Stanley and Livingstone

Stanley, Sir Henry Morton

Sir Henry Morton Stanley, 1841–1904, Anglo-American journalist, explorer, and empire builder, b. Denbigh, Wales. He grew up in poverty and came to America as a worker on a ship, which he jumped (1858) in New Orleans. Originally named John Rowlands, there he took a new name, which he claimed, apparently falsely, was that of his adoptive father. After fighting on both sides in the American Civil War and deserting, he drifted into journalism. His coverage of Lord Napier's Ethiopian campaign in 1868 for the New York Herald won him journalistic notice, and he later pursuaded the paper's editor to commission him to go to Africa to find David Livingstone. Stanley located the great explorer on Lake Tanganyika on Nov. 10, 1871. He claimed to have addressed him with the famous words, "Dr. Livingstone, I presume?," but probably did not actually do so. Failing to persuade Livingstone to leave Africa, Stanley returned to England with the news of his discovery. He found a mixed reception in England, where Livingstone's backers criticized Stanley's efforts and methods. Nevertheless, he succeeded in enhancing Livingstone's reputation and soon led a second expedition (1874–77), sponsored by newspapers, to further Livingstone's explorations. He followed the Congo River from its source to the sea, but he found the British uninterested in developing the region.

Stanley then accepted the invitation of Leopold II of Belgium to head another expedition. During this third journey (1879–84) he helped to organize the notorious Congo Free State (see under Congo, Democratic Republic of the), largely by persuading local chiefs to grant sovereignty over their land to the Belgian king. At the Berlin Conference (1884–85; see Berlin, Conference of) he was instrumental in obtaining American support for Leopold's Congo venture. His last African journey (1887–89), to find Emin Pasha, helped to put Uganda into the British sphere of influence. A naturalized U.S. citizen, Stanley again became a British subject in 1892, sat in Parliament (1895–1900), and was knighted (1899). His spirited and often self-aggrandizing accounts of his adventures include How I Found Livingstone (1872), Through the Dark Continent (2 vol., 1878), In Darkest Africa (2 vol., 1890), and The Exploration Diaries of H. M. Stanley (ed. by R. Stanley and A. Neame, 1961). A British and American hero for about a century and certainly a man of great accomplishment, Stanley has fared rather poorly in recent histories, which have revealed instances of his lying about events in his life, duplicity in some of his dealings, and many acts of brutality toward Africans.

See his Autobiography (1909, repr. 1969), ed. by his wife, Dorothy Stanley ; biographies by R. Hall (1974), J. Bierman (1990), F. McLynn (2 vol., 1989 and 1991), and T. Jeal (2007); R. Jones, The Rescue of Emin Pasha (1973).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2015, The Columbia University Press.

Stanley and Livingstone: Selected full-text books and articles

David Livingstone: His Life and Letters By George Seaver Harper & Brothers, 1957
Livingstone's African Journal 1853-1856 By I. Schapera University of California Press, vol.1, 1963
The Exploration Diaries of H. M. Stanley: Now First Published from the Original Manuscripts By Henry M. Stanley; Alan Neame; Richard Stanley Vanguard Press, Inc., 1961
The Explorers: Great Adventurers Tell Their Own Stories of Discovery By G. R. Crone; G. R. Crone Thomas Y. Crowell, 1962
Librarian’s tip: "David Livingstone 1813-1873" begins on p. 90 and "Henry Morton Stanley 1841-1904" begins on p. 119
Empire Writing: An Anthology of Colonial Literature, 1870-1918 By Elleke Boehmer Oxford University Press, 1998
Librarian’s tip: "David Livingstone 1813-1873" begins on p. 38 and "Henry Morton Stanley (1841-1904)" begins on p. 42
A History of East Africa By Kenneth Ingham Longmans, Green, 1963 (2nd edition)
The Founder: Cecil Rhodes and the Pursuit of Power By Robert I. Rotberg; Miles F. Shore Oxford University Press, 1988
Historical Dictionary of European Imperialism By Robert Shadle; Ross Marlay; William G. Ratliff; Joseph M. Rowe Jr.; James S. Olson Greenwood Press, 1991
Looking for a topic idea? Use Questia's Topic Generator
Author Advanced search


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.