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the River of Doubt

Updated on August 9, 2014

Teddy Roosevelt

Teddy Roosevelt
Teddy Roosevelt

Best U.S President

Teddy Roosevelt is getting a bad wrap

Theodore Roosevelt, a man's man and probably the best president the United States of America has ever had, continues to get a bad wrap for his Amazon expedition of 1913. Many who have written about it have attributed to him a carelessness, an almost cavalier type of attitude towards this journey of exploration. Balderdash. That's what I say. Teddy was an extremely experienced outdoors-man and hunter and a man of significant intelligence to boot so why anyone would think of him as a bumbling incompetent is simply beyond my ken. But judge for yourself, read the accounts of the trek, including Teddy Roosevelt's own journal of the trip, and see what you think. Make up your own mind and let me know what you think by taking the poll at the bottom of this article.

Amazonian Explorer

Early Explorer
Early Explorer | Source

Teddy The Explorer

Some writers and reviewers seem to think that Teddy, a Rough Rider by the way, had his feelings so injured by his 1912 election defeat that he skulked off to South America to suck his thumb and cry, perhaps whilst curled up into the fetal position. They blame this emotional distress for his 'poor preparations' in the Amazonian expedition.

I'll say it again, Balderdash. Tough as iron, Teddy didn't scurry off to lick his political wounds. Was he perfect in his outfitting this expedition or in some of the choices he made? No. But let's not forget two, very important and inescapable facts. One is that Roosevelt was accompanied by Brazil's most famous explorer, Cândido Mariano da Silva Rondon. A man with extensive knowledge and first hand experience in that part of the world. And secondly, the expedition accomplished it's goal, to map a previously unexplored region of the Amazon. If Teddy was as ill prepared as many have claimed then the death toll among these explorers would have been significantly higher than what it was. Exploration, especially in Teddy's time, was a dangerous business. If it was easy, everyone would have been doing it.

Exploring the Amazon

Would T.R really have taken his 24 year old son, Kermit, along without planning the expedition thoroughly? Was he really that kind of man? I doubt it. There are criticisms to be made of certain decisions, to be sure, but the overall truth is that the company was well prepared for the task at hand. Remember, it was a feat so unbelievably difficult that, when Teddy's expedition had successfully completed the trek, many believed it was a hoax!

Were there poor choices concerning the canoes? Absolutely. But then it's easy to say that from the comfort of my boat on a sunny day in San Diego. Others have also second guessed and criticized Roosevelt on this score but I think we should be applauding him for showing grit. Instead of turning tail when things became difficult, Teddy forged ahead and, in the end, achieved the goal set him. Intelligent tenacity is how I would describe this characteristic and I wish more presidents (and people) possessed it.

An explorer to shame all others

For those that insist that Roosevelt's expedition was hastily put together and poorly planned, I would like to remind them that he was accompanied by Rondon, one of the greatest, toughest and hardy explorers ever to hack his way through the jungle. Rondon's achievements are so awe inspiring that it is impossible to over state them. The hardships he personally endured were beyond belief so to suggest that this exceptional man entered the Amazon without proper preparation is an injustice to him.

Read about this captivating man and his epic accomplishments to give yourself a better understanding of the kind of men that Roosevelt had with him on his Brazilian expedition. Ill prepared? I think not.

River of Doubt Documentary

Did You Know?

Formerly known as The River of Doubt, this Brazilian tributary of the world famous mighty Amazon river was renamed the Roosevelt River after Theodore Roosevelt's harrowing journey. Roosevelt's expedition, including Brazil's most famous explorer, Candido Rondon, mapped nearly 1,000 miles of the treacherous river.

Rough Rider Explorer

Rough Rider Explorer
Rough Rider Explorer | Source

What Do You Think

Did Teddy Act Foolishly?

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    • Robert Sacchi profile image

      Robert Sacchi 

      3 months ago

      Thank you. I appreciate that.

    • GetitScene profile imageAUTHOR

      Dale Anderson 

      3 months ago from The High Seas

      Good question about the piranhas being shown that way by Hollywood because of Teddy! I never even considered it but now you have me thinking. I think I am going to have to do some research on that question to see if I can find out if you are right. Will report back here if I find something that proves it one way or the other.

    • Robert Sacchi profile image

      Robert Sacchi 

      4 months ago

      This brings some good information to the table about the 1913 expedition. Was Roosevelt responsible for the Hollywood depiction of piranhas as the miniature eating machines?

    • GetitScene profile imageAUTHOR

      Dale Anderson 

      4 years ago from The High Seas

      Thanks Peggy! I am an avid reader of true life adventure and this expedition is one of my favorites. Glad you enjoyed it. PS. I support cloning because I think we should dig up old Teddy and clone him and put him back in the white house. But maybe that's just me.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      4 years ago from Houston, Texas

      He did not get his Rough Rider name for having lack of courage or tenacity. I enjoyed reading this hub of yours. Sharing it with my HP followers.

    • GetitScene profile imageAUTHOR

      Dale Anderson 

      4 years ago from The High Seas

      Excellent point! One of the interesting things I learned was that Teddy was certain he was going to die a lingering death at one point during this expedition and kept a vial of....(i forget exactly what) in his boot. It was something that would kill him anyway. Now that's a pretty serious camping trip!

    • aethelthryth profile image


      4 years ago from American Southwest

      I'd be interested to know if these second-guessers themselves even know what it takes to climb up a Colorado 14er. Because how do you know what mindset it takes to do something as difficult as an expedition if you've never even tested yourself against a day-long expedition that could kill you?


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