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fanciful importance, and a foolish understanding that the prerequisite of personal independence was insubordination.
A close friend of the President who has staunchly supported him in the trying times of reforming the New York Police, says he made the acquaintance of Theodore Roosevelt in the Police Commission days, having, as he says, "followed his trail in the Legislature, always exposing robbery, fighting boss rule, much to the amazement of the politicians who beheld this silk stocking youngster, barely out of college, rattling dry bones they had thought safely buried out of reach."
Of Roosevelt's time in the Police Department, Riis says, “A much larger percentage of policemen than many imagine look back to that time as the golden age of the Department, when every man had a show on his merits, and whose votes are quietly cast on election day for the things 'Teddy' stands for.”
This was prophetic in 1900, and historic in 1901.
"We had been trying for forty years to achieve a system of dealing decently with our homeless poor. Twoscore years before the surgeons of the Police Department had pointed out that herding them in the cellars or over the prisons of police stations in festering heaps, and turning them out hungry at daybreak to beg their way from door to door, was indecent and inhuman. Since then grand juries, academies of medicine, committees of philanthropic citizens, had attacked the foul disgrace, but to no purpose. Pestilence ravaged the prison lodgings, but still they stayed. I know what that fight meant; for I was one of a committee that waged it year after year, and suffered defeat every time, until Theodore Roosevelt came and destroyed the nuisance in a night. I remember the caricatures of tramps shivering in the cold with which the yellow newspapers pursued him at the time, labeling him the 'poor man's foe.' And I remember being just a little uneasy lest they wound him, and perhaps make him think he had been hasty. But not he. It was only those who did not know him who charged him with being hasty. He thought a thing out quickly-yes, that is his way; but he thought it out, and having thought it out, suited action to his judgment. Of the consequences he didn't think at all. He made sure he was right, and then went ahead with perfect confidence that things would come out right.
“The poor man's foe! Why, the poor man never had a better friend than Theodore Roosevelt. We had gone through a season of excitement over our tenement-houses. The awful exhibits of the Gilder Committee had crowded remedial laws through the legislature-laws that permitted the destruction of tenement-house property on the showing that it was bad. Bad meant murderous. The death records showed that the worst rear tenements killed one in five of the babies born in them. The Tenement-House Committee called
them 'infant slaughter-houses.' They stood condemned, but still they stood. A whole year was the law a dead-letter, until, as President of the Police Board, Roosevelt became also a member of the Health Board that was charged with the enforcement of the statute. Then they went, and quickly. A hundred of them were seized, and most of them destroyed.
"The death rate came down in a 'barracks' in Mott Street from 39.56 in the thousand to 16.28.
"I had watched police administration in Mulberry Street for nearly twenty years, and I had seen many sparring matches between working men and the Police Board. Generally, there was bad faith on one side; not infrequently on both. It was human that some of the labor men should misinterpret Mr. Roosevelt's motives when, as President of the Board, he sent word that he wanted to meet them and talk strike troubles over with them. They got it into their heads, I suppose, that he had come to crawl; but they were speedily undeceived. I can see his face now, as he checked the first one who hinted at trouble. I fancy that man can see it, toomin his dreams.
“'Gentlemen,' said Mr. Roosevelt, 'I have come to get your point of view, and see if we can't agree to help each other out. But we want to make it clear to ourselves at the start that the greatest damage any workingman can do to his cause is to counsel violence. Order must be maintained; and, make no mistake, I will maintain it.'»
The men cheered him. There was perfect confidence on both sides. Roosevelt said, “We understand each other, and will get along."
LIEUTENANT-COLONEL ROOSEVELT (IN CENTRE) AND TWO
TROOPERS OF THE ROUGH RIDERS
at San Antonio, Texas
ROOSEVELT'S SWORN ROUGH RIDER HISTORY.
His Talks under Oath to the Spanish War Investigation Commission-Thrilling Personal
Narrative of Trouble and Triumph-How He Got into the Fight at Santiago, and the Way It Was Won.
THE prevalent opinion of the American people, when war with Spain was
declared, was that the great event would be the siege of Havana. The
Spaniards had in Cuba four times as many troops as composed our regular army, and they were equipped with better firearms than were generally served to our troops. The fault was with the rash rush for war, in opposition to the peace policy of President McKinley, whose anxiety was to gain time to use our superior resources; and there were some weeks well won, and used especially in the equipment of our squadron of the Asiatic station. Here the iron hand of Roosevelt appeared. He was officially only Assistant Secretary of the Navy Department, but personally a force that disturbed the inertia, and prepared for the cable to Dewey to do something at once. There was a close question whether the order to destroy the Spanish fleet was not a few hours ahead of time, as we lose a day on the way to Manila, going west, when we cross the one hundred and eightieth parallel.
It was Roosevelt who energized the Navy Department, insisted so positively on coal, powder and shell, and target practice, that he carried his point. The red tape was rent that things might be done in Asian waters, and the order to fight far outstripped the daylight that chased the night around the world. The prevalent idea at Washington was that Roosevelt did deserve credit, though there was no fierce impetuosity in its expression by such regulars as need leisure to be proper in phrase and pose; and, of course, the “strenuous” Assistant had to stay, so they said; and this was urged until it was ascertained that the Assistant Secretary was going over across lots to the army; and that was his fixed purpose. He was not a seaman, but a horseman, and there was nothing more for him to do as a subordinate in the Navy Department. It was the purpose of Roosevelt to go to war on horseback, and he overruled all opposition, until there was not transportation for horses. His Western life had told him where to find the fighting men who knew how to shoot and ride, and