The Many Scandals of Alice Roosevelt
Referring to his teenage daughter, Alice, President Theodore Roosevelt once said, “I can either run the country or I can attend to Alice, but I cannot possibly do both.” He had good reason to believe this. As presidential children go, Alice Roosevelt was one of the most scandalous. She had the same bold, boisterous, adventurous spirit that her famous father had, but she lived during a time when women were supposed to be demure rule followers.
Alice Roosevelt, however, broke the rules. She smoked, drank, had affairs, danced seductively, and, in short, lived her life the way she wanted, much to the delight of the newspaper gossip columnists who loved to report on her scandalous antics. Let’s take a colorized look at the unusual life of Teddy Roosevelt’s oldest daughter.
A Tragic Start to Life
Alice Lee Roosevelt was born on February 12, 1884, to Theodore Roosevelt and his first wife, Alice Hathaway Lee. Just two days later, the infant Alice lost her mother and paternal grandmother, who both died on the same day in the same house. Teddy Roosevelt was so distraught over the deaths of his wife and mother that he left the baby Alice with his sister, Anna, who was called Aunt Bamie, and spent the next two years living the cowboy life in North Dakota. Roosevelt’s sister was intelligent and outgoing, just like her brother. Alice Roosevelt later remarked that Anna would have been a great president had she been born a man. Teddy Roosevelt waited until he was remarried before he regained custody of Alice. Her years with Aunt Bamie left a lasting impression on young Alice.
Alice Roosevelt often butted heads with her new stepmother, Edith Kermit Carow. She still relied on her Aunt Bamie for guidance and structure. Alice was rebellious and headstrong. At one point, her stepmother suggested sending Alice to a private, conservative school for girls, Alice responded telling her father, “If you send me, I will humiliate you. I will do something that will shame you.”