edith and 'teedie' roosevelt -- 2/3/14

In today's selection -- from The Bully Pulpit by Doris Kearns Goodwin. Theodore Roosevelt and his wife Edith Roosevelt (nee Carow) first became very close friends when they were very small children. There was, however, a major interruption along the way:

"Edith [and Theodore] had been intimate childhood friends, growing up together in New York's Union Square neighborhood. She had joined 'Teedie,' as he was then called, and his younger sister Corinne, in a private schoolroom arranged at the Roosevelt mansion. Even as children, they missed each other when apart. As Teedie was setting off with his family on a Grand Tour of Europe when he was eleven years old, he broke down in tears at the thought of leaving eight-year-old Edith behind. She proved his most faithful correspondent over the long course of the trip.

"She had been a regular guest at 'Tranquillity,' the Roosevelts' summer home on Long Island, where they sailed together in the bay, rode horseback along the trails, and shared a growing passion for literature. As adolescents, they were dancing partners at cotillions and constant companions on the social scene. Roosevelt proudly noted that his freshman college classmates at Harvard considered Edith and her friend Annie Murray 'the prettiest girls they had met' when they visited him in New York during Christmas vacation.

"In the summer of 1878, after his sophomore year, however, the young couple had a mysterious 'falling out' at Tranquillity. 'One day,' Roosevelt later wrote, 'there came a break' during a late afternoon rendezvous at the estate's summerhouse. The conflict that erupted, Roosevelt admitted, ended 'his very intimate relations' with Edith. Though neither one would ever say what had happened, Roosevelt cryptically noted to his sister Anna that 'both of us had, and I suppose have, tempers that were far from being of the best.'

Edith Kermit Carow Roosevelt

"The intimacy that Edith had cherished for nearly two decades seemed lost forever the following October, when Roosevelt met Alice Hathaway Lee. The beautiful, enchanting daughter of a wealthy Boston businessman, Alice lived in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, not far from Cambridge. The young Harvard junior fell in love with his 'whole heart and soul.' Four months after his graduation in 1880, they were married. Then, in 1884, only two days after giving birth to their only child, Alice died.

"A year later, Theodore resumed his friendship with Edith. And the year after that they were married. As time passed, Edith's meticulous and thoughtful nature made her an exemplary partner for Theodore. 'I do not think my eyes are blinded by affection,' the president told a friend, 'when I say that she has combined to a degree I have never seen in any other woman the power of being the best of wives and mothers, the wisest manager of the household, and at the same time the ideal great lady and mistress of the White House.'

"Their boisterous family eventually included six children, ... [including] Alice, the child born to his first wife."


Doris Kearns Goodwin


The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism


Simon & Schuster


Copyright 2013 by Blithedale Productions, Inc.


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