How did the Morrill Act and the Homestead Act affect farming, ranching, manufacturing, and the movement west ?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Both the Morrill Act and the Homestead Act helped all of the things that you mention in this question.  The acts directly made it easier for people to move west and farm.  As they did so, both ranching and industry were helped as well.

The Homestead Act essentially gave people free land.  People could get land for in the west if they would be willing to settle on it and improve it, generally through farming.  The Morrill Act set up a system of land grant colleges.  The states were given land that was to be sold and the proceeds were to be used to set up colleges that would teach practical subjects like agriculture and the mechanical arts. 

Both of these laws helped bring about more farming and more westward movement.  People were of course more likely to move west if they could get free land by doing so.  They were also more likely to farm if they were given free land on which to do so.  The creation of the land grant colleges made it easier to farm successfully because the scholars at the colleges did research on agricultural topics and helped farmers by sharing the knowledge they gained.

Manufacturing and ranching were also helped to some degree.  Manufacturing was helped because the westward movement drove up the demand for railroads.  This encouraged industry because the railroads needed rails, cars, and many other things.  Ranching was also encouraged because lands opened up in the west and railroads spread into those areas, allowing Western ranchers to send their produce back to the population centers in the East.

In these ways, both of these laws helped to encourage more farming and westward movement and, somewhat more indirectly, more ranching and manufacturing.

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