Theodore Roosevelt An Autobiography by Theodore Roosevelt
Theodore Roosevelt

Part 3 out of 11

very game man. I became much attached to him. He was a thoroughly good
citizen when sober, but he was a little wild when drunk.
Unfortunately, toward the end of his life he got to drinking very
heavily. When, in 1905, John Burroughs and I visited the Yellowstone
Park, poor Bill Jones, very much down in the world, was driving a team
in Gardiner outside the park. I had looked forward to seeing him, and
he was equally anxious to see me. He kept telling his cronies of our
intimacy and of what we were going to do together, and then got
drinking; and the result was that by the time I reached Gardiner he
had to be carried out and left in the sage-brush. When I came out of
the park, I sent on in advance to tell them to be sure to keep him
sober, and they did so. But it was a rather sad interview. The old
fellow had gone to pieces, and soon after I left he got lost in a
blizzard and was dead when they found him.

Bill Jones was a gun-fighter and also a good man with his fists. On
one occasion there was an election in town. There had been many
threats that the party of disorder would import section hands from the
neighboring railway stations to down our side. I did not reach Medora,
the forlorn little cattle town which was our county seat, until the
election was well under way. I then asked one of my friends if there
had been any disorder. Bill Jones was standing by. "Disorder hell!"
said my friend. "Bill Jones just stood there with one hand on his gun
and the other pointing over toward the new jail whenever any man who
didn't have a right to vote came near the polls. There was only one of
them tried to vote, and Bill knocked him down. Lord!" added my friend,
meditatively, "the way that man fell!" "Well," struck in Bill Jones,
"if he hadn't fell I'd have walked round behind him to see what was
propping him up!"

In the days when I lived on the ranch I usually spent most of the
winter in the East, and when I returned in the early spring I was
always interested in finding out what had happened since my departure.
On one occasion I was met by Bill Jones and Sylvane Ferris, and in the
course of our conversation they mentioned "the lunatic." This led to a
question on my part, and Sylvane Ferris began the story: "Well, you
see, he was on a train and he shot the newsboy. At first they weren't
going to do anything to him, for they thought he just had it in for
the newsboy. But then somebody said, 'Why, he's plumb crazy, and he's
liable to shoot any of us!' and then they threw him off the train. It
was here at Medora, and they asked if anybody would take care of him,
and Bill Jones said he would, because he was the sheriff and the jail
had two rooms, and he was living in one and would put the lunatic in
the other." Here Bill Jones interrupted: "Yes, and more fool me! I
wouldn't take charge of another lunatic if the whole county asked me.
Why" (with the air of a man announcing an astounding discovery), "that
lunatic didn't have his right senses! He wouldn't eat, till me and
Snyder got him down on the shavings and made him eat." Snyder was a
huge, happy-go-lucky, kind-hearted Pennsylvania Dutchman, and was Bill
Jones's chief deputy. Bill continued: "You know, Snyder's soft-
hearted, he is. Well, he'd think that lunatic looked peaked, and he'd
take him out for an airing. Then the boys would get joshing him as to
how much start he could give him over the prairie and catch him
again." Apparently the amount of the start given the lunatic depended
upon the amount of the bet to which the joshing led up. I asked Bill
what he would have done if Snyder hadn't caught the lunatic. This was
evidently a new idea, and he responded that Snyder always did catch
him. "Well, but suppose he hadn't caught him?" "Well," said Bill
Jones, "if Snyder hadn't caught the lunatic, I'd have whaled hell out
of Snyder!"

Under these circumstances Snyder ran his best and always did catch the
patient. It must not be gathered from this that the lunatic was badly
treated. He was well treated. He become greatly attached to both Bill
Jones and Snyder, and he objected strongly when, after the frontier
theory of treatment of the insane had received a full trial, he was
finally sent off to the territorial capital. It was merely that all
the relations of life in that place and day were so managed as to give
ample opportunity for the expression of individuality, whether in
sheriff or ranchman. The local practical joker once attempted to have
some fun at the expense of the lunatic, and Bill Jones described the
result. "You know Bixby, don't you? Well," with deep disapproval,
"Bixby thinks he is funny, he does. He'd come and he'd wake that
lunatic up at night, and I'd have to get up and soothe him. I fixed
Bixby all right, though. I fastened a rope on the latch, and next time
Bixby came I let the lunatic out on him. He 'most bit Bixby's nose
off. I learned Bixby!"

Bill Jones had been unconventional in other relations besides that of
sheriff. He once casually mentioned to me that he had served on the
police force of Bismarck, but he had left because he "beat the Mayor
over the head with his gun one day." He added: "The Mayor, he didn't
mind it, but the Superintendent of Police said he guessed I'd better
resign." His feeling, obviously, was that the Superintendent of Police
was a martinet, unfit to take large views of life.

It was while with Bill Jones that I first made acquaintance with Seth
Bullock. Seth was at that time sheriff in the Black Hills district,
and a man he had wanted--a horse thief--I finally got, I being at the
time deputy sheriff two or three hundred miles to the north. The man
went by a nickname which I will call "Crazy Steve"; a year or two
afterwards I received a letter asking about him from his uncle, a
thoroughly respectable man in a Western State; and later this uncle
and I met at Washington when I was President and he a United States
Senator. It was some time after "Steve's" capture that I went down to
Deadwood on business, Sylvane Ferris and I on horseback, while Bill
Jones drove the wagon. At a little town, Spearfish, I think, after
crossing the last eighty or ninety miles of gumbo prairies, we met
Seth Bullock. We had had rather a rough trip, and had lain out for a
fortnight, so I suppose we looked somewhat unkempt. Seth received us
with rather distant courtesy at first, but unbent when he found out
who we were, remarking, "You see, by your looks I thought you were
some kind of a tin-horn gambling outfit, and that I might have to keep
an eye on you!" He then inquired after the capture of "Steve"--with a
little of the air of one sportsman when another has shot a quail that
either might have claimed--"My bird, I believe?" Later Seth Bullock
became, and has ever since remained, one of my stanchest and most
valued friends. He served as Marshal for South Dakota under me as
President. When, after the close of my term, I went to Africa, on
getting back to Europe I cabled Seth Bullock to bring over Mrs.
Bullock and meet me in London, which he did; by that time I felt that
I just had to meet my own people, who spoke my neighborhood dialect.

When serving as deputy sheriff I was impressed with the advantage the
officer of the law has over ordinary wrong-doers, provided he
thoroughly knows his own mind. There are exceptional outlaws, men with
a price on their heads and of remarkable prowess, who are utterly
indifferent to taking life, and whose warfare against society is as
open as that of a savage on the war-path. The law officer has no
advantage whatever over these men save what his own prowess may--or
may not--give him. Such a man was Billy the Kid, the notorious man-
killer and desperado of New Mexico, who was himself finally slain by a
friend of mine, Pat Garrett, whom, when I was President, I made
collector of customs at El Paso. But the ordinary criminal, even when
murderously inclined, feels just a moment's hesitation as to whether
he cares to kill an officer of the law engaged in his duty. I took in
more than one man who was probably a better man than I was with both
rifle and revolver; but in each case I knew just what I wanted to do,
and, like David Harum, I "did it first," whereas the fraction of a
second that the other man hesitated put him in a position where it was
useless for him to resist.

I owe more than I can ever express to the West, which of course means
to the men and women I met in the West. There were a few people of bad
type in my neighborhood--that would be true of every group of men,
even in a theological seminary--but I could not speak with too great
affection and respect of the great majority of my friends, the hard-
working men and women who dwelt for a space of perhaps a hundred and
fifty miles along the Little Missouri. I was always as welcome at
their houses as they were at mine. Everybody worked, everybody was
willing to help everybody else, and yet nobody asked any favors. The
same thing was true of the people whom I got to know fifty miles east
and fifty miles west of my own range, and of the men I met on the
round-ups. They soon accepted me as a friend and fellow-worker who
stood on an equal footing with them, and I believe the most of them
have kept their feeling for me ever since. No guests were ever more
welcome at the White House than these old friends of the cattle
ranches and the cow camps--the men with whom I had ridden the long
circle and eaten at the tail-board of a chuck-wagon--whenever they
turned up at Washington during my Presidency. I remember one of them
who appeared at Washington one day just before lunch, a huge, powerful
man who, when I knew him, had been distinctly a fighting character. It
happened that on that day another old friend, the British Ambassador,
Mr. Bryce, was among those coming to lunch. Just before we went in I
turned to my cow-puncher friend and said to him with great solemnity,
"Remember, Jim, that if you shot at the feet of the British Ambassador
to make him dance, it would be likely to cause international
complications"; to which Jim responded with unaffected horror, "Why,
Colonel, I shouldn't think of it, I shouldn't think of it!"

Not only did the men and women whom I met in the cow country quite
unconsciously help me, by the insight which working and living with
them enabled me to get into the mind and soul of the average American
of the right type, but they helped me in another way. I made up my
mind that the men were of just the kind whom it would be well to have
with me if ever it became necessary to go to war. When the Spanish War
came, I gave this thought practical realization.

Fortunately, Wister and Remington, with pen and pencil, have made
these men live as long as our literature lives. I have sometimes been
asked if Wister's "Virginian" is not overdrawn; why, one of the men I
have mentioned in this chapter was in all essentials the Virginian in
real life, not only in his force but in his charm. Half of the men I
worked with or played with and half of the men who soldiered with me
afterwards in my regiment might have walked out of Wister's stories or
Remington's pictures.

There were bad characters in the Western country at that time, of
course, and under the conditions of life they were probably more
dangerous than they would have been elsewhere. I hardly ever had any
difficulty, however. I never went into a saloon, and in the little
hotels I kept out of the bar-room unless, as sometimes happened, the
bar-room was the only room on the lower floor except the dining-room.
I always endeavored to keep out of a quarrel until self-respect
forbade my making any further effort to avoid it, and I very rarely
had even the semblance of trouble.

Of course amusing incidents occurred now and then. Usually these took
place when I was hunting lost horses, for in hunting lost horses I was
ordinarily alone, and occasionally had to travel a hundred or a
hundred and fifty miles away from my own country. On one such occasion
I reached a little cow town long after dark, stabled my horse in an
empty outbuilding, and when I reached the hotel was informed in
response to my request for a bed that I could have the last one left,
as there was only one other man in it. The room to which I was shown
contained two double beds; one contained two men fast asleep, and the
other only one man, also asleep. This man proved to be a friend, one
of the Bill Joneses whom I have previously mentioned. I undressed
according to the fashion of the day and place, that is, I put my
trousers, boots, shaps, and gun down beside the bed, and turned in. A
couple of hours later I was awakened by the door being thrown open and
a lantern flashed in my face, the light gleaming on the muzzle of a
cocked .45. Another man said to the lantern-bearer, "It ain't him";
the next moment my bedfellow was covered with two guns, and addressed,
"Now, Bill, don't make a fuss, but come along quiet." "I'm not
thinking of making a fuss," said Bill. "That's right," was the answer;
"we're your friends; we don't want to hurt you; we just want you to
come along, you know why." And Bill pulled on his trousers and boots
and walked out with them. Up to this time there had not been a sound
from the other bed. Now a match was scratched, a candle lit, and one
of the men in the other bed looked round the room. At this point I
committed the breach of etiquette of asking questions. "I wonder why
they took Bill," I said. There was no answer, and I repeated, "I
wonder why they took Bill." "Well," said the man with the candle,
dryly, "I reckon they wanted him," and with that he blew out the
candle and conversation ceased. Later I discovered that Bill in a fit
of playfulness had held up the Northern Pacific train at a near-by
station by shooting at the feet of the conductor to make him dance.
This was purely a joke on Bill's part, but the Northern Pacific people
possessed a less robust sense of humor, and on their complaint the
United States Marshal was sent after Bill, on the ground that by
delaying the train he had interfered with the mails.

