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Some of the veterans were at first amused at the precocious assaults of the young member from the Twenty-first District, and rather inclined to laugh at his undisciplined energy. But they soon found that he was a fighter who could not be kept under. He was a ready and attractive speaker, good-natured yet hard-hitting, and could be savagely sarcastic when he had some piece of rascality to expose. His good clothes and eye-glasses made some of the members think him effeminate, but they were not long in learning that he had plenty of courage, both mental and physical, and public opinion outside of the legislative halls was quickly in his favor.

Thus from the start young Roosevelt made his mark in that career upon which he had now definitely launched himself. He was a born reformer and strongly backed all measures for the public good that came before the House. A new and reformed charter was badly needed for New York City and for several years attempts had been vainly made to enact one. It was this for which he most ardently fought. The corrupt city departments had found strength in union, and intrenched in this they defied the reformers. Roosevelt attacked them separately and one by one he overthrew them. He was twice reelected and during his three terms in the Legislature he saved the people hundreds of thousands of dollars annually, which would otherwise have gone into the "grab-bag" of the grafters.

Shall we give some of the particulars of his legislative career? One of the most significant came early in his first session, one in which he took his stand and made his mark as a born foe of corruption. He was new then to the ways of legislators. He was soon to learn something of them and to teach his fellow

members something of his own ways and ideas.

The occasion was the following: Such high officials as the Attorney-General of the State and a judge of the Supreme Court became involved in an unsavory bit of corruption connected with an elevated railway ring. The people were aroused by the scandalous affair and petitioned the Legislature. Young Roosevelt waited to see what they would do. That the honor of the judiciary should be smirched was a thing of horror to him. When he saw that they proposed to do nothing and smother the inquiry, the knightly spirit in him arose.

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It was the true opening day in his public career when, on April 6, 1882, he rose from his seat in the Assembly and demanded that Judge Westbrook, of Newburg, should be impeached. The speech he made was one not strikingly eloquent, but it was one in which he did not hesitate to call a spade a spade. To him a thief worth a million was still a thief and deserved no softer name. He told the plain truth in indignant words and slashed savagely at the two corrupt officials.

The leader of the Republicans in the House followed the insurgent with soothing words. He desired that young Mr. Roosevelt should have time to think if his course had been wise, saying mildly, “I have

" seen many reputations in the State broken down by loose charges made in the Legislature.”

The vote was taken and “Young Mr. Roosevelt” was squelched. But he did not stay squelched. He defied the party leaders and their admonitions to wisdom. The next day and the next day and the next day he was up again, pounding away with all the strength in him. Reporters took it up. The scandal got into the papers and the public indignation widened. After eight days of this unwearying assault he demanded a new vote on his resolution. By this time the thing had spread throughout the State. The Assemblymen did not dare put themselves on record as seeking to hide corruption. The opposition collapsed. Roosevelt won by a vote of 104 to 6.

In the end the delinquent officials escaped through a whitewashing report. But Roosevelt had won his fight. From that time he was a marked man on the side of justice and truth. What his constituents thought of him was shown in the next election, when he was sent back with a big majority in a year in which his party went to pieces before Democratic assault. What his fellow-members thought of him was shown when the Republicans of the Assembly chose him as their candidate for the Speaker of the House. He did not win; his party was in the minority; but the nomination showed that this young man of twentyfour had made himself a power, a man to be reckoned with.

Other battles he fought; telling ones. The Board of Aldermen at that time had the power to confirm or reject the Mayor's appointments of New York officials. With such a board as then existed George Washington himself would have been helpless in an effort to have a pure administration. To elect a reform board was hopeless. The


only remedy lay in taking from the Aldermen their power. This Roosevelt fought for and achieved. His bill gave the control over appointments to the Mayor himself, and in this way did much to strengthen the hands of honest government in New York.

As for the prevailing system of appointment to office—the "spoils system,” as it had long been called it did not appeal to him as the way to get good service. The best men could be obtained only by a public inquiry into their attainments and fitness, and he was from the start a supporter of the merit system which was then in the air. Civil Service Reform, alike in nation and State was being demanded, and Roosevelt had the honor of introducing the first intelligently drawn civil service bill ever presented to the New York Legislature. Passed in 1883, by an odd coincidence it was signed by Governor Cleveland at nearly the same time as the civil service bill passed by Congress was signed by President Arthur.

