Of course, the Homestead Act was born during troubled times in American history. It passed during the Civil War, but just barely. And it came at the expense of Native Americans, who were displaced from lands they have settled for generation. We spoke to Jonathan Earle, an associate professor of history at the University of Kansas, and asked him why the Homestead Act was so difficult to pass.
Pope Benedict XVI said Mass in Lebanon Sunday during his first visit to the Middle East, which is seeing dwindling Christian numbers and where Christians fear Islamists will gain power now that secular dictators have fallen.
Lebanon has the region's second-largest Christian population, after Egypt. The pope spent his three-day visit promoting peace and religious tolerance.
Originally published on Sun September 16, 2012 7:36 am
LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer.
With about 50 days to go before Election Day, both parties are focusing on what will lead them to victory in both the battle for the White House, as well as control in Congress. What everyone seems to agree upon is that the Latino vote will be crucial. Between 2000 and 2010, the Hispanic population in the U.S. increased by some 43 percent. Latino voters can mean the difference in several states.
In a 1988 debate against George H.W. Bush, Michael Dukakis's answer to a question about whether he would support the death penalty if his wife were raped and murdered is considered a huge stumble.
Credit Dennis Cook / AP
This is the first of two 1988 debates between George H.W. Bush and Michael Dukakis. In the second debate, the answer Dukakis gave to a question about whether he would support the death penalty if his wife were raped and murdered was considered a huge blunder.
Originally published on Mon September 17, 2012 7:52 am
Even before the final balloons fell on the Republican and Democratic conventions, pundits were talking up the next big American political viewing experience — the presidential debates.
These match-ups, in which candidates actually share a stage after months of bruising one another from far range, can lead to moments of rhetorical brilliance, or the opposite — getting caught off-guard and making a gaffe.
This year, the Homestead Act of 1862 turned 150. That landmark piece of legislation opened up the Western territories to settlement. Almost anybody could receive up to 160 acres for free if they built a house and "improved" the land over the course of five years. Millions took part, and eventually, more than 10 percent of all U.S. land was given away.
A German peasant named Frederick Wohler was one of those early homesteaders. Wohler received the deed to 80 acres of farmland in north-central Kansas 138 years ago this weekend. And today, the Wohlers are still there.
Congress roared into town last week after a five-week break. Lawmakers will be heading back home just as quickly this week. They're expected to complete exactly one big item before pulling the plug on this briefest of sessions: a stopgap spending measure that keeps the government from shutting down during the next six months.
Members of both parties prefer tackling the mountain of unfinished business they leave behind only after the November election.