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Donation Land Claims Prepared by the Teaching American History Project Institute of Portland Metropolitan Studies Portland State University

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Presentation on theme: "Donation Land Claims Prepared by the Teaching American History Project Institute of Portland Metropolitan Studies Portland State University"— Presentation transcript:

1 Donation Land Claims Prepared by the Teaching American History Project Institute of Portland Metropolitan Studies Portland State University

2 The Oregon Country ( ) U.S. shares the occupancy of the Oregon Country with Great Britain 1792 Capt. Robert Gray sailed his ship into Ouragon (the “beautiful river”). He named the river the Columbia Lewis & Clark Expedition reaches Oregon John Jacob Astor establishes a fur trading post at the mouth of the Columbia River.

3 Oregon Settlement ( ) No organized government Dr. John McLoughlin establishes Fort Vancouver for the Hudsons Bay Co. (Great Britain). 1820s Hudsons Bay Co. and former fur traders become first permanent settlers Missionaries start coming to the Oregon Country Dr. McLoughlin plats out the first townsite (Oregon City) Oregon Trail migration begins.

4 Oregon Provisional Government (1843) Oregon State Archives (http://arcweb.sos.state.or.us/provisionalguide/1843Map.html)

5 Oregon Settlement ( ) May 2, settlers meet in Champoeg and vote to establish a provisional government. July 1843, Oregon City, Oregon Provisional Government created by the “Organic Law” (…until such time as the United States Government extend their jurisdiction over us…). Article 3 is the LAND LAW Establish a claim using natural boundaries. Record the claim in the office of the Territorial Recorder. Make permanent improvements within 6 months. Become an occupant within 1 year. May claim up to 1 sq. mile (640 acres).

6 Oregon Territory ( ) 1846 US/Great Britain Boundary Treaty fixes the US boundary at the 49 th Parallel (the northern boundary of Washington State today) US Congress recognizes Oregon as a U.S. Territory.

7 Oregon Settlement ( ) August US Congress establishes the Oregon Territorial Government. Oregon Donation Land Act of Assumes surrender of any Native American land not occupied. Provides for the office of the Surveyor General and the survey of all public lands (PLSS). Voids all previous land laws, but allows existing settlers to re-register their land claims. “Donates” land to any citizen (or immigrant who had filed intention to become a citizen) above the age of 18. Must have cultivated and resided on the claim for a minimum of 4 years. Full section (640 acres) if married; ½ section (320 acres) if single.

8 Donation Land Act ( ) Amendments Residents arriving between December, 1850 and December 1853 “Donates” land claims to white male citizens (or immigrants intending to become citizens) over the age of 21. Must reside on and cultivate the claim for 4 years. Single males receive ¼ section (160 acres); married couples receive ½ section (320 acres). Claimant must provide proof of settlement, affidavits from 2 parties, and proof of marriage and citizenship if necessary. Surveyor General would issue a donation certificate and forward the claim to the Government Land Office in DC. GLO would issue patent (often years later and to the heirs of the claim). Only then did the claim revert to private ownership.

9 Land Act Amendments (1853) Reduces the time for occupation of the claim to 2 years. Charges $1.25 per acre. Extends the act to immigrants arriving as late as December Land Act Amendments (1854) Reduces the time for occupation of the claim to 1 year. Provides for a separate Surveyor General’s Office for Washington Territory (established in 1853).

10 Land Offices and Claims Oregon City Roseburg The Dalles LaGrande

11 Oregon Statehood (1859) Oregon admitted to the United States on February 14, 1859.

12 Homestead Act (1862) Replaces the Donation Land Act. Applies to any head of family of any age or a single person over 21 (citizens or those intending to become citizens). Claim up to 160 acres. Must pay $34 and reside and cultivate the claim for 5 years. After 6 months of occupation could apply for a claim by paying $1.25 per acre.

13 The Last Homesteader Kenneth Deardorff (Alaska, 1979) The Federal Land Policy & Management Act of 1976 ended homesteading (believing that the best practice for public land was for it to remain in government control). Alaska extended the homesteading period to Kenneth Deardorff was the last person to receive title to land under the Homestead Act.

14 For more information about Oregon Settlement and Donation Land Claims visit the Teaching American History Project webpage. A link can be found at:


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