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Alice Roosevelt by Phebe Staggs (Age: 17)

Alice Roosevelt 1903

Alice Roosevelt was born in her family home, West 57th St. in Manhattan. Two days after her birth, her mother died of undiagnosed kidney failure. She was then raised by her Aunt Anna Roosevelt, her fathers sister. Anna was headstrong, stern, and fair.

She raised Alice until she was three. She went on to influence much of Alice's nature and characteristics. When Alice moved back with her father, who had married his high school sweetheart Edith Roosevelt. Tensions immediately began to rise between the two. Edith was jealous of Alice and her late mother. The hatred only grew as Alice came to be an attractive woman. After years of fights and unlady-like behavior, Alice was sent back to live with her Aunt Anna, while her father, ever distant, stayed with his wife and half children.

She stayed with her aunt until her father's election in 1901, when she was seventeen. She was captured by the media for the first time after she christened a boat. The public fell in love with her problematic behaviors. She was nicknamed Princess Alice. Every time she was spotted out with a man, people speculated she’d marry him. The papers were there when she became the first woman to drive the 45 miles in a car from Newport to Boston, they saw her as she raced said car up and down the streets of Washington, smoked publicly and on the roof of the White House, chewed gum, played poker, wore pants, partied all night and slept till noon. She kept a dagger, her pet snake named Emily Spinach, and a copy of the Constitution in her purse. Many young women viewed Alice Roosevelt as the future and cheered for her whenever she passed on the streets. She became the face of the New Woman movement, shortly after her father took office.

After Roosevelt was voted out of office. She was banned from the White House twice, once for burying a voodoo doll of Howard Taft’s wife in the yard, and a second time for badmouthing President Wilson. Not long after, on an Asian tour with William Howard Taft in 1905, Alice Roosevelt met her future husband, Congressman Nicholas Longworth.

Longworth was a womanizer and a staple of the social scene in Washington. Alice Roosevelt fell in love with him, because he had an uncanny resemblance of her father. After meeting him, they began their life of domesticity together. When Teddy died in 1919, Alice Roosevelt took up her father’s political causes to honor him.

She and her husband stayed together until his death in 1931. However, Alice had begun a relationship with Senator William Borah in the 1920s, and from that the daughter she bore in 1925, when she was still with Longworth, was his.

Alice Roosevelt in 1965

Her daughter, Paulina, who struggled with depression and addiction until her death in 1957, left Alice to care for her orphaned granddaughter.

Alice Roosevelt, in her later years, was still known for being sharp witted and stern. She never let age stop her. She remained active in politics and served on the national board of directors of America First, a committee dedicated to keeping the U.S. neutral during World War II — until Pearl Harbor, while voicing her opinions on matters of national importance loudly in print and in person. She was even friends with the Kennedys, Nixons, and the Johnsons.

Alice also stayed active in causes important to American women, calling Gloria Steinem “one of my heroes” and saying, when asked her opinion of the sexual revolution:Fill what’s empty, empty what’s full, and scratch where it itches.”

After a double mastectomy and health problems throughout her 80s, she died at age 96 on Feb. 20, 1980.

President Carter even said, “She had style, she had grace, and she had a sense of humor that kept generations of political newcomers to Washington wondering which was worse to be skewered by her wit or to be ignored by her.”

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