The short story of Alice Roosevelt Longworth

Alice Roosevelt Longworth
Alice Roosevelt Longworth

“I would have run for office. If I were very young I would try to get over the shyness of speaking in public. I still have it. I shuddered with terror when people tried to make me get up and speak. It was just false pride I suppose. But I’m really very shy.”

Alice Roosevelt Longworth was the daughter of Teddy Roosevelt and his first wife, Alice. Born in Manhattan in 1884, Alice’s mother passed away two days after giving birth, so for much of her upbringing, Alice was raised by her father and stepmother. And while she had a stepmother, Alice often complained of feeling like the family’s stepchild; she longed for attention from her father and acted out to force him to pay her heed when she didn’t get it.

As she grew older, Alice became known as a rule breaker. In an era when women were under great pressure to conform, conform she did not. She smoked in public, chewed gum, wore pants, raced her own car too fast down D.C. streets, sometimes with male passengers and always unchaperoned, and placed bets on horses (a news photographer snapped her collecting her winnings from a bookie).

All these antics played out in the press, as she was the child of a President. Her father was furious. But there was little he could do. He would remark as President, “I can either run the country or I can attend to Alice, but I cannot possibly do both.”

“The short story of Alice Roosevelt Longworth” sources:

At 90, Alice Roosevelt Longworth didn’t care who she offended in this mean, funny 1974 interview – Washington Post / Portrait of Alice is a hand-tinted photograph taken by France Benjamin Johnston – Johnston, Frances Benjamin, photographer. Alice Roosevelt Longworth, full-length portrait, standing, facing left. Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <www.loc.gov/item/98516476/>. / Wikimedia Commons

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