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velt has led. Even at this early age. — he was but thirty-three years old — he had been a college student, a traveller, an author, an assemblyman, a ranchman and hunter, and a Civil Service Commissioner. He had travelled the length and breadth of Europe and through a large section of our own country. He had visited the palaces of kings and the shacks of the humble cowboys of the far West, he had met men in high places and in low, and had seen them at their best and at their worst. Surely if “experience is the school wherein man learns wisdom," then the future President had ample means of growing wise, and his works prove that those means were not neglected.
As already mentioned, when Grover Cleveland became President a second time, he requested Theodore Roosevelt to retain his place on the Civil Service Commission. This was a practical illustration of the workings of the merit system, and it made for Mr. Cleveland many friends among his former political enemies. By this movement the workings of the Commission were greatly strengthened, so that by the time
Theodore Roosevelt resigned, on May 5, 1895, the Commission had added twenty thousand places filled by government employees to those coming under the merit system. This number was larger than any placed under the system before that time, and the record has scarcely been equalled since.
“He was a fighter for the system, day and night,” says one who knew him at that time. “He was enthusiastic to the last degree, and had all sorts of statistics at his fingers' ends. If anybody in the government employ was doing wrong, he was willing to pitch into that person regardless of consequences.
Some few politicians thought he was a crank on the subject, but the results speak for themselves. Some politicians, who wanted the old spoils system retained, were often after him like a swarm of angry hornets, but he never got out of their way, and when they tried to sting, he slapped them in a way that soon made them leave him alone. And more than that, he was very clever in the way that he presented his case to those representatives and senators who understood the
real value of Civil Service reform. He made them appreciate what he and his fellow-commissioners were trying to do, and when the Commission was attacked in Congress it always had, as a consequence, a support that could not be easily overthrown.”
When Theodore Roosevelt resigned, President Cleveland wrote as follows to him :
“You are certainly to be congratulated upon the extent and permanency of civil service reform methods which you have so substantially aided in bringing about. The struggle for its firm establishment and recognition is past. Its faithful application and reasonable expansion remain, subjects of deep interest to all who really desire the best attainable public service.” It was high praise for the retiring commissioner, and it was well deserved.
APPOINTED POLICE COMMISSIONER OF NEW YORK CITY
- CORRUPTNESS OF THE DEPARTMENT - STRENUOUS EFFORTS TO MAKE MATTERS BETTER — A “ DRY” SUNDAY – ENFORCING THE TENEMENT HOUSE LAW AND OTHER MEASURES
DURING the time that Theodore Roosevelt was a Civil Service Commissioner there were several important political changes made in New York City.
In the past there had been a great deal of what is familiarly called “ machine politics,” and matters had been going from bad to worse. But now there was an upward turn by the election of William S. Strong to the office of mayor. Mr. Strong was a man of high character, and was elected by a vote that combined the best elements of all the political parties.
It was at a time when New York City was in urgent need of reform. Those in power were doing but little to stop the corruption that was stalking abroad upon
every hand. Bribes were given and taken in nearly all departments, clerks were being paid large salaries for doing practically nothing, and contracts were put out, not to those who could do the best work, but to those who would pay the political tricksters the most money for them.
The record of the police department was perhaps the blackest of the lot. It was to this department that the citizens looked for protection from crime, yet it was known that many in the department winked at all sorts of vice, providing they were properly paid for so doing. Saloons and worse resorts were kept open in defiance of the law, and wickedness flaunted itself in the face of the public in a manner that was truly shocking. Occasionally a private citizen would try to do something to mend matters, but his complaint was generally “pigeon-holed,” and that would be the end of the matter. The rottenness, as it was well called, extended from the highest places in the department to the lowest, so that it was said not even a policeman could secure his appointment without paying several hundred dollars for it, and this he was, of course, expected to