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September 14, 1901 – March 4, 1909
Ida Saxton McKinley
Helen Herron Taft
March 4, 1901 – September 14, 1901
Jennie Tuttle Hobart
Cornelia Cole Fairbanks
||August 6, 1861
Norwich, Connecticut, U.S.
||September 30, 1948 (aged 87)
Oyster Bay, New
||Charles Carrow and Gertrude Tyler Carow
Alice Lee Roosevelt (step-daughter)
Edith Kermit Carow Roosevelt (August
6, 1861 – September 30, 1948) was the second wife of Theodore
Roosevelt and served as First
Lady of the United States during
his presidency from 1901 to 1909.
Born in Norwich,
Connecticut, the daughter of Charles Carow (1825-1883), a merchant, and
the former Gertrude Elizabeth Tyler (1836-1895) and a granddaughter of Daniel
Tyler who was a general in
Civil War, Edith grew up next door to Theodore "T.R." Roosevelt in New
York and was best friends with his younger sister Corinne.
She was T.R.'s first real playmate outside his immediate family.
She and her sister Emily Tyler Carow (1865-1939) were brought up in an
environment of comfort and tradition. An infant brother, Kermit (b. February
1860; d. August 1860) died one year before her birth.
At Miss Comstock's school, Edith acquired the proper finishing touch for a
young lady of that era. A quiet girl who loved books, she was often T.R.'s
companion for summer outings at Oyster
Island; but this ended when he entered Harvard
College. Although she attended his wedding to Alice
Hathaway Lee in 1880, their
lives ran separately until 1885.
The year after his first wife's death, T.R. ran into Edith at his sister's
house. They began seeing each other again; on November 17, 1885, he proposed
and she accepted. However, for appearance's sake, the young widower delayed
Roosevelt, aged 28, married secondly Edith Carow, aged 25, on December 2,
1886, at St.
George's Church of Hanover Square, in London,
England. On the day of the wedding, a quiet affair with few guests, the
London fog was so thick that it filled the church. The groom was visible
however, for he wore bright orange gloves. His best man was Cecil Arthur
Spring-Rice, later British ambassador to the U.S. during World
After a 15-week honeymoon tour of Europe, the newlyweds settled down in a
house on Sagamore
Hill, at Oyster Bay. Mrs. Roosevelt, reserved and efficient, managed the
household budget. Throughout T.R.'s intensely active career, family life
remained close and entirely delightful.
Lady of the United States
McKinley's assassination, Mrs. Roosevelt assumed her new duties as First
Lady with characteristic
dignity. She 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 household management.
As First Lady, she converted the traditional weekly levees to musicales,
remodeled the White House at a cost of $475,000 into what the president
described as "a simple and dignified dwelling for the head of a republic."
During T.R.'s 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. Three family
events were highlights: the debut of her stepdaughter Alice
Lee Roosevelt in 1902, 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."
Life and Death
After her husband's death in 1919, she traveled abroad but always returned to
Sagamore Hill as her home. 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 established a second residence in the
Tyler family's ancestral hometown of Brooklyn, Connecticut. Mrs. Roosevelt
came out of retirement in
1932 and gave a seconding speech on the behalf of Herbert
Hoover in his bid for
re-election, thus campaigning against her nephew-in-law Franklin
Delano Roosevelt. She had never cared for her niece Eleanor and
did not want to see her become First
She died at her Oyster
Bay home in New
York on September 30, 1948, at
the age of 87 and is interred in Youngs Memorial Cemetery of Oyster