Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Edith Roosevelt


Edith Kermit Carow Roosevelt




Edith Kermit Carow Roosevelt was the second wife and First Lady of her childhood companion and the 26th President, Theodore Roosevelt (1901-1909).
Edith Kermit Carow knew Theodore Roosevelt from infancy; as a toddler she became a playmate of his younger sister Corinne. Born in Connecticut in 1861, daughter of Charles and Gertrude Tyler Carow, she grew up in an old New York brownstone on Union Square -- an environment of comfort and tradition. Throughout childhood she and "Teedie" were in and out of each other's houses.
Attending Miss Comstock's school, she acquired the proper finishing touch for a young lady of that era. A quiet girl who loved books, she was often Theodore's companion for summer outings at Oyster Bay, Long Island; but this ended when he entered Harvard. Although she attended his wedding to Alice Hathaway Lee in 1880, their lives ran separately until 1885, when he was a young widower with an infant daughter, Alice.
Putting tragedy behind him, he and Edith were married in London in December 1886. They settled down in a house on Sagamore Hill, at Oyster Bay, headquarters for a family that added five children in ten years: Theodore, Kermit, Ethel, Archibald, and Quentin. Throughout Roosevelt's intensely active career, family life remained close and entirely delightful. A small son remarked one day, "When Mother was a little girl, she must have been a boy!"

Public tragedy brought them into the White House, eleven days after President McKinley succumbed to an assassin's bullet. Assuming her new duties with characteristic dignity, Mrs. Roosevelt meant to guard the privacy of a family that attracted everyone's interest, and she tried to keep reporters outside her domain. The public, in consequence, heard little of the vigor of her character, her sound judgment, her efficient household management.
But in this administration the White House was unmistakably the social center of the land. Beyond the formal occasions, smaller parties brought together distinguished men and women from varied walks of life. Two family events were highlights: the wedding of "Princess Alice" to Nicholas Longworth, and Ethel's debut. A perceptive aide described the First Lady as "always the gentle, high-bred hostess; smiling often at what went on about her, yet never critical of the ignorant and tolerant always of the little insincerities of political life."

T.R. once wrote to Ted Jr. that "if Mother had been a mere unhealthy Patient Griselda I might have grown set in selfish and inconsiderate ways." She continued, with keen humor and unfailing dignity, to balance her husband's exuberance after they retired in 1909.
After his death in 1919, she traveled abroad but always returned to Sagamore Hill as her home. Alone much of the time, she never appeared lonely, being still an avid reader -- "not only cultured but scholarly," as T.R. had said. She kept till the end her interest in the Needlework Guild, a charity which provided garments for the poor, and in the work of Christ Church at Oyster Bay. She died on September 30, 1948, at the age of 87.
During her time as FL, she was instrumental in changing the private residence. Security was lax and people would wander into the private residence so she removed the presidential staff from the second floor. She was also involved with the 1902 renovation and addition of the West Wing which gave it the classical look, and on the ground floor, the gallery of the First Ladies collection.
The biographies of the First Ladies on WhiteHouse.gov are from “The First Ladies of the United States of America,” by Allida Black. Copyright 2009 by the White House Historical Association.


Alice Roosevelt










Saturday, April 1, 2017

Easter Egg Roll

Since 1878, American presidents and their families have celebrated Easter Monday by hosting an 'egg roll' party. Held on the South Lawn, it is one of the oldest annual events in White House history. Some historians note that First Lady Dolley Madison originally suggested the idea of a public egg roll, while others tell stories of informal egg-rolling parties at the White House dating back to President Lincoln's administration. Beginning in the 1870s, Washingtonians from all social levels celebrated Easter Monday on the west grounds of the U.S. Capitol. Children rolled brilliantly dyed hard-boiled eggs down the terraced lawn.






Soon a concern for the landscape led to a bill that banned the rolling of eggs on Capitol grounds. In 1876, President Ulysses S. Grant signed the bill into law. The new edict went unchallenged in 1877, as rain cancelled all the day's activities, but egg rollers who came in 1878 were ejected by Capitol Hill police.




Since 1878, American presidents and their families have celebrated Easter Monday by hosting an 'egg roll' party. Held on the South Lawn, it is one of the oldest annual events in White House history. Some historians note that First Lady Dolley Madison originally suggested the idea of a public egg roll, while others tell stories of informal egg-rolling parties at the White House dating back to President Lincoln's administration. Beginning in the 1870s, Washingtonians from all social levels celebrated Easter Monday on the west grounds of the U.S. Capitol. Children rolled brilliantly dyed hard-boiled eggs down the terraced lawn.



Soon a concern for the landscape led to a bill that banned the rolling of eggs on Capitol grounds. In 1876, President Ulysses S. Grant signed the bill into law. The new edict went unchallenged in 1877, as rain cancelled all the day's activities, but egg rollers who came in 1878 were ejected by Capitol Hill police.




 In 1878, Easter Monday celebrants who were not allowed to roll eggs on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol headed up Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House. The children knew about the low hills on the South Lawn, and hoped their egg rolling games would be permitted there. President Rutherford B. Hayes instructed his guards to let the youngsters through the gates. It proved to be a very popular change of venue. By Easter Monday 1880, an article in the Evening Star reported that eager egg rollers had taken "absolute possession of the grounds south of the White House."




 In the beginning, children came into the White House with baskets of brightly dyed hard-boiled eggs. On Easter Monday, 1885, young egg rollers marched into the East Room, hoping for a personal audience with President Grover Cleveland. When he came down from his office to greet them, he was charmed, and indoor egg roll receptions became customary. These visitors ruined the East Room carpet, which, as the Washington Post reported, was "ground full of freshly smashed hard-boiled egg and broken egg shells." Still, when Cleveland returned in 1893 for a second, non-consecutive term, he continued to grant the egg rollers carte blanche access to the house and grounds.



 Eleven years after the Easter Monday egg rolling festivities came to the White House, President Benjamin Harrison scored a hit by adding music to the affair. In 1889, he had the United States Marine Band, known as "The President's Own," play lively tunes while the children romped on the South Lawn. John Philip Sousa, who directed the band, took delight in treating the egg roll guests to rousing marches. Sousa honored the occasion in his 1929 composition "Easter Monday on the White House Lawn." U.S. Marine Band concerts were always a highlight of the event, and they continue to provide egg roll celebrants with music to make this day even more special.







Over the years, White House egg roll events have been made memorable by new attractions. In 1993, the Clintons scaled back the fanfare so that children would remember the day for its egg rolling games. A generation earlier, First Lady Pat Nixon gave out certificates of participation as a souvenir to eggrollers. Betty Ford and Rosalynn Carter distributed plastic eggs with printed notes inside from the first lady. In 1981, President and Mrs. Ronald Reagan hosted a hunt for wooden eggs that bore the signatures of famous people. Wooden eggs soon became the official White House egg roll keepsakes. The eggs are designed to reflect the special theme of each year's event, and are inscribed with the signatures of the president and first lady. Each child under the age of twelve is given one as he or she exits the South Lawn gates.