The only time I ever had serious trouble was at an even more primitive
little hotel than the one in question. It was also on an occasion when
I was out after lost horses. Below the hotel had merely a bar-room, a
dining-room, and a lean-to kitchen; above was a loft with fifteen or
twenty beds in it. It was late in the evening when I reached the
place. I heard one or two shots in the bar-room as I came up, and I
disliked going in. But there was nowhere else to go, and it was a cold
night. Inside the room were several men, who, including the bartender,
were wearing the kind of smile worn by men who are making believe to
like what they don't like. A shabby individual in a broad hat with a
cocked gun in each hand was walking up and down the floor talking with
strident profanity. He had evidently been shooting at the clock, which
had two or three holes in its face.

He was not a "bad man" of the really dangerous type, the true man-
killer type, but he was an objectionable creature, a would-be bad man,
a bully who for the moment was having things all his own way. As soon
as he saw me he hailed me as "Four eyes," in reference to my
spectacles, and said, "Four eyes is going to treat." I joined in the
laugh and got behind the stove and sat down, thinking to escape
notice. He followed me, however, and though I tried to pass it off as
a jest this merely made him more offensive, and he stood leaning over
me, a gun in each hand, using very foul language. He was foolish to
stand so near, and, moreover, his heels were close together, so that
his position was unstable. Accordingly, in response to his reiterated
command that I should set up the drinks, I said, "Well, if I've got
to, I've got to," and rose, looking past him.

As I rose, I struck quick and hard with my right just to one side of
the point of his jaw, hitting with my left as I straightened out, and
then again with my right. He fired the guns, but I do not know whether
this was merely a convulsive action of his hands or whether he was
trying to shoot at me. When he went down he struck the corner of the
bar with his head. It was not a case in which one could afford to take
chances, and if he had moved I was about to drop on his ribs with my
knees; but he was senseless. I took away his guns, and the other
people in the room, who were now loud in their denunciation of him,
hustled him out and put him in a shed. I got dinner as soon as
possible, sitting in a corner of the dining-room away from the
windows, and then went upstairs to bed where it was dark so that there
would be no chance of any one shooting at me from the outside.
However, nothing happened. When my assailant came to, he went down to
the station and left on a freight.

As I have said, most of the men of my regiment were just such men as
those I knew in the ranch country; indeed, some of my ranch friends
were in the regiment--Fred Herrig, the forest ranger, for instance, in
whose company I shot my biggest mountain ram. After the regiment was
disbanded the careers of certain of the men were diversified by odd
incidents. Our relations were of the friendliest, and, as they
explained, they felt "as if I was a father" to them. The
manifestations of this feeling were sometimes less attractive than the
phrase sounded, as it was chiefly used by the few who were behaving
like very bad children indeed. The great majority of the men when the
regiment disbanded took up the business of their lives where they had
dropped it a few months previously, and these men merely tried to help
me or help one another as the occasion arose; no man ever had more
cause to be proud of his regiment than I had of mine, both in war and
in peace. But there was a minority among them who in certain ways were
unsuited for a life of peaceful regularity, although often enough they
had been first-class soldiers.

It was from these men that letters came with a stereotyped opening
which always caused my heart to sink--"Dear Colonel: I write you
because I am in trouble." The trouble might take almost any form. One
correspondent continued: "I did not take the horse, but they say I
did." Another complained that his mother-in-law had put him in jail
for bigamy. In the case of another the incident was more markworthy. I
will call him Gritto. He wrote me a letter beginning: "Dear Colonel: I
write you because I am in trouble. I have shot a lady in the eye. But,
Colonel, I was not shooting at the lady. I was shooting at my wife,"
which he apparently regarded as a sufficient excuse as between men of
the world. I answered that I drew the line at shooting at ladies, and
did not hear any more of the incident for several years.

Then, while I was President, a member of the regiment, Major
Llewellyn, who was Federal District Attorney under me in New Mexico,
wrote me a letter filled, as his letters usually were, with bits of
interesting gossip about the comrades. It ran in part as follows:
"Since I last wrote you Comrade Ritchie has killed a man in Colorado.
I understand that the comrade was playing a poker game, and the man
sat into the game and used such language that Comrade Ritchie had to
shoot. Comrade Webb has killed two men in Beaver, Arizona. Comrade
Webb is in the Forest Service, and the killing was in the line of
professional duty. I was out at the penitentiary the other day and saw
Comrade Gritto, who, you may remember, was put there for shooting his
sister-in-law [this was the first information I had had as to the
identity of the lady who was shot in the eye]. Since he was in there
Comrade Boyne has run off to old Mexico with his (Gritto's) wife, and
the people of Grant County think he ought to be let out." Evidently
the sporting instincts of the people of Grant County had been roused,
and they felt that, as Comrade Boyne had had a fair start, the other
comrade should be let out in order to see what would happen.

The men of the regiment always enthusiastically helped me when I was
running for office. On one occasion Buck Taylor, of Texas, accompanied
me on a trip and made a speech for me. The crowd took to his speech
from the beginning and so did I, until the peroration, which ran as
follows: "My fellow-citizens, vote for my Colonel! vote for my
Colonel! /and he will lead you, as he led us, like sheep to the
slaughter/!" This hardly seemed a tribute to my military skill; but it
delighted the crowd, and as far as I could tell did me nothing but

On another tour, when I was running for Vice-President, a member of
the regiment who was along on the train got into a discussion with a
Populist editor who had expressed an unfavorable estimate of my
character, and in the course of the discussion shot the editor--not
fatally. We had to leave him to be tried, and as he had no money I
left him $150 to hire counsel--having borrowed the money from Senator
Wolcott, of Colorado, who was also with me. After election I received
from my friend a letter running: "Dear Colonel: I find I will not have
to use that $150 you lent me, as we have elected our candidate for
District Attorney. So I have used it to settle a horse transaction in
which I unfortunately became involved." A few weeks later, however, I
received a heartbroken letter setting forth the fact that the District
Attorney--whom he evidently felt to be a cold-blooded formalist--had
put him in jail. Then the affair dropped out of sight until two or
three years later, when as President I visited a town in another
State, and the leaders of the delegation which received me included
both my correspondent and the editor, now fast friends, and both of
them ardent supporters of mine.

At one of the regimental reunions a man, who had been an excellent
soldier, in greeting me mentioned how glad he was that the judge had
let him out in time to get to the reunion. I asked what was the
matter, and he replied with some surprise: "Why, Colonel, don't you
know I had a difficulty with a gentleman, and . . . er . . . well, I
killed the gentleman. But you can see that the judge thought it was
all right or he wouldn't have let me go." Waiving the latter point, I
said: "How did it happen? How did you do it?" Misinterpreting my
question as showing an interest only in the technique of the
performance, the ex-puncher replied: "With a .38 on a .45 frame,
Colonel." I chuckled over the answer, and it became proverbial with my
family and some of my friends, including Seth Bullock. When I was shot
at Milwaukee, Seth Bullock wired an inquiry to which I responded that
it was all right, that the weapon was merely "a .38 on a .45 frame."
The telegram in some way became public, and puzzled outsiders. By the
way, both the men of my regiment and the friends I had made in the old
days in the West were themselves a little puzzled at the interest
shown in my making my speech after being shot. This was what they
expected, what they accepted as the right thing for a man to do under
the circumstances, a thing the non-performance of which would have
been discreditable rather than the performance being creditable. They
would not have expected a man to leave a battle, for instance, because
of being wounded in such fashion; and they saw no reason why he should
abandon a less important and less risky duty.

One of the best soldiers of my regiment was a huge man whom I made
marshal of a Rocky Mountain State. He had spent his hot and lusty
youth on the frontier during its viking age, and at that time had
naturally taken part in incidents which seemed queer to men
"accustomed to die decently of zymotic diseases." I told him that an
effort would doubtless be made to prevent his confirmation by the
Senate, and therefore that I wanted to know all the facts in his case.
Had he played faro? He had; but it was when everybody played faro, and
he had never played a brace game. Had he killed anybody? Yes, but it
was in Dodge City on occasions when he was deputy marshal or town
marshal, at a time when Dodge City, now the most peaceful of
communities, was the toughest town on the continent, and crowded with
man-killing outlaws and road agents; and he produced telegrams from
judges of high character testifying to the need of the actions he had
taken. Finally I said: "Now, Ben, how did you lose that half of your
ear?" To which, looking rather shy, he responded: "Well, Colonel, it
was bit off." "How did it happen, Ben?" "Well, you see, I was sent to
arrest a gentleman, and him and me mixed it up, and he bit off my
ear." "What did you do to the gentleman, Ben?" And Ben, looking more
coy than ever, responded: "Well, Colonel, we broke about even!" I
forebore to inquire what variety of mayhem he had committed on the
"gentleman." After considerable struggle I got him confirmed by the
Senate, and he made one of the best marshals in the entire service,
exactly as he had already made one of the best soldiers in the
regiment; and I never wish to see a better citizen, nor a man in whom
I would more implicitly trust in every way.

When, in 1900, I was nominated for Vice-President, I was sent by the
National Committee on a trip into the States of the high plains and
the Rocky Mountains. These had all gone overwhelmingly for Mr. Bryan
on the free-silver issue four years previously, and it was thought
that I, because of my knowledge of and acquaintanceship with the
people, might accomplish something towards bringing them back into
line. It was an interesting trip, and the monotony usually attendant
upon such a campaign of political speaking was diversified in vivid
fashion by occasional hostile audiences. One or two of the meetings
ended in riots. One meeting was finally broken up by a mob; everybody
fought so that the speaking had to stop. Soon after this we reached
another town where we were told there might be trouble. Here the local
committee included an old and valued friend, a "two-gun" man of
repute, who was not in the least quarrelsome, but who always kept his
word. We marched round to the local opera-house, which was packed with
a mass of men, many of them rather rough-looking. My friend the two-
gun man sat immediately behind me, a gun on each hip, his arms folded,
looking at the audience; fixing his gaze with instant intentness on
any section of the house from which there came so much as a whisper.
The audience listened to me with rapt attention. At the end, with a
pride in my rhetorical powers which proceeded from a misunderstanding
of the situation, I remarked to the chairman: "I held that audience
well; there wasn't an interruption." To which the chairman replied:
"Interruption? Well, I guess not! Seth had sent round word that if any
son of a gun peeped he'd kill him!"

There was one bit of frontier philosophy which I should like to see
imitated in more advanced communities. Certain crimes of revolting
baseness and cruelty were never forgiven. But in the case of ordinary
offenses, the man who had served his term and who then tried to make
good was given a fair chance; and of course this was equally true of
the women. Every one who has studied the subject at all is only too
well aware that the world offsets the readiness with which it condones
a crime for which a man escapes punishment, by its unforgiving
relentlessness to the often far less guilty man who /is/ punished, and
who therefore has made his atonement. On the frontier, if the man
honestly tried to behave himself there was generally a disposition to
give him fair play and a decent show. Several of the men I knew and
whom I particularly liked came in this class. There was one such man
in my regiment, a man who had served a term for robbery under arms,
and who had atoned for it by many years of fine performance of duty. I
put him in a high official position, and no man under me rendered
better service to the State, nor was there any man whom, as soldier,
as civil officer, as citizen, and as friend, I valued and respected--
and now value and respect--more.

Now I suppose some good people will gather from this that I favor men
who commit crimes. I certainly do not favor them. I have not a
particle of sympathy with the sentimentality--as I deem it, the
mawkishness--which overflows with foolish pity for the criminal and
cares not at all for the victim of the criminal. I am glad to see
wrong-doers punished. The punishment is an absolute necessity from the
standpoint of society; and I put the reformation of the criminal
second to the welfare of society. But I do desire to see the man or
woman who has paid the penalty and who wishes to reform given a
helping hand--surely every one of us who knows his own heart must know
that he too may stumble, and should be anxious to help his brother or
sister who has stumbled. When the criminal has been punished, if he
then shows a sincere desire to lead a decent and upright life, he
should be given the chance, he should be helped and not hindered; and
if he makes good, he should receive that respect from others which so
often aids in creating self-respect--the most invaluable of all



In the spring of 1899 I was appointed by President Harrison Civil
Service Commissioner. For nearly five years I had not been very active
in political life; although I had done some routine work in the
organization and had made campaign speeches, and in 1886 had run for
Mayor of New York against Abram S. Hewitt, Democrat, and Henry George,
Independent, and had been defeated.

