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

Page 151

  I shall have, after all, to ask those who would know him at this period of his life, as I knew him, to read “The Making of an American,” because I should never get through were I to try to tell it all. He made, as I said, a large part of my life in Mulberry Street, and by far the best part. When he went, I had no heart in it. Of the strong hand he lent in the battle with the slum, as a member of the Health Board, that book will tell them. We had all the ammunition for the fight, the law and all, but there was no one who dared begin it till he came. Then the batteries opened fire at once, and it is largely due to him and his unhesitating courage that we have got as far as we have. And that means something beyond the ordinary, for we were acting under an untried law, the failure of which might easily involve a man in suits for very great damages. Indeed, Mr. Roosevelt was sued twice by landlords whose tenements he destroyed. One characteristic incident survives in my memory from that day. An important office was to be filled in the Health Department, about which I knew. There were two candidates: one the son of a janitor, educated in the public schools, faithful