Although T.R. tried to restyle himself a western rancher, he never did completely sever himself from his East Coast roots. He still spent the balance of his time in New York, and depended on his extended family for care and money. One day in 1885, he happened to run into his childhood sweetheart Edith at his sister's home, and the two renewed their friendship. Her last years had been almost as difficult as Teddy's, as her father's alcoholism had slowly destroyed her family. Maybe the shared experience of loss made the two more open each other; maybe their feelings for each other had never really faded. Either way, on 17 November 1885, the two became secretly engaged to each other, and made plans for a wedding at the end of the next year.
With his engagement to Edith, Roosevelt seemed to come out of his funk. Edith was no Mittie or Alice; she was a smart, self-possessed, confident woman, with a fierce moral sensibility to rival Thee's. Edith readied herself to take control of her husband's domestic affairs and goaded T.R. to resume his reform work. In 1886, when the Republican Party asked T.R. to stand as a sacrifice candidate for the mayor of New York, T.R. saw his chance to resume his reform work and accepted. Although he lost the election, his well-run campaign increased his exposure and cemented his party credentials. When he and Edith finally married and moved in together, the 29 year-old T.R. seemed poised to accomplish great things.
His marriage to Edith and return to New York marked the start of T.R.'s adult life. Roosevelt took his daughter Alice back from his sister Bamie, and assumed increasing responsibility for raising his niece Eleanor (later the famous wife of FDR). He and Edith soon expanded their family with the birth of their first son, Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. T.R. joined civic reform organizations, and founded the Boone and Crockett Club to advocate for environmental conservationism in the West. He learned how to sway crowds while campaigning for the 1888 Republican presidential nominee Benjamin Harrison. He even kept up his writing, beginning a multivolume project on the history of the West.