I served six years as Civil Service Commissioner--four years under
President Harrison and then two years under President Cleveland. I was
treated by both Presidents with the utmost consideration. Among my
fellow-Commissioners there was at one time ex-Governor Hugh Thompson,
of South Carolina, and at another time John R. Proctor, of Kentucky.
They were Democrats and ex-Confederate soldiers. I became deeply
attached to both, and we stood shoulder to shoulder in every contest
in which the Commission was forced to take part.

Civil Service Reform had two sides. There was, first, the effort to
secure a more efficient administration of the public service, and,
second, the even more important effort to withdraw the administrative
offices of the Government from the domain of spoils politics, and
thereby cut out of American political life a fruitful source of
corruption and degradation. The spoils theory of politics is that
public office is so much plunder which the victorious political party
is entitled to appropriate to the use of its adherents. Under this
system the work of the Government was often done well even in those
days, when Civil Service Reform was only an experiment, because the
man running an office if himself an able and far-sighted man, knew
that inefficiency in administration would be visited on his head in
the long run, and therefore insisted upon most of his subordinates
doing good work; and, moreover, the men appointed under the spoils
system were necessarily men of a certain initiative and power, because
those who lacked these qualities were not able to shoulder themselves
to the front. Yet there were many flagrant instances of inefficiency,
where a powerful chief quartered friend, adherent, or kinsman upon the
Government. Moreover, the necessarily haphazard nature of the
employment, the need of obtaining and holding the office by service
wholly unconnected with official duty, inevitably tended to lower the
standard of public morality, alike among the office-holders and among
the politicians who rendered party service with the hope of reward in
office. Indeed, the doctrine that "To the victor belong the spoils,"
the cynical battle-cry of the spoils politician in America for the
sixty years preceding my own entrance into public life, is so nakedly
vicious that few right-thinking men of trained mind defend it. To
appoint, promote, reduce, and expel from the public service, letter-
carriers, stenographers, women typewriters, clerks, because of the
politics of themselves or their friends, without regard to their own
service, is, from the standpoint of the people at large, as foolish
and degrading as it is wicked.

Such being the case, it would seem at first sight extraordinary that
it should be so difficult to uproot the system. Unfortunately, it was
permitted to become habitual and traditional in American life, so that
the conception of public office as something to be used primarily for
the good of the dominant political party became ingrained in the mind
of the average American, and he grew so accustomed to the whole
process that it seemed part of the order of nature. Not merely the
politicians but the bulk of the people accepted this in a matter-of-
course way as the only proper attitude. There were plenty of
communities where the citizens themselves did not think it natural, or
indeed proper, that the Post-Office should be held by a man belonging
to the defeated party. Moreover, unless both sides were forbidden to
use the offices for purposes of political reward, the side that did
use them possessed such an advantage over the other that in the long
run it was out of the question for the other not to follow the bad
example that had been set. Each party profited by the offices when in
power, and when in opposition each party insincerely denounced its
opponents for doing exactly what it itself had done and intended again
to do.

It was necessary, in order to remedy the evil, both gradually to
change the average citizen's mental attitude toward the question, and
also to secure proper laws and proper administration of the laws. The
work is far from finished even yet. There are still masses of office-
holders who can be used by an unscrupulous Administration to debauch
political conventions and fraudulently overcome public sentiment,
especially in the "rotten borough" districts--those where the party is
not strong, and where the office-holders in consequence have a
disproportionate influence. This was done by the Republican
Administration in 1912, to the ruin of the Republican party. Moreover,
there are numbers of States and municipalities where very little has
as yet been done to do away with the spoils system. But in the
National Government scores of thousands of offices have been put under
the merit system, chiefly through the action of the National Civil
Service Commission.

The use of Government offices as patronage is a handicap difficult to
overestimate from the standpoint of those who strive to get good
government. Any effort for reform of any sort, National, State, or
municipal, results in the reformers immediately finding themselves
face to face with an organized band of drilled mercenaries who are
paid out of the public chest to train themselves with such skill that
ordinary good citizens when they meet them at the polls are in much
the position of militia matched against regular troops. Yet these
citizens themselves support and pay their opponents in such a way that
they are drilled to overthrow the very men who support them. Civil
Service Reform is designed primarily to give the average American
citizen a fair chance in politics, to give to this citizen the same
weight in politics that the "ward heeler" has.

Patronage does not really help a party. It helps the bosses to get
control of the machinery of the party--as in 1912 was true of the
Republican party--but it does not help the party. On the average, the
most sweeping party victories in our history have been won when the
patronage was against the victors. All that the patronage does is to
help the worst element in the party retain control of the party
organization. Two of the evil elements in our Government against which
good citizens have to contend are, 1, the lack of continuous activity
on the part of these good citizens themselves, and, 2, the ever-
present activity of those who have only an evil self-interest in
political life. It is difficult to interest the average citizen in any
particular movement to the degree of getting him to take an efficient
part in it. He wishes the movement well, but he will not, or often
cannot, take the time and the trouble to serve it efficiently; and
this whether he happens to be a mechanic or a banker, a telegraph
operator or a storekeeper. He has his own interests, his own business,
and it is difficult for him to spare the time to go around to the
primaries, to see to the organization, to see to getting out the vote
--in short, to attend to all the thousand details of political

On the other hand, the spoils system breeds a class of men whose
financial interest it is to take this necessary time and trouble. They
are paid for so doing, and they are paid out of the public chest.
Under the spoils system a man is appointed to an ordinary clerical or
ministerial position in the municipal, Federal, or State government,
not primarily because he is expected to be a good servant, but because
he has rendered help to some big boss or to the henchman of some big
boss. His stay in office depends not upon how he performs service, but
upon how he retains his influence in the party. This necessarily means
that his attention to the interests of the public at large, even
though real, is secondary to his devotion to his organization, or to
the interest of the ward leader who put him in his place. So he and
his fellows attend to politics, not once a year, not two or three
times a year, like the average citizen, but every day in the year. It
is the one thing that they talk of, for it is their bread and butter.
They plan about it and they scheme about it. They do it because it is
their business. I do not blame them in the least. I blame us, the
people, for we ought to make it clear as a bell that the business of
serving the people in one of the ordinary ministerial Government
positions, which have nothing to do with deciding the policy of the
Government, should have no necessary connection with the management of
primaries, of caucuses, and of nominating conventions. As a result of
our wrong thinking and supineness, we American citizens tend to breed
a mass of men whose interests in governmental matters are often
adverse to ours, who are thoroughly drilled, thoroughly organized, who
make their livelihood out of politics, and who frequently make their
livelihood out of bad politics. They know every little twist and turn,
no matter how intricate, in the politics of their several wards, and
when election day comes the ordinary citizen who has merely the
interest that all good men, all decent citizens, should have in
political life, finds himself as helpless before these men as if he
were a solitary volunteer in the presence of a band of drilled
mercenaries on a field of battle. There are a couple of hundred
thousand Federal offices, not to speak of State and municipal offices.
The men who fill these offices, and the men who wish to fill them,
within and without the dominant party for the time being, make a
regular army, whose interest it is that the system of bread-and-butter
politics shall continue. Against their concrete interest we have
merely the generally unorganized sentiment of the community in favor
of putting things on a decent basis. The large number of men who
believe vaguely in good are pitted against the smaller but still
larger number of men whose interest it often becomes to act very
concretely and actively for evil; and it is small wonder that the
struggle is doubtful.

During my six years' service as Commissioner the field of the merit
system was extended at the expense of the spoils system so as to
include several times the number of offices that had originally been
included. Generally this was done by the introduction of competitive
entrance examinations; sometimes, as in the Navy-Yards, by a system of
registration. This of itself was good work.

Even better work was making the law efficient and genuine where it
applied. As was inevitable in the introduction of such a system, there
was at first only partial success in its application. For instance, it
applied to the ordinary employees in the big custom-houses and post-
offices, but not to the heads of these offices. A number of the heads
of the offices were slippery politicians of a low moral grade,
themselves appointed under the spoils system, and anxious, directly or
indirectly, to break down the merit system and to pay their own
political debts by appointing their henchmen and supporters to the
positions under them. Occasionally these men acted with open and naked
brutality. Ordinarily they sought by cunning to evade the law. The
Civil Service Reformers, on the other hand, were in most cases not
much used to practical politics, and were often well-nigh helpless
when pitted against veteran professional politicians. In consequence I
found at the beginning of my experiences that there were many offices
in which the execution of the law was a sham. This was very damaging,
because it encouraged the politicians to assault the law everywhere,
and, on the other hand, made good people feel that the law was not
worth while defending.

The first effort of myself and my colleagues was to secure the genuine
enforcement of the law. In this we succeeded after a number of lively
fights. But of course in these fights we were obliged to strike a
large number of influential politicians, some of them in Congress,
some of them the supporters and backers of men who were in Congress.
Accordingly we soon found ourselves engaged in a series of contests
with prominent Senators and Congressmen. There were a number of
Senators and Congressmen--men like Congressman (afterwards Senator) H.
C. Lodge, of Massachusetts; Senator Cushman K. Davis, of Minnesota;
Senator Orville H. Platt, of Connecticut; Senator Cockrell, of
Missouri; Congressman (afterwards President) McKinley, of Ohio, and
Congressman Dargan, of South Carolina--who abhorred the business of
the spoilsman, who efficiently and resolutely championed the reform at
every turn, and without whom the whole reform would certainly have
failed. But there were plenty of other Senators and Congressmen who
hated the whole reform and everything concerned with it and everybody
who championed it; and sometimes, to use a legal phrase, their hatred
was for cause, and sometimes it was peremptory--that is, sometimes the
Commission interfered with their most efficient, and incidentally most
corrupt and unscrupulous, supporters, and at other times, where there
was no such interference, a man nevertheless had an innate dislike of
anything that tended to decency in government. These men were always
waging war against us, and they usually had the more or less open
support of a certain number of Government officials, from Cabinet
officers down. The Senators and Congressmen in question opposed us in
many different ways. Sometimes, for instance, they had committees
appointed to investigate us--during my public career without and
within office I grew accustomed to accept appearances before
investigating committees as part of the natural order of things.
Sometimes they tried to cut off the appropriation for the Commission.

Occasionally we would bring to terms these Senators or Congressmen who
fought the Commission by the simple expedient of not holding
examinations in their districts. This always brought frantic appeals
from their constituents, and we would explain that unfortunately the
appropriations had been cut, so that we could not hold examinations in
every district, and that obviously we could not neglect the districts
of those Congressmen who believed in the reform and therefore in the
examinations. The constituents then turned their attention to the
Congressman, and the result was that in the long run we obtained
sufficient money to enable us to do our work. On the whole, the most
prominent leaders favored us. Any man who is the head of a big
department, if he has any fitness at all, wishes to see that
department run well; and a very little practical experience shows him
that it cannot be run well if he must make his appointments to please
spoilsmongering politicians. As with almost every reform that I have
ever undertaken, most of the opposition took the guise of shrewd
slander. Our opponents relied chiefly on downright misrepresentation
of what it was that we were trying to accomplish, and of our methods,
acts, and personalities. I had more than one lively encounter with the
authors and sponsors of these misrepresentations, which at the time
were full of interest to me. But it would be a dreary thing now to go
over the record of exploded mendacity, or to expose the meanness and
malice shown by some men of high official position. A favorite
argument was to call the reform Chinese, because the Chinese had
constructed an inefficient governmental system based in part on the
theory of written competitive examinations. The argument was simple.
There had been written examinations in China; it was proposed to
establish written examinations in the United States; therefore the
proposed system was Chinese. The argument might have been applied
still further. For instance, the Chinese had used gunpowder for
centuries; gunpowder is used in Springfield rifles; therefore
Springfield rifles were Chinese. One argument is quite as logical as
the other. It was impossible to answer every falsehood about the
system. But it was possible to answer certain falsehoods, especially
when uttered by some Senator or Congressman of note. Usually these
false statements took the form of assertions that we had asked
preposterous questions of applicants. At times they also included the
assertion that we credited people to districts where they did not
live; this simply meaning that these persons were not known to the
active ward politicians of those districts.

