Tue. Sep 27th, 2022

Who is Alice Roosevelt Longworth? White House wild child and original ‘wit of Washington,’ says historian

Spread the love


NEWYou can now listen to Fox News articles!

The U.S. has had its fair share of rebel teens in history, but an original American wild child grew up in the White House.

Alice Roosevelt Longworth, the eldest daughter of 26th President Theodore Roosevelt, was of fascination to the entire nation and remains so to this day.

Beautiful, intelligent, hilarious and outspoken, Longworth was coined the “original wit of Washington” by presidential historian and Reagan biographer Craig Shirley.

ROBERT MESNIER, WHITE HOUSE PASTRY CHEF FOR FIVE PRESIDENTS, PASSES AWAY AT 78

“Nobody has even come close to Alice Roosevelt Longworth [in history],” Shirley said in a video interview with Fox News Digital.

A portrait of Alice Roosevelt Longworth taken in the early 1900s.

A portrait of Alice Roosevelt Longworth taken in the early 1900s.
(Library of Congress/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images)

Longworth, nicknamed “Princess Alice,” reportedly nagged at her father for wanting to be “the bride at every wedding, the baby at every baptism and the corpse at every funeral.”

“But, of course, she loved attention, too,” Shirley said.

Longworth made a name for herself due to her shocking antics, such as carrying around a pet boa constrictor named Emily Spinach — often worn around her neck — and for smoking on the roof of the White House.

“She had no filter and she didn’t care. And she did it with wit and verve.”

At 17 years old, she became a media spectacle for racing her car up and down the streets of Washington, chewing gum, playing poker, wearing pants, sleeping until noon and partying all night long with the Vanderbilts, according to All That’s Interesting.

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY, AUGUST 30, 1967, THURGOOD MARSHALL IS CONFIRMED TO SCOTUS AS FIRST BLACK JUSTICE

Her behavior shocked the public, as these tendencies were something presidential daughters of the early 20th century — or women, period — simply didn’t do.

Side profile of Alice Roosevelt Longworth captured by photographer Frances Johnston in 1901. 

Side profile of Alice Roosevelt Longworth captured by photographer Frances Johnston in 1901. 
( Photo 12/ Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

“She broke the mold and then split it into a million pieces,” Shirley told Fox News Digital.

“Presidential families, and especially daughters, were supposed to be quiet and low key and polite — and she was none of them.”

Shirley explained that Longworth was the first to say “whatever was on her mind” and even kept a pillow with a needle-point message that read, “If you haven’t got anything nice to say about anyone, come and sit here by me.”

PRESIDENTS DAY: GREAT ADVICE FROM GREAT US PRESIDENTS FOR MODERN-DAY AMERICA

“She had no filter and she didn’t care,” he said. “And she did it with wit and verve.”

When concerns were brought to the president’s attention about his carefree daughter, Teddy Roosevelt famously admitted that he could not control Alice and run the country at the same time.

Alice Roosevelt Longworth is shown holding a parrot on her arm.   

Alice Roosevelt Longworth is shown holding a parrot on her arm.   
(Library of Congress/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images)

While some of the public despised her antics, much of the nation adored its casual first daughter.

Yet Longworth didn’t care either way, according to Shirley.

“She was in the newspapers all the time,” he said. “She was a gossip.”

Alice Roosevelt, the eldest daughter of President Theodore Roosevelt, poses for a colorized portrait in a yellow dress.

Alice Roosevelt, the eldest daughter of President Theodore Roosevelt, poses for a colorized portrait in a yellow dress.
(Photo by © CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)

“She was not only the original TMZ — she was probably the inspiration for TMZ.” 

Shirley mentioned that Longworth’s erratic behavior was always accompanied with class and elegance, including her ability to “cut down a man as soon as look at him.”

“She had no precepts against hurling insults against her opponent, or some of her friends, for that matter.”

‘Already a handful’

Longworth was born on Feb. 12, 1884, by virtue of Teddy Roosevelt’s first wife, Alice Hathaway Lee Roosevelt, who died two days after their daughter was born.

Roosevelt’s own mother died that same day.

ON YELLOWSTONE’S 150TH ANNIVERSARY, 150 FASCINATING FACTS ABOUT AMERICA’S FIRST NATIONAL PARK

Torn with grief, Roosevelt spent two years exploring the mountain west region of the U.S. as a cowboy, Shirley noted.

“That’s where he learned a lot about life and it helped prepare him to become the president,” he said.

A portrait of Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919) with his family in 1903, prior to his election to president in 1904. His oldest child Alice (in white hat, center) stands at the rear. 

