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Those who decided to leave and establish new centers were fueled by the writings of Peretz Smolenskin (, 1882) who called on the Jews to become a people like others with a fixed territory of their own.They were influenced, as well, by the Russian writers, Turgenev and Tolstoy, who wrote of achieving redemption through labor, and by Moshe Leib Lilienblum, that Jews could be successful farmers like everyone else. Thus, two emigration movements were formed. The other, called Am Olam (Eternal People), looked West, to America.
For some of the Jewish students and intelligentsia, their options were more nuanced: stay and join a revolutionary movement to fight for change or leave to establish new centers of Jewish life.
This granted 160 acres of land to any adult citizen or applicant for citizenship who filed an application for the land, built a 12 x 14 house upon it, plowed at least ten acres, and lived on it for five years.
After five years, the homesteader could file for his patent by submitting proof of residency and the required improvements to a local land office.
It cannot be said that these Russian Jews were the first to bring the idea of agricultural colonization to the U. In 1820, Moses Elias Levy organized a short-lived attempt to settle 50 Jews from New York, New Jersey, and Delaware on land that he had purchased in Florida.
That same year, Mordechai Manual Noah proposed establishing a Jewish agricultural colony on Grand Island, near Niagara Falls.