by John T. Marck
First Lady: 1901 to 1909
Wife of President Theodore Roosevelt
Born: August 6, 1861 Died: September 30, 1948
Edith Kermit Carow was born in Norwich, Connecticut, the daughter of Charles and Gertrude Elizabeth Carow, however she was raised in Union Square, New York. Edith was Theodore Roosevelt's first love, however when Roosevelt attended Harvard University, Edith was replaced by Alice Hathaway Lee, whom Roosevelt married. Alice died at the age of twenty-one during childbirth and Roosevelt laid her memory to rest and never permitted her name to be mentioned in the family again. Edith then resumed her relationship with Theodore after a chance meeting two years after the death of Alice.
Edith and Theodore were married quietly on December 2, 1886 in London, England. She was an understanding and enthusiastic wife, admiring her husband greatly upon his return in glory from the war with Spain in 1898. Soon after they married, he moved his wife and daughter Alice (from first marriage) to Sagamore Hill, on Long Island, a summer cottage he had purchased before his first wife died. It was a large house with at least twelve bedrooms. From the time they first moved in, Sagamore Hill was not a summer cottage, but a permanent domain and castle for Theodore. The home was managed by Edith and ten servants very well. Edith and Theodore had five children; Theodore, Jr., Kermit, Ethel Carow, Archibald Bullock and Quentin, a flyer who died in World War I. Edith had a advantage over previous First Ladies in that she received a lot of public exposure prior to being First Lady. Being the wife of the hero of San Juan Hill and exposure during her husband's six years on the Civil Service Commission helped her Washington social life. She did not like politics, but did however handle her duties as mistress well. Their daughter, Alice was married in the East Room of the White House, with Edith providing quite a lavish reception.
Roosevelt refused to take Edith's advice and run for another term in 1908. In retirement, Theodore would go on many African hunting adventures, worrying Edith as she knew Theodore's many frailties. Theodore however died in his sleep at home in 1919.
Edith survived her husband by many years, continuing to live at Sagamore Hill until her death on September 30, 1948.