Nonfiction > Jacob A. Riis > The Battle with the Slum > Page 405
Jacob A. Riis (1849–1914).  The Battle with the Slum.  1902.

Page 405
in ignorance selfishness finds its opportunity, and the two together make the slum.
  The mere teaching is only a part of it. The school itself is a bigger—the meeting there of rich and poor. Out of the public school comes, must come if we are to last, the real democracy that has our hope in keeping. I wish it were in my power to compel every father to send his boy to the public school; I would do it, and so perchance bring the school up to the top notch where it was lacking. The President of the United States today sets a splendid example to us all in letting his boys mingle with those who are to be their fellow-citizens by and by. It is precisely in the sundering of our society into classes that have little in common, that are no longer neighbors, that our peril lives. A people cannot work together for the good of the state if they are not on speaking terms. In the gap the slum grows up. That was one reason why I hailed with a shout the proposition of Mr. Schwab, the steel trust millionnaire, to take a regiment of boys down to Staten Island on an excursion every day in summer. Let me see, I haven’t told about that, I think. He had bought a large property down there, all beach and lake and field and woodland, and proposed to build a steamer with room for a thousand or two, and then take them down with a band of music on board,



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