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Jacob A. Riis (1849–1914). Theodore Roosevelt, the Citizen. 1904.

Page 105

some kind of a club to knock out spoils politics with, good for the purpose and necessary, but in the last analysis an alien kind of growth, of aristocratic tendency, to set men apart in classes. Instead of exactly the reverse, right down on the hard pan of the real and only democracy: every man on his merits; what he is, not what he has; what he can do, not what his pull can do for him. And do you know what first shocked me into finding out the truth? I have to own it, if it does make me blush for myself. It was when I saw a report Roosevelt had made on political blackmail in the New York Custom-House. That was what he called it, and it was meaner than the meanest, he added, because it hit hardest the employees who did n’t stand politically with the party in power and were afraid to say so lest they lose their places. Three per cent. of his salary, to a clerk just able to get along, might mean “the difference between having and not having a winter coat for himself, a warm dress for his wife, or a Christmas-tree for his children—a piece of cruel injustice and iniquity.” It was the Christmas-tree that settled it with me. The rest was bad, but I could n’t allow that. Not