Edith Kermit Carow Roosevelt
Biography: Edith Kermit Carow knew Theodore Roosevelt from
infancy; as a toddler she became a playmate of his younger sister Corinne. Born in Connecticut in
1861, daughter of Charles and Gertrude Tyler Carow, she grew up in an old
New York brownstone on Union Square -- an environment of comfort and
tradition. Throughout childhood she and "Teedie" were in and out of each
Attending Miss Comstock's school, she acquired the proper finishing touch
for a young lady of that era. A quiet girl who loved books, she was
often Theodore's companion for summer outings at Oyster Bay, Long
Island; but this ended when he entered Harvard. Although she attended
his wedding to Alice Hathaway Lee in 1880, their lives ran separately
until 1885, when he was a young widower with an infant daughter, Alice.
Putting tragedy behind him, he and Edith were married in London in
December 1886. They settled down in a house on Sagamore Hill, at Oyster
Bay, headquarters for a family that added five children in ten years:
Theodore, Kermit, Ethel, Archibald, and Quentin. Throughout Roosevelt's
intensely active career, family life remained close and entirely
delightful. A small son remarked one day, "When Mother was a little
girl, she must have been a boy!"
Public tragedy brought them into the White House, eleven days after
President McKinley succumbed to an assassin's bullet. Assuming her new
duties with characteristic dignity, Mrs. Roosevelt meant to guard the
privacy of a family that attracted everyone's interest, and she tried to
keep reporters outside her domain. The public, in consequence, heard
little of the vigor of her character, her sound judgment, her efficient
But in this administration the White House was unmistakably the social
center of the land. Beyond the formal occasions, smaller parties brought
together distinguished men and women from varied walks of life. Two
family events were highlights: the wedding of "Princess Alice" to
Nicholas Longworth, and Ethel's debut. A perceptive aide described the
First Lady as "always the gentle, high-bred hostess; smiling often at
what went on about her, yet never critical of the ignorant and tolerant
always of the little insincerities of political life."
T.R. once wrote to Ted Jr. that "if Mother had been a mere unhealthy
Patient Griselda I might have grown set in selfish and inconsiderate
ways." She continued, with keen humor and unfailing dignity, to balance
her husband's exuberance after they retired in 1909.
After his death in 1919, she traveled abroad but always returned to
Sagamore Hill as her home. Alone much of the time, she never appeared
lonely, being still an avid reader -- "not only cultured but scholarly,"
as T.R. had said. She kept till the end her interest in the Needlework
Guild, a charity which provided garments for the poor, and in the work
of Christ Church at Oyster Bay. She died on September 30, 1948, at the
age of 87.