In March 1858 David Livingstone's Zambesi Expedition left Liverpool for Africa. It would not return until July 1864. In the two years leading up to this moment, Livingstone had been transformed from a lone apostle of the London Missionary Society into a national hero and icon of Victorian manhood. Addressing the crowds that had gathered to bid him Godspeed, he declared his intentions to be to put an end to slavery by introducing alternative commerce to south-central Africa: 'What I want to do is get in the thin edge of the wedge, and then leave it to be driven home by English energy and English spirit.'Livingstone had planned the expedition several years earlier as he toured the country speaking to large audiences about the evils of the slave trade. Publicly and privately he promoted his vision of British industry, British commerce and Christianity working together to bring the light of civilisation to a dark continent. The Zambesis Expedition would gather the information that would allow Livingstone's grand scheme to move forward. But the truth was that there was little commercial interest in this part of Africa and, while the civilising mission ideology worked as a powerful rhetoric for the philanthropically minded mid-Victorians, by the time of the expedition the official mind was moving against such notions: it was only Livingstone's fame combined with lobbying from establishment leaders who pursued a scientific agenda for the project, that the expedition came into existence. Zambesi is a tale of expeditionary science in the raw. It exposes the rivalry among some of Victorian Britain's leading establishment figures and institutions - including the Foreign Office, theAdmiralty, the Royal Society, Royal Geographical Society,Kew Gardens and the British Museum - as abolitionists, scientists, and entrepreneurs sought to promote and protect their differing interests. Making use of letters, documents and materials negelcted by previous writers and researchers, the author reveals how tensions arose from the very beginning between those in pursuit of knowledge for its own sake and the proponents of the civilising missions who saw scientific knowledge as the utilitarian means to a social end. The result is a compelling account involving one of Victorian England's most feted heroes that offers important new insights in the the practice of expeditionary science in Victorian England.The most complete account of the Zambesi expedition yet published, Zambesi: David Livingstone and Expeditionary Science in Africa will be essential reading for historical geographers and historians of science and empire, and for all those with an interest in Africa, Victorian studies, travel and exploration and the work and life of David Livingstone.
David Livingstone and Expeditionary Science in Africa