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., N.d. (“Friday”). On silver embossed White House stationery. To CHRISTINE GRIFFIN KEAN ROOSEVELT, the wife of Theodore Roosevelt’s cousin and advisor William Emlen Roosevelt (1857-1930).
The First Lady Visits Isabella Stewart Gardner’s “Palace:” “One leaves Boston the moment that the door of the Palace closes behind one”
Signed by Edith K. Roosevelt
“I was delighted with your letter this morning. It seems the first really encouraging news for so long, and I can hardly believe it. How nice it is about George. Of course Ted knew all you wrote & was surprised that I should for a moment imagine that he did not. My visit to Groton was just what I had hoped. Howard Porter was also confirmed so Mrs. Porter and Helen were also staying with Mrs. Gardner which was very pleasant for me. We had been at Groton under such sad circumstances that we were very happy at being there together at this time. Monday I spent in Boston with Mrs. Lee & in the afternoon we went to Mrs. Gardner’s Palace. I do not know whether you have ever seen it, but it is certainly well worth a journey and gave me all the sensations of a foreign trip of several week’s duration. One leaves Boston the moment that the door of the Palace closes behind one. The court is full of blooming plants and at the back wall a trickle of water drips, drips from two lions’ mouths into a pool below. Each room is more full of beautiful things than the last & I can recommend a visit to the Palace as a good preparation to a visit to the sleeping car! Dear Christine do give Aunt Lizzie my love – & Emlen also…”
Friends since childhood, Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919) and Edith Carow were married in 1886, a year after the death of TR’s first wife. Edith served as First Lady during her husband’s two terms as president, from 1901 to 1909, and was known as a dignified hostess. She later supported Herbert Hoover in the presidential race against her husband’s nephew, Franklin D. Roosevelt, because she disapproved of Eleanor, TR’s niece.
Emlen Roosevelt was a banker with his father’s firm, Roosevelt & Son and 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. Together they had five children, including George Emlen Roosevelt (1887-1963) who worked at Roosevelt & Son with his father. “Aunt Lizzie” is Elizabeth Norris Emlen Roosevelt (1825-1912), Emlen Roosevelt’s mother.
Our letter discusses a visit to Groton, the Massachusetts prep school attended by Theodore Roosevelt, as well as his sons, grandsons, and a great-grandson, and offers a charming description of the first lady’s visit to the Venetian inspired palace built by Boston art collector Isabella Stewart Gardner (1840-1924) to house her extensive collection. The museum was a novelty when it opened in 1903 to much fanfare.
The third page is written vertically as are the last several lines of our letter, written in the left margin of the first page. Folded and in very good condition.