The son of a wealthy, socially prominent merchant, Roosevelt was born in New York City on October 27, 1858. He was educated by private tutors and studied at Harvard University, graduating in 1880 as a member of Phi Beta Kappa and the most prestigious social clubs. Ill health marred his boyhood, and he suffered poor eyesight, attacks of asthma, and nervous digestion, before teenage body-building efforts transformed him into a strong, vigorous young man. After his father's sudden death in 1878, Roosevelt forsook scientific ambitions, developed political interests, and became engaged to Alice Lee of Boston, whom he married in 1880. Alice Roosevelt died in 1884, just after the birth of their only child. Their daughter, also named Alice, as Alice Roosevelt Longworth became a well-known Washington personality in later years. In 1886 Roosevelt married Edith Carow of New York, who became his most valued adviser. They had a daughter and four sons, the oldest of whom, Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., was a decorated hero in the two world wars.
Early Political Career
After graduation from college, Roosevelt entered politics and abandoned the study of law when, as a Republican, he was elected to the New York State Assembly in 1881. He attracted immediate attention in the press with his upper-class background, colorful personality, and bold independence. In 1884, after serving three years in the Assembly, he left politics briefly, both from grief at the death of his wife and because he had alienated the reform wing of his party that year by supporting... [continues]
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