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Alice Roosevelt, daughter of Theodore Roosevelt, made the headlines more than her father

Goran Blazeski

Alice Lee Roosevelt Longworth was born on February 12, 1884, in New York City. She was the oldest child of Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th President of the United States, and the only child he had with his first wife, Alice Hathaway Lee.

Just two days after Alice was born her mother died. It was a sad day for Theodore Roosevelt since his mother also died the same day. Soon after Roosevelt left New York City and went to North Dakota, leaving his infant daughter in the care of his sister Anna.

Roosevelt family in 1903 with Quentin on the left, TR, Ted, Archie, Alice, Kermit, Edith, and Ethel

Roosevelt family in 1903, with Quentin on the left, TR, Ted, Archie, Alice, Kermit, Edith, and Ethel

Roosevelt spent the next two years away from his daughter, and in 1896 he got married to Edith Kermit Carow with whom he raised Alice in Oyster Bay, Long Island. Alice had five half-siblings, one sister, and four brothers.

Her father became the President of USA in 1901, and as soon as she swept into the White House, she became the center of national attention and a favorite topic for the press. Newspapers dubbed her Princess Alice and millions of American women started naming their babies after her and copied her dress and actions. Songs were written for Alice and her favorite color, a shade of blue-gray became widely popular as “Alice blue.”

Hand-tinted photograph of Alice Roosevelt, taken 1903. A striking beauty, her outspokenness and antics won the hearts of the America people who nicknamed her "Princess Alice"

Hand-tinted photograph of Alice Roosevelt, taken 1903. A striking beauty, her outspokenness and antics won the hearts of the America people who nicknamed her “Princess Alice.”

The main reason for Alice’s popularity was that she loved to break all rules of society. She was a real eccentric at that time and led a controversial life. She didn’t care what people would say or think about her; she smoked cigarettes publically; rode in cars with men; would often stay out late partying; kept a pet snake named Emily Spinach in the White House; and placed bets with a bookie.

In 1905 her father sent her on a lengthy 1905 cruise to China, Japan, Korea and the Philippines together with 23 congressmen, seven senators, and other diplomats and officials. Roosevelt knew that she would distract the press on the trip from the secret negotiations between USA and Japan and she did.

Alice Roosevelt around 1902 by Frances Benjamin Johnston

Alice Roosevelt around 1902 by Frances Benjamin Johnston

 

She was constantly photographing with the Emperor of Japan and the Empress of China. She jumped into the ship’s pool fully clothed and coaxed a Congressman to join her in the water.

Alice Roosevelt with her dog, Leo, a long-haired Chihuahua. She was also given a Pekingese named Manchu, by the Chinese Empress Dowager Cixi in 1905

Alice Roosevelt with her dog, Leo, a long-haired Chihuahua. She was also given a Pekingese named Manchu, by the Chinese Empress Dowager Cixi in 1905

Alice married Nicholas Longworth, a Republican member of the US House of Representatives in February 1906. Their wedding was attended by more than a thousand guests. Their marriage was just like her life, controversial and unconventional. Believe it or not, she campaigned against her husband in the 1912 election.

When William Howard Taft became President of the USA, and Alice had to move out of the White House, she buried a Voodoo doll of the new First Lady, Nellie Taft, in the front yard.

Alice Roosevelt Longworth and her husband, House Speaker & Ohio Congressman Nicholas Longworth on the steps of the US Capitol in 1926

Alice Roosevelt Longworth and her husband, House Speaker & Ohio Congressman Nicholas Longworth on the steps of the US Capitol in 1926

 

 

Alice Roosevelt Longworth christening the submarine named after her father, the USS Theodore Roosevelt, in 1959

Alice Roosevelt Longworth christening the submarine named after her father, the USS Theodore Roosevelt, in 1959

During the Great Depression, she wrote a newspaper column and appeared in tobacco advertisements.

Here is another story from us: “I shall have him to dine as often as I please” – The time when Roosevelt invited African-American educator Booker T. Washington to a dinner at the White House

In 1955, she broke her hip and in 1956 she was diagnosed with breast cancer. After many years of ill health, Alice died on February 20, 1980, at the age of 96. She is buried in Rock Creek Cemetery, Washington, D.C.