One opponent with whom we had a rather lively tilt was a Republican
Congressman from Ohio, Mr. Grosvenor, one of the floor leaders. Mr.
Grosvenor made his attack in the House, and enumerated our sins in
picturesque rather than accurate fashion. There was a Congressional
committee investigating us at the time, and on my next appearance
before them I asked that Mr. Grosvenor be requested to meet me before
the committee. Mr. Grosvenor did not take up the challenge for several
weeks, until it was announced that I was leaving for my ranch in
Dakota; whereupon, deeming it safe, he wrote me a letter expressing
his ardent wish that I should appear before the committee to meet him.
I promptly canceled my ticket, waited, and met him. He proved to be a
person of happily treacherous memory, so that the simple expedient of
arranging his statements in pairs was sufficient to reduce him to
confusion. For instance, he had been trapped into making the unwary
remark, "I do not want to repeal the Civil Service Law, and I never
said so." I produced the following extract from one of his speeches:
"I will vote not only to strike out this provision, but I will vote to
repeal the whole law." To this he merely replied that there was "no
inconsistency between those two statements." He asserted that "Rufus
P. Putnam, fraudulently credited to Washington County, Ohio, never
lived in Washington County, Ohio, or in my Congressional district, or
in Ohio as far as I know." We produced a letter which, thanks to a
beneficent Providence, he had himself written about Mr. Rufus P.
Putnam, in which he said: "Mr. Rufus P. Putnam is a legal resident of
my district and has relatives living there now." He explained, first,
that he had not written the letter; second, that he had forgotten he
had written the letter; and, third, that he was grossly deceived when
he wrote it. He said: "I have not been informed of one applicant who
has found a place in the classified service from my district." We
confronted him with the names of eight. He looked them over and said,
"Yes, the eight men are living in my district as now constituted," but
added that his district had been gerrymandered so that he could no
longer tell who did and who didn't live in it. When I started further
to question him, he accused me of a lack of humor in not appreciating
that his statements were made "in a jesting way," and then announced
that "a Congressman making a speech on the floor of the House of
Representatives was perhaps in a little different position from a
witness on the witness stand"--a frank admission that he did not
consider exactitude of statement necessary when he was speaking as a
Congressman. Finally he rose with great dignity and said that it was
his "constitutional right" not to be questioned elsewhere as to what
he said on the floor of the House of Representatives; and accordingly
he left the delighted committee to pursue its investigations without
further aid from him.

A more important opponent was the then Democratic leader of the
Senate, Mr. Gorman. In a speech attacking the Commission Mr. Gorman
described with moving pathos how a friend of his, "a bright young man
from Baltimore," a Sunday-school scholar, well recommended by his
pastor, wished to be a letter-carrier; and how he went before us to be
examined. The first question we asked him, said Mr. Gorman, was the
shortest route from Baltimore to China, to which the "bright young
man" responded that he didn't want to go to China, and had never
studied up that route. Thereupon, said Mr. Gorman, we asked him all
about the steamship lines from the United States to Europe, then
branched him off into geology, tried him in chemistry, and finally
turned him down.

Apparently Mr. Gorman did not know that we kept full records of our
examinations. I at once wrote to him stating that I had carefully
looked through all our examination papers and had not been able to
find one question even remotely resembling any of these questions
which he alleged had been asked, and that I would be greatly obliged
if he would give me the name of the "bright young man" who had
deceived him.

However, that "bright young man" remained permanently without a name.
I also asked Mr. Gorman, if he did not wish to give us the name of his
informant, to give us the date of the examination in which he was
supposed to have taken part; and I offered, if he would send down a
representative to look through our files, to give him all the aid we
could in his effort to discover any such questions. But Mr. Gorman,
not hitherto known as a sensitive soul, expressed himself as so
shocked at the thought that the veracity of the "bright young man"
should be doubted that he could not bring himself to answer my letter.
So I made a public statement to the effect that no such questions had
ever been asked. Mr. Gorman brooded over this; and during the next
session of Congress he rose and complained that he had received a very
"impudent" letter from me (my letter was a respectful note calling
attention to the fact that, if he wished, he could by personal
examination satisfy himself that his statements had no foundation in
fact). He further stated that he had been "cruelly" called to account
by me because he had been endeavoring to right a "great wrong" that
the Civil Service Commission had committed; but he never, then or
afterwards, furnished any clue to the identity of that child of his
fondest fancy, the bright young man without a name.[*]

[*] This is a condensation of a speech I at the time made to the St.
Louis Civil Service Reform Association. Senator Gorman was then
the Senate leader of the party that had just been victorious in
the Congressional elections.

The incident is of note chiefly as shedding light on the mental make-
up of the man who at the time was one of the two or three most
influential leaders of the Democratic party. Mr. Gorman had been Mr.
Cleveland's party manager in the Presidential campaign, and was the
Democratic leader in Congress. It seemed extraordinary that he should
be so reckless as to make statements with no foundation in fact, which
he might have known that I would not permit to pass unchallenged.
Then, as now, the ordinary newspaper, in New York and elsewhere, was
quite as reckless in its misstatements of fact about public men and
measures; but for a man in Mr. Gorman's position of responsible
leadership such action seemed hardly worth while. However, it is at
least to be said for Mr. Gorman that he was not trying by falsehood to
take away any man's character. It would be well for writers and
speakers to bear in mind the remark of Pudd'nhead Wilson to the effect
that while there are nine hundred and ninety-nine kinds of falsehood,
the only kind specifically condemned in Scripture, just as murder,
theft, and adultery are condemned, is bearing false witness against
one's neighbor.

One of the worst features of the old spoils system was the ruthless
cruelty and brutality it so often bred in the treatment of faithful
public servants without political influence. Life is hard enough and
cruel enough at best, and this is as true of public service as of
private service. Under no system will it be possible to do away with
all favoritism and brutality and meanness and malice. But at least we
can try to minimize the exhibition of these qualities. I once came
across a case in Washington which very keenly excited my sympathy.
Under an Administration prior to the one with which I was connected a
lady had been ousted from a Government position. She came to me to see
if she could be reinstated. (This was not possible, but by active work
I did get her put back in a somewhat lower position, and this only by
an appeal to the sympathy of a certain official.) She was so pallid
and so careworn that she excited my sympathy and I made inquiries
about her. She was a poor woman with two children, a widow. She and
her two children were in actual want. She could barely keep the two
children decently clad, and she could not give them the food growing
children need. Three years before she had been employed in a bureau in
a department of Washington, doing her work faithfully, at a salary of
about $800. It was enough to keep her and her two children in
clothing, food, and shelter. One day the chief of the bureau called
her up and told her he was very sorry that he had to dismiss her. In
great distress she asked him why; she thought that she had been doing
her work satisfactorily. He answered her that she had been doing well,
and that he wished very much that he could keep her, that he would do
so if he possibly could, but that he could not; for a certain Senator,
giving his name, a very influential member of the Senate, had demanded
her place for a friend of his who had influence. The woman told the
bureau chief that it meant turning her out to starve. She had been
thirteen or fourteen years in the public service; she had lost all
touch with her friends in her native State; dismissal meant absolute
want for her and her children. On this the chief, who was a kind man,
said he would not have her turned out, and sent her back to her work.

But three weeks afterwards he called her up again and told her he
could not say how sorry he was, but the thing had to be done. The
Senator had been around in person to know why the change had not been
made, and had told the chief that he would be himself removed if the
place were not given him. The Senator was an extremely influential
man. His wants had to be attended to, and the woman had to go. And go
she did, and turned out she was, to suffer with her children and to
starve outright, or to live in semi-starvation, just as might befall.
I do not blame the bureau chief, who hated to do what he did, although
he lacked the courage to refuse; I do not even very much blame the
Senator, who did not know the hardship that he was causing, and who
had been calloused by long training in the spoils system; but this
system, a system which permits and encourages such deeds, is a system
of brutal iniquity.

Any man accustomed to dealing with practical politics can with
difficulty keep a straight face when he reads or listens to some of
the arguments advanced against Civil Service Reform. One of these
arguments, a favorite with machine politicians, takes the form of an
appeal to "party loyalty" in filling minor offices. Why, again and
again these very same machine politicians take just as good care of
henchmen of the opposite party as of those of their own party. In the
underworld of politics the closest ties are sometimes those which knit
together the active professional workers of opposite political
parties. A friend of mine in the New York Legislature--the hero of the
alpha and omega incident--once remarked to me: "When you have been in
public life a little longer, Mr. Roosevelt, you will understand that
there are no politics in politics." In the politics to which he was
referring this remark could be taken literally.

Another illustration of this truth was incidentally given me, at about
the same time, by an acquaintance, a Tammany man named Costigan, a
good fellow according to his lights. I had been speaking to him of a
fight in one of the New York downtown districts, a Democratic district
in which the Republican party was in a hopeless minority, and,
moreover, was split into the Half-Breed and Stalwart factions. It had
been an interesting fight in more than one way. For instance, the
Republican party, at the general election, polled something like five
hundred and fifty votes, and yet at the primary the two factions
polled seven hundred and twenty-five all told. The sum of the parts
was thus considerably greater than the whole. There had been other
little details that made the contest worthy of note. The hall in which
the primary was held had been hired by the Stalwarts from a
conscientious gentleman. To him the Half-Breeds applied to know
whether they could not hire the hall away from their opponents, and
offered him a substantial money advance. The conscientious gentleman
replied that his word was as good as his bond, that he had hired the
hall to the Stalwarts, and that it must be theirs. But he added that
he was willing to hire the doorway to the Half-Breeds if they paid him
the additional sum of money they had mentioned. The bargain was
struck, and the meeting of the hostile hosts was spirited, when the
men who had rented the doorway sought to bar the path of the men who
had rented the hall. I was asking my friend Costigan about the details
of the struggle, as he seemed thoroughly acquainted with them, and he
smiled good-naturedly over my surprise at there having been more votes
cast than there were members of the party in the whole district. Said
I, "Mr. Costigan, you seem to have a great deal of knowledge about
this; how did it happen?" To which he replied, "Come now, Mr.
Roosevelt, you know it's the same gang that votes in all the

So much for most of the opposition to the reform. There was, however,
some honest and at least partially justifiable opposition both to
certain of the methods advocated by Civil Service Reformers and to
certain of the Civil Service Reformers themselves. The pet shibboleths
of the opponents of the reform were that the system we proposed to
introduce would give rise to mere red-tape bureaucracy, and that the
reformers were pharisees. Neither statement was true. Each statement
contained some truth.

If men are not to be appointed by favoritism, wise or unwise, honest
or dishonest, they must be appointed in some automatic way, which
generally means by competitive examination. The easiest kind of
competitive examination is an examination in writing. This is entirely
appropriate for certain classes of work, for lawyers, stenographers,
typewriters, clerks, mathematicians, and assistants in an astronomical
observatory, for instance. It is utterly inappropriate for carpenters,
detectives, and mounted cattle inspectors along the Rio Grande--to
instance three types of employment as to which I had to do battle to
prevent well-meaning bureaucrats from insisting on written competitive
entrance examinations. It would be quite possible to hold a very good
competitive examination for mounted cattle inspectors by means of
practical tests in brand reading and shooting with rifle and revolver,
in riding "mean" horses and in roping and throwing steers. I did my
best to have examinations of this kind instituted, but my proposal was
of precisely the type which most shocks the routine official mind, and
I was never able to get it put into practical effect.

