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

Page 333

exceptional men, although such men can render great service. The real conquest, the thorough exploration and settlement, is made by a nameless multitude of small men of whom the most important are, of course, the home-makers. Each treads most of the time in the footsteps of his predecessors, but for some few miles, at some time or other, he breaks new ground; and his house is built where no house has ever stood before. Such a man, the real pioneer, must have no strong desire for social life and no need, probably no knowledge, of any luxury, or of any comfort save of the most elementary kind. The pioneer who is always longing for the comfort and luxury of civilization, and especially of great cities, is no real pioneer at all. These settlers whom we met were contented to live in the wilderness. They had found the climate healthy and the soil fruitful; a visit to a city was a very rare event, nor was there any overwhelming desire for it.
  In short, these men, and those like them everywhere on the frontier between civilization and savagery in Brazil, are now playing the part played by our back-woodsmen when over a century and a quarter ago they began the conquest of the great basin of the Mississippi; the part played by the Boer farmers for over a century in South Africa, and by the Canadians when less than half a century ago they began to take possession of their Northwest. Every now and then some one says that the “last frontier” is now to be found in Canada or Africa, and that it has almost vanished. On a far larger scale this frontier is to be found in Brazil—a country as big as Europe or the United States—and decades will