Alice

by zunguzungu

In chapter 13 of Roosevelt’s autobiography, he mentions — in an offhand sort of way — that

…the greatest privilege and greatest duty for any man is to be happily married, and that no other form of success or service, for either man or woman, can be wisely accepted as a substitute alternative.

TR was married during the period of his life he was writing about, a fact he utterly fails to mention. This is sort of bizarre, right? After college he basically did two things: he got married and started up in politics. In that chapter, he talks a ton about his political life — in fairly gruesomely boring detail — but doesn’t mention his wife at all.

For example, he talks about how his entrance into politics came about as a result of his friendship with a forgotten NY state politician named Joe Murray:

Among these lesser captains I soon struck up a friendship with Joe Murray, a friendship which is as strong now as it was thirty-three years ago…When I knew him he was already making his way up; one of the proofs and evidences of which was that he owned a first-class racing trotter — “Alice Lane” — behind which he gave me more than one spin.

During this first winter I grew to like Joe and his particular cronies…Next fall, as the elections drew near, Joe thought he would like to make a drive at Jake Hess, and after considerable planning decided that his best chance lay in the fight for the nomination to the Assembly, the lower house of the. Legislature. He picked me as the candidate with whom he would be most likely to win; and win he did. It was not my fight, it was Joe’s; and it was to him that I owe my entry into politics. I had at that time neither the reputation nor the ability to have won the nomination for myself, and indeed never would have thought of trying for it.

Now, I’ve bolded two lines there. That’s because the second is the explicit story, the story of how he entered politics. Basically, Joe Murray saw Roosevelt as a bright young boy and gave him his shot and the rest is history, etc. But the first is a name which doesn’t appear anywhere else in the entire book, the name “Alice,” which was the name of his first wife and also the name of their daughter, neither of whom he mentions. Alice Roosevelt died on Valentine’s Day, 1883, after complications from the delivery of their daughter, Alice. And yet, precisely in the period in which he was married to Alice — and in the period of his autobiography when he writes about how “no other form of success or service, for either man or woman, can be wisely accepted as a substitute alternative” for marriage — he never mentions that he was married, or the name of Alice, his wife, or Alice, his daughter. Just his political patron’s horse, Alice.