Beatrice, Nebraska, May 14, 2012 -- Because of President Lincoln’s vision for the country and the potential he saw in America’s farmers, he signed into law three pieces of legislation during a three month span that had a profound and lasting impact on U.S. Agriculture and society. On May 15, 1862 he signed the Department of Agriculture Act to establish the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). May 20, 1862 the President signed the Homestead Act which offered qualified individuals 160 acres of public land for settlement and cultivation of Western land. Then in July of 1862 he signed the Morrill Act, which gave grants of Federal land to establish public land grant universities to teach agriculture and engineering.
President Lincoln’s legacies from these three Acts will be commemorated on May 20 at the Homestead National Monument of America in Beatrice, NE. An Education Forum discussing these 150th Anniversaries will begin at 4 p.m. in the auditorium of the Homestead Education Center, and include a special panel presentation.
Panelists will include, for USDA: U.S. Senator Mike Johanns, former Secretary of Agriculture; the Morrill Act: Dr. John Owens, Vice-Chancellor Emeritus, University of Nebraska Lincoln; and the Homestead Act: Mark Engler, Superintendent, Homestead National Monument of America. Dr. Kenneth Winkle, Lincoln Scholar and Professor of History at the University of Nebraska Lincoln, will be the moderator and introduce the work of President Lincoln in getting the legislation passed.
After the panel, the 150th Anniversary commemoration of the Homestead Act will be held at the Homestead Heritage Center, beginning at 6 p.m. with Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman. This program will include special speeches, presentation and performance by the United States Air Force Heartland of America Band’s, “Brass in Blue” The evening’s event will conclude with a spectacular Laser Light Show. The original Homestead Act of 1862, which was signed by President Abraham Lincoln on May 20, 1862, will be on display at the Homestead Heritage Center from April 25 – May 28, 2012.
The public is invited to attend the panel presentation and the 150th Anniversary commemoration at Homestead National Monument of America. Homestead National Monument of America and the community of Beatrice will also be the host of the 2012 Chautauqua of the Nebraska Humanities Council, May 21 to May 25. All events are free. For additional information please call 402-223-3514.