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

Page 238

a torch and a crowd attracted me to a truck at the lower end of the Bowery, from which a man was holding forth on the issues involved in the national election. He was not an effective speaker, and the place needed that, if any place did. The block was “the panhandlers’ beat,” one of the wickedest spots in the world, I believe. I stood and listened awhile, and the desire to say a word grew in me until I climbed on the wagon and, telling them I was a Roosevelt man, asked for a chance. They were willing enough, and, dropping tariff and the “honest dollar” that had very little to do with that spot, I plunged at once into Roosevelt’s career as Governor and Police Commissioner. I thought with grim satisfaction, as I went on, that we were fairly within sight of “Mike” Callahan’s saloon, where the fight over the excise law was fought out by Policeman Bourke, who dragged the proprietor, kicking and struggling all the way, to the Elizabeth Street station. He had boasted that he had thrown the keys of the saloon away, and that no one could make him close on Sunday. Bourke was made a sergeant, and Roosevelt and the law won.