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easily he might play the part of a robber with immense success, if he was confident the complaints that might be lodged against him would be either disregarded or pigeon-holed. Confident in his position he could levy tribute alike on the innocent and guilty. Even the law was in his favor, and the more sumptuary the laws the better his chance for plunder. If a saloonkeeper had a desire to conduct his business within the law, so as to be beyond the power of the blackmailing patrolman, his competitor at hand, who contributed to the corrupt fund, was allowed such liberal license that the man who would have obeyed the law was either forced out of business or compelled to adopt the dishonest practices of his neighbors.
That this picture is not overdrawn may be gathered from statements of Mr. Roosevelt himself, made in his essay on “The New York Police," printed in the Atlantic Monthly for September, 1897. He avers that the system of blackmail had honeycombed every department of the city government; that while the money was collected from many different sources, chiefly from the gamblers, liquor-sellers, and the keepers of disorderly houses, yet "every form
of vice and crime contributed more or less, and a great many respectable people who were ignorant or timid, were blackmailed under pretense of forbidding or allowing them to violate obscure ordinances and the like."
Into this maelstrom of crime and corruption Mr. Roosevelt charged as fearlessly as he afterward charged at the head of his Rough Riders up San Juan Hill. There was no halting for consultation about the methods to be pursued in either case. Time would not admit of it. The enemy was there before him and must be routed. “In administering the affairs of the police force we found," he says, “as might have been expected, that there was no need of genius, nor indeed of any very unusual qualities. What was needed was exercise of the plain, ordinary virtues, of a rather commonplace type, which all good citizens should be expected to possess. Common sense, common honesty, courage, energy, resolution, readiness to learn and a desire to be as pleasant with everybody as was compatible with a strict performing of duty-these were the qualities most called for." This catalogue of “ordinary virtues” may well be conned by any one anxious to get a clear understanding of the character of Mr. Roosevelt and the causes that have led to his remarkable success. No one of them but he has kept constantly alive throughout all his active life and upon them he has builded solidly and well. Standing upon this foundation he has reached sublime heights at an age when most men are satisfied to see the first dawn of permanent establishment.
In the exercise of his duties as president of the Police Board Mr. Roosevelt hastens to say that in spite of the wide-spread corruption which had obtained in the New York police department, the bulk of the men were heartily desirous of being honest. It was not the depravity of human nature that had brought about a state of affairs in the principal city of the republic worse in many ways than any that ever existed under an effete monarchy. It was the mildew blight of political "bossism” reduced to a science. Every man on the force was a cog in a great Juggernaut that was rolling over the body of Independence and crushing all uprightness out of its life. It needed only to go on unchecked for a few more years to complete its work of national debasement. Every liberty-loving citizen may be thankful that in such a crucial time in the affairs
of his country a man was at hand who not only foresaw the results of the continuance of such a policy, but was brave enough to attack, and strong enough to overthrow it.
Associated with Mr. Roosevelt on the board, as treasurer, was Mr. Avery D. Andrews. He was a Democrat, while Mr. Roosevelt was a Republican, but both men were big enough to put in the background all questions of national politics, on which they widely differed, and enter upon the work of reorganizing the police force independently of all party bias. Had the question of party policy been allowed to influence them in one single instance the work they did could never have been done. At least they would have failed in doing it. “We understood from the start,” says Mr. Roosevelt, “that the question of party could not enter into the administration of the New York police, if that administration was to be both honest and efficient; and as a matter of fact, during my two years' service, Mr. Andrews and I worked in absolute harmony on every important question of policy which arose. The prevention of blackmail and corruption, the repression of crime and violence, safeguarding of life and property, securing honest
elections, and rewarding efficient and punishing inefficient police service, are not, and cannot properly be made, questions of party difference."
Mr. Roosevelt here shows how well he has considered the question of party fealty, and how naturally he has settled that question in his mind. If, as is here suggested, the police force of every city could be entirely released from the influence of all political parties it would speedily become a protection to the people, instead of being a menace, as is generally the case in the larger American cities.
The first thing Mr. Roosevelt did after entering upon his duties was to acquaint himself with the manner in which the officers of the force carried on their work, both good and bad. This he did by making nightly rounds in the different parts of the city, traveling quietly and unknown. In these investigations he was often accompanied by Jacob A. Riis, the author of "How the Other Half Lives," a most careful and painstaking student of social questions.
“There were many men who helped us in our work,” Mr. Roosevelt has often said, “but among them all the man who helped us most, by advice and counsel, by stalwart, loyal friendship, and