Jacob A. Riis (18491914). Theodore Roosevelt, the Citizen. 1904.
in stead of a non-partisan Board of Commissioners, there grew up, primarily through the operation, or non-operation, of the Sunday saloon-closing law, a system of police blackmail unheard of in the world before. It was the disclosure of its slimy depths through the labors of Dr. Parkhurst and of the Lexow Committee which brought about the political revolution out of which came reform and Roosevelt. But in Mulberry Street they were hailed as freaks. The system so far had been invincible. It had broken many men who had got in its way.
It will break you, was the greeting with which Byrnes, the Big Chief, who had ruled Mulberry Street with a hard hand, but had himself bowed to the system, received Mr. Roosevelt. You will yield. You are but human.
The answer of the new President of the Board was to close the gate of the politicians to police patronage.
We want, he said, the civil service law applied to appointments here, not because it is the ideal way, but because it is the only way to knock the political spoilsmen out, and you