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every city and town of importance. When some of the old campaign managers heard of this, they came to Roosevelt in great alarm.
“ You mustn't do it,” they said. “It will ruin you."
“I will risk it,” was the answer of the candidate. And forthwith he started on his tour, taking a handful of his Rough Rider friends with him.
It was a brilliant stroke on the part of Theodore Roosevelt, and it told tremendously in his favor. Wherever he went, the people turned out in large crowds to see him and to listen to what he or his Rough Rider companions had to say. Citizens by the hundred came up to shake him by the hand and wish him success. Parades were organized to do him honor, and at night there would be brilliant illuminations and fireworks.
“We have aroused the party,” said he, when the tour was at an end. And so it proved. Although Van Wyck was popular, Theodore Roosevelt was elected to the high office of governor by seventeen thousand plurality
It was certainly a high position for such a young man to occupy. He was barely forty years of age, yet as governor of New York he ruled twice as many people as did George Washington when first President of the United States.
He entered on his new duties with as much zeal as he had displayed when organizing the Rough Riders, and in a few weeks had the reins of government well in hand. It is said that while he was governor he was never surprised by those who opposed him. When they wanted facts and figures he was able to produce them, and he never supported or vetoed a measure unless he was morally certain he was on the right side. He was open-faced to the last degree, and what he said he meant.
During his term of office many measures of importance were considered, but in a work of this kind it is not necessary to go
into details. For several important offices he nominated men of his own selection, despite the protests of some older politicians, and these selections proved first-class.
During his term as governor, Mr. Roosevelt did a great work for many poor people
in New York City, who worked in what are called “sweat shops,” — small, close quarters, not fit for working purposes, in which men, women, and children make clothing and other articles. He enforced what was known as the Factory Law, and the owners of the “sweat-shops” had to seek larger and more sanitary quarters for their employees. He also took a strong hand in reforming the administration of the canals, which had been one-sided and unfair.
But perhaps his greatest work was in behalf of a measure meant to make the great corporations of New York State pay their fair share of the general taxes. In the past these corporations had had great rights conferred upon them, and they had paid little or nothing in return.
“This is unjust,” said Governor Roosevelt. “They should pay their taxes just as the poorest citizen is compelled to pay his tax."
When the corporations heard this, many of the men in control were furious, and they threatened the governor in all sorts of ways. They would defeat him if he ever again came up for election, and defeat him
so badly that he would never again be heard of.
“Do as you please, gentlemen,” said the governor. “I am here to do my duty, and I intend to do it." And he called an extra session of the legislature for that purpose. It is said that much money was used by some corporations to defeat Governor Roosevelt's will, but in the end a modified form of the bill was passed. Since that time other bills along similar lines have become laws; so that the great corporations have to pay millions of dollars which in the past they had escaped paying. Such measures are of immense benefit to the ordinary citizen, and for his share in this work Theodore Roosevelt deserves great credit.
It was while governor of New York that Mr. Roosevelt gave to the public his book entitled “ The Rough Riders.” It contains a history of that organization from his personal point of view, and makes the most fascinating kind of reading from beginning to end. It was well received, and added not a little to the laurels of the writer as an author.
Although much of his time was spent at
Albany as Executive, Theodore Roosevelt had not given up the old homestead at Oyster Bay on Long Island, and thither he went for rest and recreation, taking his entire family, which, as has been said, consisted of his wife and six children, with him.
The old Roosevelt homestead is on a hill about three miles distant from the village. The road to the house winds upward through a wilderness of trees and brushwood. At the top of the hill, where the house stands, is a cleared space, free to the strong breezes of Long Island Sound. It is on the north shore, about twenty-five miles from City Hall, New York.
The house is a large, three-story affair, with crossed gables, and a large semicircular veranda at one end. Inside there is a wide hall, and all the rooms are of good size, with broad windows and inviting open fireplaces. One room is fitted up as Mr. Roosevelt's “den,” with many bookcases filled with books, and with rare prints of Washington, Lincoln, and other celebrities on the walls, and with not a few trophies of the hunt added. In this room Mr. Roosevelt has done much of his work as an author.