Archive for the ‘Docdaves Books’ Category

Settlers were enabled to acquire more free land by the Timber Culture Act signed into law in 1873. This law granted up to 160 acres to any homesteader who planted forty acres of trees during an eight-year period after filing. It was possible to file this claim on land adjacent to the original homestead claim for this purpose. The homesteader could thus eventually claim title to 360 acres.

John Wesley Powell, the famous surveyor, explorer and friend to Native Americans, established the 10thmeridian that bisects the present state of Nebraska. He is, perhaps, most famous and most remembered for leading the first expedition to run the untamed Colorado River through the Grand Canyon, in wooden boats. In Nebraska the 100thmeridian runs north/south, bisecting Blaine county and separating the western one-fourth of Custer county from its eastern portion. The 100thmeridian also marks the eastern limits limit of the Sand Hills. The Kinkaid Act, passed into law in 1904 opened the Sand Hills to homesteaders who were able to claim one section of land, a square mile, 640 acres. Five years later (1909) the Enlarged Homestead Act was passed enabling homesteaders who settled on marginal lands, those that could not be readily irrigated (dry land farming), to file on 320 acres rather than the previous 160.

The New Deal constituted a number of laws passed in the 1930’s and championed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. They were designed to provide for a population impoverished by the Great Depression. One of the laws passed during this program created the Subsistence Homestead Division adding this form of welfare to the array.

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The Homestead Act of 1862

When the Southern states seceded and their Representatives and Senators abandoned Washington D. C. in 1861 the Republicans and other former Free-Soil advocates passed the Homestead Act of 1862. The purpose of this law was to expand the homesteading requirements of the Pre-emption Act of 1841 making it easier for loyal citizens of the Union to claim land and thereby expand the concept of the “yeoman farmer”. Andrew Johnson, George Henry Evans and Horace Greeley were the primary advocates and leaders of this effort.

The law provided that any citizen of the Union could claim 160 acres of public land if willing to settle on the property and farm the land for at least five years. A three-step process was required; 1) file an application giving the boundaries of the land and pay the required fee, 2) improve the land and 3) file for a deed of title after five years. The applicant had to be a citizen of the U. S. or have filed an intent to become a citizen, be at least twenty-one years of age or the head of a household. This last stipulation enabled single women and widows to make application. The only other requirement was that the applicant had never taken up arms against the government of the U. S. After the fourteenth amendment freed all slaves, former slaves could also file a claim.

In 1866 the Southern Homestead Act was passed by Congress and signed into law. This law made it possible for poor tenant farmers and sharecroppers living in the Southern states during Reconstruction to become landowners. It proved to be not as successful as anticipated because, despite low fees and other costs associated with taking up a claim, such as the purchase of tools, transportation to the claim, seed, livestock, and other necessities, most potential applicants were unable to move from where they were mired in abject poverty.

Initially immigrants, farmers with no land of their own, single women and all citizens or persons who had filed a declaration of their intention to become a citizen qualified for “free” land. With time the requirements changed. Slaves became qualified after the Fourteenth Amendment was ratified in 1868. South Asians and East Asians born in the U. S. were qualified after the Supreme Court ruled on the United States vs. Wong Kim Ark lawsuit in 1898. However, by 1998 almost all high-quality farm lands were claimed. For immigrants entering the country legally during the 1890’s most had to file a declaration of their intent to become a citizen to be admitted. During this time the bulk of the immigrants were from Europe. Immigrants from Asia were largely excluded. Immigrants from Africa were permitted but very few applied.

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The research into land acquisition is for an upcoming book.

The Donation Land Claim Act of 1850:

America’s early wealth derived from land, huge amounts of it. The land was, of course, usurped from indigenous peoples who, according to the accepted dogma of the day, could not possibly utilize all the lands they claimed. This attitude was made more palatable because of the decimation of the indigenous population by diseases they had no acquired immunity to, genocide, and serial relocation to remove them from contact with the ever-increasing influx of immigrants who had little hope of owning their own land in the countries from which they came.

Most citizens living in the Northern states believed the future of America depended upon individual farmers who owned and operated their own farms. Southerners, in general, especially the owners of slaves, wanted to be able to purchase large tracts of land and use slave labor. The concept of the “yeoman farmer” derived from Jeffersonian concepts, powerful influences in American politics in the 1840’s and 1850’s. These ideas gave rise to the Free-Soil Party from 1848-1852 and to the “New” Republican party after 1854. Southern Democrats fought against, and managed to prevent the passage, of proposed homestead bills. Their fear was that free land would attract both European immigrants and poor Southern whites to the west. The balance of power would then shift and force the end of slavery.

