There is no shortage of fascinating stories about Theodore Roosevelt. Stories of political feats, war, adventure and even physical strength. A lesser-known story is that of his journey down The Rio Divuda (English translation: The River of Doubt, an unmapped, unexplored 1,000-mile tributary of the Amazon River in Brazil.
In 1912 Roosevelt ran for his third term as President of The United States as a member a third party, The Progressive Party or “Bull Moose” party. He had little chance in winning but he did manage to take a large number of votes away from his political adversary, William Howard Taft, and allow for a landslide victory by Woodrow Wilson. It was a demoralizing loss for the ex-president, and he was left without a position in Washington. Shortly thereafter, Roosevelt was approached with the idea of a South American expedition, something he had been eager to do for decades.
The proposal was for a trip down a well-known river in Brazil, and it would include a lecture series in South America as well as writings for The Smithsonian Institution. Rather than just accept this proposal, Roosevelt instead decided to take a much more challenging and dangerous expedition through an unknown part of the Amazon rain forest down an unexplored river, The River of Doubt.
The expedition crew included his son, Kermit, some of the best naturalists from America, the infamous explorer Colonel Rondon of Brazil, and a large contingent of Brazilian camarades. The crew realized quickly that the journey was much more perilous than any of them had imagined. Disease, drowning, starvation, tribal attacks, mutiny and even murder all came into play on the river. Roosevelt himself barely escaped with his life after fighting malaria and a crippling infection.
I had to constantly remind myself that this was an ex-president of The United States. Obama is great but I don’t expect him to be doing any high risk exploring next year. Roosevelt lost over 50 pounds during the expedition as is obvious in the picture up top…in his honor they renamed the river Rio Roosevelt.
Candice Millard does a great job of detailing the expedition while also painting a vivid picture of how wild and unforgiving the Amazon can be. A lesser-known gripping tale that serves as a great reminder of how badass Teddy Roosevelt really was! You can buy The River of Doubt right here on Amazon.
Written by Kyle Barrett, Founder & CEO of Bighorn Apparel
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