Donation Land Claims
In 1843, by a vote of 52 to 50, settlers in the Willamette Valley voted to form a provisional government. They drafted Oregon’s first constitution, called the Organic Act.
Section 17 was the report of the Land Claims Committee. The intent of the report outlining the methods of designating, recording and improving a land claim, was to prevent speculation and foster self-sufficient farmers. Married couples could claim up to 640 acres at no cost.
The Oregon Country became a U.S. Territory in 1849. The first territorial governor, Joseph Lane, upheld the provisional government’s land ordinances.
The U.S. Congress passed the Donation Land Claims Act in 1850. The Act called for the orderly and legal ownership of property in the Oregon Territory. It granted 640 acres to couples and 320 acres to every settler over age 18 already living in Oregon. Residence and cultivation for four years was required.