The courier. (Lincoln, Neb.) 1894-1903, October 06, 1900, Page 3, Image 3

Below is the OCR text representation for this newspapers page. It is also available as plain text as well as XML.

tliey might liave carried away from
the presentation of a melodrama.
And the people are beginning to
wish he could tind himself another
part, or at least that he would get
himself new scenery, or that he would
net a 'support" not modeled so much
on himself as is Mr. Web. Davis.
Governor Roosevelt.
Governor Roosevelt is the young
man's hero, but the older men are not
alTronted by any rashness or unconsid
ered sneech.Xocandidatehaseverbeen
so popular in the west, and the long
est and most enthusiastic procession
that was ever reviewed in Nebraska
marched by Governor Roosevelt on
Tuesday. Traveling men, farmers in
gingham jumpers and riding farm
horses, cow-boys on bronchos and
laborers of all kinds greeted the vice
presidentia! candidates with convic
tion. Young men and old men
mingled their cheers. One part of
the country is much like another,
only the west is a trille taore phleg
matic than the east, but Teddy's
smile and Teddy's vigorous attack dis
turbed our self-possession somewhat.
He is so full of conviction that his
words cannot keep up with his mind,
and occasionally he trips. His voice
shows wear. At most impressive
periods it breaks, and the falsetto
notes are in singular contrast with
his virile force and thought. The soft
mauve hat he crushes to his breast
and waves in lieu of punctuation is
as characteristic as his smile, which
has not been misrepresented or exag
gerated. The nervous energy of his
temperament is controlled by schol
arly habits of thought. He is not
given to ranting, but no plainsman
speaks with more determined convic
tion. A scholar is given to holding
his judgment over-long in suspension.
Governor Roosevelt knows batter than
to seem undecided for long about any
thing. He has courage of a high
order, physical and moral, and pre
eminently he is the young man's ideal.
Mr. .Jacob A. Riis' tribute to his
friend, the Governor, is reprinted in
this issue. It is a just and accurate
sketch of a young American.
By Jacob A. Rns.
I am asked to tell what I know of
Theodore Roosevelt, being his friend,
and why he should be elected to the
high office his countrymen have thrust
upon him. But before I do that, let
me, as a citizen of his state, record my
protest against his being taken from us
before he was half done with his work
as governor of New York, and get my
mind free on the subject. We cannot
T' spare him at all. Whatever we shall do
with the factory law, which was just
from a dead-letter becoming an active
force; with the tenement-houee problem,
which means life, liberty, and the pur
suit of happiness to a million wage
earners; with the franchises and the
trusts, to whom hegavu the cold shivers
by proposing to deal justly by them
whatever the bosses will do with us
when he is gone who dealt juBtly by
them also, I don't know. I know what
happened in the police department
when he was gone. May it help us to
understand that the Roosevelts and the
Waringu of our day are sent to set the
rest of us to work.B nd that for ub to stand
bv and see them do it, merely applaud
ing and calling them good fellows, is not
the meaning of it and not sense. Only
when we grasp that is their real work
done, and we need have no further fear
of the bosses. Th9ie! I have said it;
and, having said it, ehall do what it is
the business of every good New Yorker
and every good citizen anywhere to do:
take off my coat and help put Theodore
Roosevelt where the mass of his coun
trymen want him, even though 1 have
to give him up. As I understand it,
that is the American plan.
I remember well when we first ran
across each other. Seen him I had be
fore, heading an investigation com
mittee that came down from Albany
with true itistinct to poke up the police
department. I had followed his trail
in the legislature, always exposing joV
bery, fighting boss rule, much to the
amazement of the politicians who be
held thiB silk-stocking youngster, barely
out of college, rattling dry bones they
had thought safely buried out of the
reach of even old hands at the business.
They confronted theratelves with the
belief that it was a fad and would blow
over. It did not blow over. They lived
to rue the day, some of them, when they
"picked him up" as a handy man in a
faction fight. They got rather more
fight out of him than they bargained
for. But they might have spared them
selves their self-reproaches. They were
not to blame.
