Alice Hathaway Lee Roosevelt

First wife of Theodore Roosevelt

Married Theodore Roosevelt on October 27, 1880.

Children: Alice Lee Roosevelt (1884-1980).

Died 1884.

Alice Hathaway Lee Roosevelt and Theodore Roosevelt's mother died in the same house on the same day as Teddy ran from room to room trying to care for them. The double tragedy threw Teddy into a depression and he interrupted his career and went to Dakota territory where he spent several years as a ranch hand and deputy sheriff.

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Alice Hathaway Lee

1st wife of Theodore Roosevelt

Alice Hathaway Lee Roosevelt (July 29, 1861 in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts February 14, 1884 in Manhattan, New York) was the first wife of Theodore Roosevelt. They had one child, Alice Lee Roosevelt.

Of their first encounter, Theodore would write, "As long as I live, I shall never forget how sweetly she looked, and how prettily she greeted me." For young TR it was "love at first sight." Within a few weeks of their first meeting, Theodore would decide that this woman was to be his wife.

On February 13, 1880, an ecstatic Roosevelt recorded in his diary his great joy that the woman of his dreams, who he had actively courted for more than a year, had finally accepted his proposal of marriage. Knowing that his love was reciprocated and that he could now "hold her in my arms and kiss her and caress her and love her as much as I choose" gave the enraptured young Roosevelt enormous satisfaction. They announced their engagement on February 14, 1880 and after courtship of a few months that might have gotten in the way of Roosevelt's studies at Harvard University, they married on his 22nd birthday, October 27, 1880.

On February 14, 1884, aged 22, Alice died of Bright's disease two days after the birth of her daughter, also named Alice, and on the same day (and in the same house) as her mother-in-law, Martha Bulloch. Theodore was so distraught by Alice's death that except for a diary entry and some oblique references to her in the months after her passing, he never spoke of her again and refused to have her name mentioned in his presence. So final was this decision to try to put Alice's loss out of his life, that she is not even mentioned by name in his autobiography. According to a number of historians, Roosevelt's willingness to leave behind or suppress his experiences with his first wife were a source of deep resentment by his daughter Alice Roosevelt Longworth. She was unable to get him to talk about her mother in any meaningful way. Her rebellious life finds some explanation in this sad aspect of her relationship with her father.

In the immediate aftermath of his wife's death, Theodore turned the care of their newly born infant daughter, Alice, to his elder sister Anna, also known as Bamie, and embarked on a journey of personal discovery to his ranch in the Badlands of North Dakota where Roosevelt would emerge a renewed man and would go on to the Presidency of the United States in 1901. Alice Roosevelt was later described by her successor, Edith Carow Roosevelt as "an insipid, child-like fool," in rages with her stepdaughter, Alice Roosevelt Longworth.