“Signed into law in May 1862, the Homestead Act opened up settlement in the western United States, allowing any American, including freed slaves, to put in a claim for up to 160 free acres of federal land. By the end of the Civil War, 15,000 homestead claims had been established, and more followed in the postwar years.” from History.com
In the shouting and finger pointing of the recent political season over immigration it is hard to remember where we started before the hostilities began. Could we look for a moment at an earlier day when new settlers (Immigrants) were given the challenge and opportunity to begin a new life as pioneers? I always loved the stories of the “Little House on the Prairie” series. I loved imagining the travels, struggles and new beginnings of the Ingalls family. The pioneer spirit that lived in their hearts then may still give us a reason for hope today.
“The incurable optimism of the farmer who throws his seed on the ground every spring, betting it and his time against the elements, seemed inextricably to blend with the creed of her pioneer forefathers that “it is better farther on”– only instead of farther on in space, it was farther on in time, over the horizon of the years ahead instead of the far horizon of the west.” Laura Ingalls Wilder from “The First Four Years”
For all of us here in these United States there remains a choice. Whether we are the first generation from the old country or if we have become Heinz 57 variety Americans we must decide for ourselves. Will we continue looking back as immigrants or looking forward as pioneers?
These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth Hebrews 11:13