated the land at least one year before the passing of title. Since 1866 mineral lands have been for the most part excluded from entry as homesteads.

In accordance with the provisions of the homestead law, 718,930 homesteads, containing 96,495,414 acres, were established in forty-two years, and besides this principal act, Congress has passed several minor laws of a like nature, that is, acts designed to benefit the actual settler who improves the land. Thus the Pre-emption Act of 1841 gave to any head of a family or any single person over twenty-one years of age, who was a citizen of the United States or had declared his intention to become one, permission to purchase not to exceed 160 acres of public lands after he had resided upon and improved the same for six months; the Timber-Culture Act of 1873 allowed title to 160 acres of public prairie-land to be given to any one who should plant upon it 40 acres of timber, and keep the same in good growing condition for ten years; and the Desert-Land Act of 1877 gave to any citizen of the United States, or to any person who had declared his intention to become one, the privilege of acquiring title to 640 acres of such public land as was not included in mineral or timberlands, and would not without irrigation produce an agricultural crop, by paying twenty-five cents an acre and creating for the tract an artificial water-supply.

These several land acts, however, invited fraud to such an extent that in time they promoted the establishment of large land holdings by ranchmen and others quite as much as they encouraged settlement and cultivation, and so great was this evil that in 1891 the Timber-Culture and Pre-emption Acts were repealed, the total amount of land that could be acquired by any one person under the several land laws was limited to 320 acres, the Desert-Land Act was so amended as to require an expenditure of at least three dollars an acre for irrigation, and the original Homestead Act was so amended as to disqualify any person who was already proprietor of more than 160 acres in any state or Territory of the Union for acquiring any more land under its provisions; and in 1896 a residence of fourteen months was required before permitting commutation or the purchase of title. But even these measures were inadequate to prevent fraud. In 1894 Congress, in what is known as the Carey Act, donated to California, Oregon, Nevada, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Utah, Wyoming, Arizona, New Mexico and the Dakotas so much as 5 million acres each of desert-lands as each should cause to be irrigated, reclaimed and occupied within ten years, not less than 20 acres of each 160 acres to be cultivated by actual settlers; and in several of these states and territories’ irrigating companies have been formed and land offered to settlers in amounts not exceeding 160 acres to each, on terms requiring the settler to purchase ample and perpetual water-rights. In 1902, Congress appropriated the proceeds of the sales of public lands in these states and territories to form a reclamation fund to be used for In 1901 it was provided that the ten years should date from the segregation of the lands from the public domain.

The construction and maintenance of irrigation works, and lands reclaimed by this means are open to homestead entries, the entry man being required to pay for the cost of reclamation in ten equal annual installments without interest. When Texas was admitted to the Union the disposal of its public lands was reserved to the state, and under its laws every person who is the head of a family and without a homestead may acquire title to 160 acres of land by residing upon and improving it for three years; every unmarried man eighteen years of age or over may acquire title to 80 acres in the same way.

A short time before the National Homestead Act for aiding citizens to acquire homesteads went into operation, some of the state legislatures had passed homestead and exemption laws designed to protect homesteads or a certain amount of property against loss to the owners in case they should become insolvent debtors, and by the close of the century the legislature of nearly every state in the Union had passed a law of this nature. These laws vary greatly. In most states the exemption of a homestead or other property from liability for debts can be claimed only by the head of a family, but in Georgia it may be claimed by any aged or infirm person, by any trustee of a family of minor children, or by any person on whom any woman or girls are dependent for support; and in California, although the head of a family may claim exemption for a homestead valued at $5000, any other person may claim exemption for a homestead valued at $1000. In some states exemptions may be claimed either for a farm limited to 40, 50, 160 or 200 acres, or for a house and one or more lots, usually limited in size, in a town, village or city; in other states the homestead for which exemption may be claimed is limited in value, and this value varies from $500 to $5000.

With the homestead are usually included the appurtenances thereto, and the courts invariably interpret the law liberally; but many states also exempt a specified amount of personal property, including wearing apparel, furniture, provisions, tools, libraries and in some cases domestic animals and stock in trade. A few states exempt no homestead and only a small amount of personal property. Maryland , for example, exempts only $100 worth of property besides money payable in the nature of insurance, or for relief, in the event of sickness, injury or death. To some debts the exemption does not usually apply; the most common of these are taxes, purchase money, a debt secured by mortgage on the homestead and debts contracted in making improvements upon it; in Maryland the only exception is a judgment for breach of promise to marry or in case of seduction. If the homestead belongs to a married person, the consent of both husband and wife is usually required to mortgage it. Finally, some states require that the homestead for which exemption is to be claimed shall be previously entered upon record, others require only occupancy, and still others permit the homestead to be designated whenever a claim is presented.

