The United States has never had a national plan nor, since the termination of the National Resources Planning Board in 1943, a national planning agency. However, the federal government has, through a variety of programs and policies over the last two centuries, played a major role in shaping the pattern of settlement in the United States. In general, the federal style has been to provide guidelines and funding and to let the states, localities, and private parties fill in the details. The federal actions and legislation discussed in this chapter include the Northwest Ordinance of 1785, the Homestead
Act, the Morrill Land Grant Act, land grants to railroads, the work of the Bureau of Reclamation, the Tennessee Valley Authority, the building of the Interstate Highway System, and federal mortgage insurance and the tax treatment of owner-occupied housing. It is also noted briefly that today the federal government owns and manages somewhat over 1 million square miles of the United States, primarily west of the Mississippi River.