September 26, 2003

Presidential Fun Fact of the Day

Alice Lee Roosevelt.
Edith Roosevelt.

Theodore Roosevelt's first wife, Alice, gave birth to the couple's daughter, also named Alice, while Theodore was in Albany, New York. He was working at the state capital and began making preparations to return to New York City when he received notice that his wife was seriously ill. He boarded the next train and when he arrived in the city he found that both his wife and his mother were dying.

Theodore's mother died the next morning, and his "sweetest little wife" died the day after that. Alice was only 22 years old. Theodore was stunned, but returned to Albany to finish his work in the legislature. When they adjourned, he went to the Dakota Badlands to pursue the life of a cowboy. He never mentioned his wife again, even to his daughter.

Almost two years later, he ran into Edith Carow, his childhood sweetheart, and they began seeing each other. Theodore was distressed by his feelings for Edith, telling his sister, "I utterly disbelieve in and disapprove of second marriages. I have always considered that they argued weakness in a man's character. You could not reproach me half as bitterly for my inconstancy and unfaithfulness as I reproach myself."

However, Theodore and Edith were married and they were extremely happy together. Their family included four boys and another girl. When the brood took over the executive mansion, Chief Usher Ike Hoover called it "the wildest scramble in the history of the White House." Alice, as the oldest, was the ringleader of the six children and their menagerie of pets. The children once snuck a pony into the family's quarters of the White House to comfort their sick brother Archie.

Edith was often worried that she hadn't been a good mother to her stepdaughter, but Alice definitely disagreed. She later allowed that Edith had probably treated her better than she had treated her other children.

Posted by Jennifer at September 26, 2003 05:29 AM


Great Stuff! I really enjoy reading your blog and am thankful I found it, though just recently.

Posted by: Sgt Hook at September 26, 2003 11:08 AM

Thank you. I'm glad you found it, too. :-)

Posted by: Jennifer at September 26, 2003 11:25 AM

Just wanted to point out the Roosevelt Zoo included rats.

Posted by: Victor at September 27, 2003 01:46 PM