Friday, March 23, 2012

A Historical Sass

Well my dearies I am popping in from my self induced hibernation with my laptop and MS of The Eternal Witch to post today guest blog post. Meg Mims is one of my fave online friends and an APsista.(We are both Astraea Press authors.) And to say Meg knows me would be an understatement because this post just made my day. So without further ado I give you a woman of the past with sass.



SASSY WOMEN BLOG POST


Alice Lee Roosevelt, the only daughter born to President Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt and his first wife Alice (who died two days after birth), was considered “bohemian” in her day and era.
Since her father refused to speak his first wife’s name after her death, Alice was called “Lee” and primarily raised by her father’s sister. Young Alice clashed with her stepmother, who actually forced her into leg braces and shoes to treat a slight case of polio – which saved Alice from being crippled for life. But tension between stepmother and daughter, plus inattention from her father served to make Alice independent and rebellious. She refused to attend a conservative school for girls while Teddy Roosevelt served as New York’s governor. She promised an act of “shame and humiliation” if forced to go – and he took her seriously. Alice remained free to do as she wished.

Such as smoking cigarettes, driving an automobile and riding with men openly before she was married, partying at all hours and even keeping a pet snake! After McKinley’s assassination in 1901, Alice was thrilled when her father took on the Presidency. The White House became a “stage” for more exploits by “Princess Alice.” She took after Teddy Roosevelt in terms of wanting attention – and said about him: “My father always wanted to be the corpse at every funeral, the bride at every wedding and the baby at every christening.” Alice also hounded her father with political advice and interruptions – prompting him to say, "I can either run the country or I can attend to Alice, but I cannot possibly do both."


Not only did people take notice of Alice’s doings, they also looked to her for fashion – much like Jackie O, Princess Diana, Kate and Pippa Middleton, or celebrity actresses of today. Alice Lee Roosevelt was a great beauty like her mother, and yet not at all demure like young ladies of the early 1900s. During her father’s term, Alice and then Secretary of War William Howard Taft led a diplomatic “Imperial Cruise” visit in 1905 to Japan, China, Korea, the Philippines and Hawaii. Accompanying them were 23 U.S. Congressmen, seven Senators and other officials. Alice entertained the press and made headlines everywhere by attending sumo wrestling and being photographed with the Japanese emperor and the Empress Dowager of China.

The press dubbed her “Alice in Plunder Land” for the quantity of silk she brought home, along with a gorgeous strand of pearls donated by the Cuban government (which she wore until the end of her life.) Alice even jumped into the cruise ship’s pool (fully clothed) and convinced a Congressman to join her. She considered her whim as akin to swimming in the bathing attire of the day, and not at all scandalous. But her 1906 White House marriage to Nicholas Longworth, a Representative from Cincinnati, Ohio, who later became Speaker of the House, failed to settle her into complacency.

Longworth, 14 years older than Alice, held different political views and loyalties. In fact, her 1912 campaign against her husband in his own district – in which he lost – permanently damaged their relationship. Longworth was re-elected, however, and kept his seat for the rest of his life. But Alice carried on many affairs and openly noted in her diary that another man fathered her daughter Pauline, born in 1925. She once noted that Calvin Coolidge “looks as though he's been weaned on a pickle.” Alice, considered “the other Washington Monument,” held famous parties through her life. Her favorite saying: “If you can't say something good about someone, sit right here by me.” A true Sassy Woman for the ages.

 


Double Crossing, August 2011
The Key to Love, February 2012
 

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10 comments:

  1. What a fun post! Thanks for sharing.

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  2. Thanks, Bri, for having me today! I just had to write about a "sassy" woman -- and figured you and your blog followers would enjoy a bit of history. :-D Enjoy!

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    1. Thank you Meg! I freaking loved it.

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  3. Alice certainly was a character! It's funny to see how ideas about what's proper and what's not have changed over the years. Great post!

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  4. I've read a little about Alice Lee R. before, but none of these details. Fascinating stuff! Thanks, Meg.

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    1. Seriously Jeff, Meg has an awesome knack for getting to the good stuff.

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