RARE AUTOGRAPH LETTER WRITTEN BY ROOSEVELT FROM THE WHITE NILE (SUDAN) WHILE ON HIS AFRICAN SAFARI.
“When Theodore Roosevelt retired from the presidency in 1909, he was only 50 years old. The youngest former president in American history, he was looking for adventure and for a project that would take him away from Washington, D.C., and politics. A naturalist at heart, he turned, not surprisingly, to his boyhood fascination for natural history. Three weeks after the inauguration of his successor, William Howard Taft, Roosevelt set out for British East Africa to hunt big game... The expedition traveled throughout what is today southern and western Kenya, the Congo, Uganda, and southern Sudan by train, horse, camel, and a steamboat on the Nile—stopping for weeks at each destination to collect specimens. They hunted elephants on the slopes of Mount Kenya, and rare white rhinoceros in the Lado region of British Uganda. In late February 1910 they hunted eland, a species of antelope, in the Belgian Congo. They ended the expedition in Khartoum, Sudan, on March 14, 1910” ((Smithsonian Museum of Natural History). Roosevelt’s African safari elevated him to a near-mythic status in the United States, cementing his reputation as a courageous adventurer.
This letter – a rare survival written and sent by Roosevelt while on his safari – reads in full:
The White Nile,
March 4th 1910
Dear Mr. Eaton,
Your book has just come, and I anticipate reading it; I’ll at once turn to the fight. I am much pleased that you should have found my “Naval War of 1812” interesting. I began it when I was a senior at Harvard. You are quite right – Mahan is the naval Gibbon.
With original envelope addressed to Eaton (in Roosevelt’s hand) with canceled stamps from the Sudan with Khartoum postmark.
The recipient, Paul W. Eaton, was an author and journalist. The book Roosevelt refers to is almost certainly Eaton’s 1909 novel, The Treasure, a fictional account of the War of 1812. It obviously would appeal to Roosevelt since, as he mentions, his own first book – begun while he was still at Harvard – is a history and analysis for the naval battles and technology of the War of 1812.
The “Mahan” Roosevelt refers to is Alfred Thayer Mahan who gained worldwide fame as the author of The Influence of Sea Power Upon History, 1660-1783 (1890) and The Influence of Sea Power Upon the French Revolution and Empire, 1793–1812 (1892).
The White Nile (Sudan), March 4, 1910. One sheet (6 7/8 x 10 3/4 inches), folded in half and written on two sides (quarter-sheets) in pencil. Signed in full by Roosevelt. With original envelope. Usual folds, otherwise fine condition. Letters by Roosevelt sent from Africa are rare.
Price: $4,200 .