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district, which, because of the men of wealth living there, was known as the “Diamond Back District.” Into the political life of this district he entered with such zeal he soon became a leader. In 1881 he was elected to the Assembly, which at that time was Democratic. The fact that he was in a minority seemed to delight this young man who loved a contest. He immediately made his mark as a fearless, honest and untiring workman, and until he got a reputation as a fighting man he could pick up a fight without the least trouble.
The most interesting episode of the career of Theodore Roosevelt in the Assembly of New York, was his relations, as a reformer, with Governor Cleveland, now the only "Elected” President of the United States, in the sense in which President Roosevelt uses the word in his first message to Congress, confining election, to the electoral votes counted by Congress in joint session of the two Houses. The cordiality with which the President and ex-President met at the funeral of the murdered martyr, McKinley, was regarded with good feeling at the time. Mr. Cleveland's tribute to McKinley, in an address at Princeton, was of such elevated character, so strong and clear, so happy in thought and language, that it gave the ex-President the increased kindly friendliness of millions of his fellow citizens. It has not been forgotten that Cleveland's act in adding two years to Roosevelt's Civil Service Commission labors, was the conversion of the reform from a fad that was personal to a fact that was of common knowledge, and removed from it the dynastic distinction; no President refraining from giving it confidence if it conferred upon his appointees perpetuity in office. Cleveland wanted Roosevelt to stay but he had a genius for knowing when to go; and he took no steps backward.
In the course of his career, President Roosevelt has been subject to accusations, young as he still is, of taking an important part in the political education of his predecessor, Cleveland. This story, like many others, would be incredible on account of age, if not well attested. Fancy that Grover Cleveland and Theodore Roosevelt were, when the latter was a "boy,” engaged in putting each other in the way of becoming President of the United States! They were co-workers in an important sense, at any rate, in the city of Albany, as for some years later in Washington City. Mr. Cleveland was, at the time of the unique development of friendship between himself and Roosevelt, Governor of New York. The story should be told as it was related by the Honorable Richard Barthold, of the Tenth Congressional District, of Missouri, in the city of St. Louis. When young Roosevelt was stirring up in the Legislature the "guilty rich" of his own New York City District, the present member of Congress from the 10th District, of Missouri, was the Albany correspondent of the Brooklyn Free Press, and later of the New York Staats
Zeitung. Mr. Barthold, the German reporter, now Congressman, became an admirer of Mr. Roosevelt, who, as the youngest man in the Legislature, became the most distinguished. He has not been doing much talking about Albany times with the President, but the other day made a few casual, but very authentic observations, that become, when put on paper, a new chapter of the greatest interest in the life of the President. The career of Roosevelt opened as a New York law maker. It was at Albany he manifested himself, and was the Chairman of the next New York delegation of the Republicans to a National Convention—1884. Twenty years ago, when Roosevelt became a legislator, he was twenty-three years old. He had but a brief experience in politics, and he was young enough to care bitterly about elevating politics, which was an unpromising cry to start with, but he was as robust then as at any time, and nominated for the Assembly in Jacob Hess' district, contrary to the wishes of that leader, who ruled the politics of his party with severe autocracy until he was up against Roosevelt. This victory over the machine attracted attention, and caused old politicians to note with concern the personality of this young man, who came from one of the old New York families, and, nevertheless, was one of the people, without foolish pretense.
It requires some opportunity for a young man in politics, even after he has entered a legislative body, to cause the public eye to turn his way. It is easy, and usual, for the political novice to remain obscure, but Theodore Roosevelt was not of that kind. He was not pushing himself forward to advertise, but watching the proceedings of the Assembly with the closest interest, forming his own conclusions on matters that developed, and doing his part modestly. Early in the session, a Democratic leader spoke and made historical references, and perhaps the day was one of Destiny. All days of Destiny have in them opportunity. The boy who was a thorn in the side of the “criminal rich," was on his feet, and made his first speech. They at once called it impromptu, but the young man was crammed with facts, and apparently knew enough about the matter in hand to instruct the Legislature. He dispensed information. The forcefulness of delivery, the ready command of facts and their logical presentation, showed accurate knowledge of American history. The speech was a sensation. The young New Yorker made a profound impression upon the Assembly. He established himself as one of the real men of that body, and whenever he had anything to say, was listened to respectfully. He had, seizing his chance, compelled recognition. Old members and others congratulated him heartily and whenever the name of Roosevelt was mentioned, everybody knew somebody had arrived.
The incident involving Cleveland was later, showing Roosevelt with glistening clearness, moral courage and fearless devotion to the right, even if the
right as he saw it might be supposed to inflict upon him an embarrassment of inconsistency.
He introduced a bill reducing the fare on the elevated roads in New York from ten to five cents, and through his untiring efforts, the bill, despite the opposition of the elevated railroad interests, passed the Assembly and then the Senate. The then Governor of New York, Grover Cleveland, vetoed the bill on the ground that when the elevated roads had been constructed, the capitalists who invested in it had understood that the fare was to be ten cents, otherwise, they would not have constructed them. The argument appealed to Roosevelt. Mr. Cleveland had a hard time for a while for restoring the bill. When the veto message came in, a member moved that the bill be passed over the Governor's veto notwithstanding. Roosevelt arose and told the Assembly that he was sorry for the part he had taken in the passage of the bill, although he had acted in perfect good faith, but when the elevated roads were built there was an implied obligation, which should not be disregarded. He had new light on the subject from the Governor's veto, and so changed his position, for there certainly would have been no incentive to build the roads unless it had been understood the fare was to remain at ten cents. It took sublime courage to face about, admit that he had been wrong in his first position, and place himself where his motives could be questioned by those antagonistic to them, and he could be sneered at by the people who always question motives in public life. Roosevelt felt it was a duty he owed to himself to do what he thought was right and did it thoroughly. No one who heard him but believed that he would always be found fighting against "the wealthy criminal class,” as he put it.
Naturally, Cleveland and Roosevelt, after the Governor had converted the young reformer to a ten cent fare, both believing it was right according to contract, and not to be lightly repudiated, met on common ground and in a sympathetic atmosphere, compared notes, and discussed measures. They were wrong about the necessity of the ten cent fare; and that fact is one that illustrated the wonderful railroad progress, and shows how great are the advantages of the rapid and cheap transportation by methods unknown twenty years ago. It is the Albany understanding that Cleveland and Roosevelt had a great deal of influence upon each other, and that the Governor of the State advised often with the young Assemblyman and took advice; that, in fact, they worked together for legislation for which Roosevelt presented the facts, and exercised his literary faculty. Cleveland, gaining largely by the association, his repute as a reformer, that had so much to do with his political fortunes, giving him two terms of the Presidency, though he offended Tammany, and was, as General Bragg said, "loved for the enemies he made.” The two defeats of Bryan may in some degree be accounted for along the same line. The stroke that did the