Jacob A. Riis (18491914). Theodore Roosevelt, the Citizen. 1904.
to ask us to employ against law-breakers only such means as those law-breakers approve. We are not playing puss in the corner with the criminals. We intend to stamp out these vermin, and we do not intend to consult the vermin, as to the methods we shall employ. And the party managers at Albany he warned publicly that an attack upon the Police Board, on whatever pretext, was an attack upon its members because they had done their duty, and that the politicians must reckon with decent sentiment, if they dared punish them for declining to allow the police force to be used for political purposes, or to let law-breakers go unpunished.
Roosevelt won. He conquered politics and he stopped law-breaking; but the biggest victory he won was over the cynicism of a people so steeped in it all that they did not dream it could be done. Tammany came back, but not to stay. And though it may come back many times yet for our sins, it will be merely like the thief who steals in to fill his pockets from the till when the store-keeper is not looking. That was what we got out of having Roosevelt on the Police Board. He could not