The availability of huge tracts of apparently empty land provided the government with the ability to populate those lands, collect taxes, and grow the economy. People in financial trouble, or just looking to improve their lifestyle could obtain free, or at minimal cost, large portions of land from which, if they were willing to struggle and work hard, they could support a family and gain the numerous benefits of being property owners.

The Donation Land Claim Act of 1850 enabled settlers to claim lands (320 or 640 acres) in the Oregon Territory consisting of the current states of Washington, Oregon, Idaho and parts of Wyoming. During that time period one man, with the help of his family, could realistically plow and put into crop production between 40 and 80 acres. The Oregon Territory land was granted free of charge from 1850-1854 after which it could be purchased from the government for $1.25 per acre until the law expired in 1855.

The Donation Land Claim Act was proceeded by the Pre-emption Act of 1846:

This law was designed to “…appropriate the proceeds of sales of public lands… and to grant “pre-emptive rights” to squatters already occupying federal lands. The law was most used by early settlers in the Kansas and Nebraska territories. The law provided that squatters who were actually living on or had made improvements to lands owned by the federal government could purchase up to 160 acres for no less than $1.25 per acre, at a public auction. If a particular tract of land was not claimed it was auctioned to the highest bidder. The squatter had to be the head of a household, a citizen of the U.S. or an immigrant intending to become naturalized, and a resident on the claimed land for a minimum of 14 months. As usual enterprising people devised a multitude of strategies to circumvent the restrictions, not excepting perjury, to obtain land or otherwise game the system for speculation.

The Pre-emption Act also provided that Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Alabama, Missouri, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas and Michigan, or any state admitted to the Union after the Act became law, to be paid 10% of the proceeds from the sale of these public lands. To preserve ownership of the claimed land, and gain title to it, the claimant had to live on it, or consistently work to improve it, for a minimum of 5 years. If the land remained idle for six months the government could reclaim it. This was rare. The Act helped establish the doctrine of Manifest Destiny.


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Joseph’s journal;

9 Tevet, 4816 (December, 1066)

The situation worsens. I was not harassed on the way to the palace this morning, a departure from what happened all this week. However, I could hear the shouting and screams of pain from the direction of the Jewish quarter of the city. My bodyguards hustled me along while glancing nervously over their shoulders. I was unable to determine if they, the guards, were more concerned for my safety or for the danger to themselves should I be attacked.

As soon as I was inside my offices in the palace the guards all disappeared. I sent one of my clerks to ask if I could have an audience with King Badis. The clerk returned to report that Badis was away, at one of his horse farms, and was not expected to return for several days. I sent three apprehensive clerks out to discern which, if any, generals were in the palace. They all returned to report none of the generals were expected at the palace today. I then ordered the commander of the palace guard to come to my office.

After about twenty minutes the man sauntered in, a man I know well. Chief of the Lambuni Zanhadja tribe. His name is Yaha ibn Umar al-Lambuni and I have crossed verbal swords with him on several occasions. I know he speaks ill of me to King Badis.

Salem al echem sir,” I greeted him.

Salem al echem Vizier. What can I do for you this morning?”

“I was wondering what the situation is in the Jewish quarter and what, if anything, you are doing to gain control of that situation. On my way in this morning it was obvious rioting was occurring and people were being injured.”

“I was not aware there is a situation in the Jewish quarter, Vizier. Do you have information about what is happening?”

“Nothing specific. I know that the mood of the population of Granada is increasingly anti-Jewish and this morning on the way to the palace I could clearly hear evidence of unrest and violence emanating from the Jewish quarter.”

“Really, I am not aware of this. I will send some people to investigate. However perhaps your people have brought this on themselves with their superior attitude and stiff-necked insistence on exercising power and control over my people.”

I did not respond, simply stared at him waiting.

“Oh, very well, I will look into this for you Vizier and see what can be done.”

He turned and left, but not in a great hurry. Forty minutes later I could hear a crowd approaching the building. Somehow, they had gained entrance into the Alcazaba. They were gathering outside our building. Soon the shouting began:

“Kill the Jew, kill all Jews.” Their chant was repeated over and over, gaining in strength and volume.

As I write this I’m sitting at my desk, my clerks are huddled on the floor of my office. Outside the office the sounds of a confrontation can be heard. A strong voice with a Nubian accent orders the crowd to disperse. There is angry shouting interrupted by the rhythmic thumping of swords against shields and the sound of marching leather-soled sandals on the pavement. There is a cacophony as objects, clubs and perhaps swords, strike shields and helmets then the scream of someone stabbed and shouting from the crowd as they retreat.

The door to the outer office opens and I heard the Nubian commander order the door shut and barricaded. Then a knocking at the closed door to my office. A loud voice with a Nubian accent shouted through the door.

