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

Page 268

ordinary kind of man I am to fill this great office. I know that my ideals are common-place. I can only insist upon them as fundamental, for they are that. Not in the least doing anything great, I can try, and I am trying, to do my duty on the level where I am put and, so far as I can see the way, the whole of it.” And I thought of his talk to the New York Chamber of Commerce on the “homely virtues” as a solvent of our industrial and other problems, and his counsel to every good citizen to be able and willing to “pull his own weight.” He has to pull the weight of all of us along with his own. If these plain sketches help some who do not know him to make out how patiently, how thoughtfully he labors at it, how steadfastly he is on guard, I shall be glad I wrote them.
  As I am writing this now, there comes to mind really the finest compliment I ever heard paid him, and quite unintentionally. The lady who said it was rather disappointed, it seemed. She was looking for some great hero in whom to embody all her high ideals, and, said she, “I always wanted to make Roosevelt out that; but, somehow, every time he did something that