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

Page 332

little except hammocks and a few simple cooking utensils; and often a clock or sewingmachine, or Winchester rifle, from our own country. They often had flowers planted, including fragrant roses. Their only live stock, except the dogs, were a few chickens and ducks. They planted patches of mandioc, maize, sugarcane, rice, beans, squashes, pineapples, bananas, lemons, oranges, melons, peppers; and various purely native fruits and vegetables, such as the kniabo—a vegetable-fruit growing on the branches of a high bush—which is cooked with meat. They get some game from the forest, and more fish from the river. There is no representative of the government among them—indeed, even now their very existence is barely known to the governmental authorities; and the church has ignored them as completely as the state. When they wish to get married they have to spend several months getting down to and back from Manaos or some smaller city; and usually the first christening and the marriage ceremony are held at the same time. They have merely squatter’s right to the land, and are always in danger of being ousted by unscrupulous big men who come in late, but with a title technically straight. The land laws should be shaped so as to give each of these pioneer settlers the land he actually takes up and cultivates, and upon which he makes his home. The small homemaker, who owns the land which he tills with his own hands, is the greatest element of strength in any country.
  These are real pioneer settlers. They are the true wilderness-winners. No continent is ever really conquered, or thoroughly explored, by a few leaders, or