“Vizier, it is Captain Appou ibn Naojil I served your father Ha Nagid. Do you remember me?”

“Yes Captain, I remember you very well. Please come in, I am very happy you have arrived.”

I went over, unlocked and opened the door. A tall ebony man stood in the doorway his glittering white teeth bursting from his mouth in a wide smile.

“I have only twelve men with me but we are resolute. We will defend. We do not forget all you and your father have done for us. The situation is not good. The mob outside is huge and it will be impossible for us to force our way through it to bring you to safety. Unfortunately, many of the Berber soldiers are joining the rioters. We will do the best we can.”

“I understand Captain, and I am extremely grateful for your support.”


It was 9, Tevet, 4816 (December, 1066). A mob, numbering hundreds, stormed the Alcazaba. Captain Appou ibn Naojil and his twelve Nubian infantrymen cut and slashed and fought valiantly. The mob pressed ever forward, stepping on and jumping over their wounded and slain comrades. They took advantage of the close quarters of Joseph’s outer office. So many infuriated men were jammed into the small space, the Nubians, despite their skill, training and discipline, were unable to maneuver and fight with efficiency. They were smothered by the overwhelming number of men who, crazed by the wounding and death of their comrades, kept pressing into the office, slipping on the blood and bodies of the slain but pressing, pressing forward until the Nubians were unconscious or dead on the floor, their blood mixing with the blood and severed body parts of the mob.

Joseph, following the instructions of Appou ibn Naojil, barricaded himself and his clerks into the inner office. Once the Nubians were neutralized and dispatched the mob broke in the door using a doorjamb ripped from the wall of the outer office as a battering ram. Joseph stood in front of his desk, his clerks cowering behind it. He held the sword given to him by Appou ibn Naojil in his right hand, a dull ceremonial knife in his left. Driven by fear, frustration and rage he stabbed and slashed and screamed to God to make him as strong as Sampson. He managed to inflict superficial wounds on three attackers but using clubs, and weapons taken from the fallen Nubians, they beat him to the floor and continued striking him until he was unconscious.

They drug him into the courtyard where two beams from the now destroyed outer office had been fashioned into a large cross. Two ends rested on the pavement stones and a third bean held the cross upright at a twenty-degree angle. From an unknown source spikes and a hammer were produced. They stripped Joseph naked, nailed him to the beams, then stabbed him with knives in the abdomen and chest leaving him to die slowly.

Before crucifying Joseph, they beat to death all of his clerks, none of whom were Jewish. While the murder of Joseph was taking place mobs, incited by rabid Imams and disenfranchised Arabs and Berbers, rampaged through the Jewish quarter of Granada, murdering an estimated four thousand Jews, destroying homes and shops and a synagogue. In front of the synagogue the mob ignited a bonfire of religious scrolls and books. No troops were ever dispatched to control the mobs or to deter them.

Joseph’s wife Sarah managed to flee the city with their son Azariah. Mother and son arrived safely at Lucena where they were taken in and protected by the Jewish community of that city. Azariah died of an unknown illness before his Bar Mitzvah.

There is no written record of King Badis’ or Prince Abdallah’s response to Joseph’s death. Badis continued to rule until his death in 1073. Abdallah inherited the kingdom and ruled from 1073-1090.

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Joseph’s journal;

4 Kislev, 4816 (December, 1066)

The situation for Jews in Granada is deteriorating. Badis has assigned body guards for me, a unit of infantry who guard my home and another who accompany me back and forth to the palace. The increased level of anti-Jewish sentiment appears to have been incited by a poem published by Abu Ishak. He is determined and never ceases his efforts to castigate me and my people. A copy of his most recent effort was brought to me by one of my scribes this morning. It reads:

Do not consider it a breach of faith to kill them, the breach of faith would be to let them carry on.

They have violated our covenant with them, so how can you be held guilty against the violators?

How can they have any pact when we are obscure and they are prominent?

Now we are humble, beside them, as if we were wrong and they were right!

 This morning on my way to my offices a crowd of people followed us shouting for the soldiers to leave me so they could give the dirty Jew what he deserves. Fortunately for me the soldiers ignored the taunts and did their job. However, they were stoic, I could not determine if they harbored the same feelings of resentment or not.

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Joseph’s journal;

20 Kislev, 4815 (December, 1064)

This month was historic for Granada. King Badis named Prince Abdallah as his successor. I am pleased and relieved. Abdallah continues to come to me with questions and to ask for guidance as he grooms himself to assume responsibility for the kingdom. I am vindicated.

I am not yet thirty years old. Unfortunately, I feel more and more like an old man. I sneeze often during the day and night, my nose runs almost constantly, I have fits of coughing. I have trouble sleeping because of this annoying illness and the result is I am easily distracted. The incidents of anti-Jewish rhetoric and physical attacks are increasing again and I am frustrated with all the attempts I make to lessen them.

