In the late spring and early summer of 1862, within a space of six weeks, President Abraham Lincoln affixed his signature to two of the most consequential pieces of legislation of the nineteenth century. Both concerned the disposition of America’s most bountiful resource, its vast holding of public lands. The Homestead Act gave millions of acres of federal land to individual settlers, and the Morrill Land-Grant College Act offered millions more to the states for the establishment of agricultural and mechanical colleges and universities. Federal land sales and grants were nothing new. Many millions of acres of federal lands had been given away or sold at bargain prices in earlier years; land was given to military veterans and to states so that they could create educational institutions; land was given to help build roads, canals, and railroads, and other purposes. In the 1850s, there was great popular pressure for Congress to do even more. Yet like so many national issues, the disposing of public lands was wrapped in sectional controversy, with the South generally opposing the sale of such lands and the North and West in favor. Beleaguered President James Buchanan, trying to placate the South, vetoed earlier versions of both the homestead and land-grant college bills. His 1860 veto of a homestead bill became a campaign issue in that momentous presidential election year, an issue seized by the Republicans and Abraham Lincoln.