U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt Personal Life

About the U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt, early life and career before the presidency, history and biography, physical description.


26th President


Personal Life: Shortly after his graduation from Harvard, Roosevelt married his college sweetheart, Alice Hathaway Lee, a 19-year-old beauty. It was an idyllic marriage, but it lasted for only three years. On Feb. 13, 1884, Roosevelt was on the floor of the Assembly when he received a telegram announcing that his young wife had just given birth to a baby girl. He rushed home to New York City to learn that both his wife and mother were desperately ill. Both women died on the same day, Valentine's Day, 1884.

Roosevelt was crushed, and after leaving his infant daughter with an aunt, he boarded a train for the western frontier. He owned some shares in a ranch in the Dakota Territory, where he could live out a childhood dream: to work as a cowboy, battling the elements in the vicinity of the Dakota Badlands. The eastern tenderfoot with the comical dress and speech ultimately won the respect of even his most seasoned ranch hands after an adventure in which he captured three boat thieves after a chase of several hundred miles. Such exploits, combined with months spent riding the range and sleeping under the stars, helped erase young Roosevelt's gloom. In 1886 he returned to New York and ran for mayor of the city, but after a disappointing third-place finish, he was on the road again, this time bound for Europe.

In London he wooed and married Edith Carow, whom he had known since childhood. She was soft-spoken and gracious, but her iron will and practical good sense gave Roosevelt the balance he needed. Their relationship was more in the nature of a jovial friendship than a passionate romance, and to her dying day Edith Roosevelt remained jealous of her husband's first wife. Nevertheless, their marriage was a notable success. TR adored his six children, and his greatest joy was leading them in games and camping expeditions. With part of the $200,000 he inherited from his father, Roosevelt built his unique house, Sagamore Hill, at Oyster Bay, Long Island. The home resembles a hunting lodge, or the dream clubhouse of a 13-year-old boy. When the Roosevelt moved into the White House 15 years later, they brought the lively style of Sagamore Hill along with them. Roosevelt's eldest daughter, "Princess Alice" (who was married in the White House in 1906), startled dignitaries by such pranks as sliding down banisters or producing a garter snake from her purse. The uninhibited antics of "the White House gang" delighted the country.

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