1791 Samuel F. P. Morse was born. (See February 21st and May 24th entries.)
1822 Ulysses S. Grant was born.
1937 The U. S. Social Security System made its first benefit payments.
This is an historic anniversary for the United States. But in 1937, few Americans realized how momentous it was going to turn out to be. On this day, the first insurance payments were made to retired and unemployed individuals under the Social Security Act of 1935. It is difficult to contemplate what would have happened in the ensuing generations if there had been no pension system. Regardless of its problems and defects, it was the first time the United States had committed itself to do something for citizens in need other than provide outright charity for those unable to work.
Today is the birthday of a man who changed his name and went on to fame. Hiram Ulysses Grant was born in 1822. And when this Ohio native entered West Point, he mistakenly enrolled as Ulysses S. Grant. He kept that name for the rest of his life. Grant commanded the Union army during the Civil War and became a U. S. President in 1868. To put it kindly, history records his presidency as undistinguished. Afterwards, in private life, he was bilked in an investment scam and spent the rest of his private life writing his memoirs. Royalties from his writings at least paid off his debts and provided for his family. Grant was an honest man who reinforced the latent American belief that great generals don’t necessarily make good Presidents. It was sixty-six years before another professional soldier, Dwight D. Eisenhower, lived in the White House.