Jacob A. Riis (18491914). Theodore Roosevelt, the Citizen. 1904.
Half Lives, in which I tried to draw an indictment of the things that were wrong, pitifully and dreadfully wrong, with the tenement homes of our wage-workers. It was like a man coming to enlist for a war because he believed in the cause, and truly he did. Now had come the time when he could help indeed. Decency had moved into the City Hall, where shameless indifference ruled before. His first thought was to have me help there. I preserve two letters from him, from the time between the election in 1894 that put Tammany out and the New Year when Mayor Strong and reform moved in, in which he urges this idea.
It is very important to the city, he writes, to have a business mans mayor, but it is more important to have a workingmans mayor, and I want Mr. Strong to be that also.… I am exceedingly anxious that, if it is possible, the Mayor shall appoint you to some position which shall make you one of his official advisers.… It is an excellent thing to have rapid transit, but it is a good deal more important, if you look at matters with a proper perspective, to have ample playgrounds in the poorer