Nonfiction > Jacob A. Riis > The Battle with the Slum > Page 65
Jacob A. Riis (1849–1914).  The Battle with the Slum.  1902.

Page 65
and the fewest were punished. The civic history of New York to the present day is one long struggle to free itself from its blighting grip. Its people’s parties, its committees of seventy, were ever emergency measures to that end, but they succeeded only for a season. There have been decent Tammany mayors, but not for long. There have been attempts to reform the organization from within, but they have been failures. You cannot reform an “organized appetite” except by reforming it away. And then there would be nothing left of the organization.
  For whatever the rank and file have believed, the organization has never been anything else but the means of satisfying the appetite that never will be cloyed. Whatever principles it has professed, they have served the purpose only of filling the pockets of the handful of men who rule its inner councils and use it to their own enrichment and our loss and disgrace. We have heard its most successful leader testify brazenly before the Mazet legislative committee that he was in politics working for his own pocket all the time. That was his principle. And his followers applauded till the room rang.
  That is the Tammany which has placed murderers and gamblers in its high seats. That is the Tammany which you have to fight at every step when battling with the slum; the Tammany which, unmasked



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