May 20, 1862: President Abraham Lincoln signed the Homestead Act, giving 160 acres of land to family farmers ("homesteaders"). It was the first of a series of U.S. laws that gave an applicant ownership of land (called a "homestead") at little or no cost. The Homestead Acts were at first proposed as an expression of the "Free Soil" policy of Northerners who wanted individual farmers to own and operate their own farms — in contrast to Southern slave-owners who used slaves to operate farms.

May 20, 1995: In the wake of the Oklahoma City bombing, President Clinton said that traffic on Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House would be banned. The Secret Service feared a truck bomb, like the one used to destroy the Murrah federal building, could be detonated in front of the White House. Today, the stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue is a pedestrian mall.

Quote of the day

"Wherever there is interest and power to do wrong, wrong will generally be done." —James Madison

More from West Wing Reports...