My inability to effect change in the Jewish community is also frustrating. I do not have the influence over the community that my father enjoyed, no demanded. Most of the Jews in Granada who enjoy some measure of authority were given their positions and power by my father. They seem to feel little allegiance or loyalty to me. My proposed solution to lessen the anti-Jewish attacks by encouraging stricter adherence to the Torah, particularly with reference to the lending of money for gain, are met with derision. I have spent considerable effort trying to convince the money lenders to stop charging interest, or at least to charge only minimally. They ignore my logic despite the danger to themselves.

King Badis is still content to leave all the details of operating the government in my hands. The demands on my time, and the complicated decisions that must be made, weigh heavily on me. I often wonder how my father managed to do this job so successfully for so long. I feel inadequate and with my uncle now gone there is nobody with whom I can let off frustration by talking through the problems I am struggling with. I know I served that purpose for my father. My son Azeriah is too young to understand. My wife Sarah, bless her, is a woman, concerned only with problems women face. A few weeks ago I was desperate. I tried to unburden myself by sharing some of my concerns with her. I know she is intelligent and capable of analyzing. I sometimes talk with her about the various interpretations of the intellectuals about points raised in the Talmud. She learned much about these matters from her father, my teacher. She is not stupid but this time she just stared at me. Her face was shrouded with the inability to understand what it was I wanted or needed. We sat in silence with our knees touching. The lavender scent she uses in her hair assaulted my olfactory senses, causing me to sneeze repeatedly. I sniffed and fumbled for the piece of linen in my pocket that I use to wipe my nose.

“I don’t know what it is you want me to do or say Joseph. Your nose is running.”

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Joseph’s journal;

12 Marchehvan 4814 (November, 1064)

 Today was a good day. I thank God for it. I spent the morning with the students in my Yeshiva. Our discussion of Talmud was up-lifting. Most of the students were actively involved and thinking, thinking in innovative and creative ways, about both the obvious as well as the hidden meanings of the words. My heart soared and my brain smiled.

Granada has been calm the last few months. The incidents of Jews being attacked on the streets has diminished. The army has been deployed only to answer occasional raids by Arab and Berber tribes with no hope or thought of conquest. We have been able to reduce the numbers of employed mercenaries, since the threat of war with our neighbors has lessened. The economy is in the process of recovering and tax revenues are up as a result. I cope on a daily basis with the details of keeping our complex government and economy operating smoothly but I have been fortunate in recruiting bright, intelligent assistants who are willing to take on responsibilities and reduce my workload.

Lately I meet with the king only once a week, unless there is something that specifically requires his approval or attention. He is content with this arrangement. I am told his drinking has slacked and although he partakes every day he is less often incapacitated.

Prince Abdallah has finished his apprenticeship in my offices, but still shows up on a regular basis to inhabit the library and pour over documents relating to our history. Lately he is requesting access to current documents dealing with ongoing negotiations and intrigues. Occasionally he will come to me with specific questions or background information. I do my best to give him what he asks for and more, when possible.

Abdallah is also spending considerable time honing his warrior and command skills, serving as an aid to General Abu ibn Mohammad. I invited the General to my home this week and over a leisurely dinner extracted the information that he was pleased with Abdallah’s progress and grasp of military tactics and strategy. General Abu was one of my father’s favorites. He understood and put into practice all my father taught him. He told me he feels he is honoring Ha Nagid by being frank and honest with me. He explained that he believed Abdallah should be named successor to Badis. Then cautioned me. His opinion on this must be limited to himself and now me. For obvious political reasons he could not afford to promote any one prince over another. I told him I fully understood. I have the same issues.

General Abu did share that on the last excursion he made to put down a minor insurrection, in a small town near Jaen, Abdallah conducted himself with considerable bravery and skill. Abu told me Abdallah clearly won the admiration and loyalty of the troops he was commanding.

Whenever the opportunity presents I mention Abdallah’s progress and aptitude to King Badis. He takes the information in, but does not indicate interest or pleasure. I never press the issue.

Abu Ishak of Elvira has become more and more a pest. Badis refuses to grant him an audience after asking for my frank opinion of the man. When I told him he nodded. Abu Ishak has taken up what seems to be permanent residence in the city. He is being supported by several wealthy Arabs, as an intellectual and teacher. He also serves as tutor to the children of several of the Berber tribal chiefs who have never been thrilled with the fact that my father, and now I, have greater power than they do. Abu Ishak speaks out against me whenever the opportunity arises. Based on the reports of these activities that I receive I must admit he is eloquent as well as insidious.

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