Student's Guide to Landmark Congressional Laws on Social Security and Welfare

By Steven G. Livingston | Go to book overview

Timeline of Social Security and
Welfare Laws
1862Homestead Act of 1862
America's first “welfare” policy, the Homestead Act allowed any American over the age of 21 or the head of a household, to settle on government-owned land and, upon working the land for five years, take tide of it. This was claimed as a solution to urban unemployment and low wages.
1879The Pension Arrears Act
Liberalized the pension program for disabled Civil War veterans, in effect, creating America's first mass government pension system.
1890Disability Pension Act
A second liberalization of the Civil War pension system that allowed virtually every Union veteran to obtain a government pension. Created a large-scale federal old-age program that covered two-thirds of aged, nonimmigrant Northern white males and their families.
1909National Conference on the Care of Dependent Children
A White House-sponsored meeting that led to among the first calls for federal welfare programs for children and mothers.
1912Creation of the Children's Bureau
The United States' first federal social welfare agency. It was charged with investigating matters pertaining to the welfare of children. The agency today resides in the Department of Health and Human Services.
1921The Infancy and Maternity Protection Act
Better known as the Sheppard-Towner Act, this was the first federal bill to improve America's health via the provision of funds to assist local maternal and child health care services. It is also the first program to employ the concept of matching funds, the form of financing that would be used for many future social welfare programs.

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