Answer Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad?

timer Asked: Nov 21st, 2016

Question description

1.Research Question: How are imperialism and the primitive represented in Heart of Darkness? Please use you own word.

2.Summarize the heart of darkness history article. "Journey into the Heart of Darkness". Read the article i post under here and summarize.

A U.S. Navy lieutenant found exotic adventures exploring the Congo River in the late 19th century. He also battled alcoholism and hostile natives and confronted equally exotic diseases.

On Saturday, 2 May 1885, the propeller steamer USS Lancaster, flagship of the U.S. Navy's European Squadron, was in the eastern Atlantic anchored at the mouth of the Congo River. The sleek second-rater ("second-rate" meaning a combatant ship displacing between 2,000 and 4,000 tons) was off west-central Africa under orders from former Secretary of the Navy William Chandler, who in December had ordered the ship there. Not far away from Lancaster lay her squadron mate, the steam sloop-of-war USS Kearsarge, also moored in six or so fathoms of water above a sandy bottom. Lancaster had arrived off French Point several days earlier, steaming cautiously into the dark anchorage just before midnight on Monday, but her renowned partner (the victor over CSS Alabama in the last war) had been there since mid-December.

The Congo River, six miles across between Banana Point to the north and French Point to the south, flowed dark as Chocolate into the open ocean. Beyond the mouth lay one of the world's great rivers, nearly 3,000 miles long with its headwaters in the heart of equatorial Africa and draining a basin of many more than a million square miles. Up the river lay a seemingly endless-succession of swamps, cataracts, sandbars, and confusing estuaries; the narrow canyon and impassable rapids of the "Gates of Hell," the churning waters at the "Devil's Cauldron," and infrequent open-water "pools" that mimicked takes. Upriver, too, lurked fevers so lethal that more than a century after Lancaster sailed away, they are still untreatable and incurable.

Europeans found Africa's great rivers — the Congo, the Nile, the Niger — irresistible. They were seen as weak spots in the continent's natural defenses against outsiders, routes into the interior along which the light of civilization could shine and the imagined riches of Africa could be siphoned to the markets of the world. The Congo was especially beguiling; its first hundred miles were fully navigable and upriver past surging rapids long segments were open to shipping, too.

After a few more days off the African coast, Lancaster steamed for Rio de Janeiro, there to join USS Nipsic and take up new duties as flagship of the tiny Brazilian Squadron. The commodore on board, U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Earl English, suspected darkly that his transfer to this less-desirable post in the South Atlantic was a demotion, subtle punishment for having moved his family to Europe (a violation of regulations) and spending time with them ashore, leaving his unsupervised officers free to cavort amid the seductions of Nice and Monaco.

Admiral English had hoped to find a suitable location for a coaling station on the African littoral, but on arrival he quickly concluded that all the good sites along the tidal Congo riverfront had already been taken, and that quality Cardiff coal was available from commercial sources at reasonable prices on Banana Point or just a day's sail south at São Paulo de Luanda. So it was that Lancaster's call at Banana Point became little more than a convenient stop on a passage between two continents, a quick showing of the U.S. flag in an area of intense European interest.

"An Expedition of Observation"

Sometime before noon on Saturday, Lancaster took the opportunity to send an officer ashore with camp gear and rations for many months — a tent, canned foodstuffs, biscuits, and many bottles of wine. The disembarking passenger was Navy Lieutenant Emory H. Taunt, at 34 the junior lieutenant among eight in the crew and one of 36 officers on board. Taunt's orders from Admiral English required him to proceed upriver "to Stanley Pool and further if practicable" on what English later styled "an expedition of observation."

Lieutenant Taunt, it is interesting to note, may well have been Admiral English's son-in-law. (The connection, first noted by Gordon Gibson of the Smithsonian Institution, is suggested by Taunt's wife's maiden name, English; by their daughter's name, Earlena; and by the Taunts' frequent presence in Culpeper, Virginia, English's hometown.) It he were, it is unclear if the assignment from his father-in-law was meant as an opportunity, a reward, or a punishment. Regardless, the two men knew each other well professionally, even before sailing in Lancaster together. Between 1879 and 1883, Taunt served twice in the Bureau of Equipment in Washington, both times working for English.

