Alice Roosevelt Longworth: 96 Years of Pet Snakes, Cuckolded Husbands, and Sharp Wit

“In fact, most suspect it was Mr. Roosevelt’s general monogamous ways that is the only reason why America is not dominated by illegitimate supermen.”

~1920 Census Report


Consider this, America.  On the six occasions that Theodore Roosevelt told his reproductive system to make him a child, millions upon millions of potential Roosevelts battled each other for the right to carry on the legacy (and moustache genes) of one of America’s finest Americans (and great-grandfather to our editor-in-chief).  Each child was, genetically, 50% Teddy Roosevelt, which scientifically equates to about 8.3 Americans each.

Yes the fact that Teddy Roosevelt had six children seems appropriate- if anything it’s a disservice to our country that he didn’t go all Jim Duggar with his two wives.  Roosevelt hadving two wives had nothing to do with divorce or infidelity, of course- Roosevelt’s first wife, Alice Hathaway Lee Roosevelt, died shortly after childbirth when Roosevelt was 25 (it happened in the same house on the same day that his mother died, a coincidence that historical circles refer to as “Dude, that fucking sucks”).  Of course, Roosevelt knew he had to continue his lineage with more than one child, so he eventually remarried where his second wife gave birth to his five other children.

But those children?  Unmistakably American, every one.  That is why we at AFfotD are making it our duty to tell you about each and every one of the Roosevelt Children, and for the next several weeks you will periodically find fun facts in the Teddy’s Tots series.  We settled on the name “Teddy’s Tots” because we like alliteration, but “Teddy’s Totally Tricked out Tiny Tyrants” seemed a bit cumbersome.  So we begin our goal to educate you about the lives of every one of Teddy Roosevelt’s spawn with…

Alice Roosevelt Longworth:  96 Years of Pet Snakes, Cuckolded Husbands, and Sharp Wit

Alice Roosevelt was the only daughter born to Teddy Roosevelt’s first wife, Alice Hathaway Lee, who died soon after giving birth from a kidney ailment that was masked by her pregnancy.  Roosevelt was distraught at his wife’s death, and would not allow anyone to say her name in his presence, to the point that he would call his eldest daughter “Baby Lee” during her formative years instead of Alice.  Teddy Roosevelt was often absent from his daughter during her childhood, partly due to the painful association to his ex-wife, but mainly because he was generally out killing elephants with his face.

Alice Roosevelt was, by most contemporary opinions, “a super fox” at the time of her, uh, “debut” in 1902 (upper class society had some weird customs back then), and what she lacked as far as her father’s sheer brute upper arm strength she made up for with smarts and a sharp tongue.  She was a popular figure in America because, come on, Roosevelt;s daughter.  Several songs were written about her, Alice became a very popular baby name, and they even turned her exact eye color into a shade of blue.


And again, we must stress this, super fox.

Alice Roosevelt had an occasionally tumultuous relationship with her father growing up, but by the time she was 17, and Roosevelt had become President, she had taken Washington by storm.  Alice Roosevelt used her Roosevelt genes to be a badass independent woman during a period where women weren’t exactly swimming in rights.  During a time when women were not allowed to vote, and were often shunned from the limelight, Alice Roosevelt said, “Um, fuck that?” and spent much of Teddy Roosevelt’s presidency chewing gum (…which apparently was viewed as unladylike back then?), smoked in public, carrying snakes to parties, running up debts playing poker, and wait holy shit, did that just say she carried snakes to parties?  She brought snakes to parties just for the fuck of it!?  She had an actual pet garter snake that she named Emily Spinach because whatever, she’s a Roosevelt, if she wants to keep a snake in her pocket and name it Emily Spinach, she is going to do it.  All of this is probably the greatest thing we’ve ever heard.  Could you imagine going to a party and watching an attractive daughter of the President of the United States walk in carrying a snake?  Your head would explode.  No, we’re not being figurative, we’ve done the studies, your head would literally explode.

Roosevelt went with her father to Japan, taking focus away from Teddy Roosevelt’s negotiating of the Treaty of Portsmouth by doing things like jumping into a swimming pool fully clothed while coaxing Congressmen to join her.  Keep in mind that this was in 1905, when we’re pretty sure it was illegal for women to touch water outside of a kitchen.  While you might think that breaking social customs might have hurt Teddy Roosevelt’s attempt to broker an end to the Russo-Japanese War, the attention Alice Roosevelt received helped Teddy Roosevelt focus on his efforts without outside interference, which eventually led to Teddy Roosevelt becoming the first American to win the Nobel Peace Prize (to which Teddy Roosevelt no doubt scoffed, “Peace prize?  That’s bullshit.  I want a war prize”).