The important point, and the point most often forgotten by zealous
Civil Service Reformers, was to remember that the routine competitive
examination was merely a means to an end. It did not always produce
ideal results. But it was normally better than a system of
appointments for spoils purposes; it sometimes worked out very well
indeed; and in most big governmental offices it not only gave
satisfactory results, but was the only system under which good results
could be obtained. For instance, when I was Police Commissioner we
appointed some two thousand policemen at one time. It was utterly
impossible for the Commissioners each to examine personally the six or
eight thousand applicants. Therefore they had to be appointed either
on the recommendation of outsiders or else by written competitive
examination. The latter method--the one we adopted--was infinitely
preferable. We held a rigid physical and moral pass examination, and
then, among those who passed, we held a written competitive
examination, requiring only the knowledge that any good primary common
school education would meet--that is, a test of ordinary intelligence
and simple mental training. Occasionally a man who would have been a
good officer failed, and occasionally a man who turned out to be a bad
officer passed; but, as a rule, the men with intelligence sufficient
to enable them to answer the questions were of a type very distinctly
above that of those who failed.

The answers returned to some of the questions gave an illuminating
idea of the intelligence of those answering them. For instance, one of
our questions in a given examination was a request to name five of the
New England States. One competitor, obviously of foreign birth,
answered: "England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and Cork." His neighbor,
who had probably looked over his shoulder but who had North of Ireland
prejudices, made the same answer except that he substituted Belfast
for Cork. A request for a statement as to the life of Abraham Lincoln
elicited, among other less startling pieces of information, the fact
that many of the applicants thought that he was a general in the Civil
War; several thought that he was President of the Confederate States;
three thought he had been assassinated by Jefferson Davis, one by
Thomas Jefferson, one by Garfield, several by Guiteau, and one by
Ballington Booth--the last representing a memory of the fact that he
had been shot by a man named Booth, to whose surname the writer added
the name with which he was most familiar in connection therewith. A
request to name five of the States that seceded in 1861 received
answers that included almost every State in the Union. It happened to
be at the time of the silver agitation in the West, and the Rocky
Mountain States accordingly figured in a large percentage of the
answers. Some of the men thought that Chicago was on the Pacific
Ocean. Others, in answer to a query as to who was the head of the
United States Government, wavered between myself and Recorder Goff;
one brilliant genius, for inscrutable reasons, placed the leadership
in the New York Fire Department. Now of course some of the men who
answered these questions wrong were nevertheless quite capable of
making good policemen; but it is fair to assume that on the average
the candidate who has a rudimentary knowledge of the government,
geography, and history of his country is a little better fitted, in
point of intelligence, to be a policeman than the one who has not.

Therefore I felt convinced, after full experience, that as regards
very large classes of public servants by far the best way to choose
the men for appointment was by means of written competitive
examination. But I absolutely split off from the bulk of my
professional Civil Service Reform friends when they advocated written
competitive examinations for promotion. In the Police Department I
found these examinations a serious handicap in the way of getting the
best men promoted, and never in any office did I find that the written
competitive promotion examination did any good. The reason for a
written competitive entrance examination is that it is impossible for
the head of the office, or the candidate's prospective immediate
superior, himself to know the average candidate or to test his
ability. But when once in office the best way to test any man's
ability is by long experience in seeing him actually at work. His
promotion should depend upon the judgment formed of him by his

So much for the objections to the examinations. Now for the objections
to the men who advocated the reform. As a rule these men were high-
minded and disinterested. Certain of them, men like the leaders in the
Maryland and Indiana Reform Associations, for instances, Messrs.
Bonaparte and Rose, Foulke and Swift, added common sense, broad
sympathy, and practical efficiency to their high-mindedness. But in
New York, Philadelphia, and Boston there really was a certain mental
and moral thinness among very many of the leaders in the Civil Service
Reform movement. It was this quality which made them so profoundly
antipathetic to vigorous and intensely human people of the stamp of my
friend Joe Murray--who, as I have said, always felt that my Civil
Service Reform affiliations formed the one blot on an otherwise
excellent public record. The Civil Service Reform movement was one
from above downwards, and the men who took the lead in it were not men
who as a rule possessed a very profound sympathy with or understanding
of the ways of thought and life of their average fellow-citizen. They
were not men who themselves desired to be letter-carriers or clerks or
policemen, or to have their friends appointed to these positions.
Having no temptation themselves in this direction, they were eagerly
anxious to prevent other people getting such appointments as a reward
for political services. In this they were quite right. It would be
impossible to run any big public office to advantage save along the
lines of the strictest application of Civil Service Reform principles;
and the system should be extended throughout our governmental service
far more widely than is now the case.

But there are other and more vital reforms than this. Too many Civil
Service Reformers, when the trial came, proved tepidly indifferent or
actively hostile to reforms that were of profound and far-reaching
social and industrial consequence. Many of them were at best lukewarm
about movements for the improvement of the conditions of toil and life
among men and women who labor under hard surroundings, and were
positively hostile to movements which curbed the power of the great
corporation magnates and directed into useful instead of pernicious
channels the activities of the great corporation lawyers who advised

Most of the newspapers which regarded themselves as the especial
champions of Civil Service Reform and as the highest exponents of
civic virtue, and which distrusted the average citizen and shuddered
over the "coarseness" of the professional politicians, were,
nevertheless, given to vices even more contemptible than, although not
so gross as, those they denounced and derided. Their editors were
refined men of cultivated tastes, whose pet temptations were
backbiting, mean slander, and the snobbish worship of anything clothed
in wealth and the outward appearances of conventional respectability.
They were not robust or powerful men; they felt ill at ease in the
company of rough, strong men; often they had in them a vein of
physical timidity. They avenged themselves to themselves for an uneasy
subconsciousness of their own shortcomings by sitting in cloistered--
or, rather, pleasantly upholstered--seclusion, and sneering at and
lying about men who made them feel uncomfortable. Sometimes these were
bad men, who made them feel uncomfortable by the exhibition of coarse
and repellent vice; and sometimes they were men of high character, who
held ideals of courage and of service to others, and who looked down
and warred against the shortcomings of swollen wealth, and the
effortless, easy lives of those whose horizon is bounded by a
sheltered and timid respectability. These newspapers, owned and edited
by these men, although free from the repulsive vulgarity of the yellow
press, were susceptible to influence by the privileged interests, and
were almost or quite as hostile to manliness as they were to unrefined
vice--and were much more hostile to it than to the typical
shortcomings of wealth and refinement. They favored Civil Service
Reform; they favored copyright laws, and the removal of the tariff on
works of art; they favored all the proper (and even more strongly all
the improper) movements for international peace and arbitration; in
short, they favored all good, and many goody-goody, measures so long
as they did not cut deep into social wrong or make demands on National
and individual virility. They opposed, or were lukewarm about, efforts
to build up the army and the navy, for they were not sensitive
concerning National honor; and, above all, they opposed every non-
milk-and-water effort, however sane, to change our social and economic
system in such a fashion as to substitute the ideal of justice towards
all for the ideal of kindly charity from the favored few to the
possibly grateful many.

Some of the men foremost in the struggle for Civil Service Reform have
taken a position of honorable leadership in the battle for those other
and more vital reforms. But many of them promptly abandoned the field
of effort for decency when the battle took the form, not of a fight
against the petty grafting of small bosses and small politicians--a
vitally necessary battle, be it remembered--but of a fight against the
great intrenched powers of privilege, a fight to secure justice
through the law for ordinary men and women, instead of leaving them to
suffer cruel injustice either because the law failed to protect them
or because it was twisted from its legitimate purposes into a means
for oppressing them.

One of the reasons why the boss so often keeps his hold, especially in
municipal matters, is, or at least has been in the past, because so
many of the men who claim to be reformers have been blind to the need
of working in human fashion for social and industrial betterment. Such
words as "boss" and "machine" now imply evil, but both the implication
the words carry and the definition of the words themselves are
somewhat vague. A leader is necessary; but his opponents always call
him a boss. An organization is necessary; but the men in opposition
always call it a machine. Nevertheless, there is a real and deep
distinction between the leader and the boss, between organizations and
machines. A political leader who fights openly for principles, and who
keeps his position of leadership by stirring the consciences and
convincing the intellects of his followers, so that they have
confidence in him and will follow him because they can achieve greater
results under him than under any one else, is doing work which is
indispensable in a democracy. The boss, on the other hand, is a man
who does not gain his power by open means, but by secret means, and
usually by corrupt means. Some of the worst and most powerful bosses
in our political history either held no public office or else some
unimportant public office. They made no appeal either to intellect or
conscience. Their work was done behind closed doors, and consisted
chiefly in the use of that greed which gives in order that in return
it may get. A boss of this kind can pull wires in conventions, can
manipulate members of the Legislature, can control the giving or
withholding of office, and serves as the intermediary for bringing
together the powers of corrupt politics and corrupt business. If he is
at one end of the social scale, he may through his agents traffic in
the most brutal forms of vice and give protection to the purveyors of
shame and sin in return for money bribes. If at the other end of the
scale, he may be the means of securing favors from high public
officials, legislative or executive, to great industrial interests;
the transaction being sometimes a naked matter of bargain and sale,
and sometimes being carried on in such manner that both parties
thereto can more or less successfully disguise it to their consciences
as in the public interest. The machine is simply another name for the
kind of organization which is certain to grow up in a party or section
of a party controlled by such bosses as these and by their henchmen,
whereas, of course, an effective organization of decent men is
essential in order to secure decent politics.

If these bosses were responsible for nothing but pure wickedness, they
would probably last but a short time in any community. And, in any
event, if the men who are horrified by their wickedness were
themselves as practical and as thoroughly in touch with human nature,
the bosses would have a short shrift. The trouble is that the boss
does understand human nature, and that he fills a place which the
reformer cannot fill unless he likewise understands human nature.
Sometimes the boss is a man who cares for political power purely for
its own sake, as he might care for any other hobby; more often he has
in view some definitely selfish object such as political or financial
advancement. He can rarely accomplish much unless he has another side
to him. A successful boss is very apt to be a man who, in addition to
committing wickedness in his own interest, also does look after the
interests of others, even if not from good motives. There are some
communities so fortunate that there are very few men who have private
interests to be served, and in these the power of the boss is at a
minimum. There are many country communities of this type. But in
communities where there is poverty and ignorance, the conditions are
ripe for the growth of a boss. Moreover, wherever big business
interests are liable either to be improperly favored or improperly
discriminated against and blackmailed by public officials--and the
result is just as vicious in one case as in the other--the boss is
almost certain to develop. The best way of getting at this type of
boss is by keeping the public conscience aroused and alert, so that it
will tolerate neither improper attack upon, nor improper favoritism
towards, these corporations, and will quickly punish any public
servant guilty of either.

There is often much good in the type of boss, especially common in big
cities, who fulfills towards the people of his district in rough and
ready fashion the position of friend and protector. He uses his
influence to get jobs for young men who need them. He goes into court
for a wild young fellow who has gotten into trouble. He helps out with
cash or credit the widow who is in straits, or the breadwinner who is
crippled or for some other cause temporarily out of work. He organizes
clambakes and chowder parties and picnics, and is consulted by the
local labor leaders when a cut in wages is threatened. For some of his
constituents he does proper favors, and for others wholly improper
favors; but he preserves human relations with all. He may be a very
bad and very corrupt man, a man whose action in blackmailing and
protecting vice is of far-reaching damage to his constituents. But
these constituents are for the most part men and women who struggle
hard against poverty and with whom the problem of living is very real
and very close. They would prefer clean and honest government, if this
clean and honest government is accompanied by human sympathy, human
understanding. But an appeal made to them for virtue in the abstract,
an appeal made by good men who do not really understand their needs,
will often pass quite unheeded, if on the other side stands the boss,
the friend and benefactor, who may have been guilty of much wrong-
doing in things that they are hardly aware concern them, but who
appeals to them, not only for the sake of favors to come, but in the
name of gratitude and loyalty, and above all of understanding and
fellow-feeling. They have a feeling of clan-loyalty to him; his and
their relations may be substantially those which are right and proper
among primitive people still in the clan stage of moral development.
The successful fight against this type of vicious boss, and the type
of vicious politics which produces it, can be made only by men who
have a genuine fellow-feeling for and understanding of the people for
and with whom they are to work, and who in practical fashion seek
their social and industrial benefit.

