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No sooner had Theodore Roosevelt's name been mentioned as a possible candidate than there was a storm of opposition from some politicians who had in the past ruled the district with a rod of iron. It was a Republican district, so that the contest for the place was entirely in the primary
“If he is nominated and elected, our power will be gone,” they told themselves ; and set to work without delay to throw the nomination into the hands of somebody else.
Theodore Roosevelt suspected what was going on, but he said nothing to those who opposed him.
With his friends he was very frank, and told them that if he was nominated he would do his best to win the election and serve them honestly in the legislature.
His open-heartedness won him many friends, and when the primary was held, those who had opposed him were chagrined to see him win the nomination with votes to spare. Some at once predicted that he would not be elected.
“ Those who opposed him at the primary
will not vote for him,” they said. “They would rather help the Democrats.”
But this prediction proved false. At the election Theodore Roosevelt was elected with a good majority. It was his first battle in the political arena, and if he felt proud over it, who can blame him?
The State Capitol of New York is, as my young readers must know, at Albany, on the Upper Hudson, and hither the young assemblyman journeyed. The assemblymen poured in from all over the state, and were made up of all sorts and conditions of men, including bankers, farmers, merchants, contractors, liquor dealers, and even prize-fighters. Many of these men were thoroughly honest, but there were others who were there for gain only, and who cared little for the passing of just laws.
The party to which Theodore Roosevelt belonged was in the minority, so that the young assemblyman found he would have to struggle hard if he expected to be heard at all. But the thoughts of such a struggle only put him on his mettle, and he plunged in with a vigor that astonished his oppo
nents and caused great delight to his friends.
“ He is fearless,” said one who had voted for him. “He will make things warm for those who don't want to act on the square.” And he certainly did make it warm, until a certain class grew to fear and hate him to such a degree that they plotted to do him bodily harm.
“He has got to learn that he must mind his own business," was the way one of these corruptionists reasoned.
“ But what can we do?” asked another. “He's as sharp on the floor of the Assembly as a steel trap."
“We'll get Stubby to brush up against him," said a third.
Stubby was a bar-room loafer who had been at one time something of a pugilist. He was a thoroughly unprincipled fellow, and it was known that he would do almost anything for money. .
“Sure, I'll fix him,” said Stubby. “You just leave him to me and see how I polish him off.”
The corruptionists and their tool met at the Delavan House, an old-fashioned hotel at
which politicians in and around the capital were wont to congregate, and waited for the young assemblyman. Roosevelt was not long in putting in an appearance and was soon in deep discussion with some friends.
“ Watch him, Stubby,” said one of the young assemblyman's enemies. “Don't let him get away from you to-night.”
“I have me eye on him," answered Stubby.
Roosevelt was on the way to the buffet of the hotel when the crowd, with Stubby in front, pushed against him rudely. The young assemblyman stepped back and viewed those before him fearlessly.
Say, what do yer mean, running into me that way?” demanded Stubby, insolently.
As he spoke he aimed a savage blow at Theodore Roosevelt. But the young assemblyman had not forgotten how to box, and he dodged with an agility that was astonishing
“ This fellow needs to be taught a lesson," Theodore Roosevelt told himself, and then and there he proceeded to administer the lesson in a manner that Stubby never forgot. He went down flat on his back, and
when he got up, he went down again, with a bleeding nose and one eye all but closed. Seeing this, several leaped in to his assistance, but it was an ill-fated move, for Roosevelt turned on them also, and down they went, too; and then the encounter came to an end, with Theodore Roosevelt the victor.
“ And that wasn't the end of it,” said one, who witnessed the affair.
After it was over young Roosevelt was as smiling as
He walked straight over to some of his enemies who had been watching the mix-up from a distance and told them very plainly that he knew how the attack had originated, and he was much obliged to them, for he hadn't enjoyed himself so much for a year. Phew! but weren't those fellows mad! And wasn't Stubby mad when he learned that they had set him against one of the best boxers Harvard ever turned out? But after that you can make sure they treated Roosevelt with respect and gave him a wide berth.”