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appointing Mr. Ridgley and President Roosevelt gave an earnest of his intention to carry out the wishes of his predecessor at the first opportunity.
His next step was to prove his fealty to the merit system. This he did in a most characteristic way. Booker T. Washington was invited to come to Washington and give his views to the President concerning the best way to reform the political abuses of the South. Mr. Washington is a negro, but in the founder of the Tuskegee industrial school for the people of his race, and in his manner of conducting it President Roosevelt discovered a kindred spirit, one who believed in beginning at the root of things and working toward a definite end along practical lines. He knew Professor Washington to have a better understanding of the affairs of the South than almost any other living man. He also had reason to believe in his honesty and was convinced of the soundness of his judgment. The President was not looking for prejudiced opinion, but for honest, outspoken counsel. He was seeking truth, and his sincerity and fearlessness in pursuit of it were never better exemplified than when he asked advice from this representative of an inferior race.
When Booker T. Washington arrived in the capital of the United States upon the invitation of the President, he went, as was his custom, to a small hotel kept for negroes, named the Southern. All the more pretentious hotels in the capital were closed to negroes, even though it might be one honored by the President with a summons that would have turned the head of many a public man high in the councils of his party. To this hotel President Roosevelt sent a summons from the White House. The President of the United States sought this negro, not because he was a negro, but because he was an old friend, whose judgment he regarded as better than that of most men on some questions which were of great importance to him as Chief Executive of the United States. The problem he had in mind was the distribution of federal patronage in the Southern States. Twenty-five years of experience had not improved the political situation in the South. The distribution of federal patronage, albeit through no fault of the President who had distributed it, had become a scandal which honest citizens of all sections deplored, but for which no adequate remedy had been found. This patronage had been the bone of profit over which the so-called leaders of both parties snarled and fought, paying no heed to those questions which were so vital to the interests of the people they pretended to serve. For all their boasted strength these men had rather weakened than strengthened the parties for which they stood. It was to their advantage to do so. Democrats and Republicans alike had used the patronage placed in their hands to keep down party following rather than build it up. They did not desire a large party following, because that meant more ambitious party workers entitled to a share in the spoil. Beside the two dominant parties in the South there were, in the Republican party at least, two factions that were as bitterly opposed to each other as the rival parties could possibly be. Each faction claimed to control the negro vote, and when it came to Presidential nominations the faction that espoused the cause of the winning candidate demanded the distribution of all the offices. They were opposed by the other faction in every act, and nothing was done or left undone that did not provoke bitter opposition. All this was familiar to President Roosevelt. He had seen it exemplified in every national convention for twenty years. In the campaign of 1896 these two factions of white Republican leaders had espoused the cause of McKinley or that of Reed. The party conventions were mere struggles for control by the leaders. The negro voters would have been satisfied with either McKinley or Reed for the candidate. But when the former was nominated and elected, the white men who had supported him in convention claimed control of the federal patronage. This was not different from the claims of politicians in other States. The difference appeared in the fact that these few white men claimed the offices themselves. They did not recommend negroes to office. What right had the negro to an office? The spoils belonged to those who controlled the negro vote and not to the negro who gave the vote to his controller. These white leaders were professional politicians. They lived by politics, and when they were on the winning side, fed well. When they were out they made up for their hunger by abusing those who were in. There had been in each Southern State about twice as many Republican politicians as there were federal offices. There were two white men claiming each available