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The Homestead Act of 1862 provided that any adult citizen (or person intending to become a citizen) who headed a family could qualify for a grant of 160 acres of public land by paying a small registration fee and living on the land continuously for five years.

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Then the city’s hopes developed an unexpected snag.

An alliance consisting of Steve Shiver, a Homestead mayor-turned-lobbyist; and Le Grand, a businesswoman with a history of breach-of-contract lawsuits and unpaid wages, came up with a development plan for Florida City, just one mile to the south.

But the law did not provide the new beginning for urban slum dwellers that some had hoped; few such families had the resources to start farming, even on free land. Copyright © 1991 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.

The grants did give new opportunities to many impoverished farmers from the East and Midwest, but much of the land granted under the Homestead Act fell quickly into the hands of speculators.

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.

Also, over time, the growing mechanization of American agriculture led to the replacement of individual homesteads with a smaller number of much larger farms.

A woman who police say used her fake engineering firm to try to dupe Homestead into giving her a .3 million construction contract was arrested Wednesday and booked into Miami-Dade County jail.

But the county has fielded a series of complaints from former Bleu employees who say they were not paid their wages and moving expenses.

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