Lieutenant Taunt would not be traveling light into the unknown. Altogether, the material formed a substantial pile on the beach. In those many places where it needed to he moved overland, its carriage required 50 native porters. Assuming the usual load of 60 pounds per porter, Taunt left Lancaster for the interior bolstered by one and a half tons of gear and supplies. Seven miles a day would be good progress, ten miles excellent for a procession of men moving through wooded country hauling such a burden.

At Banana Point, Lieutenant Taunt set foot on a continent that had been the object of keen European competition for the past century. Fascination with the place and its imagined, rumored wealth provoked frenzied and often fatal exploration. In the next few decades Africa would be all parceled out — the rest of the habitable world had been already — but meanwhile some unclaimed, uncolonized real estate still existed. The land and the rich resources it was believed to conceal whetted great appetites.

The hungriest was Leopold II, king of the Belgians, who had fantasized without satisfaction about properties in East Asia and North Africa and now turned his attention to Africa. The king saw in the vast expanse of equatorial Africa scope for royal ambition that could not be found in his tiny, claustrophobic kingdom.

Whatever his failings as a man — his embittered wife, overworked mistresses, and ignored daughters could testify to many — the king was a consummate politician. Between 1876 and 1885 Leopold handily managed to outmaneuver or outsmart other European chiefs who had a rival claim or who preferred another candidate for the mantle he eventually assumed as "King-Sovereign of the Congo Free State." In this instance, "Free Stale" was an early failure of truth in packaging: What Leopold really had in mind was a wholly owned proprietorship, one that would in time earn a reputation for barbaric cruelty through the enslavement, mutilation, and murder of millions of Africans, and trigger a global civil-rights protest.

King Leopold Recruits Stanley

While Leopold's political machinations were heading toward their successful conclusion, he moved to install the infrastructure of his private state. In so doing he was lucky to recruit Henry Stanley, the New York Herald journalist who in 1871 had famously found the "lost" Scottish missionary Dr. David Livingstone. Stanley had come upon Livingstone at Ujiji, on the eastern shore of Lake Tanganyika, out of money and medicine and barely hanging on to life. The story of their improbable rendezvous, flogged especially eagerly by the Herald in the United States and the Daily Telegraph in England, captured readers' imaginations everywhere.

Between November 1874 and August 1877, Stanley's knowledge of Africa developed further while he led a grueling expedition some 6,500 miles overland east to west across the waist of the continent, from Zanzibar to Boma. The last 1,500 miles of the journey were along the great are of the Congo River as it flowed southwest to the ocean. This epic trek, across some of the planet's most inhospitable terrain, took three months short of three years and snuffed out the lives of hundreds of natives and all three young Britons who set out with him.

By the time Leopold was looking for a supervisor to build a chain of small "stations" west to east through equatorial Africa, Stanley was the best possible man for the job. The former Union Navy Civil War deserter was now the world's most celebrated explorer and welcome everywhere in civilization. Persuading Stanley took time, but Leopold hired him in August 1879. The work of gnawing through central Africa — a hundred whites driving hundreds of blacks, the whole force armed with artillery and rapid-fire weapons when it wasn't swinging axes and shovels — took Stanley until June 1884.

When one year later Taunt stepped ashore in Africa under orders from Admiral English, he did so to become the only official American in the region. The first U.S. commercial agent in the Congo, Willard Tisdale, had left early for Lisbon at the end of March, broken by disease after several months on the river but claiming "his mission completed."

Enter Lieutenant Taunt

Emory Taunt is much lesser known than Henry Stanley, and rightly so. Taunt's achievements were not as substantial as those of the famous journalist-cum-explorer, nor could Taunt — or anyone else of the era — match Stanley's frenetic genius for self-promotion. The American was a doughty traveler, nonetheless, and a brave albeit unlucky and very seriously flawed man.

Taunt was horn in 1851, in Buffalo, New York. At age 14 and living with his widowed mother in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, he successfully applied for admission to the U.S. Naval Academy. In 1869 he graduated 60th in his 78-man class.

Sixteen years later and after nine years in grade as a lieutenant, Taunt went to Africa in Lancaster. By then he was an experienced sailor, salty enough to have written a commercially successful seamanship manual. The Young Sailor's Assistant in Practical Seamanship. He had served at sea with squadrons in the Mediterranean (in Sabine, Franklin, Guerriere, and Richmond), the Pacific (in Tuscarora), the South Atlantic (in Brooklyn), and on the West India Station (in Shawmut), and ashore at the navy yard in Portsmouth, Virginia.

