the benefit of a special commission’s report.
8. Besides being dangerous, these occupations were chosen because the affected industries were less threatened by interstate competition (Graebner 1977: 340).
9. As the majority wrote in Ives, “‘In its final and simple analysis [compulsory worker’s compensation insurance] is taking the property of A and giving it to B, and that cannot be done under our constitutions.’” (cited in Robertson 1989: 278).
10. It is worth noting that the first workmen’s compensation law for federal employees passed in 1908, before the first state law.
11. Many scholars have noted that the widespread passage of workers’ compensation was remarkable considering that proposals for old-age, unemployment, and health insurance went nowhere in the early 20th century. Some scholars argue that government remedies to the problem of industrial accidents had already been well established by tort law and the courts; workers’ compensation laws were thus viewed as a technically superior remedy to a legitimate public problem (Skocpol and Ikenberry 1983; Berkowitz and McQuaid 1992; Skocpol 1992). A more recent version of this argument is that workers’ compensation was the one form of social insurance that business, labor, and government officials could all agree on and benefit from (Fishback and Kantor 2000). Other scholars argue that business support was more decisive than any actions taken by labor or government (Weinstein 1968; Lubove 1986; Robertson 1989; Noble 1997). For the purposes of this paper, what matters most is that workers’ compensation laws were well established in almost every state prior to the 1930s, that business and labor were motivated to make these laws work, and that public and private actors were responsible for administering the program.
12. More precisely, state laws were usually elective with respect to the private sector, but often compelled coverage of public sector workers.
13. For a careful analysis of the ways in which Civil War pensions also triggered charges of corruption and cronyism in the early 20th century, see Skocpol 1992.
14. Fishback and Kantor (1996) found that in these states, unions were stronger politically than insurers and a strong reform movement, led by Progressives or Non-Partisans, existed.
15. A representative from the National Bureau of Casualty and Surety Underwriters wrote the CES in September 1934 to urge passage of unemployment insurance because companies issuing workers’ compensation policies were losing money. Faced with skyrocketing unemployment, state courts and agencies were extending workers’ compensation coverage to a wider variety of claims, and state regulatory agencies were not approving rate increases (Records of the Social Security Administration, Committee on Economic Security, Record Group 47, Box 42, National Archives).
16. I thank Larry DeWitt of the Social Security Administration’s Historian’s Office for making a copy