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VI

IN MULBERRY STREET

1

VI

IN MULBERRY STREET

A

DOZEN years had wrought their changes since Roosevelt took his leg

islative committee down from Albany to investigate the Police Department of New York City. The only change they had brought to Mulberry Street 1 was that of aggravating a hundredfold the evils which had then attracted attention. He had put an unerring finger upon politics as the curse that was eating out the heart of the force once called the finest in the world. The diagnosis was correct; but the prescription written out by the spoilsmen was more politics and ever more politics; and the treatment was about as bad as could have been devised. With the police become an avowedly political body with a bi-par

1 The Police Headquarters of the city is in Mulberry Street.

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tisan in stead of a non-partisan Board of Commissioners, there grew up, primarily through the operation, or non-operation, of the Sunday saloon-closing law, a system of police blackmail unheard of in the world before. It was the disclosure of its slimy depths through the labors of Dr. Parkhurst and of the Lexow Committee which brought about the political revolution out of which came reform and Roosevelt. But in Mulberry Street they were hailed as freaks. The “system

so far had been invincible. It had broken many men who had got in its way.

“ It will break you,” was the greeting with which Byrnes, the Big Chief, who had ruled Mulberry Street with a hard hand, but had himself bowed to “the system,” received Mr. Roosevelt. You will yield. You are but human."

The answer of the new President of the Board was to close the gate of the politicians to police patronage.

“We want," he said, “ the civil service law applied to appointments here, not because it is the ideal way, but because it is the only way to knock the political spoilsmen out, and you have to do that to get anywhere.” And the

Board made the order.

Next he demanded the resignation of the chief, and forbade the annual parade for which preparations were being made. 'We will parade when we need not be ashamed to show ourselves.” And then he grappled with the saloons.

Here, before we go into that fight, let me turn aside a moment to speak of myself; then perhaps with good luck we shall have less of me hereafter. Though how that can be I don't really know; for now I had Roosevelt at last in my own domain. For two years we were to be together all the day, and quite often most of the night, in the environment in which I had spent twenty years of my life. And these two were the happiest by far of them all. Then was life really worth living, and I have a pretty robust enjoyment of it at all times. Elsewhere I have told how we became acquainted; how he came to my office one day when I was out and left his card with the simple words written in pencil upon it: “I have read your book, and I have come to help.” That was the beginning. The book was How the Other

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