David Livingstone (March 19, 1813 – May 1, 1873) was a Scottish Congregationalist pioneer medical missionary with the London Missionary Society and an explorer in Africa.
His meeting with H. M. Stanley on November 10, 1871 gave rise to the popular quotation “Dr. Livingstone, I presume?” Perhaps one of the most popular national heroes of the late 19th century in Victorian Britain, Livingstone had a mythic status, which operated on a number of interconnected levels: Protestant missionary martyr, working-class “rags to riches” inspirational story, scientific investigator and explorer, imperial reformer, anti-slavery crusader, and advocate of commercial empire. His fame as an explorer helped drive forward the obsession with discovering the sources of the River Nile that formed the culmination of the classic period of European geographical discovery and colonial penetration of the African continent.
At the same time, his missionary travels, “disappearance” and death in Africa, and subsequent glorification as posthumous national hero in 1874 led to the founding of several major central African Christian missionary initiatives carried forward in the era of the European “Scramble for Africa”.