Nonfiction > Jacob A. Riis > The Battle with the Slum > Page 207
Jacob A. Riis (1849–1914).  The Battle with the Slum.  1902.

Page 207
he found, at its face value, and we gave him the rear tenement and slum politics. If he accepted the standard, whose fault was it? His being in such a hurry to vote that he could not wait till the law made him a citizen was no worse, to my mind, than the treachery of the “upper class” native, who refuses to go to the polls for fear he may rub up against him there. This last let us settle with first, and see what remains of our problem. We can approach it honestly, then, at all events.
  I came into town on the Pennsylvania Railroad the other day just when the emigrant lighter had tied up at the wharf to discharge its west-bound cargo. For a full hour I stood watching the stream of them, thousands upon thousands, carrying knapsacks and trunks, odd in speech and ways, but all of them with hopeful faces set toward the great country where they were to win their own way. So they answered the query of the eagle at the island gate. Scarce an hour within the gate, they were no longer a problem. The country needs these men of strong arms and strong courage. It is in the city the shoe pinches. What can we do to relieve it?
  Much could be done with effective inspection on the other side, to discourage the blind immigration that stops short in the city’s slums. They come to better themselves, and it is largely a question



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