Biographical / Historical
Alice Lee Roosevelt Longworth, eldest child of President Theodore Roosevelt, was a writer, activist, and socialite, known for her exploits and willingness to flout convention. Her father once said that, "I can be President of the United States, or I can control Alice. I cannot possibly do both." She was born on February 12th, 1884 in New York City, and was the only child of Theodore Roosevelt and Alice Hathaway Lee. Her mother died two days after her birth. Alice's life changed dramatically when her father became the 26th president of the United States in 1901 upon President William McKinley's assassination. She entered Washington society the following January at her debutante ball, launching her career as an important political mover and a celebrity. During her father's presidency, she hosted large events for him, acted as a stand-in at events he could not attend, and went on various diplomatic trips at his behest, cementing her place among the Washington political elite.
On February 17, 1906, she married Congressman Nicholas Longworth (1869-1931), a Republican from Ohio, and moved her base of influence from the White House to her husband's home. She had one daughter in 1925 named Pauline. After her daughter's death from an overdose of sleeping pills in 1957, Alice gained custody of her granddaughter, Joanna and raised her. Alice Longworth campaigned frequently for Republican Party candidates and wrote regular political columns, but she supported the Democratic Kennedy and Johnson administrations. Throughout her life, Alice Longworth was known both for her caustic wit as well as her convivial dinner parties, two traits that gave her lasting influence and in later years earned her the title, "the other Washington Monument." She died two weeks after her 96th birthday on February 20, 1980.
Alice was a member of one of the first and largest U.S. foreign diplomatic delegations to Asia. It embarked from San Francisco on July 8, 1905 for a three-month tour, stopping in Japan, the Philippines, and China. The delegation, under the leadership of then-Secretary of War William Howard Taft, also included congressmen, senators, and a group of other civilians. Alice's future husband, Nicholas Longworth, was one of the congressmen with the delegation and their engagement was declared shortly after their return. On this trip, Alice met with the Meiji Emperor of Japan, the Philippine Sultan of Sulu, and the Chinese Empress Dowager Cixi. Multiple photographs of her, other members of the delegation, and those they met with, were taken during the journey. Alice also collection albums, prints and postcards of local cities on her journey.