Following the example of either the United States Congress or the state legislatures, the governments of several British colonial states and provinces have passed homestead laws. In Quebec every settler on public lands is allowed, after receiving a patent, an exemption of not to exceed 200 acres from that of his widow, of his, her or their children and descendants in the direct line. In Ontario an applicant for a homestead may have not to exceed 200 acres of unappropriated public land for farming purposes by building a house thereon, occupying it for five years, and bringing at least fifteen acres under cultivation; the exemption of such a homestead from liability to seizure for debts is, however, limited to twenty years from the date of application for the land, and does not extend even during that period to rates or taxes. Manitoba , British Columbia , Queensland , New South Wales , South Australia , West Australia and New Zealand also have liberal homestead and exemption laws. -

-        See J, B. Sanborn, Some Political Aspects of Homestead Legislation, in The American historical Review (1900); Edward Manson, The Homestead Acts, in the Journal of the Society of Comparative Legislation (London, I899)~ S. I). Thompson, A Treatise on Homesteads and Exemptions (San Francisco, 1886); P. Bureau, Le Homestead... ( Paris , 1894), and L. Vacher, Le Homestead aux Etats-Unis ( Paris , 1899). (N. D. M.)

The purpose of the homestead 'creditor protection' exemption, which is a separate law from the homestead property tax exemption, is to protect a debtor and his or her family in a home from forced sale on execution or attachment. See Fisher v. Kellogg, 128 Neb. 248, 258 N.W. 404 (1935). Any interest in real estate, either legal or equitable, that gives a present right of occupancy or possession, followed by exclusive occupancy, is sufficient to support a homestead right therein. Mainelli v. Neuhaus, 157 Neb. 392, 59 N.W.2d 607 (1953). See, also, Fisher v. Kellogg, supra. It is not necessary that the ownership be of an estate in fee simple, but any interest, either legal or equitable, that gives a present right of occupancy or possession, followed by exclusive occupancy, is sufficient to support a homestead right therein.

Synopsis: The Homestead Act of 1862 and the History of the Florida Homestead Act

The original Homestead Act was passed by Congress May 20, 1862 , and took effect January 1, 1863 (the same day that the Emancipation Proclamation took effect). In 1862, it was passed by the U.S. Congress. It provided for the transfer of 160 acres (65 hectares) of unoccupied public land to each homesteader on payment of a nominal fee after five years of residence; land could also be acquired after six months of residence at $1.25 an acre. The government had previously sold land to settlers in the West for revenue purposes. As the West became politically stronger, however, pressure was increased upon Congress to guarantee free land to settlers. Several bills providing for free distribution of land were defeated in Congress; in 1860 a bill was passed in Congress but was vetoed by President Buchanan. With the ascendancy of the Republican party (which had committed itself to homestead legislation) and with the secession of the South (which had opposed free distribution of land), the Homestead Act, sponsored by Galusha A. Grow, became law.

In 1976 it expired in all the states but Alaska , where it ended in 1986. The benefits of the Act were not available to residents of Florida until after the Civil War. The first homestead grants in Florida were made on January 6, 1873 .   On that day, 12 were granted in West Florida , 2 in Leon County and 10 in Gadsden County. It was not until June 24, 1878 when the first homestead patents were granted west of the Apalachicola River. On that day, 7 were granted. One was to the Rev. John Newton, the former school master of the Walton County Knox Hill Academy. His grant was for the land surrounding his sea side cottage on the narrows of Santa Rosa Sound, where he had moved 7 years before with his daughters, Mary and Esther.

Over the years, there were many changes to the Homestead Act. The following summary applies only to the original act.

ELIGIBILITY:   To be eligible, a person had to be 21 years of age, or the head of a family, or have met certain military requirements.   He or she also had to be a U.S. citizen or have filed a declaration of intention to become one.   And the final requirement was that he or she must not have borne arms against the U.S. or given aid and comfort to its enemies (a significant restriction at the time of enactment with the Civil War well underway).

