Letter from the First Lady and Second Wife of Theodore Roosevelt: “Each Saturday Theodore & I have breathed sighs of relief”

Signed by Edith K. Roosevelt

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ROOSEVELT, EDITH K. (1861-1948). First Lady and second wife of Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of the United States. ALS. (“E”). 4pp. Small 8vo. Washington, D.C., Saturday [January 30, 1904]. On White House stationery. To Christine Griffin Kean Roosevelt, the wife of Theodore Roosevelt’s cousin and advisor William Emlen Roosevelt (1857-1930).

It was a relief to hear from Sue, – who is so good about always sending me a daily bulletin, – that Emlen had gone to Oyster Bay today. She & Lucy came in yesterday & I felt so discouraged by what she told me that I did not dare to even talk about it. It has been a winter of great trial for you and Emlen and I have felt so helpless and useless, when I would so willingly have shared your cares. Each Saturday Theodore & I have breathed sighs of relief & said “One more week of the season over.” Yesterday I had my last musical. Busoni played very beautifully, & held the attention of a large & incongruous audience. Corinne & Douglas dined with us, & some senators & their wives & Mrs. Lister gorgeous in her rubies & a wonderful red velvet woven with velvet flowers, & other lesser lights. The Mumfords (Bella Lee) & Mrs Leavite were staying in the house. Washington is deep in snow. Yesterday, Theodore and I tried to ride, but had to turn back immediately for the horses could scarcely keep their feet. With love dear Christine Affectionately E

Edith Roosevelt

Close friends since childhood, Theodore and Edith were married in 1886, just one year following the death of TR’s first wife. During her tenure as first lady, from 1901 to 1909, Edith distinguished herself as a dignified hostess who elevated the position of first lady. “Edith directed a full social schedule. She hosted the wives of the cabinet officers who, as a group, tried to govern the moral conduct of Washington society through their guest lists. Edith also used her ‘cabinet meetings’ to release her schedule of entertainments so that she would not be upstaged. She hosted visiting royalty, attended cabinet dinners, greeted guests at New Year’s receptions,” (“Edith Roosevelt,” millercenter.org/president/roosevelt/essays/firstlady).

One of the many changes she instituted was to replace the weekly levees or open houses with weekly “musicale” evenings, referenced in our letter, at which amateur and professional musicians performed. Among the many esteemed musical guests were Pablo Casals, Josef Hofmann, Ignace Jan Paderewski, and German-Italian composer and pianist Ferruccio Busoni (1866-1924), who had performed on the previous evening, January 29, 1904, on a gold Steinway given to the White House by Steinway & Sons in 1903.

Emlen Roosevelt was a banker with his father’s firm, Roosevelt & Son who sat on the board of many prominent financial institutions. He was very close to his cousin Theodore and acted as his financial advisor, even during the White House years. Emlen’s wife Christine was a descendant of prominent Dutch settlers and a member of New York society.

Our letter mention’s Theodore’s younger sister, Edith’s closest friend Corinne Roosevelt (1861-1933) and her husband, real estate mogul Douglas Robinson Jr. (1855-1918). Corinne later became an accomplished poet and politically active.

Written on a silver-embossed sheet of folded White House stationery. Folded and fine. Uncommon.

Letter from the First Lady and Second Wife of Theodore Roosevelt: “Each Saturday Theodore & I have breathed sighs of relief”

Signed by Edith K. Roosevelt

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