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SEVEN LETTERS FROM DAVID LIVINGSTONE TO JAMES ASPINALL TURNER M.P.
James Aspinall Turner (1797-1867), the son of a cotton trader, with a strong Presbyterian background, rose to be one of the most prominent merchants in Manchester, becoming Chairman of the Manchester Commercial Association, and was twice elected M.P. for the city, in 1857 and 1859.
The present group of seven letters from David Livingstone to Turner cover the period of Livingstone's Zambesi River expedition of 1857-1864. The letters are remarkable for their optimism (to some extent concealing problems both in navigation and in internal disagreements), for their detailed description of the expedition's discoveries, in particular in the Shire River valley, and for their strong concentration on the accessibility of the area, and its potential both for colonisation and commerce -- describing the area as 'incomparably the best for the produce of cotton [of] any in the world'. Livingstone's letters to Turner markedly reflect the interests and position of their recipient, with frequent references to details of cotton production and to Turner's broader entomological interests. Livingstone appears to have had some expectations of Turner's political influence, for the letters contain a strong emphasis on the need for Government action against Portuguese claims of sovereignty and against the revitalised slave trade in the area, as well as in providing the expedition with a replacement for their unsatisfactory steam vessel, the Ma Robert.