He came to the Evening Sun office
one day looking for me. I was out, but
he left his card with the simple message
that he nad read my book, "How the
Other Half Lives," and "had come to
help." That was the introduction. It
seems only a little while ago, and meas
ured by ye9rs it is not long; but what
has he not helped with in New York
since? We needed to have the police
made decent, and he pulled it out of
the slough of blackmail it was in. It
did not stay out, but that was not his
fault. He showed that it could be
done with honest purpose. While he
was there it was decent; and, by the
way, let me say right here that there is
a much larger percentage of policemen
than many imagine who look back to
that time as the golden age of the de
partment, when every man had a show
on his merits, and whose votes are
quietly cast on election day for the
things "Teddy" stands for.
We had been trying for forty years to
achieve a oystem of dealing decently
with our" homeless poor. Twoscore
years before the surgeonB of the police
department had pointed out that herd
ing them in the cellars or over tho
prion of police stations in festering
heaps, and turning them out hungry at
daybreak to beg their way from door to
door, was indecent and inhuman. Since
then grand jurips, academies of medi
cine, committees of philanthropic citi
zens, had attached the foul disgrace,
but to no purpose. Pestilence ravaged
the prison lodgings, but still they stay
ed. I know what that fight meant; for
I was one of a committee that waged it
year after year, and suffered defeat
every time, until Teddy Roosevelt came
and destroyed the nuisance in a night.
1 remember the caricatures of tramps
shivering in the cold with which the
yellow newspapers pursued him at the
time, labelling him the "poor man's
The poor man's foe! Why the poor
man never had a better friend than
Theodore Roosevelt. We had gone
through a season of excitement over
our tenement-houses. The awful ex
hibits of the Gilder Committee had
crowded remedial laws through the
legislature laws that permitted the
destruction of tenement-house property
on the showing that it was bad. Bad
meant murderous. The death records
showed that the worst rear tenements
killed one in five of the babies born in
them. The Tenement-House Commit
tee called them "infant slaughter
houses." They stood condemned, but
still they stood. A whole year was the
law a dead-letter, until, as president of
the police board, Roosevelt became also
a member of the health board that was
charged with the enforcement of the
statute. Then they went, and quickly
A hundred of them wore seized, and
most of them were destroyed. In the
Juno number of the Roview of Reviews
I gave the result in the case of a single
row, tho Barracks in Mott street, which
Mr. Roosevelt and I personally inspect
ed and marked for seizure. (I was at
that time, executive officer of the Good
Government Clubs.) The death-rate
came down from 39.5t in the thousand
of tho living to 1CJ8 less than the gen
eral death-rate of the whole city!
That work stopped too. They are
seizing no more rear-tenements since
Tammany came back. It has been too
busy putting up the price of ice, that
means life in these hot summer months
to thti poor man's babies, whether in
front or rear tenement. I should have
liked to see Theodore Roosevelt run on
his record in our state this fall againet
the ice-trust conspiracy the man who
saved the poor man's babies against the
villains who would see them perish with
indilference, so long as it paid them a
profit. It would have been instructive
It was human that some of the labor
ing men should misinterpret Mr. Roose
velt's motives when, as preaident of the
pilice board, he sent word that he want;
ed to meet them and talk strike troubles
over with thsm. They got it into their
heads, I suppose, that he had come to
c-awl; but they were speeddy undeceiv
ed. I can see his face now, as he check
ed the first one who hinted at trouble.
I fancy that man can see it, too in his
"Gentlemen," said Mr. Roosevelt. "I
have come to get your point of view, and
see if we can't agree to help each other
out. But we want to make it clear to
ourselves at the start that the greatest
damage any working man can do to his
cause is to counsel violence. Order
must be maintained; and, make no mis
take, I will maintain it."
I tingled with pride when they cheered
him to the echo. They had come to
meet a politician. They met a man, and
they knew him at sight.
It was after midoight when we plod
ded home from that meeting through
snow two feet deep. Mr. Roosevelt was
pleased and proud proud of his fellow
citizens. "They are all right," he said.
"We understand each other, and we shall
get along." And they did get along,
with perfect confidence on both sides.
