My credulity was strained by Nov. 22's For the Record, which mentioned "Lincoln's Homestead Act of 1862." It was in '62, but it wasn't Lincoln's.
That important law, which made possible the ownership of homes for countless poor people, was passed during Lincoln's administration, but not because he promoted it. The law was enacted only because Andrew Johnson devoted 16 years to its promotion.
In 1846, Johnson, then a member of Congress, began his persistent campaign for enactment of the Homestead Bill. He assured his fellow representatives that the federal government owned unsettled western land enough to provide 480 acres to each taxpayer in the nation. He continued his campaign, which was opposed by other southern congressmen, until the Tennessee legislature gerrymandered his home district, preventing his reelection to Congress. He immediately entered the race for governor of Tennessee and was elected. In his inaugural address he asked the legislature to instruct Tennessee's congressmen and senators to continue the campaign for the Homestead Law, and as governor he continued to speak for it.
Elected to the Senate in 1857, he renewed his campaign for the law, and in 1860 succeeded in getting the bill through both houses only to have it vetoed by President James Buchanan. By 1860, Sen. Johnson had turned his attention to the preservation of the Union and become the chief spokesman for that vital cause. Lincoln recognized Johnson's contributions and appointed him to the important but hazardous post of military governor of Tennessee and brigadier general in the Union Army. In 1864 he selected Johnson as his running mate.
Honest Abe knew that Johnson deserved recognition for his many sacrifices and achievements. He would not have wanted credit due to another.
-- Harry Roberts