RIGHTS GRANTED:  The act permitted an eligible person to enter (move onto) unappropriated public land upon which the applicant already had preemption rights, or which was subject to preemption rights, after filing an application with the register of the Land Office, along with an affidavit and a $10 fee.   The affidavit attested to the above requirements, plus the requirement that the land was being entered for the exclusive use of the applicant and for settlement and cultivation.

AMOUNT OF LAND:   The maximum quantity of land which could be entered was one quarter Section (160 acres) of land if it was the type having a minimum price of $1.25/acre or less (almost always the case in West Florida), or 80 acres of land if it was the type having a minimum price of $2.50/acre.   The entire quantity of land had to be in one body and not spread around.   For those who already owned land which they resided on, they could homestead land contiguous to their land, so long as the total of their previously owned land and the contiguous land being homesteaded did not exceed 160 acres.

5 YEAR REQUIREMENT:   A patent certificate could be obtained by the homesteader after continuously residing on and cultivating the land for 5 years.   To obtain the patent, the homesteader had to file another affidavit attesting to the original requirements, plus having met the 5 year requirement and a statement that no part of the land had been sold, given away or otherwise alienated.   Affidavits from two witnesses to the above effect were also required.   And, of course, an additional fee was required.  If the homesteader was not a U.S. citizen at the time of his original application, he must have become one before being issued a Homestead Patent.   The patent certificate must have been applied for within 2 years of completing the 5 year residency and cultivation requirement.

HOMESTEAD COULD NOT BE SOLD OR SUBJECT TO DEBTS:   During the period from initial entry and application until final issuance of the patent, no part of the homesteaded land could be sold or taken for debts of the homesteader.   Even after the issuance of the patent, the homesteaded land could not be taken for debts which were contracted before the issuance of the patent.   (This was probably intended to prevent sales of the land hidden behind sham loans.)

SHORTCUTTING THE PROCESS:   At any time during the 5 year settlement and cultivation period the Homesteader could short-cut the process by paying the minimum price established for the land.

RIGHTS OF HEIRS:  The Act provided extensive protection for heirs in the event the homesteader died before completing the process.

The Homestead Act is a piece of U.S. history.

Additional History

By the end of the 19th century over 570 million acres (2,300,000 km²) remained open to settlement, but very little of this was usable for agriculture. The frontier was the term applied until the end of the 19th century to the zone of unsettled land outside the region of existing settlements of European immigrants and their descendants. In a broad sense, the notion of the frontier was the edge of the settled country was the place where unlimited cheap land was available to anyone willing to live the hard but independent life of the pioneer farmer.

Farmers  moved west onto the arid Great Plains The Great Plains is the broad expanse of prairie which lies east of the Rocky Mountains in the United States of America and Canada, covering the US states of New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, Montana, South Dakota and North Dakota and the Canadian provinces of Saskatchewan and Alberta. Much of Minnesota and Iowa and much of the Canadian province of Manitoba also lies in the Great Plains . The amount of land a homesteader was allowed to claim was changed to 640 acres (2.6 km²), a full section.

Much of the remaining public domain was included in the National Forests U.S. National forests are protected forests and woodland areas in the United States . National forests are controlled by the federal government and managed by the United States Forest Service, under the direction of the United States Secretary of Agriculture. The management of these lands focuses on timber harvesting, livestock grazing, water, wildlife, and recreation. Commercial use of national forests is permitted and in many cases encouraged, unlike national parks.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is an agency within the United States Department of the Interior which administers America 's public lands, totaling 262 million acres (1,060,000 km²) or one-eighth of the landmass of the country. Most public lands are located in Western states.

First claim

The first claim under the Homestead Act was made by Daniel Freeman (1826–1908) and he was an American homesteader, physician and Civil War veteran. He was the first person to file for a claim under Homestead Act of 1862. He was also the plaintiff in a landmark separation of church and state decision.

Last claim

The Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 ended homesteading; the government believing that the best use of public lands was for them to remain in government control. The only exception to this new policy was Alaska , for which the law allowed homesteading until 1986.

The last claim under the Homestead Act was made by Kenneth Deardorff for 80 acres (32 ha) of land on the Stony River in south-western Alaska . He fulfilled all requirements of the Homestead Act in 1979 but he did not actually receive his land patent until May 1988. Therefore, he is the very last person to receive the title to land claimed under the provisions of the Homestead Act.

