The Democratization of
If there is any person who thinks that the public service cannot learn how even to administer a "pension fund" to widows, he has cast aside his heritage in democracy. He has despaired of the republic. He may be right, in the end; but the game of trying to render this planet tolerable will go on without him.
-- William Hard, 1913321
Although the table in the previous chapter demonstrates a strong association between the repression of child labor and the early adoption of mothers' pensions, this result does not mean that the prohibition of child labor automatically led to mothers' pensions. In fact, one could hardly expect state legislators to follow such a course when even the leaders of the NCLC argued among themselves over whether or not public relief was an appropriate response to the dependency produced by child labor laws. 322 At any rate, this natural disjunction between the decision to prohibit child labor and the decision to provide state support for widowed mothers meant that outside the South a state's progress toward enacting a mothers' pension program was highly influenced by its previous experience with outdoor relief. For example, if outdoor relief had been abolished earlier because the leading citizens believed that politicians inevitably used it as "an instrument of political patronage," 323 then financial support for widowed mothers would be delayed by serious political considerations.
Previous experience with outdoor relief seems to explain much of the reason why western states proved to be, as Mark H. Leff says, "the most fertile ground for the new laws."324 For the most part, the West had