Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Alice Roosevelt and Nick Longworth: The actual engagement photos



Alice wasn't shy in saving photos of herself.  This spread filled two full pages of the oversized scrapbook.  




It's easy to like Alice Roosevelt Longworth, oldest daughter of TR and owner of Washington, D.C.’s sharpest tongue for 96 years (1884-1980).  Among others she’s credited with--

                "If you have nothing nice to say about anyone, come here and sit by me."

                “My simple philosophy:  Fill what's empty.  Empty what's full.  And scratch what itches."

                "The secret to eternal youth is arrested development."

                On Calvin Coolidge:  He "looks as if he was weaned on a pickle."

                And on Thomas E. Dewey:  “The little man on top of the wedding cake."

Her father, Theodore Roosevelt, famously added this: "I can be President of the United States, or I can control Alice.  I cannot possibly do both." 

Recently, I spent a day rummaging through her scrapbooks in the Manuscript Room of the Library of Congress. What a pleasure!!  They contain a treasure trove of newspaper clips, full of gossip, politics, old smudgy snapshots, so on.   

I’m not sure yet what to do with them yet.  (The research was part of my endless quest into the story of cantankerous old House Speaker “Uncle Joe” Cannon, a project that has become my own personal White Whale.  I’ll catch that damn whale some day.) 

In the meantime, I'd like to share some of the photos with you, spread out over the next few weeks.  To start, in 1904, Alice made herself the glamour sensation of the country by announcing her surprise, sudden wedding engagement to young Congressman Nicholas Longworth, scion of the richest family in Cincinnati.  Nick and Alice had met early that year year on a diplomatic mission to the Phillipines hosted by then-Secretary of War William Howard Taft.  Newspapers loved the story, and Alice clipped them all.  Here are a few--


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Taft (all 300+ pounds, on right) posing for photos in Manila with Alice and other diplomats.



A full-page newspaper fashion sketch of Alice. 
Photo of the Manila delegation. Alice is front and center. Nick is second row on left with hat.
Cupid wins. A typical newspaper take on the weeding announcement.
  

Nick, the lucky man, shakes hands till it hurts.