The First Lady – Edith Roosevelt redefined the role of the First Lady in the White House. The creation of her social staff, extravagant events, and the transformation of the White House elevated the position and influence of the First Lady.
Born on August 6, 1861, Edith Kermit Carow – Roosevelt was the First Lady of the United States from September 14, 1901 – March 4, 1909. She was the second wife of the 26th president of the United States Theodore Roosevelt.
Check out these interesting facts about Edith Roosevelt below and discover why she is celebrated among America’s finest first ladies.
Edith Roosevelt Facts
1. Edith was Teddy’s childhood sweetheart
Edith Roosevelt was born and raised in an apartment in New York City. Living in her next door was Theodore Roosevelt, also known as “Teddy”. Growing up, Edith became very close to Teddy’s younger sister – Corinne Roosevelt – to the extent that they were regarded as best friends, an interesting fact about Edith Roosevelt.
As neighbors, these children – Edith, Corinne, Teddy – went together at the family home of Roosevelt for their early schooling. Afterward, Edith was admitted to the finishing school of Miss Comstock. During this period, Edith and Teddy enjoyed their childhood romance. However, it soon withered away when Teddy went to Harvard University. Thereon, Teddy met Alice Lee – his first wife!
Yet, as we all know, the romance between Edith and Teddy did not stop therein.
2. Edith was Theodore’s second wife
In 1880, Theodore and Alice Lee Roosevelt finally tied the knot. Interestingly, this wedding was personally attended by Edith. Unfortunately, Alice Lee died four years later – leaving a daughter behind.
In 1995, Theodore and Edith started to rekindle their romance. Eventually, they married in Hanover Square, London in 1886 with was Cecil Spring Rice as Theodore ‘s best man. Years later, Rice became the British ambassador to the United States and remained close with the Roosevelt couple.
Despite the intimacy of Edith and Theodore, it somewhat became obvious that Theodore wasn’t able to completely move on from the death of his first wife. Thus, he preferred calling her first daughter as “Baby Lee” instead of her given name “Alice”.
3. Edith was the force behind Theodore’s success
In 1888, Theodore was chosen to serve as Commissioner under the United States Civil Service Commission. Despite Edith’s third pregnancy, she supported her husband to accept the position where he thereby served until 1895.
Eventually, Theodore was appointed as Commissioner in New York City Police in 1895, and later as the US Navy’s Assistant Secretary. As a badge of Edith’s support, she traveled all the way from Washington to Tampa, Florida just to send off Theodore as he headed towards the Spanish American War.
An interesting fact about Edith Roosevelt is that during the said period, Edith even assisted veteran soldiers at the hospital in Montauk, New York. Eventually, when Theodore ran for the position of governor, it was she who assisted him in answering his mails, among others.
Indeed, throughout Theodore’s career, Edith became his guide and driving force.
4. Edith was among the US’ finest First Ladies
Edith Roosevelt became the First Lady when Theodore succeeded in the presidency after the assassination of President McKinley. To adapt her family in the White House, she assumed the supervisory work thereof by removing the office of the housekeeper.
Later, she expanded the role of the First Lady of the White House by establishing her role as the nation’s hostess. She hired Isabelle “Belle” Hagner as the first First Lady’s secretary who helped her host extravagant social events. Eventually, through her efforts, Washington became the United States’ cultural center.
Indeed, through her events, the wives of the cabinet members were also organized accordingly.
5. Edith’s efforts made the White House
In 1902, Edith Roosevelt took the task to expand and modernize the White House through renovations and redecorations. With her proposal, Congress had approved over half a million dollars budget for her project. With this, the infamous West Wing and East Wing were created.
Interestingly, McKim, Mead & White, the architectural firm hired by Edith, almost removed the pieces of furniture in the Green Room, Blue Room, and East Room. With Edith’s intervention, these apparently pieces of Victorian furniture – now located in the Lincoln Bedroom – were preserved accordingly!
Further, to mark her contributions, Edith had the portraits of former First Ladies displayed on the White House china. This made the visitors see these china wares and portraits as they went to attend their business therein.
Indeed, it was because of these efforts that made White House what it is today. In fact, this place was not even referred to as such before her. Before Edith Roosevelt’s tenure as First Lady, White House was plainly called the Executive Mansion.
6. Edith was a loving mother
Edith Roosevelt and Theodore had five children – Theodore Jr., Kermit, Ethel, Archibald, and Quentin – in addition to Theodore’s first daughter Alice. As a mother, Edith spent a lot of time with her children.
Indeed, despite taking an active role as the First Lady, Edith did not fail to give her children the attention that they need.
7. Edith went flying with Earhart
In 1993, the infamous Amelia Earhart took Edith Roosevelt for an airborne spin, starting from Washington to Baltimore, an interesting Edith Roosevelt fact. Earhart was an American aviation pioneer and the very first female to fly across the Atlantic Ocean. Indeed, such adventure was a great experience for the First Lady.
Thus, when Earhart mysteriously disappeared, Edith was deeply saddened.
8. Edith took part in the creation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
In 1946, Harry S. Truman appointed Edith Roosevelt as one of the United Nations (UN) delegates. Therein, she became a great influence behind the UN’s Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Participated by over 50 member-states, UDHR became a milestone in the history of human rights, as it laid down the fundamental rights that are universally protected.
With Edith Roosevelt’s contribution and influence, she is definitely one of America’s finest first ladies! Notwithstanding that she was also a loving mother and a praiseworthy diplomat.
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