The courier. (Lincoln, Neb.) 1894-1903, October 06, 1900, Page 3, Image 3
THE COURIER. y r- 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. THEODORE ROOSEVELT. 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 foe." 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 mightily! 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 dreams. "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 easily. 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 place." 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.