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The Right Thing Done the Right Way

August 25, 2015

The 24-year-old assemblyman had worked hard to get a bill passed that would reduce the fare on New York City’s elevated railroads to five cents. When Governor Grover Cleveland vetoed the bill, the assemblyman gave the following speech:

“I have to say with shame that when I voted for this bill, I did not act as I ought to have acted, and as I generally have acted on the floor of this house, for the only time that I ever voted here, aside from what I think to be exactly right, I did that time. I have to confess that I weakly yielded to a vindictive spirit toward the infernal thieves who have that railroad in charge,…”

The assemblyman went on to say: “…we ought never to have passed the bill in the beginning,… we ought never to pass it over the veto now, … I question if the bill is constitutional,…”

The progressive Republican assemblyman had become convinced by the logic of the conservative Democrat governor’s veto message. He could have used the veto as an opportunity to rail against the governor. Instead, he broadcast his own error in order to instruct his colleagues on how to do the right thing in the right way. That’s just how Theodore Roosevelt was.

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