Fraud and corporate use

Ironically, the Homestead Act was often used as a scam. Usually, the land that was available was in too poor a shape to farm on, especially in the middle of the plains where droughts were common occurrences. Because of hardships like these, not many families actually stayed for the entire 5 years.

Many corporations also took advantage of this act. They would pay people to buy the top-of-the-line property which contained an abundance of resources such as timber, minerals, and oil. Then the settlers would claim later on that they had "improved" the land. In reality, the improvements made to the land were minimal.


In the history of the world, only a few people owned land. Ownership of land provides empowerment and social responsibility. This was unavailable to the great majority of the world's population. The Homestead Act, for a short time and in one place, reversed this balance and helped to create the current state of America . Property given to impoverished East-coast city dwellers and masses of new Northern European immigrants distributed wealth evenly among a working populace. Homestead tracts were often excellent farmland and provided subsistence and a steady income. Homestead farmers in time became the agricultural producers to the nation as a whole. Additionally, strong communities with a commitment to social values, education, and personal responsibility were spawned throughout the territories (eventually, new States) covered by the Homestead lands.

The economic, agricultural, and social stability generated by the Homestead Act was utterly inconceivable in other times and places -- and formed a large part of the foundation of American prosperity in the 20th century.

This prosperity was primarily for European settlers while at the same time devastating the lives and cultures of native Americans, who were forced from lands they had lived on for thousands of years. This act further advanced the largest act of genocide in the history of the United States .

International derivations

The act was later copied with some modifications by Canada in the form of the Dominion Lands Act, and similar acts, usually termed the Selection Acts were passed in the various Australian colonies in the 1860s, beginning in 1861 in New South Wales.

External links

See also

A homestead ad valorem tax exemption is an exemption from property taxes. Property tax is an ad valorem tax that an owner of real estate or other property pays on the value of the thing taxed. The taxing authority performs or requires an appraisal of the value of the property, and tax is assessed in proportion to that value. Forms of property tax used vary between countries and jurisdictions. A homestead claim can survive any creditor claims which can be applied to a home. Home is a place where a person lives, spends much of her time, or feels generally comfortable with. While a house (or other residential dwelling) is often referred to as a home, and is home to many people, the concept of "home" is broader than a physical dwelling. Home is often a place of refuge and safety, where worldly cares fade, with things and people you love becoming the focus. Home is central to one's life, primarily emotional, and partially physical. A homestead exemption is most often only on a fixed monetary amount, such as the first $25,000 dollars of the assessed value. Value is a term that expresses the concept of worth in general, and it is thought to be connected to reasons for certain practices, policies, or actions. The remainder is taxed at the normal rate. In this case, a home valued at $150,000 would then only be taxed on $125,000; a home valued at $75,000 would only be taxed on $55,000.

The tax exemption is generally intended to make the property tax a progressive tax. A progressive tax, or graduated tax, is a tax that is larger as a percentage of income for those with larger incomes. It is usually applied in reference to income taxes, where people with more income pay a higher percentage of it in taxes. The term progressive refers to the way the rate progresses from low to high, but over time it has become confused with other terms. read the Florida law on homestead tax exemption HERE.

The entire text of the original federal act is reprinted below. 

Text of Original Homestead Act

37th Congress Session II 1862

Chapter LXXV. - An Act to secure Homesteads to actual Settlers on the Public Domain.

      Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That any person who is the head of a family, or who has arrived at the age of twenty-one years, and is a citizen of the United States, or who shall have filed his declaration of intention to become such, as required by the naturalization laws of the United States, and who has never borne arms against the United States Government or given aid and comfort to its enemies, shall, from and after the first January, eighteen hundred and sixty-three, be entitled to enter one quarter section or a less quantity of unappropriated public lands, upon which said person may have filed a preemption claim, or which may, at the time the application is made, be subject to preemption at one dollar and twenty-five cents, or less, per acre; or eighty acres or less of such unappropriated lands, at two dollars and fifty cents per acre, to be located in a body, in conformity to the legal subdivisions of the public lands, and after the same shall have been surveyed:   Provided, That any person owning and residing on land may, under the provisions of this act, enter other land lying contiguous to his or her said land, which shall not, with the land so already owned and occupied, exceed in the aggregate one hundred and sixty acres.

