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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).

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Sir Henry Morton Stanley

Sir Henry Morton Stanley

Sir Henry Morton Stanley (1841-1904), British explorer and journalist, opened Central Africa to exploitation by Western nations.

Henry Stanley was originally named John Rowland. He was born near Denbigh Castle, Wales, to John Rowland, a farmer, and an unmarried woman. The boy lived with his maternal grandfather until he was about 6, when his grandfather died. The youngster was sent to a workhouse, where he remained until the age of 15, when he ran away.

Young Rowland lived on a hand-to-mouth basis with various relatives until he was 18, when he signed on as a cabin boy and shipped to New Orleans. There a cotton broker, Henry Morton Stanley, adopted him and gave him his name. Stanley's adopted father died without providing for him. The young man volunteered as a Confederate soldier and was captured at Shiloh. He was released from prison by changing sides and finished the war in the Union Navy.

After the war Stanley became a newspaper correspondent. He covered Indian campaigns in the American West. In 1868 he went to Abyssinia to cover a British expedition. In 1869 the publisher of the New York Herald commissioned Stanley to find Dr. David Livingstone, a Scottish missionary explorer, lost somewhere in Central Africa. Stanley found Livingstone at Ujiji in 1871 after an 8-month search. They did some exploring together, and when Livingstone died in 1873, Stanley stepped into his shoes.

In 1874 Stanley began a 3-year journey to measure the lakes of Central Africa. From 1879 to 1884 he opened the Congo River Basin and laid the groundwork for the Congo Free State after setting up 21 trading posts along the river. Between 1887 and 1890 he led a mission to rescue Emin Pasha, the governor of Equatoria. Stanley settled the question of the source of the Nile and opened a vast territory which accelerated the desire of European countries to control African soil.

On July 12, 1890, Stanley married Dorothy Tennant. In 1895 he became a member of Parliament, and 4 years later he was knighted, receiving the Grand Cross of the Bath. He died on May 10, 1904, in London.

Further Reading

The Autobiography of Henry M. Stanley, edited by his wife (1909), is invaluable; Stanley wrote the first nine chapters before his death, and Lady Stanley drew the remainder from her husband's journals, letters, and notebooks. Among Stanley's many works are How I Found Livingstone (1872), Through the Dark Continent (2 vols., 1878), and In Darkest Africa (2 vols., 1890), adventure stories of the first magnitude. Stanley's Despatches to the New York Herald, 1871-1872, 1874-1877, edited by Norman R. Bennett (1970), provides the complete series of Stanley's despatches as a reporter, along with scholarly annotations. Sir Reginald Coupland, Livingstone's Last Journey (1947), is an interesting study. □

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Stanley, Sir Henry Morton

Stanley, Sir Henry Morton (1841–1904). The most effective, if ruthless, of the 19th-cent. explorers of Africa, Stanley was born in a Welsh workhouse but became a journalist in the USA. Sent to Africa by the New York Herald, in October 1871, he uttered the immortal words ‘Dr Livingstone, I presume’ on finding the explorer at Ujiji on Lake Tanganyika. In 1874–7 he led a well-financed expedition across the continent which solved nearly all the remaining puzzles of Africa's basic geography, including the course of the Zaïre (Congo) river. Engaged by King Leopold, he established the beginnings of the Congo Free State in 1879–84 and then, from 1886 to 1889, led what was a great imperialist as well as exploratory expedition through the forbidding Ituri Forest to link up Leopold's state with the Upper Nile region, thought to be held by Emin Pasha. The venture was an epic of determination on Stanley's part, but created controversy and scandal because of Stanley's methods and his high-handed attitude to his companions.

Roy C. Bridges

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Stanley, Sir Henry Morton

Stanley, Sir Henry Morton (1841–1904) British-US explorer of Africa, b. Wales. He emigrated to the USA at the age of 16. He became a journalist and was commissioned by the New York Herald to lead an expedition in search of David Livingstone in e Africa. The pair met in 1871. On a second expedition, Stanley led a large party from the e African lakes down the River Congo to the w coast. He returned to the area (1880) as an agent for King Leopold II, and in 1887–89 led an expedition supposedly to rescue Emin Pasha from the Sudan and pressed on, with heavy losses, to the Indian Ocean.

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