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

Page 32

the history of men and things, animals included. The ambition to be a naturalist and a professor clung to him still, but more and more the doings of men and of their concerns began to attract him. It was so with all he did in college, whether at work or play—it was the life that moved in it he was after. Unconsciously yet, I think, his own life began to shape itself upon its real lines. He read the “Federalist” with the entire absorption that was and is his characteristic, and lived and thought with the makers of our government. There are few public men to-day who are more firmly grounded in those fundamentals than he, and the airy assumption of shallow politicians and critics who think they have in Roosevelt to do with a man of their own kind sometimes makes me smile. The faculty of forgetting all else but the topic in hand is one of the great secrets of his success in whatever he has under-taken as an official. It is the faculty of getting things done. They tell stories yet, that go around the board at class dinners, of how he would come into a fellow-student’s room for a visit, and, picking up a book, would become immediately and wholly absorbed in its contents,