Livingstone returned to England (1864) and with his brother Charles wrote The Zambezi and Its Tributaries (1865). In 1866 he returned to Africa to seek the source of the Nile. He discovered lakes Mweru and Bangweula and in 1871 reached the Lualaba tributary of the Congo River. Sickness compelled his return to Ujiji on Lake Tanganyika, where the journalist H. M. Stanley found him in 1871. Unable to persuade Livingstone to leave, Stanley joined him on a journey (1871-72) to the north end of Lake Tanganyika. In 1873 Livingstone died in the village of Chief Chitambo. African followers carried his body to the coast; it was sent to England and buried in Westminster Abbey. Livingstone's last journals were edited by Horace Waller (1874).
There are some 100 biographies of Livingstone; among them are those by J. Simmons (1955, repr. 1962), G. Martelli (1970), T. Jeal (1973), and O. Ransford (1978).
Perhaps one of the most popular national heroes of the late-nineteenth century in Victorian Britain, Livingstone had a mythic status, which operated on a number of interconnected levels: that of Protestant missionary martyr, that of working-class "rags to riches" inspirational story, that of scientific investigator and explorer, that of 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 Nile River 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."
Other significant influences in his early life were Thomas Burke, a Blantyre evangelist and David Hogg, his Sunday School teacher. At age nineteen David and his father left the Church of Scotland for a local Congregational church, influenced by preachers like Ralph Wardlaw who denied predestinatarian limitations on salvation. Influenced by American revivalistic teachings, Livingstone's reading of the missionary Karl Gützlaff's "Appeal to the Churches of Britain and America on behalf of China" enabled him to persuade his father that medical study could advance religious ends.
Livingstone's experience from age ten to twenty-six in H. Montieth's Blantyre cotton mill, first as a piecer, later as a spinner was also important. Necessary to support his impoverished family, this work was monotonous but gave him persistence, endurance, and a natural empathy with all who labour, as expressed by lines he used to hum from the egalitarian Rabbie Burns song: "When man to man, the world o'er / Shall brothers be for a' that"..
Livingstone hoped to go to China as a missionary, but the First Opium War broke out in September 1839 and the LMS suggested the West Indies instead. In 1840, while continuing his medical studies in London, Livingstone met LMS missionary Robert Moffat, on leave from Kuruman, a missionary outpost in South Africa, north of the Orange River. Excited by Moffat's vision of expanding missionary work northwards, and influenced by abolitionist T.F. Buxton's arguments that the African slave trade might be destroyed through the influence of "legitimate trade" and the spread of Christianity; Livingstone focused his ambitions on Southern Africa. He was deeply influenced by Moffat's judgement that he was the right person to go to the vast plains to the north of Bechuanaland, where he had glimpsed "the smoke of a thousand villages, where no missionary had ever been".
Robert Moffat arrived in Kuruman with his family in December 1843, and shortly afterward Livingstone married Moffat's eldest daughter Mary on 2 January 1845. She was also Scottish but had lived in Africa since she was four. After falling out with Edwards he moved to an out-station at Chonuane among the Kwena under chief Sechele, and finally moved with the Kwena to Kolobeng in 1847 under pressure of drought. Mary travelled with Livingstone for a brief time at his insistence, despite her pregnancy and the protests of the Moffats. She gave birth to a daughter, Agnes, in May 1847, and at Kolobeng began an infant's school while Livingstone worked on a philological analysis of the Setswana language, in which he had become fluent. The first and only Christian convert of Livingstone's career was made in Kolobeng when Sechele was baptized after renouncing all but his senior wife, although he was later denied communion after he took back one of his previous wives. Livingstone always emphasized the importance of understanding local custom and belief as well as the necessity of encouraging Africans to proselytize, however he always had acute difficulties finding converts he considered suited for training to be missionaries. Livingstone grew increasingly frustrated with settled missionary strategies and more willing to imagine more unconventional missionary methods. As Livingstone began to plan for new missionary initiatives, he recognized the difficulties presented by his growing family, and in 1849 he sent his family (now including daughter Agnes and sons Robert and Thomas) back to Kuruman as he planned further inland travels. Later Mary and David's family returned to England, but came to Africa again on the Zambezi Expedition.
Livingstone was one of the first Westerners to make a transcontinental journey across Africa, Luanda on the Atlantic to Quelimane on the Indian Ocean near the mouth of the Zambezi, in 1854-56. Despite attempts especially by the Portuguese, the great peninsula of central and southern Africa had not been crossed by Europeans at that latitude owing to their susceptibility to malaria, dysentery and sleeping sickness which was prevalent in the interior and which also prevented use of draught animals (oxen and horses), as well as to the opposition of powerful chiefs and tribes, such as the Lozi, and the Lunda of Mwata Kazembe.
The qualities and approaches which gave Livingstone an advantage as an explorer were that he usually travelled lightly, and he had an ability to reassure chiefs that he was not a threat. Other expeditions had dozens of soldiers armed with rifles and scores of porters carrying supplies, and were seen as military incursions or were mistaken for slave-raiding parties. Livingstone on the other hand travelled on most of his journeys with a few servants and porters, bartering for supplies along the way, with a couple of guns for protection. He preached a Christian message but did not force it on unwilling ears; he understood the ways of local chiefs and successfully negotiated passage through their territory, and was often hospitably received and aided, even by Mwata Kazembe.
Livingstone was a proponent of trade and Christian missions to be established in central Africa. His motto, inscribed in the base of the statue to him at Victoria Falls, was "Christianity, Commerce and Civilisation." At this time he believed the key to achieving these goals was the navigation of the Zambezi River as a Christian commercial highway into the interior. He returned to Britain to try to garner support for his ideas, and to publish a book on his travels which brought him fame as one of the leading explorers of the age.
