1887 – Edwin Witte Born

On this date the “father of Social Security,” , was born on a farm near Watertown. He received his bachelor’s and doctorate degrees in economics from the University of Wisconsin. As a professor of economics at Wisconsin, Witte was a firm believer in the “Wisconsin Idea” of public service at a time when few other universities were promoting such ideals. Throughout his life, Witte spent many years working to improve government in both Wisconsin and Washington, D.C. As executive director of the Committee on Economic Security, Witte oversaw the drafting of what later became the . Witte also hired a young Wilbur Cohen, a former student from the University of Wisconsin, who later became secretary of Health, Education and Welfare. A was a radical idea in 1934, but Witte and the other members of the CES prevailed. On Jan. 31, 1940, the first monthly retirement check from Social Security was received by Ms. Ida May Fuller of Ludlow, Vermont.