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Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919). Through the Brazilian Wilderness. 1914.

Page 133

great forest state, the wilderness state of the “matto grosso” —the “great wilderness,” or, as Australians would call it, “the bush.” Then, in 1907, he began to penetrate the unknown region lying to the north and west. He was the head of the exploring expeditions sent out by the Brazilian Government to traverse for the first time this unknown land; to map for the first time the courses of the rivers which from the same divide run into the upper portions of the Tapajos and the Madeira, two of the mighty affluents of the Amazon, and to build telegraph-lines across to the Madeira, where a line of Brazilian settlements, connected by steamboat lines and a railroad, again occurs. Three times he penetrated into this absolutely unknown, Indian-haunted wilderness, being absent for a year or two at a time and suffering every imaginable hardship, before he made his way through to the Madeira and completed the telegraph-line across. The officers and men of the Brazilian Army and the civilian scientists who followed him shared the toil and the credit of the task. Some of his men died of beriberi; some were killed or wounded by the Indians; he himself almost died of fever; again and again his whole party was reduced almost to the last extremity by starvation, disease, hardship, and the overexhaustion due to wearing fatigues. In dealing with the wild, naked savages he showed a combination of fearlessness, wariness, good judgment, and resolute patience and kindliness. The result was that they ultimately became his firm friends, guarded the telegraph-lines, and helped the few soldiers left at the isolated, widely separated little posts. He and his assistants explored, and mapped for