Home  »  Theodore Roosevelt, the Citizen  »  Page 144

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

Page 144

set us free. We have got to do that ourselves. But he cut our bonds and gave us arms, if we chose to use them.
  Of the night trips we took together to see how the police patrolled in the early hours of the morning, when the city sleeps and policemen are most needed, I told in the story of my own life, and shall not here repeat it. They earned for him the name of Haroun-al-Roosevelt, those trips that bore such sudden good fruit in the discipline of the force. They were not always undertaken solely to wake up the police. Roosevelt wanted to know the city by night, and the true inwardness of some of the problems he was struggling with as Health Commissioner; for the President of the Police Board was by that fact a member of the Health Board also. One might hear of overcrowding in tenements for years and not grasp the subject as he could by a single midnight inspection with the sanitary police. He wanted to understand it all, the smallest with the greatest, and sometimes the information he brought out was unique, to put it mildly. I can never think of one of those expeditions without a laugh. We had company that night: