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

Page 116

salvation. The policy of fairness, of perfect openness, had won. But it was a fight, sure enough. Mr. Roosevelt’s literary labors in the cause alone were immense. Besides the six annual reports of the Commission during his incumbency—the sixth to the eleventh, inclusive—which were written largely by him, his essays and papers in defense of the reform covered a range that would give a clerk, I was told at the Congressional Library, a good week’s work if he were to make anything like a complete list of them.
  There never yet was a perfect law, and the civil service law was no exception. It did not put saints in office. It gave men a fair show, helped kill political blackmail, and kept some scoundrels out. Sometimes, too, it kept the best man out; for no system of examination can be devised to make sure he gets in. Roosevelt was never a stickler for the letter of anything. I know that perhaps better than anybody. If I were to tell how many times we have sat down together to devise a way of getting through the formal husk, even at the risk of bruising it some, to get at the kernel, the spirit of justice that is the soul of every law,