Theodore Roosevelt has had many accomplishments as a president of the United States, which is why his achievements are often chronicled in several books, documentaries, and movies about him. However, his personal life was also highly covered too, as many people wanted to know how his life during his childhood and adulthood shaped him to become one of the best US presidents in history.
While many events of his personal life were happy and inspirational, there are some moments that led to him being heart-broken, and one of those was when her first wife died at the young age of 22. Fortunately, two years after the heartbreaking event, Roosevelt found a new love, although the woman is not exactly a stranger to the former president’s life during that time. To know more about the women in Roosevelt’s life, let us take a look at the background in the lives of the two women that the president married.
Alice Hathaway Lee
Alice Hathaway Lee was born on July 29, 1861 in Chestnut Hill, a village located in the state of Massachusetts. Lee met Theodore Roosevelt on October 18, 1878, during a meeting at the home of Richard Middlecott Saltonstall, who was Roosevelt’s classmate at Harvard University and Lee’s cousin. Just a few months after that encounter, Roosevelt proposed to Lee on June 1879, although Lee only accepted the proposal eight months after.
Two years and nine days after their first meeting, Lee and Roosevelt married at the Unitarian Church in Brookline, Massachusetts. They were supposed to have a honeymoon a few days after marriage, but it was subsequently delayed when Roosevelt found out that he was accepted to study in Columbia Law School. The couple first lived in the family summer rental of the Roosevelts in Oyster Bay, but two months later, they moved in with Roosevelt’s mother Mittie Bulloch in New York.
When Lee got pregnant in 1883, Roosevelt planned to use a bought land in Oyster Bay to serve as the location for his family’s home, but it wouldn’t be complete for a few months after Lee gives birth. So, Lee and Roosevelt decided live again in New York with Mittie Bullock in the fall season of that year. Lee gave birth to a girl on February 12, 1884, and she named her daughter Alice Lee Roosevelt. Unfortunately, Roosevelt wasn’t able to witness the birth of her child, as he was attending a meeting for the New York State Assembly in Albany.
After Lee gave birth, Roosevelt received a telegram informing him about the birth of his daughter. While fixing his items in order to go home early, Roosevelt received another telegram stating that Lee is ill and weak. Once Roosevelt was home, he saw Lee being in a semi-comatose state. After being with her about two days, Roosevelt witnessed his wife’s death, which was said to have been caused by kidney failure that was masked by Lee’s pregnancy.
Heartbroken for Lee’s death, Roosevelt decided to burn all the items that reminded him of his wife, including the diary entries written about her and letters that they sent to each other during their time as a couple. Roosevelt’s daughter, Alice Lee, was first taken care of by Bamie Roosevelt, Theodore’s older sister, until she was given to Roosevelt’s second wife, Edith Carow, when she was three years old. Lee was buried next to her mother-in-law Mittie, who died just a few hours after Lee, in Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn.
Edith Kermit Carow
Edith Carow was born on August 6, 1861 in Norwich, a city in Connecticut. Although she was born in Norwich, Edith grew up in Union Square, New York City, with her family’s next door neighbor being the family of young Theodore Roosevelt. During her childhood, she became close friends with Corinne, Theodore’s younger sister. The Carow and Roosevelt family also grew close, and Edith, Theodore, Corinne, and Theodore’s younger brother Elliot, even received their early education at the Roosevelt family home.
When they were teenagers, Edith and Theodore became a couple, but their feelings for each other faded when Roosevelt left his home to study at Harvard University. It is during Theodore’s time at Harvard that he met Alice Lee. As close friends to the Roosevelt family, Edith Carow attended Theodore and Alice’s wedding in 1880.
A year after Alice Lee’s death in 1884, Theodore and Edith would rekindle their relationship. Then, on December 2, 1886, Carow and Roosevelt married in St. Geroge’s, Hanover Square in London. After their honeymoon in Europe, the couple decided to live at Sagamore Hill, a home in Long Island, New York. Together with Alice Lee’s daughter Alice, Theodore and Edith took care of their own children named Theodore, Kermit, Ethel, Archibald, and Quentin.
When she became the First Lady of the United States following her husband’s ascension to presidency (after William McKinley’s assassination), she first focused on getting her family into the White House. Instead of hiring a housekeeper and retain its office, Edith decided to do the supervising and housekeeping on her own. In addition, Edith was also known as the first first lady that hired a full-time social secretary that received salary, and this moved prompted a major institutional change in the US government.
As the first lady, she would often be tasked to organize or plan formal dinners for important guests and also ceremonial events that celebrated the long history of the country. Because of her hardworking and friendly demeanor among constituents and guests, Edith Roosevelt is regarded as one of the best first ladies in the history of the United States.
After many years of living at Sagamore Hill without her husband (who died in 1919), Edith Roosevelt died on September 30, 1948, at the age of 87. She was buried next to her husband in a cemetery in Oyster Bay called Youngs Memorial Cemetery.