Jean-Baptiste Marchand and four other men rank among those who figured most prominently in France and Britain's unprecedented race for Africa between 1870 and 1914. These “heroes of empire” included Charles (Chinese) Gordon, Henry Morton Stanley, Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza, and Hubert Lyautey. They all contributed to a colonial enterprise that expressed and reinforced Europe's racial stereotypes about Africa and Africans and inflicted considerable suffering in what Stanley labeled the “Dark Continent.” In both Britain and France, most heroes had traditionally been military men who risked their lives to achieve lofty goals. Between the 1880s and 1914, individuals who appeared to embody the essence of France or Britain and who could thus strengthen feelings of national attachment could be excellent candidates for charisma.
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