Page images

While he was talking with me the Commissioner came in. They did not speak to each other, and I was tactless enough to introduce them; when almost immediately the fireworks began, and in a minute or two the lie passed. I got between the two, and the Congressman at once left the room. Mr. Roosevelt apologized to me, and said he realized that any man who struck another in the President's house could not remain his appointee, and he had determined if blows were exchanged at once to write out his resignation.

“The sequel to this story, as related, is that some years afterward, in the same room, President McKinley and the Congressman were having a friendly chat. Mr. Roosevelt entered and, seeing who was present, sat down in a corner chair, awaiting his departure. The Congressman, without apparent change in manner, but in a voice distinctly heard, said: 'McKinley, you remember a fellow named Roosevelt, who was Harrison's Civil Service Commissioner. He was the most impracticable man ever. I notice you have, as Assistant Secretary of the Navy, a person with the same name, but it can't be the same man, for your man is about the most efficient officer I have ever known.' Mr. Roosevelt sprang to his feet, walked across the room, extending his hand to his old-time enemy, saying, 'Put it there; it's all right, hereafter.' They shook hands heartily, and from that day remained the best of friends. It was Roosevelt's way.”

Mr. Roosevelt remained at the head of that Civil Service Commission from 1889 to 1895. During that time he increased the offices subject to Civil Service examination from 14,000 to 40,000, and served his country so magnificently in those brave, strenuous years that, had he never done anything else, he would have earned the lasting gratitude of his countrymen.

[graphic][merged small][merged small][merged small]




NE of the spasms of reform in New York City

politics which overturned Tammany Hall was

the one in 1895, in which William L. Strong, a merchant, was elected Mayor on the issue of a business administration. As he was elected on a reform ticket he concluded he would bring a reformer into his administration, and hearing of a certain Theodore Roosevelt, who had been making such a racket at Washington as Civil Service Commissioner, concluded that he would offer him the head of the Street Cleaning Department. This proposition did not appeal to Mr. Roosevelt, and he declined it. He wanted a heavier job to tackle than cleaning streets. Hence Mayor Strong appointed him President of his Police Com. mission, never dreaming that he was getting such a buzz-saw on his hands as he did in the intense, irresistible, persistent, fearless fighter and real reformer, Theodore Roosevelt.

One of the first things the new Commissioner did was to stun the Mayor as much as the friends and enemies of law and decency by giving an order that on the next Sunday all saloons were to be closed, and

« PreviousContinue »