That said, his career until then had not been a brilliant success. It never would be. While a junior commissioned officer the serious matter of his "intemperance" had come to the attention of his commanding officers in Brooklyn and Richmond. They agreed that Ensign Taunt drank too much, and although he was "mentally and professionally" qualified for promotion, he was not qualified "morally." Captain Christopher R. P. Rodgers of Franklin, who had noted that Taunt "would be professionally qualified for promotion only it he were sober," had described his subordinate's service reputation in a single word — "bad" — and gone on to judge that he would not trust Taunt on an important mission alone.

Every subsequent promotion examination raised these embarrassing matters anew, and while later captains recommended his advancement without reservation, it took his written pledge to abstain henceforth from intoxicating liquors to persuade the lieutenant examination board meeting in October 1876 to promote him, notwithstanding his "far above average" grades in ordnance and seamanship.

The Greely Expedition

Taunt's most unusual and interesting assignment at sea was in USS Thetis in 1884 with the Greely Relief Expedition. In 1881 Army Lieutenant Adolphus Washington Greely, two other officers, and a handful of Army enlisted signalmen — 25 in all, including a civilian physician/naturalist and two dog drivers — had pitched camp on the shore of northern Canada's Lady Franklin Bay above 80° north latitude, part of a pioneering international polar research effort. Before it was over, 18 of them were dead (one ordered executed by his commander for theft of food, and obediently shot to death by a messmate), and some among the seven survivors, more likely all, had turned cannibal. It was a catastrophe provoked by the failure of two resupply missions and an ensuing collapse in morale and discipline.

Seeking to buff the reputation of his service, Navy Secretary Chandler was eager to send an expedition to rescue Greely and his men. After the usual wrong-footed miscues that seemingly dogged everything connected to the hapless Greely, the Navy squadron finally got under way from Newfoundland in May 1884. On 22 June Taunt led one of his ship's search parties ashore on rocky Brevoort Island. There his party found a cache containing Greely's records that revealed the desperate survivors to be holed up and starving in a wretched tent a few miles away.

Hot, populous equatorial Africa was nothing like barren, vacant, arctic Canada, but Taunt was no hot-weather tyro. He had been on the ground in the tropics before. While temporarily detached from USS Shawmut, he had been a member of the last Isthmus of Darien survey led by Navy Commander Thomas Selfridge in the 1870s. The narrow sliver of land that separated the Atlantic from the Pacific had none of the breadth, the heft, the muss of the continent Taunt would grapple against now, and nothing like the Congo River.

Up and Down the Congo

Between May and October 1885, Taunt, an interpreter, his personal cook, and a succession of escorts, moved halfway up and back down the still-mysterious Congo, a round-trip distance of something more than 2,800 miles. They traveled by boat and on toot along the archipelago of stations Stanley had just finished building for King Leopold. The route took the U.S. Navy officer to villages and stations whose names are a roll-call of exotic sounds: M'Poso, M'Pallabolla, M'Bauza Mateke, Lukungo, N'Gombe, M'Suata, Kwamouth, Bolobo, Lukelela — 13 in all between the coast and Stanley Falls.

Taunt's expedition was official, notwithstanding that he was its only member, conspicuously official. "At Leopoldville I was received by [the] chief-of-division, and the principal officers of the station. The [military] guard was drawn up to receive me, and the United States flag saluted," he later reported to the Navy secretary. "When in camp," he added, "the American ensign was hoisted over my tent, and while on the Upper Congo my flag was always, from sunrise to sunset, hoisted at the how of the launch."

On his return, Lieutenant Taunt proudly and possibly accurately numbered himself the first representative of any foreign government to have reached Stanley Pool and only "one of the thirteen white men to have been able to penetrate" the continent that far.

His adventure began at Banana Point on 2 May, when Taunt boarded Ville d'Auvers with the idea that he would proceed by boat into the "Valley of the Congo" as far as possible. The small, coal-fired steamer took him only to Vivi, the Congo Free State's temporary capital. From there he made his way upriver overland on foot, first past ferocious white water and later in another tiny steam launch, Henry Reed.

