Thursday, February 21, 2013

Alice's Plunder

I'm still on White House weddings, so here is information on the wedding gifts that Alice Roosevelt received!
As wedding gifts began pouring in from foreign heads of state the president was forced to declare an outright ban but some got through early under the radar screen. The Mikado of Japan sent silver vases, King Alfonso of Spain sent antique jewelry, and the Cuban government sent an exquisite string of sixty-two matched pearls with a diamond clasp worth almost a half million dollars in today’s money. The President of France sent a rare Gobelin tapestry that was considered “priceless.” The King of Italy offered a table so large that Alice could never use it. King Edward VII presented a blue and gold enameled snuffbox with diamonds on the lid. Pope Pius X presented “a mosaic representing the great paintings in the Vatican.” The German Kaiser offered a bracelet of diamonds. The most exotic gift and one of Alice’s favorites, was a hand carved teak chest from the Empress Dowager of China. Determined not to lose face in the international competition, the Empress had secreted in the various compartments dozens of valuable gifts of jewelry, an ermine coat, a fox coat, valuable Chinese paintings and jade carvings.

Common folk sent in gifts of their own and announced clever ploys to wrangle an invitation to the wedding, while the local press heralded the antics of its citizens as human interest stories. Telegrams arrived from new parents announcing that they had named their babies after Alice. When a group announced they were raising $800,000 so America’s first daughter could live in style for the rest of her life, the president announced that Alice would not accept it. Most of the gifts Alice Roosevelt never saw and many were still found unopened at her death.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Jennie,

I work for the Illinois Office of Tourism and often read your blog. Given that you write about American Presidents, I thought you might be interested in the latest Abraham Lincoln news. Illinois has Lincoln fever this February, thanks to the buzz around Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln film and its Academy Awards® nominations, President’s Day and Lincoln’s birthday. To celebrate, the Illinois Office of Tourism is honoring the state’s rich Lincoln heritage by sending Abraham Lincoln himself on a trip around the globe, including a stop in London.

In addition, a new YouTube video released this week honors the 16th president’s vision, while a second video offers a glimpse at what it might be like if Lincoln himself were preparing for Hollywood’s big awards night.

Fans can follow along with hashtag #MiniAbe. For photos from Lincoln’s stops in London and links to videos, please see the below press release. Don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or would like more information.


Branché Foston
Fleishman-Hillard for the Illinois Office of Tourism