Henry Morton Stanley: Darkness of the Heart


By: Nathan Chandler

6 Min Quiz

Image: Wiki Commons

About This Quiz

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?

Henry Morton Stanley is best known for his adventures in which area of the world?

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.


Stanley was raised by his grandfather. What happened to his mother?

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.


His grandfather died, too, leaving poor Henry to be raised by whom?

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.


Stanley fought in which war?

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.


Stanley was just 18 when he arrived in America. Where did he land?

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.


Henry Morton Stanley was NOT his real name.

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.


He was raised in an institution. How did Stanley fare during his time at the workhouse for the poor?

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.


Following his military service, what occupation did he pursue?

After fighting in the war, Stanley took up journalism. He became a special correspondent for the New York Herald newspaper.


Why did the Herald decide to send Stanley to Africa?

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.


What did the newspaper editors hope that Stanley would accomplish upon finding Livingstone?

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 traveled to Africa in a time when transportation was relatively undeveloped. How long did it take him to find Livingstone?

Stanley proceeded to Livingston's last known location … and it turns out, he was still there. It took Stanley eight months to reach Livingstone.


It took him eight months to find Livingstone. What did Stanley say to the doctor after he found him?

After eight months of searching, Stanley used a wry greeting for the only other white man for hundreds of miles -- "Dr. Livingstone, I presume?"


Stanley's iconic greeting is totally fiction.

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.


Following his success in finding Livingstone, what did Stanley set out to do?

No Westerner had ever mapped the waterways of central Africa. Stanley set out map these areas … and once again, he succeeded.


He spent much of his time mapping which river?

Stanley spent years following the Congo River, mapping its intricacies and confirming its major channels. Many of his men did not survive the trip.


Stanley started his mapping expedition with about 230 people. How many did he have by the end of the journey?

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.


In his writing, Stanley coined a new term for Africa. What did he call the continent?

Stanley called Africa the "Dark Continent" because it was so vast, impenetrable and mysterious.


Stanley pushed forward on his expedition in spite of great hardship. The Africans called him "Bula Matari," which means what?

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.


What sort of reputation did Stanley have with the public?

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.


In the 1880s, Stanley developed a business relationship with the king of which country?

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.


Prior to his expedition for Belgium, Stanley was engaged to be married. What happened to his fiancee while he was gone to Africa?

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.


Stanley spent much of his time in the wild. What habit did he maintain during his journeys?

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.


During the expedition, Stanley led the way with a vanguard. A so-called "Rear Column" of European men brought up the rear. They became known for what?

The Rear Column trailed Stanley and committed all manner of atrocities. Their murder and cruelty became notorious, and Stanley did not approve.


How did Stanley treat Africans?

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.


After several successful expeditions, what did Stanley say was the most important element to journeying through Africa?

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.


Stanley adventured for decades and then finally married.

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.


Henry endured significant hardship in his life. How did he feel about religion?

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.


Stanley led large expeditions through difficult circumstances. What was he like as a leader?

Unlike Livingstone, who couldn't hold men together, Stanley was an excellent leader. He gained the respect and admiration of many men.


Henry did a lot of writing about his adventures. How did he tend to treat his stories?

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.


Stanley survived countless terrifying ordeals in Africa. How did he finally die?

He developed pleurisy, a type of lung disease, and died in 1904. He was 63 years old when he died.


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