Born on 19th of March 1813
Died on 4th of May 1873
Quotes from David Livingstone
'If you have men who will only '... More
Debate still rages about Livingstone: was he a great explorer or a liability to those travelling with him? Was his legacy increased knowledge, or the spark for European nations to grab their share of Africa? For Victorians, however, he was a major figure, a symbol of Christian Britain reaching out to the ‘dark continent’. For his wife, driven to alcoholism by constant hazardous travel, and for his children who rarely saw him, he was not so ideal.
Livingstone was born in Blantyre in Scotland on March 19 1813, his family a poor but very religious one. From the age of 10 to his mid-twenties he worked in a textile mill, but had the energy to attend school in spite of working 12-hour days, and eventually to study at college in Glasgow. His natural bent was for science and medicine, much against his father’s wishes.
Ordained by the London Missionary Society in 1840 while completing his medical studies, he was fired with a desire to spread the word in Africa by his future father-in-law Robert Moffat.
Most of Livingstone’s life after his arrival in 1841 was spent in Africa. He was the first European to see what he named Victoria Falls, discovered and mapped several of Africa’s great lakes, and penetrated areas previously unseen by white men, helped by his preference early on for travelling light with a small party that raised few fears among the tribes he encountered. When he led larger parties they descended into disunity and chaos. His deeds made him a celebrity in Britain, his forceful work against slavery and promotion of trade as a ‘civilising’ force highly influential, though some see his work as unwittingly opening Africa to colonisation.
In 1866 his last great mission saw him ‘lost’ to the outside world until Henry Morton Stanley found him, supposedly greeting the explorer with the famous phrase: “Dr Livingstone I presume?” Livingstone died on May 4 1873 in what is now Zambia, but his body was returned to England, his significance to Victorian Britain underlined by his burial in Westminster Abbey.
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