Four-Section Act

By: Jeanne Dibrell

Type: General Entry

Published: 1952

Updated: January 1, 1995

The so-called Four-Section Act of April 4, 1895, allowed the sale and lease of a maximum of four sections of school, asylum, or public lands in all Texas counties except El Paso, Pecos, and Presidio. The act was an extension of laws made as early as 1887 allowing settlers to purchase four sections of pastureland from the public domain. A law passed in 1881, which allowed the purchase of as much as seven sections of grassland in certain localities, had been modified in 1883, after an orgy of land speculation, by an increase in the price of school lands from one dollar to two dollars an acre. According to the 1895 act the sales were directed by the commissioner of the General Land Office, and three-year residence and improvements were required. Although the object of the law was to attract ranchers to unsettled regions, many farmers moved into the western plains and started wheat farms. The law was later modified and extended, particularly by the Eight-Section Act.

Hans Peter Nielsen Gammel, comp., Laws of Texas, 1822–1897 (10 vols., Austin: Gammel, 1898). General Laws of the State of Texas Passed by the Thirty-eighth Legislature at Its First, Second and Third Sessions, 1923 (Austin: Secretary of State, 1923). Revised Civil Statutes of the State of Texas (Austin: Baldwin, 1925).

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Jeanne Dibrell, “Four-Section Act,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 14, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

January 1, 1995