Long Ago Headlines

Russell E. Train Africana Collection, Smithsonian Institution Libraries.

Russell E. Train Africana Collection, Smithsonian Institution Libraries.

The Thursday, August 24, 1875 issue of The Colorado Daily Chieftain carried these front page bulletins under the heading “National News”: Financial Troubles in South Staffordshire……..Negro Laborers Strike in South Carolina……..The Financial Panic in Portugal……..Latest from the War in the East (Turks and Servians)…….. Stanley narrowly escaped massacre by natives……..

Yes, the same “Stanley” who spoke those famous words “Dr. Livingston I presume.”

In October 1869, the editor of the New York Herald, saw an opportunity to boost his paper’s already wide circulation. All he needed was for one of his reporters to solve the mysterious disappearance of British explorer Dr. David Livingstone. He went to Africa to find the source of the Nile River and had been missing for four years.

A Herald newcomer, Henry Morton Stanley, was assigned to lead an expedition into the African wilderness. He was told to find Livingstone, or “bring back all possible proofs of his being dead.”

It was a challenging assignment. Stanley suffered malaria, starvation and dysentery in Africa. He lost 40 pounds. One member of his team died from elephantiasis. Another died of smallpox. Many of the porters hired to carry supplies deserted or died.

Stanley finally found Livingston on October 27, 1871 living among the Ujiji people. Livingston was pale with white hair and bushy beard. He had few teeth left and appeared quite fragile.

Removing his helmet, Stanley extended his hand and made the now famous statement, “Dr. Livingston, I presume.” Livingston said, “Yes.” It was two years since Stanley had received the assignment.

Stanley remained with Livingston until March 14, 1872. The May 2, 1872, edition of the Herald carried his story under the headline “Livingstone Safe.”

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