Henry Morton Stanley is best known as a swashbuckling adventurer. But he was more than just a 19th-century version of Indiana Jones. He was a boy who survived a terrible childhood and then blossomed into a hard-headed explorer. How much do you know about Stanley and his quests?
He grew up in the United Kingdom, but Stanley spent years of his life in Africa. He left a complicated legacy in the wake of his journeys.
His mother was perhaps 18 years old when she gave up her son. Sadly, Stanley's father died soon afterward, leaving him in his grandfather's care.
He was just 5 when he was sent to a workhouse for the poor. For years, he suffered mistreatment at the hands of both adults and other boys. Think "Annie" without any fun songs ... or joy.
When he was 18, Stanley moved to America. He was dejected to be drawn into the Civil War and wound up fighting for the Confederacy. He was taken prisoner, switched sides and then was discharged.
The young man wound up in New Orleans. Soon after he found an older man who played the part of a benefactor, helping to keep the new immigrant from struggling too much in the U.S.
Stanley changed his name when he arrived in America, hoping to shed some of the baggage of his past and to embark on a brighter future. He was born John Rowlands.
Henry found inner fortitude as a child. He developed a type of hardcore personal strength to survive his miserable childhood, and used that strength to succeed as an adult.
After fighting in the war, Stanley took up journalism. He became a special correspondent for the New York Herald newspaper.
A Scottish missionary named David Livingstone had gone to Africa and disappeared. The paper sent Stanley to find him, thinking it might be a sensational (i.e. profitable) story.
It'd been nearly six years since anyone had heard from Livingstone. The paper's editors were simply hoping that Stanley would find proof of Livingstone's death.
Stanley proceeded to Livingston's last known location … and it turns out, he was still there. It took Stanley eight months to reach Livingstone.
After eight months of searching, Stanley used a wry greeting for the only other white man for hundreds of miles -- "Dr. Livingstone, I presume?"
The now-famous phrase may or may not have actually happened. But Stanley knew it made for a good story so he didn't mind as it spread through the media.
No Westerner had ever mapped the waterways of central Africa. Stanley set out map these areas … and once again, he succeeded.
Stanley spent years following the Congo River, mapping its intricacies and confirming its major channels. Many of his men did not survive the trip.
He started with about 230 and had only half that many men at the end of the trip. Some men deserted -- many others died from disease and the violence of the river.
Stanley called Africa the "Dark Continent" because it was so vast, impenetrable and mysterious.
Bula Matari meant "breaker of rocks." From deadly disease to constant attacks, Stanley had all sorts of reasons to quit, but he eventually finished the mission.
Stanley's adventures gained him a reputation as a hero adventurer. The public clamored for more and more of his stories of adventure on the Dark Continent.
King Leopold II of Belgium hired Stanley to continue exploring the continent. Leopold wanted to claim swaths of Africa for himself, and he wanted Stanley to help him do it.
Stanley, at the age of 33, became engaged to a 17-year-old girl named Alice. While Henry was out adventuring, he received notice that she'd abandoned him and married someone else.
Personal discipline was of utmost important to Stanley. At war or in the wilds, he shaved each morning as a mental exercise of sorts for discipline and productivity.
The Rear Column trailed Stanley and committed all manner of atrocities. Their murder and cruelty became notorious, and Stanley did not approve.
By comparison to other explorers of Africa, Stanley gained a reputation as being fairly nice to the people he encountered. He also came down hard on officers who abused or hurt Africans.
Danger was a constant for Stanley and his men. He used careful self-control to de-escalate scary situations and keep himself and most (well, some) of his men alive.
After decades of journeying through Africa, he returned to the United Kingdom and got married to a woman named Dorothy Tennant. He was about 50 years old when he married.
Stanley witnessed the brutality of the Civil War and then lost his faith in a higher power. He found more empowerment in self-discipline and self-reliance.
Unlike Livingstone, who couldn't hold men together, Stanley was an excellent leader. He gained the respect and admiration of many men.
Stanley always struggled to maintain a positive self-image, and he overcompensated by exaggerating many of his stories. In some circles, this tendency for tall tales damaged his actual accomplishments.
He developed pleurisy, a type of lung disease, and died in 1904. He was 63 years old when he died.