I read a story when I was a boy about a
man who, pursued by a relentless enemy,
dwelt in security because of his belief
that his plotting could not hurt an honest
man. Mr. Roosevelt constantly made
me think of him. He spoke of it only
once, but I saw him act out that belief a
hundred times. Mulberry street could
never have been made to take any stock
in it. When it failed to awe Roosevelt,
it tried to catch him. Jobs innumer
able were put up to discredit the presi
dent of the board and inveigle him into
awkward positions. Probably he never
knew of one-teeth of them. I often
made them out long after they were
scattered to the winds. Mr. Roosevelt
walked through them with perfect un
concern, kicking aside the snares that
were set so elaborately to catch him.
The politicians who saw him walk appar
ently blindly into a trap and beheld
him emerge with damage to the trap
only, could not understand it. They
concluded it was his luck. It was not.
It was his sense. He told me once after
such a time that It was a matter of con
viction with him that no frank and honest
man could be in the long run entangled
by the snares of plotters, whatever ap
pearences for the moment might indi
cate. So he walked unharmed in it all.
Bismarck confounded the councils of
Europe at times by practising Roose
velt's plan as a trick. He spoke the
truth bluntly when the plotters expected
him to lie, and rounded them up so
One charge- his enemies made against
him in which there was truth. It
summed itself all up in that with n heat
that was virtual acknowledgment of its
doing the whole arraignment: that then
was always a fight whore ho was. "Al
ways troublo," said tho peaco-itt any
price mon, who counseled surrender
when Roosovelt was fighting for a decent
Sunday through tho enforcement of the
law compelling the saloons to cloeo.
"Never any rest." No! There wan
never any rest for the lawbreakers when
he was around, nor for those who would
avoid "trouble" by weakly surrendering
to them. Roosevelt gauged New York
exactly right whon ho set about his
turbulent programme of enforcement of
law. The scandal was not that wo woro
being robbed by political cutthroats, but
that we submitted tamely. The formula
we heard so often from his lips in tho
years that followed honesty, manhood,
courage was the exact prescription we
needed. We in the metropolis are
abundantly ab'e to run the rohbera out
of town and keep them out by just fol
lowing tho road he made for us when ho
run them out of the police department.
But he made it, righting. It was true
that there was never any rest while be
was at it, night or day. When ho had
battled all day in Mulberry street, bo
would sometimes get up at two o'clock
in the morning and go out on patrol to
find out the policemen who were stealing
the city's time. It became suddenly pos
sible to find a policeman anywhere at
any hour of the night in New York.
Within a year after tho old Tammany
reign had come back, an epidemic of
night fires that co3t many lives brought
from the firemen the loud protest that
policemen were not awake, and tho chief
found it necessary to transfer half tho
force of a precinct for sleeping on post.
No; there was never any rest when
Roosevelt was around. There was none
in congress during the six years ho was
a civil service commissioner under Har
rison and Cleveland; and as a result
where there had been 14,000 places under
the merit and capacity rules of the com
mission when, he came in, thero were
40,000 when he went out. To that ex
tent spoils politics had been robbed of
its sting. There was even less repO60 in
the navy department when he went there
as assistant secretary, fresh from tho
fight in Mulberry streot, to sharpen tho
tools of war. It had a familiar sound to
us in New York, when we heard the cry
go up that Roosevelt wanted a row, and
he didn't care what it cost. He was ask
ing, if I remember rightly, for something
lees thau $1,000,000 for target practice on
the big ships. The only notice he took
or it was to demand another $.00,0)0
about the time he got Dewey sent to the
east. 1 was in Washington at the time,
and I remember asking him about that.
Commodore Dewey was sometime spoken
of in those days as if he were a kind of
fashion plate. And I remember bis an
swer, as wc were walking up Connecti
cut avenue:
"Dewey is all right, he said. "He has
a lion heart. He is the man for that
Not many of us will quarrel with him
about tho wisdom of shooting away that
million in target practice. It made "the
man behind the gun," of which we arc
all so proud. The fact is that Roosevelt,
so far from being a hasty man given to
snap judgments, is one of the most far
sighted statesmen of any da. He has
shown it in everything he has taken
hold of. It was in Washington as it was
in New York. The thing that beclouds
the judgment of his critics is the man's
amazing capacity for work. He can
weigh the pros and cons of a case and
get at the meat of it in loss time than it
takes most of us to state the mere pro
position. And he is surprisingly thor
ough. Nothing escapes him. His judg.