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

Page 108

  Contrary to the general belief, Roosevelt was never President of the Civil Service Commission, though I am strongly inclined to think that where he sat was the head of the table. Until he came the Board had been in hard luck. Unpopular everywhere, it had tried the ostrich game of hiding its head, hoping so to escape observation and the onset of its enemies. Things took a sudden turn with Roosevelt in the Board. He was there to do a work he thoroughly believed in, that was one thing. In the Legislature of New York he had forced through a civil service law that was substantially the same as he was here set to enforce; hence he knew. And when a man knows a thing and believes in it, and it is the right thing to do anyway, truly “thrice armed is he.” The enemies of the cause found it out quickly. For every time they struck, the Commission hit back twice. Nor was the new Commissioner very particular where he hit, so long as the blow told. “The spectacle,” wrote Edward Cary in reviewing his work when it was done, “of a man holding a minor and rather nondescript office, politically unimportant, taking a Cabinet officer by the neck and exposing him