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

Page 219

lining of the coat or the dress that was bought at the fashionable Broadway counter, proving us neighbors in very truth, though we deny the kinship. Roosevelt understood. His investigations as an assemblyman into the cigarmakers’ tenement-house conditions, and, later, as a member of the Board of Health, had put him in possession of the facts. He did not mince matters with the factory inspector when, after our completed tour, we went to his office late in the afternoon. There was improvement, he said, but not enough.
  “I do not think you quite understand,” he said, “what I mean by enforcing a law. I don’t want it made as easy as possible for the manufacturer. I want you to refuse to license anybody in a tenement that does not come up to the top notch of your own requirements. Make the owners of tenements understand that old, badly built, uncleanly houses shall not be used for manufacturing in any shape, and that licenses will be granted only in houses fulfilling rigidly the requirements of cleanliness and proper construction. Put the bad tenement at a disadvantage as against the well-constructed and well-kept house, and make the