After Theodore Roosevelt read this book he sought out the author at his office. Not finding him there it is reported that he left a note saying: “I have read your book and I have come to help.”
The next paragraph is from “Theodore Roosevelt And His Time” By Joseph Bucklin Bishop
“While Police Commissioner, Roosevelt continued and deepened the interest in the welfare of the poorer classes of the Community, which he had developed while member of the Legislature. As President of the Police Board he was also a member of the Health Board, and in the latter capacity he was brought into close relations with conditions of life in the tenement house districts. He had made personal visits to these districts as a member of a legislative investigating committee about ten years earlier and the impressions, which had then been made upon his mind as to the crying need of reform and betterment remained unimpaired. These impressions had been strengthened by the revelations made in a very remarkable book by Jacob A. Riis, entitled "How the Other Half Lives," which was published in 1890. He formed an intimate friendship with Riis, which lasted throughout the latter's life, and spoke of him when he died as next to his father the best man he had ever known, saying of his book that it had been to him both an enlightenment and an inspiration for which he could never be too grateful. In company with Riis he visited the tenement house regions, often at midnight, in order to see for himself just what conditions were, just what the police were doing in regard to them, and what the Health Department was doing to regulate and improve them. That a fresh and powerful impetus was imparted to his interest in the social welfare of the masses by these visits is recorded in his 'Autobiography':”
The following two paragraphs have been selected from this book.
“Enough of them everywhere. Suppose we look into one? No.—Cherry Street. Be a little careful, please! The hall is dark and you might stumble over the children pitching pennies back there. Not that it would hurt them; kicks and cuffs are their daily diet. They have little else. Here where the hall turns and dives into utter darkness is a step, and another, another. A flight of stairs. You can feel your way, if you cannot see it. Close? Yes! What would you have? All the fresh air that ever enters these stairs comes from the hall-door that is forever slamming, and from the windows of dark bedrooms that in turn receive from the stairs their sole supply of the elements God meant to be free, but man deals out with such niggardly hand. That was a woman filling her pail by the hydrant you just bumped against. The sinks are in the hallway, that all the tenants may have access—and all be poisoned alike by their summer stenches. Hear the pump squeak! It is the lullaby of tenement-house babes. In summer, when a thousand thirsty throats pant for a cooling drink in this block, it is worked in vain. But the saloon, whose open door you passed in the hall, is always there. The smell of it has followed you up. Here is a door. Listen! That short hacking cough, that tiny, helpless wail—what do they mean? They mean that the soiled bow of white you saw on the door downstairs will have another story to tell—Oh! a sadly familiar story—before the day is at an end. The child is dying with measles. With half a chance it might have lived; but it had none. That dark bedroom killed it.”
“It was took all of a suddint,” says the mother, smoothing the throbbing little body with trembling hands. There is no unkindness in the rough voice of the man in the jumper, who sits by the window grimly smoking a clay pipe, with the little life ebbing out in his sight, bitter as his words sound: “Hush, Mary! If we cannot keep the baby, need we complain—such as we?”