Stanley was a Welsh-born American journalist and explorer, famous for his search for David Livingstone and his part in the European colonisation of Africa.
Henry Morton Stanley was born John Rowlands on 28 January 1841 in Denbigh, Wales. His parents were not married, and he was brought up in a workhouse. In 1859, he left for New Orleans. There he was befriended by a merchant, Henry Stanley, whose name he took. Stanley went on to serve on both sides in the American Civil War and then worked as a sailor and journalist.
In 1867, Stanley became special correspondent for the New York Herald. Two years later he was commissioned by the paper to go to Africa and search for Scottish missionary and explorer David Livingstone, of whom little had been heard since 1866 when he had set off to search for the source of the Nile. Stanley reached Zanzibar in January 1871 and proceeded to Lake Tanganyika, Livingstone's last known location. There in November 1871 he found the sick explorer, greeting him with the famous words: 'Dr Livingstone, I presume?' Stanley's reports on his expedition made his name.
When Livingstone died in 1873, Stanley resolved to continue his exploration of the region, funded by the Herald and a British newspaper. He explored vast areas of central Africa, and travelled down the length of the Lualaba and Congo Rivers, reaching the Atlantic in August 1877, after an epic journey that he later described in 'Through the Dark Continent' (1878).
Failing to gain British support for his plans to develop the Congo region, Stanley found more success with King Leopold II of Belgium, who was eager to tap Africa's wealth. In 1879, with Leopold's support, Stanley returned to Africa where he worked to open the lower Congo to commerce by the construction of roads. He used brutal means that included the widespread use of forced labour. Competition with French interests in the region helped bring about the Berlin Conference (1884-1885) in which European powers sorted out their competing colonial claims in Africa. Stanley's efforts paved the way for the creation of the Congo Free State, privately owned by Leopold.
In 1890, now back in Europe, Stanley married and then began a worldwide lecture tour. He became member of parliament for Lambeth in south London, serving from 1895 to 1900. He was knighted in 1899. He died in London on 10 May 1904.
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