Nonfiction > Jacob A. Riis > The Battle with the Slum > Page 47
Jacob A. Riis (1849–1914).  The Battle with the Slum.  1902.

Page 47
were under way in the thickest of the tenement house crowding, and though the landscape gardener has tried twice to steal them, he will not succeed. Play piers and play schools are the order of the day. We shall yet settle the “causes that operated sociologically” on the boy with a lawn-mower and a sand heap. You have got your boy, and the heredity of the next one, when you can order his setting.
  Social halls for the older people’s play are coming where the saloon has had a monopoly of the cheer too long. The labor unions and the reformers work together to put an end to sweating and child-labor. The gospel of less law and more enforcement acquired standing while Theodore Roosevelt sat in the governor’s chair rehearsing to us Jefferson’s forgotten lesson that “the whole art and science of government consists in being honest.” With a back door to every ordinance that touched the lives of the people, if indeed the whole thing was not the subject of open ridicule or the vehicle of official blackmail, it seemed as if we had provided a perfect municipal machinery for bringing the law into contempt with the young, and so for wrecking citizenship by the shortest cut.
  Of free soup there is an end. It was never food for free men. The last spoonful was ladled out by yellow journalism with the certificate of the men



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