There are communities of poor men, whose lives are hard, in which the
boss, though he would be out of place in a more advanced community, if
fundamentally an honest man, meets a real need which would otherwise
not be met. Because of his limitations in other than purely local
matters it may be our duty to fight such a boss; but it may also be
our duty to recognize, within his limitations, both his sincerity and
his usefulness.

Yet again even the boss who really is evil, like the business man who
really is evil, may on certain points be sound, and be doing good
work. It may be the highest duty of the patriotic public servant to
work with the big boss or the big business man on these points, while
refusing to work with him on others. In the same way there are many
self-styled reformers whose conduct is such as to warrant Tom Reed's
bitter remark, that when Dr. Johnson defined patriotism as the last
refuge of a scoundrel he was ignorant of the infinite possibilities
contained in the word reform. Yet, none the less, it is our duty to
work for the reforms these men champion, without regard to the
misconduct of the men themselves on other points. I have known in my
life many big business men and many big political bosses who often or
even generally did evil, but who on some occasions and on certain
issues were right. I never hesitated to do battle against these men
when they were wrong; and, on the other hand, as long as they were
going my way I was glad to have them do so. To have repudiated their
aid when they were right and were striving for a right end, and for
what was of benefit to the people--no matter what their motives may
have been--would have been childish, and moreover would have itself
been misconduct against the people.

My duty was to stand with every one while he was right, and to stand
against him when he went wrong; and this I have tried to do as regards
individuals and as regards groups of individuals. When a business man
or labor leader, politician or reformer, is right, I support him; when
he goes wrong, I leave him. When Mr. Lorimer upheld the war for the
liberation of Cuba, I supported him; when he became United States
Senator by improper methods, I opposed him. The principles or methods
which the Socialists advocate and which I believe to be in the
interest of the people I support, and those which I believe to be
against the interest of the people I oppose. Moreover, when a man has
done evil, but changes, and works for decency and righteousness, and
when, as far as I can see, the change is real and the man's conduct
sincere, then I welcome him and work heartily with him, as an equal
with an equal. For thirty years after the Civil War the creed of mere
materialism was rampant in both American politics and American
business, and many, many strong men, in accordance with the prevailing
commercial and political morality, did things for which they deserve
blame and condemnation; but if they now sincerely change, and strive
for better things, it is unwise and unjust to bar them from
fellowship. So long as they work for evil, smite them with the sword
of the Lord and of Gideon! When they change and show their faith by
their works, remember the words of Ezekiel: "If the wicked will turn
from all the sins he has committed, and keep all my statutes, and do
that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not
die. All his transgressions that he hath committed, they shall not be
mentioned unto him: in his righteousness that he hath done he shall
live. Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the
Lord God; and not that he should return from his ways and live?"

Every man who has been in practical politics grows to realize that
politicians, big and little, are no more all of them bad than they are
all of them good. Many of these men are very bad men indeed, but there
are others among them--and some among those held up to special
obloquy, too--who, even although they may have done much that is evil,
also show traits of sterling worth which many of their critics wholly
lack. There are few men for whom I have ever felt a more cordial and
contemptuous dislike than for some of the bosses and big professional
politicians with whom I have been brought into contact. On the other
hand, in the case of some political leaders who were most bitterly
attacked as bosses, I grew to know certain sides of their characters
which inspired in me a very genuine regard and respect.

To read much of the assault on Senator Hanna, one would have thought
that he was a man incapable of patriotism or of far-sighted devotion
to the country's good. I was brought into intimate contact with him
only during the two and a half years immediately preceding his death.
I was then President, and perforce watched all his actions at close
range. During that time he showed himself to be a man of rugged
sincerity of purpose, of great courage and loyalty, and of unswerving
devotion to the interests of the Nation and the people as he saw those
interests. He was as sincerely desirous of helping laboring men as of
helping capitalists. His ideals were in many ways not my ideals, and
there were points where both by temperament and by conviction we were
far apart. Before this time he had always been unfriendly to me; and I
do not think he ever grew to like me, at any rate not until the very
end of his life. Moreover, I came to the Presidency under
circumstances which, if he had been a smaller man, would inevitably
have thrown him into violent antagonism to me. He was the close and
intimate friend of President McKinley. He was McKinley's devoted ally
and follower, and his trusted adviser, who was in complete sympathy
with him. Partly because of this friendship, his position in the
Senate and in the country was unique.

With McKinley's sudden death Senator Hanna found himself bereft of his
dearest friend, while I, who had just come to the Presidency, was in
his view an untried man, whose trustworthiness on many public
questions was at least doubtful. Ordinarily, as has been shown, not
only in our history, but in the history of all other countries, in
countless instances, over and over again, this situation would have
meant suspicion, ill will, and, at the last, open and violent
antagonism. Such was not the result, in this case, primarily because
Senator Hanna had in him the quality that enabled him to meet a
serious crisis with dignity, with power, and with disinterested desire
to work for the common good. Within a few days of my accession he
called on me, and with entire friendliness and obvious sincerity, but
also with entire self-respect, explained that he mourned McKinley as
probably no other man did; that he had not been especially my friend,
but that he wished me to understand that thenceforward, on every
question where he could conscientiously support me, I could count upon
his giving me as loyal aid as it was in his power to render. He added
that this must not be understood as committing him to favor me for
nomination and election, because that matter must be left to take care
of itself as events should decide; but that, aside from this, what he
said was to be taken literally; in other words, he would do his best
to make my Administration a success by supporting me heartily on every
point on which he conscientiously could, and that this I could count
upon. He kept his word absolutely. He never became especially
favorable to my nomination; and most of his close friends became
bitterly opposed to me and used every effort to persuade him to try to
bring about my downfall. Most men in his position would have been
tempted to try to make capital at my expense by antagonizing me and
discrediting me so as to make my policies fail, just for the sake of
making them fail. Senator Hanna, on the contrary, did everything
possible to make them succeed. He kept his word in the letter and the
spirit, and on every point on which he felt conscientiously able to
support me he gave me the heartiest and most effective support, and
did all in his power to make my Administration a success; and this
with no hope of any reward for himself, of any gratitude from me, or
of any appreciation by the public at large, but solely because he
deemed such action necessary for the well-being of the country as a

My experience with Senator Quay was similar. I had no personal
relations with him before I was President, and knew nothing of him
save by hearsay. Soon after I became President, Senator Quay called
upon me, told me he had known me very slightly, that he thought most
men who claimed to be reformers were hypocrites, but that he deemed me
sincere, that he thought conditions had become such that aggressive
courage and honesty were necessary in order to remedy them, that he
believed I intended to be a good and efficient President, and that to
the best of his ability he would support me in it making my
Administration a success. He kept his word with absolute good faith.
He had been in the Civil War, and was a medal of honor man; and I
think my having been in the Spanish War gave him at the outset a
kindly feeling toward me. He was also a very well-read man--I owe to
him, for instance, my acquaintance with the writings of the Finnish
novelist Topelius. Not only did he support me on almost every public
question in which I was most interested--including, I am convinced,
every one on which he felt he conscientiously could do so--but he also
at the time of his death gave a striking proof of his disinterested
desire to render a service to certain poor people, and this under
conditions in which not only would he never know if the service were
rendered but in which he had no reason to expect that his part in it
would ever be made known to any other man.

Quay was descended from a French voyageur who had some Indian blood in
him. He was proud of this Indian blood, took an especial interest in
Indians, and whenever Indians came to Washington they always called on
him. Once during my Administration a delegation of Iroquois came over
from Canada to call on me at the White House. Their visit had in it
something that was pathetic as well as amusing. They represented the
descendants of the Six Nations, who fled to Canada after Sullivan
harried their towns in the Revolutionary War. Now, a century and a
quarter later, their people thought that they would like to come back
into the United States; and these representatives had called upon me
with the dim hope that perhaps I could give their tribes land on which
they could settle. As soon as they reached Washington they asked Quay
to bring them to call on me, which he did, telling me that of course
their errand was hopeless and that he had explained as much to them,
but that they would like me to extend the courtesy of an interview. At
the close of the interview, which had been conducted with all the
solemnities of calumet and wampum, the Indians filed out. Quay, before
following them, turned to me with his usual emotionless face and said,
"Good-by, Mr. President; this reminds one of the Flight of a Tartar
Tribe, doesn't it?" I answered, "So you're fond of De Quincey,
Senator?" to which Quay responded, "Yes; always liked De Quincey;
good-by." And away he went with the tribesmen, who seemed to have
walked out of a remote past.

Quay had become particularly concerned about the Delawares in the
Indian Territory. He felt that the Interior Department did not do them
justice. He also felt that his colleagues of the Senate took no
interest in them. When in the spring of 1904 he lay in his house
mortally sick, he sent me word that he had something important to say
to me, and would have himself carried round to see me. I sent back
word not to think of doing so, and that on my way back from church
next Sunday I would stop in and call on him. This I accordingly did.
He was lying in his bed, death written on his face. He thanked me for
coming, and then explained that, as he was on the point of death and
knew he would never return to Washington--it was late spring and he
was about to leave--he wished to see me to get my personal promise
that, after he died, I would myself look after the interests of the
Delaware Indians. He added that he did not trust the Interior
Department--although he knew that I did not share his views on this
point--and that still less did he believe that any of his colleagues
in the Senate would exert themselves in the interests of the
Delawares, and that therefore he wished my personal assurance that I
would personally see that no injustice was done them. I told him I
would do so, and then added, in rather perfunctory fashion, that he
must not take such a gloomy view of himself, that when he got away for
the summer I hoped he would recover and be back all right when
Congress opened. A gleam came into the old fighter's eyes and he
answered: "No, I am dying, and you know it. I don't mind dying; but I
do wish it were possible for me to get off into the great north woods
and crawl out on a rock in the sun and die like a wolf!"

I never saw him again. When he died I sent a telegram of sympathy to
his wife. A paper which constantly preached reform, and which kept up
its circulation by the no less constant practice of slander, a paper
which in theory condemned all public men who violated the eighth
commandment, and in practice subsisted by incessant violation of the
ninth, assailed me for sending my message to the dead man's wife. I
knew the editors of this paper, and the editor who was their
predecessor. They had led lives of bodily ease and the avoidance of
bodily risk; they earned their livelihood by the practice of mendacity
for profit; and they delivered malignant judgment on a dead man who,
whatever his faults, had in his youth freely risked his life for a
great ideal, and who when death was already clutching his breast had
spent almost his last breath on behalf of humble and friendless people
whom he had served with disinterested loyalty.

