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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Dr. Livingstone, I Presume?

"Dr. Livingstone, I presume?" I heard that line many times growing up. We all knew that Stanley found the missing Dr. Livingstone and greeted him him in that way. The "finding" took place on this day in 1871, but thinking about it, I had no idea why Dr. Livingstone had gone missing, and who Stanley was.

Stanley was born John Rowlands in 1841 in Wales. As a young man of 18 he traveled to the U.S. in search of a new life. He landed in New Orleans and from that point on, his life was one fantastic adventure after another. It started by his being "adopted" by a rich businessman, Henry Hope Stanley. John Rowlands took the name Henry Morton Stanley, fought in the American Civil War (on both sides), became a journalist, and ended up as an African explorer, which is where David Livingstone comes in.

David Livingstone was a Scotsman who became a missionary in Africa. He had a passion for exploration and "discovered" Victoria Falls, which he named after Queen Victoria. He searched for the source of the river Nile. There was a time in the 1860s when Livingstone headed up an enormous expedition, and then, all contact with him ended.

Stanley was sent to find Livingstone. When he did, on November 10, 1871, he asked, "Dr. Livingstone, I presume?" Livingstone replied, "Yes."

For the complete story, look for Into Africa: The Epic Adventures of Stanley and Livingstone by Martin Dugard [916.7 DUG].

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