Steam navigation — any sort of navigation — on the Congo was demanding and dangerous. Shallow water, powerful currents, a shifting bottom, occasional terrific storms, crocodiles and hippos (to say nothing of homicidal natives on shore), all tested crews' skill and determination. Some signally failed the test: Ville d'Auvers, Taunt's first ride on the Congo, hit a rock just below Boma two months after he left her to go ashore and sank almost immediately. Her crew and passengers barely escaped drowning as the steamer quickly broke up.

Even then, Stanley Pool, covering perhaps 320 square miles with a large island in the center, 350 miles upriver from the Congo's mouth on the Atlantic, was recognized as the strategic gateway to the lush lands of the upper river. After a tour of the lake in a third steam launch, Peace, Taunt left Stanley Pool for Stanley Falls on 3 July. The round-trip to Stanley Falls from Boma, about 2,000 miles, took him 72 days — 48 days upriver, but half as many back down with the current.

Every stop along the way to trade for food, to cut wood for the launches' insatiable boilers, or to visit a station overnight was dangerous. Each constriction in the river posed a risk that the launch would be surrounded and overwhelmed by a flotilla of dugout war canoes manned by armed and angry natives. The thrilling climax might have been in mid-August:

At About 1 p.m. on August 13th, we steamed into Monongeri Channel. This is a stretch of water, about 50 yards wide, running between one of the large islands of the Congo and the north bank. We found it full of snags and very shoal. I heard that Stanley and Lieutenant Van Gile had both been obliged to burn villages here, but I never imagined we would meet with the reception we did.… To our surprise we were greeted with yells, war drums, war horns, &c. The men were armed to the teeth with knives, spears and poisoned arrows, and, to all appearances, were frantic with rage. I took my guns out and placed them in full sight, but at this they only increased their uproar.

Finding that we were steaming on, some of the men, absolutely devoid of fear, rushed waist deer into the water to throw their spears, and as we passed the town, others launched their canoes to follow, many running along the banks. Three hours we were steaming in this narrow channel, and in that time passed several small, and two large villages; all of these had been notified of our approach by the signals and war-drums from below.… Shortly after 8 p.m. to our surprise, we were again greeted with yells and war-horns, and I found that we were surrounded by from ten to twenty war canoes filled with men. It was some time before we drove them off.

He apparently never made any connection between the destroyed riverfront villages (burned to the ground must recently by "Arab" slavers earlier that year and for the most part not yet rebuilt, forcing some of the displaced to live in canoes) and the murderous fury natives directed at foreigners passing along the Congo.

Taunt spent five days at Stanley Falls Station and left there on the return trip 25 August. From Leopoldville hack to the coast, he moved overland, hiring, losing, and replacing native porters at stations along the way as necessary to keep his caravan moving.

Falling to "the Fever"

Taunt's report to Secretary of the Navy William Whitney carefully detailed every instance of native hostility during a voyage that sounded like a long, perilous passage through a gauntlet of enraged tribesmen brandishing bows, spears, and even flintlock rifles. In a colorful daily inventory he described the threatening natives, clustered as thick as angry bees on shore or in massed dugouts afloat like shoals of hungry fish in the river. At the same time, Taunt quietly glossed over a more lethal but much less picturesque threat: endemic disease. Almost at the outset his European traveling companions, assigned by hospitable agents to be his escorts from station to station, fell one after another to "bilious fever." As one sickened and was left behind to be replaced by another, Taunt pressed on without comment or evident sympathy.

Finally, on 21 September and one day cast of Lucété Station on his return trip, Taunt fell to bilious fever himself, "brought on," he wrote naively, "by over exposure to the mid Jay sun." Later, on board a Dutch steamer taking him from Banana Point to Madeira (from where he eventually left for Brussels to call on the king), Taunt suffered a second bilious attack, this time with self-diagnosed liver complications he attributed to "fatty food on hoard" and a change in the weather.

When the ship finally tied up in Madeira, Taunt was barely able to make his way ashore. He remained on the island for some time, seeking to recover his health. Oddly, in his mission report to the secretary submitted from Naples, Italy, several months after he left Banana Point for Madeira, he boasted of "most excellent health" during the six months he was on the river, attributed to a regular regimen that included "a simple, nutritious diet, with a moderate allowance of good Bordeaux or Portuguese wine." Moderate here meant one bottle per day, a regular tipple he somehow exempted from his pledge to the 1876 examining hoard. He also changed his underclothing immediately on reaching camp after a day's march.

