Flemming Just


Jacob A. Riis, America, citizen, Denmark


At his death in 1914, Jacob A. Riis was one of the US's best-known and most admired citizens, who had been able to effect more social change than most of his peers. President Theodore Roosevelt had earlier declared Riis to be "the most useful citizen of New York," and now called him "the ideal American citizen." In one of many obituaries of Riis we read:

Denmark gave him to us, and if we gave Denmark millions in return, we could not pay her for what Riis did for us and for what Riis inspired us to do. He landed in New York with only $40 in his pockets, but his service for humanity has left that city an endowment of blessing, practical and spiritual, that all the wealth of Mr. Carnegie and Mr. Rockefeller could not excel.