ROOOSEVELT, Theodore, President. Typed letter signed ("Theodore Roosevelt") as President to Sir Alfred Pease, Washington, D.C., 12 December 1908. 2 pages, 4to, WITH AN 8-LINE AUTOGRAPH POSTSCRIPT, White House stationery, markings to top left, small stains, paper naturally aged.
A PRESIDENTIAL SAFARI: "I AM OLD AND FAT, AND I'LL NEED GOOD HORSES IF I AM TO HAVE ANY CHANCE AT ALL TO GET A LION"
A few weeks before his promised retirement from the White House after two terms, the President keenly anticipates his planned African safari. Finalizing details for the year-long expedition, Roosevelt writes to his African host regarding the purchase of horses for the safari: "I am concerned at what you say because...I received a statement from the Agent...I am unable to understand where the hitch came in and am much disappointed that we should have lost the horse. I hope we can get others. I am delighted to hear about the lion and leopard still being fairly abundant." His son Kermit was to join him on the expedition: "Kermit and I feel rather nervous at your telling us that we may have a chance of a hartebeest while riding out to your ranch, for we shall both be utterly out of practise at shooting and we shall certainly miss our first shots." He concludes: "By the way, Lord Warwick has just been dining with me and has told me a good deal about his last trip to Africa." Obviously concerned about obtaining good horses, he adds an autograph postscript: "Is there anything more for me to do about the money for the horses? Like Mr. Tracey Tupman I am old and fat, and I'll need good horses if I am to have any chance at all to get a lion."
Roosevelt's safari of 1909 was one of the largest ever outfitted from British East Africa (now Kenya). The group included taxidermists and naturalists from the Smithsonian Institution, and almost 300 support personnel including porters, native soldiers and guides. Throughout most of 1909, Roosevelt and his party roamed the plains of Africa, shipping back animals to the U.S. as they were killed. A total of 512 animals were bagged by the retired President, including 17 lions, 11 elephants and 20 rhinoceroses, and hundreds of specimens of plants and animals were collected for the Smithsonian.