By this time the young Assemblyman was looked upon by all parties as a rising man. The pot-house politicians could not see why "Teddy with the kid gloves" and a fat bank account wanted to meddle with things which had gone on well enough for a century. But he knew why; the air was tainted and he wished to make it fit for an honest man to breathe. Therefore, when any odor of corruption arose, he dashed in regardless of anything except the warm desire to clear the air of its malodorous taint.

Meanwhile he kept up a degree of interest in New York social life, and spent some of his leisure time in the management of the considerable estate which the death of his father had left to his care. His sporting proclivities were manifested in the dogs and horses which he kept around him and an occasional dash away with his gun for a sporting trip of a month or two. Active outdoor life was a panacea which he could not long live without.

Mr. Roosevelt married during this legislative period, his wife being Miss Alice Lee, of Boston, a young lady who deeply admired the young Hotspur of the Assembly. This first married life was a brief one, his young wife dying in little over a year. She left him a daughter, Alice, who was very dear to him. By a sad contingency, his mother died in the same week with his wife, leaving him doubly alone. His second marriage, to Miss Edith K. Carow, took place in 1886.



campfire, he read in a newspaper sent him from New York that a convention of independent citizens had chosen him as their nominee for Mayor of that city. That night he hung up his rifle, packed his trunk, and bade good-bye to his life on the plains, starting East to plunge once more into the troubled pool of politics.

There were two other candidates for the office, Abram S. Hewitt, the choice of Tammany, and Henry George, the single-tax advocate, the nominee of the United Labor party. The citizens who nominated Roosevelt did so because they wanted a hard fighter and knew they would have one in him. His fight was vigorous, but the opposing forces were too strong, and Hewitt was chosen with a plurality vote of about 22,000. He had “ruined himself” politically, some said, as others had said he had “ruined himself” in his fight with the Organization in the Assembly. He was one who did not stay "ruined.” In the early eighties Andrew D. White, President of Cornell University, said to his class:

“Young gentlemen, some of you will enter public life. I call your attention to Theodore Roosevelt, now in our Legislature. He is on the right road to success. It is dangerous to predict a future for a young man, but let me tell you that if any man of his age was ever pointed straight for the Presidency, that man is Theodore Roosevelt."

Hazardous as Mr. White deemed the prophecy, it proved a true one.



In his third legislative year Roosevelt was made chairman of the Committee on Cities, an appointment due to the thorough knowledge he had attained of affairs in New York and other cities. As such he introduced much reform legislation, one of his most important bills being that which abolished fees in the offices of the Register and the County Clerk.

In 1884 he was a member of the Republican State Convention and was elected by it one of New York's four delegates-at-large to the National Republican Convention to nominate a candidate for the Presidency. George F. Edmunds was his choice for this office. James G. Blaine proved the favorite candidate of the convention. Roosevelt was one of the strong members in opposition and fought hard to prevent Blaine's nomination. The result was a sore thrust to him. Some of Blaine's bitter opponents went over to Cleveland, but in this defection Roosevelt would not take part. “Whatever good I have accomplished has been through the Republican party,” he said, and held that no results of importance could be gained except through the regular party organization.

As to how he impressed his party at this time we have evidence in the words of George William Curtis, a fellow-delegate. He had his first meeting with Roosevelt during the heat of the strife and was surprised at his youthful appearance. This he said of him to a reporter: "You'll know more, sir, later; a deal more, or I am much in error.

; Young? Why, he is just out of school almost, and yet he is a force to be reckoned with in New York. Later the nation will be criticising or praising him. While respectful to the gray hairs and experience of his elders, none of them can move him an iota from convictions as to men and measures once formed and rooted. He will not truckle nor cringe, he seems to court opposition to the point of being somewhat pugnacious. His political life will probably be a turbulent one, but he will be a figure, not a figurehead, in future development.”

This year (1884) ended Roosevelt's legislative life. He left it for a long holiday in the West, the scene of his boyhood dreams and aspirations. The story of this outing must wait till our next chapter. It must suffice here to say that it ended in 1886, when, sitting by a


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