Is it just us, or does every picture of Teddy Roosevelt with other people look like he was photoshopped in there by someone who felt the original image wasn’t manly enough?

The bald man pictured next to the two awesome people in the above image was Nicholas Longworth, a prominent member of the House of Representatives who was 14 years older than Alice Roosevelt, and apparently was considered a bit of a playboy at the time (despite having an eerie resemblance to Tobias Funke…)

Alice Roosevelt, now Alice Longworth, entered into the marriage for the hell of it, but the two often had a chilled relationship.  Apropos of nothing, we want to point out that when the Roosevelts left the White House, Alice Roosevelt Longworth buried a voodoo doll of Nellie Taft, the incoming first lady, in the back yard of the White House.  Why?  Because fuck kicking Teddy Roosevelt out of office, that’s why.  Her husband was a public supporter of Taft in the 1912 election, while she supported Teddy Roosevelt because duh.  She even managed to get Longworth’s opponent elected over him during an election cycle (though he reclaimed his seat in the following election) which probably pissed him off quite a bit.

He responded to being emasculated by his far more intelligent wife the way most type-A personalities respond to such a blow to their ego- by having just, so many affairs.  Again, apparently the standards for attraction weren’t all that high back in the 1910s, because this is the face of someone who was able to sleep with women whenever he wanted to.

Whoops, wrong picture.

Ah, there we go.

For those of you who are reading this and feel it is a travesty that such an impressively Rooseveltian woman would have to suffer a husband who cheated on her frequently, don’t worry, she had so many affairs.  With her husband’s colleagues.  To the point that he wasn’t even the father of her only daughter (that distinction went to a Senator, William Borah).  He was so cuckolded that even Shakespeare would have gotten tired of working puns about horns into descriptions of the man.  And that is why, if you marry a Roosevelt, you do not fool around behind their back, because they will absolutely get you back.

Alice Roosevelt Longworth managed to stay in the limelight for ages, and she lived to be 96 years old (She broke her hip, got breast cancer, and emphysema in the mid-to-late 1950s and still lived for another twenty five years because, you know, she’s a Roosevelt).  She was also known for her sharp tongue as well as her healthy audacity, and we feel the best way to finalize the discussion of Alice Roosevelt’s long, fruitful life would be to show that she was to insulting people what Teddy Roosevelt was to shooting things.  We leave you with a list of anectdotes.

–          For someone who was born in the 1800’s, she was remarkably tolerant of African Americans.  When she was 81, in 1965, she was close to, and respectful of, her African American chauffer.  When the chauffer nearly got into a collision with a taxi driver, the driver got out of the car and screamed, “You black son of a bitch, what do you think you’re doing?”  While the chauffer remained calm, Longworth shouted back, “You white son of a bitch, what do you think you’re doing?”

–          One of her most famous sayings was, “The secret of eternal youth is arrested development,” which is exactly what we’d expect to hear from someone who married Tobias Funke.

–          At one point, a Ku Klux Klan member approached her in full regalia asking her to take his word for something.  She responded, “I never trust a man under sheets.”

–          The phrase, “If you haven’t got anything good to say about anyone, come sit next to me” was stitched on a pillow of the seat next to hers at her home.

The first of Roosevelt’s daughters lived the longest, and she left behind her enough of a legacy to remind us all that, no matter what, Teddy Roosevelt’s kids were, in fact, Teddy Roosevelt’s kids.

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6 responses to “Alice Roosevelt Longworth: 96 Years of Pet Snakes, Cuckolded Husbands, and Sharp Wit

  1. omfg, i love this. totally made my night. ❤ thank you!!

  2. Pingback: Archibald Roosevelt’s Knee Fought For Freedom | affotd

  3. Pingback: Archibald Roosevelt’s Knee Fought For Freedom | affotd

  4. Pingback: Archibald Roosevelt’s Knee Fought For Freedom | affotd

  5. Pingback: Archibald Roosevelt’s Knee Fought For Freedom | affotd

  6. Pingback: Ray Caldwell: The Alcoholic Lightning Rod of Major League Baseball | America Fun Fact of the Day

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