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

Page 136

was,” said Roosevelt himself, when he had got a bird’s-eye view of the situation, “that the officers of the law and the saloon-keepers became inextricably tangled in a network of crime and connivance at crime. The most powerful saloon-keepers controlled the politicians and the police, while the latter in turn terrorized and blackmailed all the other saloon-keepers.” Within the year or two that preceded Roosevelt’s coming to Mulberry Street, this system of “blackmail had been brought to such a state of perfection, and had become so oppressive to the liquor-dealers themselves, that they communicated first with Governor Hill and then with Mr. Croker.” I am quoting now from a statement made by the editor of their organ, the “Wine and Spirit Gazette,” the correctness of which was never questioned. The excise law was being enforced with “gross discrimination.” “A committee of the Central Association of Liquor Dealers took the matter up and called upon Police Commissioner Martin (Mr. Roosevelt’s Tammany predecessor in the presidency of the Board). An agreement was made between the leaders of Tammany Hall and the liquor-dealers, according