TR Writes About the Reality of Living in NYC and Enforcing the Law in the Big Apple

Sep 08, 2015

Next week the Tenth Annual Theodore Roosevelt Symposium will get underway on the campus of Dickinson State University and in Killdeer. This year the symposium will examine TR’s relationship to the law. To mark the occasion, we take a look at a letter that Roosevelt wrote his friend, Patty Selmes, while he was police commissioner of New York City in 1896. Enforcing the law in the Big Apple was exhausting even for TR.

“One of the children has had a slight case of diphtheria—much more to Mrs. Roosevelt’s discomfort than it’s own—and so we are leading a rather isolated life for the time; except that dear Bob Ferguson is with us for a day or two, much wrought up over the fact that I am a jingo.

But if we were not isolated, it would not make much difference; my work has been so exacting that by evening, even if I had the evening free, I was only too glad to stay at home; and Mrs. Roosevelt, who is much oppressed by the size and wealth of New York, and heartily dislikes it, says that here if a mother with five children really takes care of them she can’t do much else.

After a very uphill fight, it begins to look as if we should win out in our fight over the police department. It is of course by no means certain, and we may yet be legislated out of office; but it now seems as though Platt and his machine men would hardly dare to turn us out …

I have neither read much, nor done much else except deal with the Department, but in a couple of months, whether I am put out or left in, my main work will be over.”

To view the full text of the letter click here; and to register for the symposium click here


Letter from Theodore Roosevelt to Patty Selmes, March 15, 1896. Arizona Historical Society. Electronic copy sponsored by the Theodore Roosevelt Center at Dickinson State University. For reproduction or publication permission, contact the Arizona Historical Society, Tucson.

Posted by Pamela Pierce on Sep 08, 2015 in Current Events  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)  |  Share this post

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