Henry Morton Stanley
Nathan C. Thompson EUH1001 Feb 28, 2012 Dr. W. Moody Henry Morton Stanley Born John Rowlands in Wales, or as those of his time knew him as Henry Morton Stanley; was the illegitimate son of John Rowlands and Elizabeth Parry. He grew up partly in the charge of reluctant relatives, partly in St. Asaph Workhouse. After his interlude of dependence on relatives, he sailed from Liverpool as a cabin boy, landing at New Orleans in 1859. There Rowlands was befriended by a merchant, Henry Hope Stanley, whose first and last names the boy adopted in an apparent effort to make a fresh start in life with a new identity; “Morton” was added later.
For some years Stanley led a roving life; a soldier in the American Civil War, a seaman on merchant ships and in the U. S. Navy, a journalist in the early days of frontier expansion. In 1867 Stanley offered his services to James Gordon Bennett of the New York Herald as a special correspondent with the British expeditionary force sent against Tewodros II of Ethiopia, and Stanley was the first to report the fall of Magdala in 1868.
An assignment to report the Spanish Civil War followed, and in 1869 he received instructions to undertake a roving commission in the Middle East, which was to include the relief of Dr. David Livingstone, of whom little had been heard since his departure for Africa in 1866 to search for the source of the Nile. On Jan. 6, 1871, Stanley reached Zanzibar, the starting point for expeditions to the interior, and, intent on a scoop, left on March 21 without disclosing his intentions.
His secretive conduct caused much offense to the authorities, especially to Sir John Kirk, the British consul, who had been having difficulty in making contact with Livingstone. Leading a well-equipped caravan and backed by American money, Stanley forced his way through country disturbed by fighting and stricken by sickness to Ujiji on Lake Tanganyika, Livingstone’s last known port of call. There he found the old hero, ill and short of supplies, and greeted him with the famous words “Dr. Livingstone, I presume? A cordial friendship sprang up between the two men, and when Stanley returned to the coast he dispatched fresh supplies to enable Livingstone to carry on. The older man’s quest ended a year later with his death in the swamps of Lake Bangweulu still vainly seeking the Nile in a region that in fact gives rise to the Congo (Zaire) River. When Livingstone died in 1873, Stanley resolved to take up the exploration of Africa where he had left off. The problem of the Nile sources and the nature of the central African lakes had been only partly solved by earlier explorers.
Stanley secured financial backing from the New York Herald and the Daily Telegraph of London for an expedition to pursue the quest, and the caravan left Zanzibar on Nov. 12, 1874, heading for Lake Victoria. His visit to King Mutesa I of Buganda led to the admission of Christian missionaries to the area in 1877 and to the eventual establishment of a British protectorate in Uganda. Circumnavigating Lake Victoria, Stanley confirmed the explorer John H. Speke’s estimate of its size and importance.
Skirmishes with suspicious tribes people on the lakeshore, which resulted in a number of casualties, gave rise in England to criticism of this new kind of traveler with his journalist’s outlook and forceful methods. Lake Tanganyika was next explored and found to have no connection with the Nile system. Stanley and his men pressed on west to the Lualaba River (the very river that Livingstone had hoped was the Nile but that proved to be the headstream of the Congo).
There they joined forces with the Arab trader Tippu Tib, who accompanied them for a few laps downriver, then left Stanley to fight his way first to Stanley Pool (now Malebo Pool) and then (partly overland) down to the great cataracts he named Livingstone Falls. Stanley and his men reached the sea on Aug. 12, 1877. Failing to enlist British interests in the development of the Congo, Stanley took service with the king of Belgium, Leopold II, whose secret ambition it was to annex the region for himself.
From August 1879 to June 1884 Stanley was in the Congo basin, where he built a road from the lower Congo up to Stanley Pool and launched steamers on the upper river. (It is from this period, when Stanley persevered in the face of great difficulties, that he earned, from his men, the nickname of Bula Matari [“Breaker of Rocks”]). Originally under international auspices, Stanley’s work was to pave the way for the creation of the Congo Free State, under the sovereignty of King Leopold.
Author Laura Benet does not disappoint us with this extensive study formerly know John Rowlands in Wales, Stanley’s boyhood was harried by poverty, by relatives who treated him as a thorn in the side and by tough years in a workhouse- not the best of conditions for growing up. Amazingly unembittered by this, John went as a youth to New Orleans and had the good fortune to go to work for Henry Morton Stanley, a southern merchant who adopted him and whose name John later took. Still another set back, the Civil War, was not enough to dispirit the new Henry Stanley, who found himself in post war years a reporter for the New York Herald.
First assignments sent him to Abyssinia and Spain and then the hunt for Livingstone geared the rest of his life as the reporter explorer who left his mark on the opening up of Africa. For an exciting biography, the author dug deep into Stanley’s life and made him a full personality in these pages, without ignoring the challenges each journey entailed. I personally found this book to be a very interesting read, it kept me intrigued and involved with an attraction that intensified with each depiction of the stories.
I would recommend this book to all readers young and old. For the summary I chose stories about Stanley’s most memorable adventures like the search for Livingston, the journey through Africa, and King Leopold’s covert purchase of African territory for best locations. Those stories really helped put Stanley into greatness due to the impact they made, he saved David Livingston, a Nation hero; also help jump start the “Race for Africa” for King Leopold; all this aside from the fact that he was quite the reporter/adventure/identity thief.