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

Page 259

he thinks he is so much better than all the rest?” I can hear my cynical neighbor ask. No, but because to him life is duty first, always; because it gave him certain advantages of birth, of education, of early associations for which he owes a return to his day and to his people. I wish to God more of us felt like that; for until we do our Republic will be more of a name and of an empty boast than we have any right to let it be. Sometimes, when, in the effort of class privilege to assert itself here as everywhere, the fear comes over me that it will not last, I find comfort in the notion that it has hardly yet begun, and that it cannot be that He in whose wise purpose men must grow through struggling, will let it pass so soon. A hundred years of the Republic, and we are only beginning to understand that what it was meant to mean, and alone can be made to mean, is opportunity; that the mere fact of political freedom is in itself of little account, but can be made of ever so much; that different levels there will be in a democracy as in a monarchy, but not of rank nor, indeed, of wealth, though for a while it may seem so; but according to our grasp of the idea of the responsibilities