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Americans, but at once declared his belief in a spiritual rather than a material government. Neither was he satisfied in merely expressing his belief in these models, but he set to work to conform to them as far as circumstances and the changed conditions of the times would permit. He felt no sentimental timidity in declaring his faith in these ideals, but, on the contrary, he proclaimed that faith in his earliest public utterances, and has kept it with surprising tenacity through a stormy and perilous voyage on the sea of politics.
Mr. Roosevelt graduated from the university in 1880, a Phi Beta Kappa man, and he afterward spent some time studying in Dresden. He was now in his twenty-third year, a robust, broad-shouldered, square-jawed young man, a born fighter anxious for the conflict of life. He had no need to work; his income was ample to keep him in comfort, even luxury, all his life. He might have spent his summers at Newport and his winters on the continent, seeking in popular diversions those pleasures which come almost unsought to the favorites of fortune. He might have won fame as an amateur athlete, and he had the wit, tact and presence to be one of the
lions of society at home and abroad. Had he followed this course no one would have thought of blaming him. Whatever he gave to the world would have been accepted with the world's usual good nature, and there would have been no further demands upon his talent or his fortune than he was pleased to bestow.
To most young men in Mr. Roosevelt’s situation, a life of ease and pleasure would have seemed the only one at all consistent with his inherited wealth and mental endowments. But a life of ease and indolence offered no attractions to the future Rough Rider. He craved the stir and action of conflict. His country was at peace and America was the only land in which this young patriot would look for inspiration in action. He tried the excitements of foreign travel and scaled the Jungfrau and the Matterhorn, winning for his feats a membership in the Alpine Club of London. But these were empty honors, brave deeds enough in themselves, but warren of results. He returned to New York and attempted the study of law with his uncle, Robert B. Roosevelt. He worked at his naval history. He hunted the biggest game he could find, and followed their trails alone or with a
single man to assist him in the duties of the camp. Then, in 1881, he attended his first primary-a primary of the Republican party-and discovered his life-work. To most young men of his education and breeding, fresh from their books, and acquainted with the greatest achievements of their countrymen, such a gathering as comes together in a political primary would have seemed unimportant, if not mean and sordid; but Mr. Roosevelt saw in that mixed company of men the foundation of free government. If it was selfish and subject to improper rule those were faults to be corrected. Here was an opportunity for good fighting to some end, and it strongly attracted him.
From this time on Mr. Roosevelt never lost his interest in practical politics. He went into it with the earnest intention of being useful to his fellows by doing what he could to correct the evils that had grown up in the Government, and the record of his deeds since that eventful night is an earnest of the vigorous campaign he has made along those lines.
A NEW YORK ASSEMBLYMAN.
AT ONCE ATTRACTS ATTENTION TO HIMSELF AS AN UNCOMPRO
MISING FOE TO MACHINE RULE, AND A FRIEND OF GOOD GOVERN-
- NOT EVEN THE DANGER OF BODILY VIOLENCE COULD DETER
HIM-A REVELATION TO THE ROWDIES.
Mr. Roosevelt had scarcely returned home when his friends asked him to become their candidate for election to a seat in the legislature from the Twenty-first Assembly district of the State. It was not wholly distasteful to him in prospect, for the Roosevelts had been identified with public affairs for nearly two centuries; and, besides, he hungered for the activity which political life was likely to bring.
But there was a motive still stronger than this, and one that seems to have moved him generally in his actions through life. In the career which this promised service in the legislature could open to him, he saw the opportunity to do some good for his fellows. He was a wide-awake
man, a man of the world—so far as his years went, and uncommonly well-informed on practical affairs. He knew that really disinterested government was not wholly the object of the lawmaking powers. He knew there was corruption in the halls of the assembly at Albany, and that even the public conscience of his own city-the aristocratic portions as well as those less pretentious-was not of the sterling quality that it should be. He knew there was much shameless corruption in the tenement districts; but he was one of the first to use that scalding term, “the wealthy criminal classes."
He had a theory that, however great the difficulties encountered, up there at Albany or anywhere else, the man who met them with honesty, resolution and common sense would be pretty likely to conquer. And he loved to conquerif only the opposition to be overcome were sufficiently strong.
The interesting thing about the whole proposition was that his fight began at the very outset of his political career. He was of that Murray Hill district which was then the name for all exclusiveness and propriety. But the district had long been the political possession of a ring