It is not clear what felled Taunt and his traveling companions, or even if the same disease struck them all. "Fever" was a generic description. The noun encompassed an enormous number of imaginatively described and dimly understood diseases in the 19th century. Even the very specific-sounding bilious fever could have been any of several afflictions that contemporary physicians attributed to an excess of bile escaping the body through attacks of vomiting and diarrhea.

Taunt was not especially hale in any case. In 1867, even before he had graduated from the Naval Academy, he took weeks of sick leave to recover from "intermittent fever," malaria. The form of the disease then endemic in the Middle Atlantic states was Plasmodium vivax, which would not have granted him immunity from the more dangerous P. falciparum strain common in Africa. While he likely knew nothing of these various forms, Taunt did know enough to take a daily dose of quinine, increasing that dose when he judged he had been "more than usually exposed to malarial influences."

On royal invitation, Taunt called on King Leopold in Belgium on New Year's Day 1886 on the way back to the United States. According to the New York limes the next day, Taunt described the Lower Congo as "arid, unhealthy and unproductive," but above Stanley Pool "the climate is fine and the resources immense."

To Washington his report was expected to he somewhat more candid. There, in his own capital, the Times wrote, he would reveal that "the country is now unworkable, that the whites cannot colonize, that the natives will not work, and that coolie labor is necessary. He found," the paper's short account concluded somewhat inconsistently, "that relations between the white and natives were excellent."

Taunt's report to the secretary of the Navy on his river expedition, bundled together with souvenir artifacts and 21 mini-essays on everything from the political history of the Congo Free State and its form of government to its weather, agricultural products, and exports, reveals the depth of his interest in what he saw. In the late 1880s few Americans could have rivaled Taunt's knowledge of the new country.

The Sanford Exploration Expedition

Report submitted and his European tour over. Taunt returned home to rejoin his wife and to resume a more conventional Navy career — but only for a short while. For a time between 1886 and 1888, while on extended leave from his service, Taunt went back to the Congo as chief of the Sanford Exploration Expedition. Despite its scientific name, this was a commercial enterprise established by Henry Sanford, the former U.S. minister to Brussels (and Taunt family friend) to export ivory to Europe.

Taunt's status as a key player and minority shareholder in the S.E.E. did not save him in the spring of 1887, when he was fired for unreliable performance after only eight months on the river. Sanford was the eminence grise behind the brief U.S. dalliance in the Congo. The wealthy financier and railroad tycoon — Sanford, Florida, is named after the same man; he developed the city — had close connections to Leopold II dating to his days in Brussels. Sanford's lobbying skills in the Semite, moreover, had prompted the original legislation that established the American commercial agency in Boma and launched the first agent, Tisdale, on his unfortunate adventure.

At the end of June 1888, one step ahead of involuntary separation after a conviction by a court-martial, Lieutenant Taunt resigned his commission and became a civilian. One source of this information, Taunt's obituary in the New York Times of 26 January 1891, is not especially informative. Such accounts invariably were not common in the 19th century, although this one archly hinted at more than did most. "These experiences," the obituary reported, referring to his Congo expedition without elaboration, "are said to have affected his mind, and to have incapacitated him from duty. In the spring of 1888, while here in [USS] Nipsic, he resigned from the navy and in December of that year was appointed consular agent at Boma."

A Suitable Replacement as Agent to the Congo?

"Affected his mind" seems to have been the Times' euphemism for alcoholism, Taunt's chronic problem. In September 1888 Senator John Morgan of Alabama wrote a revealing letter to Secretary of State Thomas Bayard about the process then under way to recruit a new U.S. commercial agent for the Congo to replace Tisdale. Morgan's letter explains a great deal:

I regard [Mr. Taunt] as "a man with a mission," bright, intelligent, and unreliable as to his powers of self control. If this little expedition is to have any success … a man of sobriety, will and enterprise should be selected. Mr. Taunt has been recently forced to resign from the Navy on account of his habits. I have no desire to inflict on him any penalty over a matter of this kind, but I could not advise his selection in view of these facts.

