Alice Hathaway Lee was born 29 July 1861 in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, United States to George Cabot Lee (1830-1910) and Caroline Watts Haskell (1835-1914) and died 14 February 1884 in Manhattan, New York, United States of nephritis, childbirth complications. She married Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919) 27 October 1880 at Unitarian Church in Brookline, Massachusetts, United States.

Early Life and Courtship by Theodore Roosevelt

Born in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, the daughter of George Cabot Lee, a prominent banker, and Caroline Haskell-Lee, Alice was tall for the era at 5'7", charming, athletic, strikingly beautiful and intelligent. Called "Sunshine" by her family and friends [1] Theodore proved no match to her charms.

She met Theodore "T.R." Roosevelt on October 18, 1878 at the home of her next-door neighbors, the Saltonstalls; T.R. was a classmate of young Richard Saltonstall (her cousin) at Harvard University. Of their first encounter, he would write, "As long as I live, I shall never forget how sweetly she looked, and how prettily she greeted me."

For young T.R. it was "love at first sight." By Thanksgiving (only a few weeks after meeting her), he had decided Alice was to be his wife; the following June he proposed. She put T.R. off, however, taking another eight months before saying "yes".[2] There is no specific record detailing why she declined Theodore's first offer, but it could be that she was a little put off by the "thin, pale youngster with bad eyes and a weak heart" who reeked of arsenic.[3]

Marriage to Theodore Roosevelt

TR Alice Corrine Anna-Bamie

Alice Roosevelt left, with her sisters-in-law, Corinne and Anna (Bamie) Roosevelt

On February 13, 1880, an ecstatic Roosevelt recorded in his diary his great joy that the woman of his dreams, whom 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.

Roosevelt, aged 22, married Alice Lee, aged 19, on October 27, 1880 (his 22nd birthday), at the Unitarian Church in Brookline, Massachusetts. Among the guests at their wedding, and at the reception in the home of the bride's parents, was Edith Carow, later to become Roosevelt's second wife. The couple's "proper" honeymoon was delayed until the following summer by Theodore's acceptance into Columbia Law School and after two weeks at the family home in Oyster Bay the couple went to live with Theodore's widowed mother, Martha Bulloch Roosevelt[4]

Untimely Death

Tragically, Mrs. Roosevelt died in New York on Valentine's Day, February 14, 1884, on the fourth anniversary of their engagement, from Bright's disease, and childbirth complications. She was 22 years old. (On the same day and in the same house, Roosevelt's mother, Martha "Mittie" Bulloch Roosevelt also died, of typhoid fever.) T.R. was so distraught by Alice's death that except for a diary entry ("The light has gone out of my life") he hardly ever spoke of her again. In a short privately published tribute to Alice, Roosevelt wrote:

She was beautiful in face and form, and lovelier still in spirit; As a flower she grew, and as a fair young flower she died. Her life had been always in the sunshine; there had never come to her a single sorrow; and none ever knew her who did not love and revere her for the bright, sunny temper and her saintly unselfishness. Fair, pure, and joyous as a maiden; loving , tender, and happy. As a young wife; when she had just become a mother, when her life seemed to be just begun, and when the years seemed so bright before her—then, by a strange and terrible fate, death came to her. And when my heart’s dearest died, the light went from my life forever.[5]

While he made some oblique references to Alice in the months after her passing, Roosevelt never spoke of her publicly again. He refused to have her name mentioned in his presence. When asked about her mother by Alice's daughter and namesake, she was referred to Roosevelt's sister, Anna "Bamie" Roosevelt for information and learned details of her mother only from her aunt. 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.[6]

The Roosevelts had one daughter:

  • Alice Roosevelt Longworth (1884–1980). According to a number of historians, Roosevelt's need to leave behind or suppress his experiences with his first wife were a source of deep resentment by his daughter. 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 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. From this interlude Roosevelt would emerge a renewed man and would go on to the Presidency of the United States in 1901.

Alice Hathaway Roosevelt was buried in Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York, next to her mother-in-law.


Offspring of Theodore Roosevelt and Alice Hathaway Lee (1861-1884)
Name Birth Death Joined with
Alice Lee Roosevelt (1884-1980) 12 February 1884 New York City, New York, United States 20 February 1980 Washington, D.C., United States Nicholas Longworth (1869-1931)
William Edgar Borah (1865-1940)


  1. ^ Cordery, S. A.:"Alice: Alice Roosevelt Longworth, from White House Princess to Washington Power Boker", page 6, Viking Penguin Viking, 2007.
  2. ^ Cordery, S. A.:"Alice: Alice Roosevelt Longworth, from White House Princess to Washington Power Boker, page 10, Viking Penguin Viking, 2007.
  3. ^ Felsenthal, C.: "Princess Alice: The Life and Times of Alice Roosevelt Longworth, page 16, St. Martin's Press, 1988.
  4. ^ Pringle, H. F.:"Theodore Roosevelt: A Biography" page 45, Bluee Ribbon Books, 1931.
  5. ^ Miller, Nathan, (1992) Theodore Roosevelt - A Life, pg 158, ISBN 978-0-688-13220-0, ISBN 0-688-13220-0, New York, Quill/William Morrow
  6. ^ Monk, William Everett. Theodore and Alice: The Life and death of Alice Lee Roosevelt. Interlaken, N.Y.: Empire State Books, 1994, pp. 51-68

External links

NAME Roosevelt, Alice Hathaway Lee
DATE OF BIRTH July 29, 1861
PLACE OF BIRTH Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, U.S.
DATE OF DEATH February 14, 1884
PLACE OF DEATH Manhattan, New York, U.S.
This page uses content from the English language Wikipedia. The original content was at Alice Hathaway Lee Roosevelt. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with this Familypedia wiki, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons License.

Footnotes (including sources)

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