American Rhetoric: Movie Speech

"Stanley and Livingstone" (1939)


Henry Morton Stanley Defends His Reputation and that of British Explorer Dr. David Livingstone


Mr. Chairman -- and I feel that I should say gentlemen of the jury, since you have seen fit to turn this hearing into a trial:

I stand before you accused of being a cheat, a liar, and a forger. Unfortunately, gentlemen, when you question my integrity you nullify at the same time the discoveries of Dr. Livingstone.

And you condemn a great man to oblivion a great man whom this honorable gathering seems determined to wipe out with a vote, although today he is still roaming the jungle and swamp, alone and fever ridden, accomplishing more in every single day than you and your combined lives will ever accomplish -- you armchair geographers who have never explored anything deeper than a plum pudding!

I realize that this Hall is charged with prejudice and to raise my voice here is to cry out in the wilderness. But I would be violating a sacred trust if I did not cry out, even though only the walls heard me, the walls and a handful of faithful friends.

Gentlemen, I -- I do not like to think that I am expecting too much when I ask tolerance and fair play for my fellow countryman. Yes, I was born in England. I went to school here, not at Eton or Harrow, but at Saint Asaph's Workhouse for the children of paupers. All I ever knew of England was the poverty and brutality of the Workhouse. I grew up with the lesson of my youth burned into my soul. I asked nothing of other men and I gave nothing.

A year ago, in darkest Africa, I met a man who restored my faith in the England I had learned to hate as a child. And now you gentlemen are destroying the faith he built in me, as you seem bent on destroying every other great accomplishment of the greatest man I have ever known. Dr. Livingstone is out there! He is old and he is sick and he needs your help to carry on the great work he has undertaken -- the work that is indicated, however inadequately, upon those maps.

Reject those maps, withhold your aid, and you destroy him.

Reject those maps and you close Africa for generations to come.

Reject those maps, gentlemen, and you break faith with the greatest geographer and one of the greatest men of our times.

Gentlemen, the choice is yours. Take your vote. I am sure that Dr. Livingstone himself would say, "I leave it with you."

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