A portrait of Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919) with his family in 1903, prior to his election to president in 1904. His oldest child Alice (in white hat, center) stands at the rear. 
(Photo by © CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)

During this time, a young Alice lived with her aunt, Anna Roosevelt, until her father got remarried — to Edith Kermit Carow in 1886.

Longworth was first introduced to the White House at 17 years old in 1901, the year her father was elected commander-in-chief. Throughout her father’s years as president (1901-1909), Longworth grew her reputation for antics and for being naturally outspoken.

But Shirley said the first daughter was born with rebellious tendencies.

An 1895 family portrait of Theodore Roosevelt, his second wife Edith and his five children, including the eldest, Alice, in the rear. 

An 1895 family portrait of Theodore Roosevelt, his second wife Edith and his five children, including the eldest, Alice, in the rear. 
(Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images)

“She was already a handful,” he said. “[Roosevelt] never complained about his other children, but he was honest and frank about Alice — she was a handful.”

Longworth’s behavior has been pinned to the early 20th century suffrage movement, as a reaction to America’s changing perspective of womanhood.

WHY IS PABLO PICASSO SO FAMOUS? A LOOK AT THE 20TH CENTURY’S MOST INFLUENTIAL PAINTER

Wedding bells

Alice Roosevelt married House Speaker Nicholas Longworth, R-Ohio, on Feb. 17, 1906, according to the Theodore Roosevelt Center at Dickinson State University.

The wedding ceremony took place in the East Room of the White House.

Alice Roosevelt, daughter of President Theodore Roosevelt, stands with her father and her new husband, Rep. Nicholas Longworth, R-Ohio.

Alice Roosevelt, daughter of President Theodore Roosevelt, stands with her father and her new husband, Rep. Nicholas Longworth, R-Ohio.
(Photo by Edward S. Curtis/Library of Congress/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images)

The couple’s marriage lasted 25 years until Nicholas Longworth died in 1931.

When asked if she’d like to be buried next to her husband in Ohio, Alice responded that it would be a “fate worse than death,” according to Shirley.

Roosevelt Longworth only had one child in 1925 — a child conceived in an alleged affair with Sen. William Borah, R-Idaho.

The illegitimate daughter, Paulina Longworth Sturm, had nothing of her mother’s outspoken energy.

Little Miss Paulina (at left) — shown in a photo with her mother, Alice Roosevelt Longworth, wife of the Speaker of the House Nicholas Longworth — was one of the most famous babies in the world. This photo in Feb. 1927 was made as Paulina was being taken to the Capitol to visit her "daddy" and have lunch with him, as was her custom each Saturday. 

Little Miss Paulina (at left) — shown in a photo with her mother, Alice Roosevelt Longworth, wife of the Speaker of the House Nicholas Longworth — was one of the most famous babies in the world. This photo in Feb. 1927 was made as Paulina was being taken to the Capitol to visit her “daddy” and have lunch with him, as was her custom each Saturday. 
(Getty Images)

“She was actually meek and mild and very, very polite,” Shirley said. “She was nothing like her mother.”

Banned from White House

Even after Teddy Roosevelt left the White House, Longworth continued to wreak havoc on Washington, according to accounts.

Longworth was kicked out of the Woodrow Wilson White House for “making cracks” about the 28th president at his expense, according to Shirley, and for burying a voodoo doll of first lady Edith Wilson on the White House lawn.

She was also banned for smoking in the White House, which infuriated her; she even launched a one-woman lobbying campaign against Wilson’s League of Nations proposal.

Alice Roosevelt Longworth is shown here at ribbon-cutting ceremonies at the New Embassy Row Hotel on Dec. 15, 1970.

Alice Roosevelt Longworth is shown here at ribbon-cutting ceremonies at the New Embassy Row Hotel on Dec. 15, 1970.
(Getty Images)

“And she may have sunk it to defeat just by her own efforts,” Shirley said.

Longworth had a five-story mansion on Massachusetts Avenue; various lawmakers and politicians would visit and try to court her, Shirley said.

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY, AUGUST 26, 1939, MLB GAME BROADCAST ON TV FOR FIRST TIME

She kept a close relationship with Richard Nixon and remained in the news until at least his second term as president.

Alice Roosevelt Longworth casts her ballot for the presidential election on Nov. 3, 1964.

Alice Roosevelt Longworth casts her ballot for the presidential election on Nov. 3, 1964.
(Getty Images)

“If she was president, she either would’ve been impeached or she would’ve been on Mount Rushmore,” Shirley commented.

The first daughter went on to write an autobiography in 1933 called “Crowded Hours,” airing out the dirty political laundry of her time.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

Longworth lived to be 96 years old.

She died in 1980 of emphysema. 

She remained a smoker her entire life.



Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.