Taunt was desperate for the posting, a long-delayed replacement for Tisdale. During the summer of 1888 he wrote President Grover Cleveland twice to apply and describe his fitness and qualifications. Money certainly did not drive his ambition. (The $4,000 appropriated by Congress for the post was meant to cover the agent's annual salary and fund establishment and operation of the post. Taunt's proposed budget, submitted to support his petition, left only $65 as compensation for a year's arduous and dangerous work. Later, Taunt repeatedly and unsuccessfully pleaded for an increase.)

The attraction of the government job was a chance to recover his reputation, shredded by his forced retirement.

"If I accomplish this [mission]," his second importuning letter to President Cleveland explained candidly, "the reputation that it will give me will go far to reestablish my good name so recently hurt by my trouble in the Navy — and this reward, Mr. President, will be the recompense I look forward to."

Despite Senator Morgan's hatchet job and the fact that others had applied, Taunt eventually got the position he craved so much. His success might have been a demonstration of the influence of his supporters, Senators Matthew Quay and George Vest, and of Sanford's residual interest in his former employee. On 13 November 1888 Emory Taunt became the U.S. commercial agent in the Congo Free State. He arrived at his new post in Boma six months later, in May 1889.

There Taunt joined the small group of foreign expatriates, concentrated in stations along the river and including government representatives of various stripes, Christian missionaries, traders, and the mechanics and craftsmen necessary to keep the whole river enterprise going. Each station was garrisoned by contract-armed tribesmen and supported by laborers, principally "Zanzibaris," slaves of the sultan of Zanzibar. Caravan porters, the unfortunates who manhandled cargo and baggage overland, moved in and out of the stations.

It is possible that Taunt survived P. falciparum malaria during his first tour exploring equatorial Africa for the Navy and then finally succumbed to yellow fever, a much more dangerous disease, when he returned there as the American commercial agent for his third, This, however, is speculation.

Taunt Succumbs

What is known is that Taunt's short tour in Boma was a medical catastrophe almost from the beginning, despite his proud boast to President Cleveland that be was among the hardy one in five white men who could survive the Congo's disease-ridden climate. Soon after arrival in Africa in midsummer 1889 — one reason for the delay was an informal course of scientific instruction at the Smithsonian — Taunt reported to the State Department that he was suffering from "a bad malarial attack, which finally terminated in bilious fever," a condition one local physician said made "a speedy return home urgently requisite" and for which another prescribed "at least three months leisure on leave from the Congo." Not one year later he wrote the department from England and Italy, where be had fled for treatment of a second serious attack. One more bout with fever was to come.

On Wednesday, 14 January 1891, the Reverend James Teter, Methodist missionary at Banana Point, went upriver to Borna, where he found Taunt "in bed, partly paralyzed, and utterly helpless." Later, in a letter to her that could not have given the dead man's widow, Mary, much comfort, Teter described how he moved the stricken man to Banana Point, thinking next to evacuate him to the United States but instead saw his patient swiftly decline.

An international group of pallbearers, his peers in government service and the cream of Boma society, among whom the Portuguese consul in full diplomatic regalia must have stood out conspicuously, carried Taunt's body to his grave that Sunday. A uniformed company of Congo Free State infantry grandly escorted the burial party to the interment site. None could have known that the man they carried with such pomp to his grave had been fired from his position two months earlier by the secretary of state for having grossly overspent his budget.

Emory Taunt served as the U.S. commercial agent in the Congo Free State for little more than 18 months, dying at Banana Point and buried there roughly five years after he had boarded Lancaster's steam cutter and optimistically cast off from his ship amid a heap of personal effects, heading toward the unfamiliar shore and his future gravesite.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: I am indebted to August A. Imholtz Jr., of Beltsville, Maryland, who drew my attention to this expedition, provided a copy of Lieutenant Taunt's report, and also assisted in identifying and locating other bibliographic materials. Robert Leopold, of the Smithsonian Institution's National Anthropological Archive, provided an invaluable chapter extract from Gordon Gibson's unpublished account of "American Early Involvement in the Conyo." Other research help came from Virginia Wood, Rebecca Livingston, Sally Kuisel, Michael Crawford, Beverly Lyall, Betsy Qiun, and Dennis Conrad.

