Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919). Theodore Roosevelt’s Letters to His Children. 1919.

Tribute to Kermit

In 1909, after retiring from the Presidency, Colonel Roosevelt went on a hunting trip in Africa, writing as usual to his children while away.

On the ’Nzor River, Nov. 13, 1909.

Here we are, by a real tropical river, with game all around, and no human being within several days’ journey. At night the hyenas come round the camp, uttering their queer howls; and once or twice we have heard lions; but unfortunately have never seen them. Kermit killed a leopard yesterday. He has really done so very well! It is rare for a boy with his refined tastes and his genuine appreciation of literature—and of so much else—to be also an exceptionally bold and hardy sportsman. He is still altogether too reckless; but by my hen-with-one-chicken attitude, I think I shall get him out of Africa uninjured; and his keenness, cool nerve, horsemanship, hardihood, endurance, and good eyesight make him a really good wilderness hunter. We have become genuinely attached to Cunninghame and Tarleton, and all three naturalists, especially Heller; and also to our funny black attendants. The porters always amuse us; at this moment about thirty of them are bringing in the wood for the camp fires, which burn all night; and they are all chanting in chorus, the chant being nothing but the words “Wood—plenty of wood to burn!”

A Merry Christmas to you! And to Archie and Quentin. How I wish I were to be with you all, no matter how cold it might be at Sagamore; but I suppose we shall be sweltering under mosquito nets in Uganda.