Why did government-sponsored surveys and land acts encourage migration to the west?

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mkoren eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Government-sponsored land surveys and land acts encouraged people to move to the west. The Land Ordinance of 1785 divided western lands into townships that were six miles wide and six miles long. These townships were further divided into 36 squares, and land would be sold at $1.00 an acre. This law allowed the government to make money while having an orderly process of organizing and selling land in the west.

The Homestead Act of 1862 was another law that allowed people to get western land. This law allowed a family to obtain 160 acres of western land for free, except for a filing fee, if they agreed to live on the land for at least five years and to farm it. Four million Americans received land from the Homestead Act.

The Morrill Act of 1862 allowed states to get western land that could be sold. This law allowed state governments to receive 30,000 acres of land for each representative in Congress. The states could sell this land and use this money to establish universities that focused on farming and the mechanical arts. Therefore, people who moved to the western areas also had access to a college education.