Taunt's report of his journey on the River Congo, appended to a letter from Secretary of the Navy William Whitney to Senator John Sherman of 1 February 1887. was published in the papers of the 49th Congress, 2nd Session as Executive Document No. 77.

Material about Lieutenant Taunt is in the National Archives. His examining hoard records are in Records Group 125 Box 135, and the record of the proceeding of his court martial is held under Case No. 6956. Correspondence related to Taunt's appointment as Commercial Agent at Boma is in Records Group 59 Box 121, and his letters to the State Department from Africa are on microfilm in Publication T47. Rear Admiral English's correspondence with the Navy Department is on microfilm in M89 R245. The archives also holds the original deck log of USS Lancaster for the period. Additional bibliographic materials include relevant items in the New York Times and Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, and other contemporary newspapers and periodicals. Also see Robert Brown, The Story of Africa and its Explorers, vols. 1-4 (London: Cassell and Company, Ltd. 1892-95); Leonard R Guttridge, Ghosts of Cape Sabine, the Horrowing True Story of the Cape Sabine Expedition (New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 2000): David Levering Lewis, The Race to Fashoda, European Colonialism and African Resistance in the Scramble for Africa (New York: Weidenfield & Nicolson, 1987); John Reader, Africa, a Biography of the Comment (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1998); and Henry M. Stanley, Through the Dark Continent: or the Sources of the Nile Around the Great Lakes of Equatorial Africa & Down the Livingstone River, vols, I-II (New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1988).

Going up the river was like traveling back to the earliest beginnings of the world, when vegetation rioted on the earth and the big trees were kings. An empty stream, a great silence, an impenetrable forest. The air was warm, thick, heavy, sluggish. There was no joy in the brilliance of sunshine. The long stretches of the waterway ran on, deserted, into the gloom of overshadowed distances. On silvery sandbanks hippos and alligators sunned themselves side by side. The broadening waters flowed through a mob of wooded islands; you lost your way on that river as you would in a desert, and butted all day long against shoals, trying to find the channel, till you thought yourself bewitched and cut off forever from everything you had known once — somewhere — far away — in another existence perhaps.

— Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness


PHOTO (COLOR): Navy Rear Admiral Earl English (center) poses at Gibraltar with his staff, including Lieutenant Emory Taunt (far right), on the deck of USS Lancaster, pictured on the title page at left. On 2 May 1885, English sent the 34-year-old Taunt on an "expedition of observation" up the Congo River, where he encountered natives, such as the tribal chief pictured in the inset at left. Each stop Taunt made was dangerous, because some natives were furious over slavers having burned their riverfront villages to the ground.

PHOTO (COLOR): According to the author, Belgium's King Leopold II (left) was a greedy man who created the Congo Free State, mainly with the help of journalist and explorer Henry Stanley (right), as his private plantation. The misnamed Free State's abuse of its natives eventually triggered widespread acrimony. Taunt called on Leopold in Brussels on New Year's Day in 1886.

PHOTO (COLOR): For foreigners, the treacherous navigation of the Congo was usually by steam launch. Taunt's first, which took him as far as Vivi, was Ville d'Auvers. From there, Taunt set out overland on foot to avoid white water. Two months later, the vessel hit a rock just Mow Boma and sank.

PHOTO (COLOR): Elephant tusks litter the ground in front of this Congo ivory store, where transfers were made of the Free State's second most abundant export product (behind slaves). Its worth to Europeans and Asians as a luxury material resulted in the quick slaughter of Africa's vast elephant herds. The countrys third-largest export was rubber.

PHOTO (COLOR): A Congo River outpost Taunt knew well was Boma. By the time he fell fatally ill there in 1891, he had been in and out of the steamy riverside trading community many times. A Methodist minister found him there on 14 January, "in bed, partly paralyzed, and utterly helpless." He was buried in Boma five days later.



By Andrew C. A. Jampoler

Mr. Jampoler is the author of two Naval Institute Press books, Adak: The Rescue of Alfa Foxtrot 586 (2003) and Sailors in the Holy Land: The 1848 American Expedition to the Dead Sea and the Search for Sodom and Gomorrah (2005). He is now working on a book about the international flight and eventual capture, trial, and acquittal of John Surratt Jr., the last of the Lincoln assassination conspirators.

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