      Sec. 2.   And be it further enacted, That the person applying for the benefit of this act shall, upon application to the register of the land office in which he or she is about to make such entry, make affidavit before the said register or receiver that he or she is the head of a family, or is twenty-one years or more of age, or shall have performed service in the army or navy of the United States, and that he has never borne arms against the Government of the United States or given aid and comfort to its enemies, and that such application is made for his or her exclusive use and benefit, and that said entry is made for the purpose of actual settlement and cultivation, and not either directly or indirectly for the use of benefit of any other person or persons whomsoever; and upon filing the said affidavit with the register or receiver, and on payment of ten dollars, he or she shall thereupon be permitted to enter the quantity of land specified:   Provided, however, That no certificate shall be given or patent issued therefor until the expiration of five years from the date of such entry; and if, at the expiration of such time, or at any time within two years thereafter, the person making such entry; or, if he be dead, his widow; or in case of her death, his heirs or devisee; or in case of a widow making such entry, her heirs or devisee, in case of her death; shall prove by two credible witnesses that he, she, or they have resided upon or cultivated the same for the term of five years immediately succeeding the time of filing the affidavit aforesaid, and shall make affidavit that no part of said land has been alienated, and that he has borne true allegiance to the Government of the United States; then, in such case, he, she, or they, if at that time a citizen of the United States, shall be entitled to a patent, as in other cases provided for by law:   And provided, further, That in case of the death of both father and mother, leaving an infant child, or children, under twenty-one years of age, the right and fee shall enure to the benefit of said infant child or children; and the executor, administrator, or guardian may, at any time within two years after the death of the surviving parent, and in accordance with the laws of the State in which such children for the time being have their domicil, sell said land for the benefit of said infants, but for no other purpose; and the purchaser shall acquire the absolute title by the purchase, and be entitled to a patent from the United States, on payment of the office fees and sum of money herein specified.

     Sec. 3.   And be it further enacted, That the register of the land office shall note all such applications on the tract books and plats of his office, and keep a register of all such entries, and make return thereof to the General Land Office, together with the proof upon which they have been founded.

      Sec. 4.   And be it further enacted, That no lands acquired under the provisions of this act shall in any event become liable to the satisfaction of any debt or debts contracted prior to the issuing of the patent therefor.

      Sec. 5.   And be if further enacted, That if, at any time after the filing of the affidavit, as required in the second section of this act, and before the expiration of the five years aforesaid, it shall be proven after due notice to the settler, to the satisfaction of the register of the land office, that the person having filed such affidavit shall have actually changed his or her residence, or abandoned the said land for more than six months at any time, then and in that event the land so entered shall revert to the government.

      Sec. 6.   And be it further enacted, That no individual shall be permitted to acquire title to more than one quarter section under the provisions of this act; and that the Commissioner of the General Land Office is hereby required to prepare and issue such rules and regulations, consistent with this act, as shall be necessary and proper to carry its provisions into effect; and that the registers and receivers of the several land offices shall be entitled to receive the same compensation for any lands entered under the provisions of this act that they are now entitled to receive when the same quantity of land is entered with money, one half to be paid by the person making the application at the time of so doing, and the other half on the issue of the certificate by the person to whom it may be issued; but this shall not be construed to enlarge the maximum of compensation now prescribed by law for any register or receiver:   Provided, That nothing contained in this act shall be so construed as to impair or interfere in any manner whatever with existing preemption rights;  

And provided, further, That all persons who may have filed their application for a preemption right prior to the passage of this act, shall be entitled to all privileges of this act:   Provided, further, That no person who has served, or may hereafter serve, for a period of not less than fourteen days in the army or navy of the United States, either regular or volunteers under the laws thereof, during the existence of an actual war, domestic or foreign, shall be deprived of the benefits of this act on account of not having attained the age of twenty-one years.

      Sec. 7.   And be it further enacted, That the fifth section of the act entitled "An act in addition to an act more effectually to provide for the punishment of certain crimes against the United States, and for other purposes," approved the third of March, in the year eighteen hundred and fifty-seven, shall extend to all oaths, affirmations, and affidavits, required or authorized by this act.

      Sec. 8.   And be it further enacted, That nothing in this act shall be so construed as to prevent any person who has availed him or herself of the benefits of the first section of this act, from paying the minimum price, or the price to which the same may have graduated, for the quantity of land so entered at any time before the expiration of the five years, and obtaining a patent therefor from the government, as in other cases provided by law, on making proof of settlement and cultivation as provided by existing laws granting preemption rights.

APPROVED, May 20, 1862 .

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