Labor Department Act

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The Labor Department Act, also called the Borah Act, was sponsored by Sen. William E. Borah (R) of Idaho. It was approved on 4 March 1913 (37 Stat. 736).[1]

This was the final bill signed by President William Howard Taft, separating the Bureau of Labor from the Bureau of Commerce and elevating it to a Cabinet-level agency, renaming it the Department of Labor under its 1st Secretary, Rep. William B. Wilson (D) of Pennsylvania. As a trade Unionist, Wilson resigned from Congress to accept the position which he held until 1921.[2]

The Department of Labor included:

  • 1) the Bureau of Labor Statistics under Dr. Charles Patrick Neill, former Roosevelt Commissioner of Labor, Economics Professor at Catholic University, and the investigator of the meatpacking industry that prompted Upton Sinclair to write The Jungle
  • 2) the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization (INS) which was abolished on Mar. 1st, 2003 and replaced with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS)
  • 3) the United States Children's Bureau under Julia Lathrop. Lathrop’s father, William Lathrop of Illinois, had helped found the Republican Party in 1854, while she herself was a graduate of Vassar College, a friend of Jane Addams, and a social reformer who had worked at Hull House in Chicago. Appointed by President Taft at the agency’s creation in 1912, she served faithfully until 1921, directing research into child labor, infant and mother mortality, juvenile delinquency, mothers’ pensions, and illegitimacy.

Congress forgot to grant the new Bureau of Labor a budget or Rep. Wilson a salary.


  1. ^ Labor, United States Department of (1919). Reports of the Department of Labor. 1913[-1920]. U.S. Government Printing Office. 
  2. ^ "Office of the Secretary". United States Department of Labor. 2015-11-18. Retrieved 2017-05-24.