Enacting Social Security

On August 14, 1935 legislators and advisors crowded into the White House Cabinet Room to witness the signing of the Social Security Act. News photographers and film crews recorded the moment for history as FDR put his signature on the bill. Standing directly behind the President was the person most responsible for it – Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins.

After signing the Act, the President read a short statement. “We can never insure one hundred percent of the population against one hundred percent of the hazards and vicissitudes of life,” he observed. “But we have tried to frame a law which will give some measure of protections to the average citizen and to his family against the loss of a job and against poverty-ridden old age.” The headline in that day’s Washington Post red “New Deal’s Most Important Act.”