White House - Romance Of Alice Roosevelt
( Originally Published 1908 )
OF ALL the White House weddings in a hundred years none created so much interest among high and low throughout the civilized world as that at which the eldest daughter of President Roosevelt, Miss Alice, was united to Congressman Nicholas Longworth, of Cincinnati. The officiating clergyman on that occasion was Bishop Satterlee, of Washington. After the ceremony the bridal pair went to Friendship Lodge, the country place of Mrs. John R. McLean, in the suburbs of Washington, for the honeymoon. This most notable of all White House social events occurred on the seventeenth of February, 1906.
The Roosevelt-Longworth Wedding Ceremony
The decorations at the wedding were alone of a value sufficient for a king's ransom. The ceremony took place in the East Room, in front of one of the windows which was draped with cloth of gold rimmed with curtains, the whole being ornamented with ropes of smilax and Easter lilies.
The bride and bridegroom stood on a raised platform, or dais, where all present could see the happy pair. On the platform under their feet were priceless Oriental rugs. And at the rear of the platform was a little improvised altar, just large enough for Bishop Satterlee to conduct the service.
When the bride entered the East Room on the arm of her father, the President, to proceed to the improvised altar, she advanced down an aisle formed by means of two ropes of white ribbon. The East Room was otherwise divided into two compartments, as it were, the one for the Cabinet and members of the Diplomatic Corps and their families and intimate friends of the Roosevelt family, and the other for the hundreds of other invited guests.
Over a thousand invitations had been sent out, and hence the East Room was crowded to its utmost capacity. Only those who saw the apartment before the arrival of the crowd could appreciate to the full the arrangements made for the comfort of those present. It was a scene that could be compared with no event at the White House within the memory of the oldest attaché of the mansion.
Alice Roosevelt Cut the Wedding Cake With a Sabre
An eye-witness, a correspondent of the New York Herald, relates this very interesting incident that occurred shortly after the wedding ceremony :
"And now occurred one of the most typical incidents of the day, something which probably no one but a young woman as original and unconventional as young Mrs. Longworth ever would have thought of doing.
"Alongside the cake was a knife, and at first Mrs. Longworth thought to cut the cake with this, but the glazing either offered more resistance than she expected or the knife was dull. Anyway, the cutting proceeded much too slowly for a young woman of her impulsive disposition, and gaily turning to Major McCawley, she called out, `Oh, Major let me have your sword to cut the cake with'.
"The Major, who is too au fait to be surprised at anything, promptly drew his sword, and gallantly taking it by the blade, extended the hilt to her. It happened to be a sabre and admirably adapted to the purpose, and when Mrs. Longworth brandished it aloft and began slashing the cake with it the slices fell right and left, and great was the scramble among her friends for it. It melted away like snow under a hot sun, and within marvelously few minutes after the first stroke of Major McCawley's sabre not a crumb of it was to be had."
Presents From Kings to "Princess Alice."
"Princess Alice," as the President's daughter was popularly called at the time, received more presents than even a fairy princess could expect. These wedding gifts came from every civilized country on the globe, and among them were costly and rare objects of art and utility from all the crowned heads of Europe and Asia.
To give only a partial list of the gifts that "Princess Alice" received from the members of the royal families and the families of rulers, the following may be mentioned :
From the Empress of China, a unique and interesting dower chest in carved Oriental wood, divided on the inside into compartments, containing embroideries, Oriental perfumes and curios.
From the President of France, a very fine piece of Gobelin tapestry, valued at $25,000. It was a replica of one of the four pieces in the National Gallery. It was called "The Manuscript," and represented a woman clad in classical robes over looking a manuscript on a lectern in front of her. "The background was a section of Gothic architecture. This was woven by the chief weaver in the Gobelin works."
The King of Italy remembered the bride with a handsome table of Florentine mosaic, the design showing scenes from Italian cities.
The Emperor of Japan sent a silver box of carved silver, containing embroideries, silks and other typical gifts.
From Pope Pius X. there was mosaic, a copy of a painting in the Vatican collection.
From President Loubet of France came two Sèvres vases. From King Alfonso of Spain was received a curious and choice piece of antique jewelry.
The people of Cuba sent a very costly gift, valued at $25,000. It was a pearl necklace, "a gift from the people and not the government, and was a mark of appreciation of the services rendered to their country by the Americans, and by Mr. Roosevelt, who himself fought for Cuban liberty."