Theodore Roosevelt Marries Alice Hathaway Lee

Alice Hathaway Lee (July 29, 1861 in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts – February 14, 1884 in Manhattan, New York) was the first wife of Theodore Roosevelt and mother of their child, Alice.

Roosevelt's wife, Alice died of an undiagnosed (since it was camouflaged by her pregnancy) case of kidney failure called, in those days, Bright's disease at 2 pm two days after Alice Lee was born. Theodore Roosevelt's mother had died of typhoid fever in the same house, on the same day, at 3 am, some eleven hours earlier. After the near simultaneous deaths of his mother and wife, Roosevelt left his daughter in the care of his sister, Anna "Bamie/Bye" in New York City. In his diary he wrote a large X on the page and wrote "the light has gone out of my life."

A short time later, Roosevelt wrote a tribute to his wife published privately indicating that:

She was beautiful in face and form, and lovelier still in spirit; As a flower she grew, and as a fair young flower she died. Her life had been always in the sunshine; there had never come to her a single sorrow; and none ever knew her who did not love and revere her for the bright, sunny temper and her saintly unselfishness. Fair, pure, and joyous as a maiden; loving , tender, and happy. As a young wife; when she had just become a mother, when her life seemed to be just begun, and when the years seemed so bright before her—then, by a strange and terrible fate, death came to her. And when my heart’s dearest died, the light went from my life forever.

On February 13, 1880, an ecstatic Roosevelt recorded in his diary his great joy that the woman of his dreams, who he had actively courted for more than a year, had finally accepted his proposal of marriage. Knowing that his love was reciprocated and that he could now "hold her in my arms and kiss her and caress her and love her as much as I choose" gave the enraptured young Roosevelt enormous satisfaction. They announced their engagement in February 14, 1880 and after courtship of a few months that might have gotten in the way of Roosevelt's studies at Harvard University, they married on his 22nd birthday, October 27, 1880.

On February 14, 1884, aged 22, Alice died of Bright's disease two days after the birth of her daughter, also named Alice. The kidney ailment had not been diagnosed as it was masked by the pregnancy.

Theodore was so distraught by Alice's death that except for a diary entry and some oblique references to her in the months after her passing, he never spoke of her again and refused to have her name mentioned in his presence. So final was this decision to try to put Alice's loss out of his life, that she is not even mentioned by name in his autobiography. According to a number of historians, Roosevelt's willingness to leave behind or suppress his experiences with his first wife were a source of deep resentment by his daughter Alice Roosevelt Longworth. She was unable to get him to talk about her mother in any meaningful way. Her rebellious life finds some explanation in this sad aspect of her relationship with her father.