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in his own party which did not permit independence of action any more than did the less decorous rulers of the Bowery. No Democrat had the ghost of a chance for election from Murray Hill; but, similarly, no Republican had ever gone from there to the legislature at Albany with independence enough and character enough to leave his name in the memory of a single citizen. And it was understood very well by the gentlemen who had so skilfully manipulated the primaries and the polls that this man Roosevelt was not the person they wanted in the legislature. They did not like his square jaw. They remembered or heard of the Roosevelts of the past, and knew it was not a pleasant name to conjure against. They particularly deprecated his habit of thinking for himself instead of coming to ward headquarters every morning and asking what opinions were to be entertained for the day.
So the “managers” were against him.
That is why his conflict in politics began with the beginning of his political life.
The first thing he did was to effect the overthrow of that corrupt coterie of politicians who had been sending vapid and inefficient men to the assembly from the Murray Hill district. These had been in no sense representative of that excellent electorate; but they had been exceedingly convenient for the men who sent them to Albany. Mr. Roosevelt went at the matter with the directness that was part of his nature. The laws gave him the right to rally his friends and supporters at the primaries; and before the old managers were aware of their peril they had exercised that commonly unused privilege of American citizenship, and had expressed their will in the selection of a candidate. Mr. Roosevelt was nominated.
Then he was elected. That was by no means difficult. And the men who had been managing affairs political in Murray Hill found a stronger man at the helm. Their occupation was gone. As they had opposed him, of course it was hopeless to command him. It was equally useless to try to bully him. That was discovered at the very outset. And, these things being true, it was beyond probability that they could buy him. So that, in a period of great corruption, a pure man and a strong man took his seat in the legislature.
There was an added motive for commendable action at the time. It has been stated that in his boyhood he was the playmate of Edith Carow,
and that they grew up with the avowed purpose of uniting their fortunes when they should come to maturity-when they should have passed school days, and the world should be their own.
But while a student at Harvard he had met Miss Alice Lee, of Boston; and an attachment sprang up between them which ripened into that profound regard in which the lives of a man and a woman are bound in a perfect union. And in the recess following his first term in the legislature, Mr. Roosevelt and Miss Lee were married. It was a most happy union, and the following year a daughter was born to them. But in 1883, while serving his third--and last-term in the legislature, Mrs. Roosevelt died; and it seemed to her bereaved husband that one of his main incentives to a strenuous life had been taken from him. His mother's death in the following year cast another pall upon his spirit, and the conflicts of men appeared for the first time valueless.
He remained a member of the assembly for three terms. In that time he sat with bankers and bricklayers, with merchants and mechanics, with lawyers, farmers, day-laborers, saloonkeepers and prize-fighters. Every interest in the great State was represented-even those of the criminal. And the honorable'' servants of this last class were by no means modest or abashed, or at all solicitous to be recognized as anything other than what they were. Mr. Roosevelt has himself called attention to the fact that the one hundred and twenty-eight members of the assembly and the thirty-two men in the senate composed a little parliament which controlled the public affairs of a commonwealth more populous than any one of two-thirds of the kingdoms of Europe, and one which, in point of wealth, material prosperity, variety of interests, extent of territory and capacity for expansion, could fairly rank next to the powers of the first class.
Though it was not at all the result for which he had started when he went to Albany, he found beyond a doubt that corruption existed there. It did not surprise him, nor shock him to the point of inability to proceed with his mission; and he wasted no time trying to correct that evil- in the sense of seeking exposure and punishment for the culprits. He did a better work in proceeding openly and honestly for the accomplishment of the measures which seemed to him of greatest benefit to the State, and to his constituents. But he had not been in the assem
bly a week before he was a marked man. He disarranged theories distressingly. Here was a man who had no private schemes to further, and no selfish principles to which ordinary motives could appeal. Demagogues could not safely rush their measures through the house, for he was likely at any time to rise with a perfectly panicproducing question. He could not be met in debate, for he was master of direct speech, quick in repartee, and perfectly willing to give and take in that combat of words which falls into disuse when corruption becomes the moving power in legislation. As the “bosses” down in the Murray Hill district had discovered, these gentlemen in the legislature became convinced that he could neither be bought nor bullied.
But one thing was left, and the very low grade of the assembly may be understood when it is stated that the men who sought to control the lower house, who had controlled it for years, no matter which party was in power, hired a thug to meet Mr. Roosevelt, and administer in a beating the rebuke which a body of elected American legislators had decided he deserved.
One night in the lobby of the old Delavan House the collision occurred. That was a famous