There is no greater duty than to war on the corrupt and unprincipled
boss, and on the corrupt and unprincipled business man; and for the
matter of that, on the corrupt and unprincipled labor leader also, and
on the corrupt and unprincipled editor, and on any one else who is
corrupt and unprincipled. But where the conditions are such, whether
in politics or in business, that the great majority of men have
behaved in a way which is gradually seen to be improper, but which at
one time did not conflict with the generally accepted morality, then
the warfare on the system should not include warfare on the men
themselves, unless they decline to amend their ways and to dissociate
themselves from the system. There are many good, unimaginative
citizens who in politics or in business act in accordance with
accepted standards, in a matter-of-course way, without questioning
these standards; until something happens which sharply arouses them to
the situation, whereupon they try to work for better things. The
proper course in such event is to let bygones be bygones, and if the
men prove by their actions the sincerity of their conversion, heartily
to work with them for the betterment of business and political

By the time that I was ending my career as Civil Service Commissioner
I was already growing to understand that mere improvement in political
conditions by itself was not enough. I dimly realized that an even
greater fight must be waged to improve economic conditions, and to
secure social and industrial justice, justice as between individuals
and justice as between classes. I began to see that political effort
was largely valuable as it found expression and resulted in such
social and industrial betterment. I was gradually puzzling out, or
trying to puzzle out, the answers to various questions--some as yet
unsolvable to any of us, but for the solution of which it is the
bounden duty of all of us to work. I had grown to realize very keenly
that the duty of the Government to protect women and children must be
extended to include the protection of all the crushable elements of
labor. I saw that it was the affair of all our people to see that
justice obtained between the big corporation and its employees, and
between the big corporation and its smaller rivals, as well as its
customers and the general public. I saw that it was the affair of all
of us, and not only of the employer, if dividends went up and wages
went down; that it was to the interest of all of us that a full share
of the benefit of improved machinery should go to the workman who used
the machinery; and also that it was to the interest of all of us that
each man, whether brain worker or hand worker, should do the best work
of which he was capable, and that there should be some correspondence
between the value of the work and the value of the reward. It is these
and many similar questions which in their sum make up the great social
and industrial problems of to-day, the most interesting and important
of the problems with which our public life must deal.

In handling these problems I believe that much can be done by the
Government. Furthermore, I believe that, after all that the Government
can do has been done, there will remain as the most vital of all
factors the individual character of the average man and the average
woman. No governmental action can do more than supplement individual
action. Moreover, there must be collective action of kinds distinct
from governmental action. A body of public opinion must be formed,
must make itself felt, and in the end transform, and be transformed
by, the gradual raising of individual standards of conduct.

It is curious to see how difficult it is to make some men understand
that insistence upon one factor does not and must not mean failure
fully to recognize other factors. The selfish individual needs to be
taught that we must now shackle cunning by law exactly as a few
centuries back we shackled force by law. Unrestricted individualism
spells ruin to the individual himself. But so does the elimination of
individualism, whether by law or custom. It is a capital error to fail
to recognize the vital need of good laws. It is also a capital error
to believe that good laws will accomplish anything unless the average
man has the right stuff in him. The toiler, the manual laborer, has
received less than justice, and he must be protected, both by law, by
custom, and by the exercise of his right to increase his wage; and yet
to decrease the quantity and quality of his work will work only evil.
There must be a far greater meed of respect and reward for the hand
worker than we now give him, if our society is to be put on a sound
basis; and this respect and reward cannot be given him unless he is as
ambitious to do the best possible work as is the highest type of brain
worker, whether doctor or writer or artist. There must be a raising of
standards, and not a leveling down to the standard of the poorest and
most inefficient. There is urgent need of intelligent governmental
action to assist in making the life of the man who tills the soil all
that it should be, and to see that the manual worker gets his full
share of the reward for what he helps produce; but if either farmer,
mechanic, or day laborer is shiftless or lazy, if he shirks downright
hard work, if he is stupid or self-indulgent, then no law can save
him, and he must give way to a better type.

I suppose that some good people will misunderstand what I say, and
will insist on taking only half of it as representing the whole. Let
me repeat. When I say, that, even after we have all the good laws
necessary, the chief factor in any given man's success or failure must
be that man's own character, it must not be inferred that I am in the
least minimizing the importance of these laws, the real and vital need
for them. The struggle for individual advancement and development can
be brought to naught, or indefinitely retarded, by the absence of law
or by bad law. It can be immeasurably aided by organized effort on the
part of the State. Collective action and individual action, public law
and private character, are both necessary. It is only by a slow and
patient inward transformation such as these laws aid in bringing about
that men are really helped upward in their struggle for a higher and a
fuller life. Recognition of individual character as the most important
of all factors does not mean failure fully to recognize that we must
have good laws, and that we must have our best men in office to
enforce these laws. The Nation collectively will in this way be able
to be of real and genuine service to each of us individually; and, on
the other hand, the wisdom of the collective action will mainly depend
on the high individual average of citizenship.

The relationship of man and woman is the fundamental relationship that
stands at the base of the whole social structure. Much can be done by
law towards putting women on a footing of complete and entire equal
rights with man--including the right to vote, the right to hold and
use property, and the right to enter any profession she desires on the
same terms as a man. Yet when this has been done it will amount to
little unless on the one hand the man himself realizes his duty to the
woman, and unless on the other hand the woman realizes that she has no
claim to rights unless she performs the duties that go with those
rights and that alone justify her in appealing to them. A cruel,
selfish, or licentious man is an abhorrent member of the community;
but, after all, his actions are no worse in the long run than those of
the woman who is content to be a parasite on others, who is cold,
selfish, caring for nothing but frivolous pleasure and ignoble ease.
The law of worthy effort, the law of service for a worthy end, without
regard to whether it brings pleasure or pain, is the only right law of
life, whether for man or for woman. The man must not be selfish; nor,
if the woman is wise, will she let the man grow selfish, and this not
only for her own sake but for his. One of the prime needs is to
remember that almost every duty is composed of two seemingly
conflicting elements, and that over-insistence on one, to the
exclusion of the other, may defeat its own end. Any man who studies
the statistics of the birth-rate among the native Americans of New
England, or among the native French of France, needs not to be told
that when prudence and forethought are carried to the point of cold
selfishness and self-indulgence, the race is bound to disappear.
Taking into account the women who for good reasons do not marry, or
who when married are childless or are able to have but one or two
children, it is evident that the married woman able to have children
must on an average have four or the race will not perpetuate itself.
This is the mere statement of a self-evident truth. Yet foolish and
self-indulgent people often resent this statement as if it were in
some way possible by denunciation to reverse the facts of nature; and,
on the other hand, improvident and shiftless people, inconsiderate and
brutal people, treat the statement as if it justified heads of
families in having enormous numbers of badly nourished, badly brought
up, and badly cared for children for whom they make no effort to
provide. A man must think well before he marries. He must be a tender
and considerate husband and realize that there is no other human being
to whom he owes so much of love and regard and consideration as he
does to the woman who with pain bears and with labor rears the
children that are his. No words can paint the scorn and contempt which
must be felt by all right-thinking men, not only for the brutal
husband, but for the husband who fails to show full loyalty and
consideration to his wife. Moreover, he must work, he must do his part
in the world. On the other hand, the woman must realize that she has
no more right to shirk the business of wifehood and motherhood than
the man has to shirk his business as breadwinner for the household.
Women should have free access to every field of labor which they care
to enter, and when their work is as valuable as that of a man it
should be paid as highly. Yet normally for the man and the woman whose
welfare is more important than the welfare of any other human beings,
the woman must remain the housemother, the homekeeper, and the man
must remain the breadwinner, the provider for the wife who bears his
children and for the children she brings into the world. No other work
is as valuable or as exacting for either man or woman; it must always,
in every healthy society, be for both man and woman the prime work,
the most important work; normally all other work is of secondary
importance, and must come as an addition to, not a substitute for,
this primary work. The partnership should be one of equal rights, one
of love, of self-respect, and unselfishness, above all a partnership
for the performance of the most vitally important of all duties. The
performance of duty, and not an indulgence in vapid ease and vapid
pleasure, is all that makes life worth while.

Suffrage for women should be looked on from this standpoint.
Personally I feel that it is exactly as much a "right" of women as of
men to vote. But the important point with both men and women is to
treat the exercise of the suffrage as a duty, which, in the long run,
must be well performed to be of the slightest value. I always favored
woman's suffrage, but only tepidly, until my association with women
like Jane Addams and Frances Kellor, who desired it as one means of
enabling them to render better and more efficient service, changed me
into a zealous instead of a lukewarm adherent of the cause--in spite
of the fact that a few of the best women of the same type, women like
Mary Antin, did not favor the movement. A vote is like a rifle: its
usefulness depends upon the character of the user. The mere possession
of the vote will no more benefit men and women not sufficiently
developed to use it than the possession of rifles will turn untrained
Egyptian fellaheen into soldiers. This is as true of woman as of man--
and no more true. Universal suffrage in Hayti has not made the
Haytians able to govern themselves in any true sense; and woman
suffrage in Utah in no shape or way affected the problem of polygamy.
I believe in suffrage for women in America, because I think they are
fit for it. I believe for women, as for men, more in the duty of
fitting one's self to do well and wisely with the ballot than in the
naked right to cast the ballot.

I wish that people would read books like the novels and stories, at
once strong and charming, of Henry Bordeaux, books like Kathleen
Norris's "Mother," and Cornelia Comer's "Preliminaries," and would use
these, and other such books, as tracts, now and then! Perhaps the
following correspondence will give a better idea than I can otherwise
give of the problems that in everyday life come before men and women,
and of the need that the man shall show himself unselfish and
considerate, and do his full share of the joint duty:

January 3, 1913.

/Colonel Theodore Roosevelt/:

Dear Sir--I suppose you are willing to stand sponsor for the
assertion that the women of the country are not doing their duty
unless they have large families. I wonder if you know the real
reason, after all. Society and clubs are held largely to blame,
but society really takes in so few people, after all. I thought,
when I got married at twenty, that it was the proper thing to have
a family, and, as we had very little of this world's goods, also
thought it the thing to do all the necessary work for them. I have
had nine children, did all my own work, including washing,
ironing, house-cleaning, and the care of the little ones as they
came along, which was about every two years; also sewed everything
they wore, including trousers for the boys and caps and jackets
for the girls while little. I also helped them all in their school
work, and started them in music, etc. But as they grew older I got
behind the times. I never belonged to a club or a society or
lodge, nor went to any one's house scarcely; there wasn't time. In
consequence, I knew nothing that was going on in the town, much
less the events of the country, and at the same time my husband
kept growing in wisdom and knowledge, from mixing with men and
hearing topics of the times discussed. At the beginning of our
married life I had just as quick a mind to grasp things as he did,
and had more school education, having graduated from a three
years' high school. My husband more and more declined to discuss
things with me; as he said, "I didn't know anything about it."
When I'd ask he'd say, "Oh, you wouldn't understand if I'd tell
you." So here I am, at forty-five years, hopelessly dull and
uninteresting, while he can mix with the brightest minds in the
country as an equal. He's a strong Progressive man, took very
active part in the late campaign, etc. I am also Progressive, and
tried my best, after so many years of shut-in life, to grasp the
ideas you stood for, and read everything I could find during the
summer and fall. But I've been out of touch with people too long
now, and my husband would much rather go and talk to some woman
who hasn't had any children, because she knows things (I am not
specifying any particular woman). I simply bore him to death
because I'm not interesting. Now, tell me, how was it my fault? I
was only doing what I thought was my duty. No woman can keep up
with things who never talks with any one but young children. As
soon as my children grew up they took the same attitude as their
father, and frequently say, "Oh, mother doesn't know." They look
up to and admire their father because he's a man of the world and
knows how to act when he goes out. How can I urge my daughters now
to go and raise large families? It means by the time you have lost
your figure and charm for them they are all ashamed of you. Now,
as a believer in woman's rights, do a little talking to the men as
to their duties to their wives, or else refrain from urging us
women to have children. I am only one of thousands of middle-class
respectable women who give their lives to raise a nice family, and
then who become bitter from the injustice done us. Don't let this
go into the waste-basket, but think it over. Yours respectfully,
---- ----.

New York, January 11, 1913.

