Nonfiction > Jacob A. Riis > The Battle with the Slum > Page 186
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Jacob A. Riis (1849–1914).  The Battle with the Slum.  1902.

Page 186
 
acquire the common rudiments of education. If the city does not provide liberally and wisely for the satisfaction of this desire, the blame for the civic and moral dangers that will threaten our community, because of ignorance, vice, and poverty, must rest on the whole public, not on our foreign-born residents.” And Superintendent Maxwell of the Department of Education adds, six years later, that with a shortage of 28,000 seats, and worse coming, “it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the insufficiency of school accommodation in New York City is a most serious menace to our universal welfare.” 1 For we have reached the stage again, thanks be to four years of Tammany, when, after all the sacrifices of the past, we are once more face to face with an army of enforced truants, and all they stand for.
  He is clannish, this Italian; he gambles and uses a knife, though rarely on anybody not of his own people; he “takes what he can get,” wherever anything is free, as who would not, coming to the feast like a starved wolf? There was nothing free where he came from. Even the salt was taxed past a poor man’s getting any of it. Lastly, he buys fraudulent naturalization papers, and uses them. I shall plead guilty for him to every one of these counts. They are all proven. Gambling is his besetting sin. He is sober, industrious, frugal, enduring beyond belief;
Note 1. Superintendent Maxwell in Municipal Affairs, December, 1900. [ back ]

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