Jacob A. Riis (18491914). Theodore Roosevelt, the Citizen. 1904.
he serves the public faithfully and courteously.… We propose that no incumbent shall be dismissed from the service unless he proves untrustworthy or incompetent, and that no one not specially qualified for the duties of the position shall be appointed. These two statements we consider eminently practical and American in principle.
Again, a year later, when the well-worn lies that still pass current in certain newspapers had got into the Senate, this was his answer:
One of the chief false accusations which are thrown at the Commission is that we test applicants by puzzling questions. There is a certain order of intellectsometimes an order of Senatorial intellectwhich thinks it funny to state that a first-class young man, thoroughly qualified in every respect, has been rejected for the position of letter-carrier because he was unable to tell the distance from Hong Kong to the mouth of the Yangtsekiang, or answer questions of similar nature.
I now go through a rather dreary, monotonous illustration of how this idea becomes current. A Senator, for instance, makes statements of that character. I then write to him,