Home  »  Theodore Roosevelt, the Citizen  »  Page 260

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

Page 260

of citizenship and its duties and standards. There is the cleavage, and his is the highest level who would serve all the rest. Service to his fellow-men: that is the key-note to Roosevelt’s life, as faith in the Republic and love of country are its burning fire. Well did President Eliot, when he bestowed upon him the degree of his Alma Mater, call him a “true type of the sturdy gentleman and high-minded public servant in a democracy.”
  There! I freed my mind, anyhow. I was thinking, when I spoke of consistency, of the fellows who mistake stubbornness for principle, and what a beautiful mess they make of it. There came one of that kind to the Board of Health in Brooklyn, and wanted his landlord compelled to put a broken window-pane in. The landlord said it was not in the lease and he would n’t do it. And for two weeks his wife had been sleeping under it, in danger of pneumonia every hour of the night.
  “But,” said they, “have you let her sleep there all this time without putting in the pane?”
  “Yes, sir!” said he. “Yes, sir! I did it on principle!”