Prior to the passing of the Preemption Act in 1841, a number of temporary pre-emption laws, starting in 1830, had been established in response to the growing numbers of people migrating west and setting on lands that were not yet surveyed. The 1841 Act was a more permanent solution to the situation. The 1841 Act was supported by the westernmost states, but opposed by the states in the east because they feared that the number of people migrating west would rob the eastern states of laborers. The eastern states finally approved the act when an amendment was included giving each state a cut in the revenues earned from the sale of the lands.
The states most affected by the Pre-emption Act were Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Alabama, Missouri, Mississippi, Michigan, Louisiana, and Arkansas. Public (federal) land in these states was sold to settlers meeting the above conditions under the terms of the Act. As these states were admitted into the union, their governments received 10 percent from the sales of the public lands. The Preemption Act was also used by settlers entering the Kansas and Nebraska territories in 1854 until the Homestead Act was passed in 1862. The Pre-emption Act was repealed in 1891.
To find out if your ancestor settled on public lands, go to the Bureau of Land Management, Government Land Office (BLM GLO) Web site at http://www.glorecords.blm.gov. You can search the land patents by state and surname. When you get a hit, look at the “patent description” tab for “authority.” This lists the act or law that covered that particular land transaction.
To see original article click here