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ical being. Three proved to be under the control of local statesmen of the same party as themselves, and of equally bad moral character. One was ruled by a politician of unsavory reputation from a different city. The fifth, a Democrat, was owned by a Republican Federal official; and the sixth by the president of a horse-car company. A couple of letters from these two magnates forced the last members mentioned to change front on the bill with surprising alacrity.” But there was another side to his life in the assembly. He met there many men who were earnest and honest, and some who were efficient in securing the legislation they believed best for the public of the State, as well as for their constituents. Some labored without a thought of their future political prospects, or a present pecuniary reward. And while he approved them, he was forced to declare that they were not very well used by their constituents. Yet in the final conclusion of the whole matter he says the chances of a man's being retained in the public service are about ten per cent. better when he is honest than when he is dishonest, other things being equal. There was at times a distinctively humorous
view of the life. Men like Roosevelt liked the excitement, and the perpetual conflict. He has said in later years: “War and politics those are the two greatest games." He liked to put forth his full powers to reach his ends; and if he was at times saddened or angered by the viciousness or the ignorance of his colleagues, yet the latter at times unwittingly furnished him a good deal of fun. For one thing, there was a deadlock in the attempt to organize the legislature of 1882. The Democrats were in a majority, but a faction fight had rent the party in twain; and days were passed without anything being accomplished. Finally, one day the leaders of the county faction sent to the leaders of the Tammany faction a proposition plainly headed : “An Ultimatum.” The word had the appearance of Latin. It was unusual. It was regarded with suspicion, because it was, in the judgment of the men addressed, plainly meant as an insult. And they replied next day with a counter proposition splendidly answering the base calumniation of yesterday by a title as follows: “An Ipse Dixit to Your Ultimatum."
One day a very fervid orator was speaking in favor of a bill supposed to be directed against
the contract labor system, and he wound up a sufficiently remarkable oration with the still more startling assertion that the system was "a vital cobra which was swamping the lives of the workingmen."
Among the less desirable elements in the assembly there came to be a sort of contempt for all measures not tending to the benefit of some private person or special interest. There was a code of ethics among the corrupt which invested with dignity everything not of a public nature. Everything else was spoken of scornfully as “a local bill.” Entering the chamber one day while a vote was being taken, Mr. Roosevelt asked a member on the floor: “ What's up? What are they voting on?” “Oh, it's a local bill - a constitutional amendment."
Grover Cleveland became governor while Mr. Roosevelt served at Albany, and on one occasion vetoed a bill relating to the control of street-car companies. One of the assemblymen, discussing the veto, in an attempt to pass the measure notwithstanding its disapproval by the State executive, cried impressively:
“Mr. Speaker, I recognize the hand that crops out in that veto. I have heard it before."
Some of the members from the lower New York districts had caught up the word “shibboleth,” and seemed to regard it as a more correct name for their national weapon, the shillalah; and the mistakes they made in consequence provided Mr. Roosevelt and his friends with food for laughter all the rest of the session. The chairman of one of the committees was a pompous, good-natured Colonel from the Rochester district. He was given to indulgence in wine; and on one occasion came, rather the worse for his potations, to a meeting of the committee which was to receive a delegation of citizens. The spokesman was a burly fellow, and the Colonel, not very sure of his seat—nor of anything else—glared at him malevolently. But the visitor's oratory had a soporific effect; and the Colonel drifted away into unconsciousness. Presently the orator, who had warmed to his work, began hammering the table, and bawling at a great rate. The Colonel was roused from his sleep. He looked around, realized some phases of the situation, partially remembered the orator, and came to the conclusion that he had seen that speaker on some previous day. It did not occur to him that he could have been asleep—and that would have been a bad confession to make, in any event. So he pounded on the table with his gavel, and said: “I’ve seen you before, sir.” “This is the first day I ever was here,” replied the man. “Don’t tell me I lie, sir. You’ve addressed this committee on a previous day. I remember your face and your voice perfectly. No man shall speak to this committee twice. The committee stands adjourned.” Then there were certain legislative actions which possessed in themselves something of opera bouffe qualities. Among these were the resolutions expressing sympathy with the oppressed peoples in Europe—always couched in language offensive to some great power. One of these demanded the recall of James Russell Lowell, minister to England, because he had permitted Great Britain, without a protest, to refuse independence to Ireland. But, in the main, Mr. Roosevelt’s experience in the legislature was of very great value to him. For one thing, it developed him in precisely the direction he needed at the time. He came back from those three terms at Albany with a better