Born: August 6, 1861
Birthplace: Norwich, Connecticut
Years as First Lady: 1901-1909
Died: September 30, 1948
Edith Roosevelt was Theodore Roosevelt's second wife, but his first love. She was a friend to the Roosevelt children from the age of four, and when her parents could not afford to send her to school, Theodore's mother provided Edith with an education. She and Theodore fell in love, but they separated before they were old enough to marry. Theodore married Alice Lee and had one daughter.
Edith's father died, and her mother went to Europe to live with her sister. In 1884, Theodore's first wife died, and by September of 1885, he and Edith were seeing each other again. Theodore proposed in November, and Edith accepted. Edith went to Italy to help her mother get settled there, and Theodore and Edith were married in London. Edith was 25 years old.
Theodore's personality was boisterous, while Edith was calm to the point of being aloof at times. Her manner helped to ensure that reason led the Roosevelt household, which was usually chaotic. Edith was stepmother to Theodore's oldest daughter, and the couple had five children of their own. Edith's calm nature prevailed to see that the children were well educated and all grew to adulthood. A family friend once answered when asked how many children Edith had with, "Seven--the six little ones and Teddy."
Edith was not happy when Teddy ran as McKinley's vice president in 1900. But, once the family had moved into the White House, she took charge. She made the official name of the residence "The White House." She was responsible for creating the China Room, where the china of all the presidents is housed. She put her social secretary on the official government payroll. She added the West Wing and restored the East Wing. Between 1904 and 1905, she turned her office into a secret office for Theodore so he could negotiate a peace treaty between Russia and Japan. She established an official First Ladies' Gallery where the portraits of all the First Ladies were hung. She also moved the family's private living quarters to the third floor and shut out the public.
When Roosevelt left office, Edith was relieved. In 1918, she lost her youngest son in World War I, and the next year, she lost Theodore. In spite of her grief, she loved being a mother and grandmother. She spent most of her time at Sagamore Hill, the Roosevelt family home until she died at the age of 87.