Another Reminder of How Women’s Roles Have Changed

I have been reading The Bully Pulpit by Doris Kearns Goodwin about Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft.  I’ve still got a ways to go (and will have more comments later), but during my last reading session I ran across another example of how women’s roles have changed (as if we needed any more examples).

Theodore Roosevelt had a daughter Alice, his oldest child who history remembers as Alice Roosevelt Longworth.  An account of her at age 19 in The Bully Pulpit describes “…her late night partying, unchaperoned motor rides, brazen public smoking and betting on racehorses.  She was known to keep a pet snake in her purse, hide small flasks of whiskey in her long gloves, and play poker with men.”  Of course, this isn’t that unusual now, but was a pretty serious matter in the early 20th century.

When a friend asked the president “Isn’t there anything you can do to control Alice?”, Roosevelt famously replied,  “I can do one of two things.  I can be President of the United States, or I can control Alice.  I cannot possibly do both!”

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