• People Trivia

15 Scandalous Facts About Alice Roosevelt, America's Wildest First Daughter

Alice Roosevelt was a legendary First Daughter. Among all of the naughty First Daughters who have come and gone in the White House, Alice and her antics stand out. She was wild, she was unpredictable, she was sharp and intelligent, and she was one-of-a-kind.

Born and raised in New York in 1884, Alice moved with her family to the White House in 1901, when her father, Theodore Roosevelt, became president. This rambunctious, snarky young woman made life difficult for her father and caused him numerous presidential woes. Her tenure as First Daughter led to some wild White House tales. Alice Roosevelt stories are usually full of humor, wit, and a heavy dose of mischief.

The Roosevelts left the White House in 1909, but Alice’s connection with the political elite didn't end there. She spent the vast majority of her 96 years in the nation’s capital, becoming a fixture of Washington high society. Anyone who was anyone in 20th century political culture knew Alice Roosevelt. The Wilsons, Trumans, Eisenhowers, Kennedys, Johnsons, and Nixons: they all knew and courted the celebrated and storied First Daughter.

These scandalous Alice Roosevelt facts reveal a bright, badass woman who consistently disregarded rules of respectability - and who knew how to have fun.

  • She Challenged Her Father At Every Turn, Even Interrupting White House Meetings

    Photo: Frances Benjamin Johnston / Public Domain

    It is no secret Alice had a difficult relationship with her father, since she spent her life craving attention he never bothered to or could give. Alice’s stubbornness and strength meant she was a handful for her father and step-mother, who struggled to manage her. They once attempted to enroll her in a rigid girl’s school, and she was definitely not on board with the plan, threatening: “If you send me I will humiliate you.”

    Alice’s behavior during her father's presidency kept Roosevelt’s hands full. At one point, she repeatedly interrupted a meeting between her father and the novelist Owen Wister. Exasperated, Roosevelt exclaimed, “I can be President of the United States or I can attend to Alice. I cannot possibly do both!”

  • On A Diplomatic Trip To Asia, She Began A Scandalous Affair With A Congressman

    In 1905, Theodore Roosevelt wanted to keep his 21-year-old daughter occupied in the hopes it might keep her out of trouble. So, he sent her as the head of a goodwill delegation to Asia, which was meant to coincide with his efforts to bring about peace during the Russo-Japanese War, a task that ultimately won him a Nobel Peace Prize.

    Alice’s diplomatic mission wasn't quite what her father had in mind. Though she went through the motions of diplomacy, the young woman also had plenty of fun along the way, including flirting with government officials who joined her and learning how to do the hula in Hawaii. She made a splash in more than one way: she even jumped fully clothed into the ship’s pool.

    Perhaps the most scandalous part of Roosevelt’s trip was her affair with Nicholas Longworth, a thirtysomething Republican congressman from Ohio. By December 1905, the two were engaged.

  • She Was A Celebrity Who Had A Color And A Waltz Named After Her

    Photo: Public Domain / via Wikimedia Commons

    When Theodore Roosevelt became president in 1901, Alice was a rebellious teenager of 17 - and her wild behavior and impeccable fashion choices catapulted her to the status of bonafide American celebrity. Her taste for a pale shade of blue became so famous it was named Alice blue. Alice blue dresses became so ubiquitous there was a song to pay  homage to the trend. “Alice Blue Gown."

    The “Alice Roosevelt Waltz” was also named in her honor. The public speculated on her romantic escapades and potential matches. She received so many letters at the White House he Roosevelts had to hire a secretary just to deal with Alice’s mail.

  • Teddy Was An Absent Father

    Photo: Underwood & Underwood / Public Domain

    Following his personal tragedies in February 1884, Roosevelt escaped to the West for several years. Though it brought Roosevelt excitement, fulfillment, and stirred his environmental consciousness, it meant he was absent from his young daughter’s life. In his absence, his older sister Bamie virtually adopted Alice, taking charge of the infant and raising her for the first few years of her life.

    Many years after Teddy returned to Alice, she wrote in a diary kept during her White House years, "Father doesn’t care for me, that is to say one-eighth as much as he does for the other children."