Believing he had a spiritual calling for exploration rather than mission work, and encouraged by the response in Britain to his discoveries and support for future expeditions, in 1857 he resigned from the London Missionary Society.
The expedition lasted from March 1858 until the middle of 1864. Livingstone was an inexperienced leader and had trouble managing a large-scale project. The artist Thomas Baines was dismissed from the expedition on charges (which he vigorously denied) of theft. Livingstone's wife Mary died on 29 April 1863 of malaria, but Livingstone continued to explore, eventually returning home in 1864 after the government ordered the recall of the Expedition. The Zambezi Expedition was castigated as a failure in many newspapers of the time, and Livingstone experienced great difficulty in raising funds further to explore Africa. Nevertheless, the scientists appointed to work under Livingstone, John Kirk, Charles Meller, and Richard Thornton did contribute large collections of botanic, ecological, geological and ethnographic material to scientific institutions in the UK.
"And if my disclosures regarding the terrible Ujijian slavery should lead to the suppression of the East Coast slave trade, I shall regard that as a greater matter by far than the discovery of all the Nile sources together" - Livingstone in a letter to the editor of the New York Herald.
Livingstone's letters, books and journals did stir up public support for the abolition of slavery. However he became humiliatingly dependent for assistance on the very slave-traders whom he wanted to put out of business. Because he was a poor leader of his peers, he ended up on his last expedition as an individualist explorer with servants and porters but no expert support around him. At the same time he did not use the brutal methods of maverick explorers such as Stanley to keep his retinue of porters in line and his supplies secure. For these reasons from 1867 onwards he accepted help and hospitality from Mohamad Bogharib and Mohamad bin Saleh (also known as Mpamari), traders who kept and traded in slaves, as he recounts in his journals. They in turn benefited from Livingstone's influence with local people, which facilitated Mpamari's release from bondage to Mwata Kazembe.
Livingstone was also furious to discover some of the replacement porters sent at his request from Ujiji were slaves.
Livingstone completely lost contact with the outside world for six years and was ill for most of the last four years of his life. Only one of his 44 letter dispatches made it to Zanzibar. Henry Morton Stanley, who had been sent to find him by the New York Herald newspaper in 1869, found Livingstone in the town of Ujiji on the shores of Lake Tanganyika on 10 November 1871, greeting him with the now famous words "Dr Livingstone, I presume?" These famous words may be a fabrication, as Stanley has torn out the pages of this encounter in his diary. Even Livingstone's account of this encounter doesn't mention these words. However, the phrase appears in a New York Herald editorial dated 10 August 1872 and the Encyclopaedia Britannica and the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography both quote it without questioning its validity.
A possibly apocryphal story is included in Presidential Elections by Paul F. Boller, Jr. (1985). The story goes that Stanley told Livingstone what had occurred in Europe and America during his expedition; among other things he said that the 1872 U. S. presidential election campaign had begun and the Democratic Party had nominated Horace Greeley. Livingstone stopped Stanley there; he said, "You have told me curious things and wonderful, but there is a limit--when you tell me the Democrats have nominated Greeley for President I am hanged if I will believe it."
Some in Burundi claim the famous meeting took place 12 km south of Bujumbura at the spot marked by the Livingstone-Stanley Monument, Mugere, but that marks a visit they made 15 days after their first meeting - see linked article for references - on their joint exploration of the north end of Lake Tanganyika, which ended when Stanley left in March the next year.
Despite Stanley's urgings, Livingstone was determined not to leave Africa until his mission was complete. His illness made him confused and he had judgment difficulties at the end of his life. He explored the Lualaba and failing to find connections to the Nile, returned to Lake Bangweulu and its swamps to explore possible rivers flowing out northwards.
David Livingstone died in that area in Chief Chitambo's village at Ilala southeast of Lake Bangweulu in Zambia, on 1 May 1873 from malaria and internal bleeding caused by dysentery. He took his final breaths while kneeling in prayer at his bedside. (His journal indicates that the date of his death would have been 1 May, but his attendants noted the date as 4 May, which they carved on a tree and later reported; this is the date on his grave.) Livingstone's heart was buried under a Mvula tree near the spot where he died, now the site of the Livingstone Memorial. His body together with his journal was carried over a thousand miles by his loyal attendants Chuma and Susi, and was returned to Britain for burial in Westminster Abbey.
His reputation was rehabilitated by Stanley and his newspaper, and by the loyalty of Livingstone's servants whose long journey with his body inspired wonder. The publication of his last journal revealed stubborn determination in the face of suffering.
He had made geographical discoveries for European knowledge. He inspired abolitionists of the slave trade, explorers and missionaries. He opened up Central Africa to missionaries who initiated the education and health care for Africans, and trade by the African Lakes Company. He was held in some esteem by many African chiefs and local people and his name facilitated relations between them and the British.
Partly as a result, within fifty years of his death, colonial rule was established in Africa and white settlement was encouraged to extend further into the interior.
On the other hand, within a further fifty years after that, two other aspects of his legacy paradoxically helped end the colonial era in Africa without excessive bloodshed. Livingstone was part of an evangelical and nonconformist movement in Britain which during the 19th century changed the national mindset from the notion of a divine right to rule 'lesser races', to ethical ideas in foreign policy which, with other factors, contributed to the end the British Empire. Secondly, Africans educated in mission schools founded by people inspired by Livingstone were at the forefront of national independence movements in central, eastern and southern Africa.