/My Dear Mrs. ----/:

Most certainly your letter will not go into the waste-paper
basket. I shall think it over and show it to Mrs. Roosevelt. Will
you let me say, in the first place, that a woman who can write
such a letter is certainly not "hopelessly dull and
uninteresting"! If the facts are as you state, then I do not
wonder that you feel bitterly and that you feel that the gravest
kind of injustice has been done you. I have always tried to insist
to men that they should do their duty to the women even more than
the women to them. Now I hardly like to write specifically about
your husband, because you might not like it yourself. It seems to
me almost incredible that any man who is the husband of a woman
who has borne him nine children should not feel that they and he
are lastingly her debtors. You say that you have had nine
children, that you did all your own work, including washing,
ironing, house-cleaning, and the care of the little ones as they
came along; that you sewed everything they wore, including
trousers for the boys and caps and jackets for the girls while
little; that you helped them all in their school work and started
them in music; but that as they grew older you got behind the
times, that you never belonged to a club or society or lodge, nor
went to any one's house, as you hardly had time to do so; and that
in consequence your husband outgrew you, and that your children
look up to him and not to you and feel that they have outgrown
you. If these facts are so, you have done a great and wonderful
work, and the only explanation I can possibly give of the attitude
you describe on the part of your husband and children is that they
do not understand what it is that you have done. I emphatically
believe in unselfishness, but I also believe that it is a mistake
to let other people grow selfish, even when the other people are
husband and children.

Now, I suggest that you take your letter to me, of which I send
you back a copy, and this letter, and then select out of your
family the one with whom you feel most sympathy, whether it is
your husband or one of your children. Show the two letters to him
or her, and then have a frank talk about the matter. If any man,
as you say, becomes ashamed of his wife because she has lost her
figure in bearing his children, then that man is a hound and has
every cause to be ashamed of himself. I am sending you a little
book called "Mother," by Kathleen Norris, which will give you my
views on the matter. Of course there are base and selfish men,
just as there are, although I believe in smaller number, base and
selfish women. Man and woman alike should profit by the teachings
in such a story as this of "Mother."

Sincerely yours,


January 21, 1913.

/Colonel Theodore Roosevelt/:

My dear Sir--Your letter came as a surprise, for I wasn't
expecting an answer. The next day the book came, and I thank you
for your ready sympathy and understanding. I feel as though you
and Mrs. Roosevelt would think I was hardly loyal to my husband
and children; but knowing of no other way to bring the idea which
was so strong in my mind to your notice, I told my personal story.
If it will, in a small measure, be the means of helping some one
else by molding public opinion, through you, I shall be content.
You have helped me more than you know. Just having you interested
is as good as a tonic, and braces me up till I feel as though I
shall refuse to be "laid on the shelf." . . . To think that you'd
bother to send me a book. I shall always treasure it both for the
text of the book and the sender. I read it with absorbing
interest. The mother was so splendid. She was ideal. The
situations are so startlingly real, just like what happens here
every day with variations. ---- ----.

A narrative of facts is often more convincing than a homily; and these
two letters of my correspondent carry their own lesson.

Parenthetically, let me remark that whenever a man thinks that he has
outgrown the woman who is his mate, he will do well carefully to
consider whether his growth has not been downward instead of upward,
whether the facts are not merely that he has fallen away from his
wife's standard of refinement and of duty.



In the spring of 1895 I was appointed by Mayor Strong Police
Commissioner, and I served as President of the Police Commission of
New York for the two following years. Mayor Strong had been elected
Mayor the preceding fall, when the general anti-Democratic wave of
that year coincided with one of the city's occasional insurrections of
virtue and consequent turning out of Tammany from municipal control.
He had been elected on a non-partisan ticket--usually (although not
always) the right kind of ticket in municipal affairs, provided it
represents not a bargain among factions but genuine non-partisanship
with the genuine purpose to get the right men in control of the city
government on a platform which deals with the needs of the average men
and women, the men and women who work hard and who too often live
hard. I was appointed with the distinct understanding that I was to
administer the Police Department with entire disregard of partisan
politics, and only from the standpoint of a good citizen interested in
promoting the welfare of all good citizens. My task, therefore, was
really simple. Mayor Strong had already offered me the Street-Cleaning
Department. For this work I did not feel that I had any especial
fitness. I resolutely refused to accept the position, and the Mayor
ultimately got a far better man for his purpose in Colonel George F.
Waring. The work of the Police Department, however, was in my line,
and I was glad to undertake it.

The man who was closest to me throughout my two years in the Police
Department was Jacob Riis. By this time, as I have said, I was getting
our social, industrial, and political needs into pretty fair
perspective. I was still ignorant of the extent to which big men of
great wealth played a mischievous part in our industrial and social
life, but I was well awake to the need of making ours in good faith
both an economic and an industrial as well as a political democracy. I
already knew Jake Riis, because his book "How the Other Half Lives"
had been to me both an enlightenment and an inspiration for which I
felt I could never be too grateful. Soon after it was written I had
called at his office to tell him how deeply impressed I was by the
book, and that I wished to help him in any practical way to try to
make things a little better. I have always had a horror of words that
are not translated into deeds, of speech that does not result in
action--in other words, I believe in realizable ideals and in
realizing them, in preaching what can be practiced and then in
practicing it. Jacob Riis had drawn an indictment of the things that
were wrong, pitifully and dreadfully wrong, with the tenement homes
and the tenement lives of our wage-workers. In his book he had pointed
out how the city government, and especially those connected with the
departments of police and health, could aid in remedying some of the

As President of the Police Board I was also a member of the Health
Board. In both positions I felt that with Jacob Riis's guidance I
would be able to put a goodly number of his principles into actual
effect. He and I looked at life and its problems from substantially
the same standpoint. Our ideals and principles and purposes, and our
beliefs as to the methods necessary to realize them, were alike. After
the election in 1894 I had written him a letter which ran in part as

It is very important to the city to have a business man's Mayor,
but it is more important to have a workingman's Mayor; and I want
Mr. Strong to be that also. . . . 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 quarters of the city, and to take the children off the
streets so as to prevent them growing up toughs. In the same way
it is an admirable thing to have clean streets; indeed, it is an
essential thing to have them; but it would be a better thing to
have our schools large enough to give ample accommodation to all
who should be pupils and to provide them with proper playgrounds.

And I added, while expressing my regret that I had not been able to
accept the street-cleaning commissionership, that "I would have been
delighted to smash up the corrupt contractors and put the street-
cleaning force absolutely out of the domain of politics."

This was nineteen years ago, but it makes a pretty good platform in
municipal politics even to-day--smash corruption, take the municipal
service out of the domain of politics, insist upon having a Mayor who
shall be a workingman's Mayor even more than a business man's Mayor,
and devote all attention possible to the welfare of the children.

Therefore, as I viewed it, there were two sides to the work: first,
the actual handling of the Police Department; second, using my
position to help in making the city a better place in which to live
and work for those to whom the conditions of life and labor were
hardest. The two problems were closely connected; for one thing never
to be forgotten in striving to better the conditions of the New York
police force is the connection between the standard of morals and
behavior in that force and the general standard of morals and behavior
in the city at large. The form of government of the Police Department
at that time was such as to make it a matter of extreme difficulty to
get good results. It represented that device of old-school American
political thought, the desire to establish checks and balances so
elaborate that no man shall have power enough to do anything very bad.
In practice this always means that no man has power enough to do
anything good, and that what is bad is done anyhow.

In most positions the "division of powers" theory works unmitigated
mischief. The only way to get good service is to give somebody power
to render it, facing the fact that power which will enable a man to do
a job well will also necessarily enable him to do it ill if he is the
wrong kind of man. What is normally needed is the concentration in the
hands of one man, or of a very small body of men, of ample power to
enable him or them to do the work that is necessary; and then the
devising of means to hold these men fully responsible for the exercise
of that power by the people. This of course means that, if the people
are willing to see power misused, it will be misused. But it also
means that if, as we hold, the people are fit for self-government--if,
in other words, our talk and our institutions are not shams--we will
get good government. I do not contend that my theory will
automatically bring good government. I do contend that it will enable
us to get as good government as we deserve, and that the other way
will not.

The then government of the Police Department was so devised as to
render it most difficult to accomplish anything good, while the field
for intrigue and conspiracy was limitless. There were four
Commissioners, two supposed to belong to one party and two to the
other, although, as a matter of fact, they never divided on party
lines. There was a Chief, appointed by the Commissioners, but whom
they could not remove without a regular trial subject to review by the
courts of law. This Chief and any one Commissioner had power to hold
up most of the acts of the other three Commissioners. It was made easy
for the four Commissioners to come to a deadlock among themselves; and
if this danger was avoided, it was easy for one Commissioner, by
intriguing with the Chief, to bring the other three to a standstill.
The Commissioners were appointed by the Mayor, but he could not remove
them without the assent of the Governor, who was usually politically
opposed to him. In the same way the Commissioners could appoint the
patrolmen, but they could not remove them, save after a trial which
went up for review to the courts.

As was inevitable under our system of law procedure, this meant that
the action of the court was apt to be determined by legal
technicalities. It was possible to dismiss a man from the service for
quite insufficient reasons, and to provide against the reversal of the
sentence, if the technicalities of procedure were observed. But the
worst criminals were apt to be adroit men, against whom it was
impossible to get legal evidence which a court could properly consider
in a criminal trial (and the mood of the court might be to treat the
case as if it were a criminal trial), although it was easy to get
evidence which would render it not merely justifiable but necessary
for a man to remove them from his private employ--and surely the
public should be as well treated as a private employer. Accordingly,
most of the worst men put out were reinstated by the courts; and when
the Mayor attempted to remove one of my colleagues who made it his
business to try to nullify the work done by the rest of us, the
Governor sided with the recalcitrant Commissioner and refused to
permit his removal.

Nevertheless, an astounding quantity of work was done in reforming the
force. We had a good deal of power, anyhow; we exercised it to the
full; and we accomplished some things by assuming the appearance of a
power which we did not really possess.

The first fight I made was to keep politics absolutely out of the
force; and not only politics, but every kind of improper favoritism.
Doubtless in making thousands of appointments and hundreds of
promotions there were men who contrived to use influence of which I
was ignorant. But these cases must have been few and far between. As
far as was humanly possible, the appointments and promotions were made
without regard to any question except the fitness of the man and the
needs of the service. As Civil Service Commissioner I had been
instructing heads of departments and bureaus how to get men appointed
without regard to politics, and assuring them that by following our
methods they would obtain first-class results. As Police Commissioner
I was able practically to apply my own teachings.

The appointments to the police force were made as I have described in
the last chapter. We paid not the slightest attention to a man's
politics or creed, or where he was born, so long as he was an American
citizen; and on an average we obtained far and away the best men that
had ever come into the Police Department. It was of course very
difficult at first to convince both the politicians and the people
that we really meant what we said, and that every one really would
have a fair trial. There had been in previous years the most
widespread and gross corruption in connection with every activity in
the Police Department, and there had been a regular tariff for
appointments and promotions. Many powerful politicians and many
corrupt outsiders believed that in some way or other it would still be
possible to secure appointments by corrupt and improper methods, and
many good citizens felt the same conviction. I endeavored to remove
the impression from the minds of both sets of people by giving the
widest publicity to what we were doing and how we were doing it, by
making the whole process open and aboveboard, and by making it evident
that we would probe to the bottom every charge of corruption.

For instance, I received visits at one time from a Catholic priest,
and at another time from a Methodist clergyman, who had parishioners
who wished to enter the police force, but who did not believe they
could get in save by the payment of money or through political
pressure. The priest was running a temperance lyceum in connection
with his church, and he wished to know if there would be a chance for
some of the young men who belonged to that lyceum. The Methodist
clergyman came from a little patch of old native America which by a
recent extension had been taken within the limits of the huge,
polyglot, pleasure-loving city. His was a small church, most of the
members being shipwrights, mechanics, and sailormen from the local
coasters. In each case I assured my visitor that we wanted on the
force men of the exact type which he said he could furnish. I also
told him that I was as anxious as he was to find out if there was any
improper work being done in connection with the examinations, and that
I would like him to get four or five of his men to take the
examinations without letting me know their names. Then, whether the
men failed or succeeded, he and I would take their papers and follow
them through every stage so that we could tell at once whether they
had been either improperly favored or improperly discriminated
against. This was accordingly done, and in each case my visitor turned


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