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Abstract

Although social and economic conditions and prevailing popular philosophies may affect the success or failure of an attempt at change in social welfare policy and practice, the relative strengths and weaknesses of the political forces for and against the change may be more important. In 1897, fourteen years before the passage of the first U.S. Mothers' Pension law in Illinois, New York State Senator John Ahearn attempted such a law in New York. Although the bill was passed unanimously by both houses of the State Legislature, it was never signed into law. The reason was that the children's institutions and other philanthropic organizations formed a coalition and effectively organized against the proposed bill, while supporters of the bill were not organized. Although it failed, this attempt contributed to the future passage of Mothers' Pensions law by helping to bring the issue to public attention, and stimulating the creation of other programs that would address the problem.

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