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Alexander Gordon Laing

(1794—1826) army officer and explorer in Africa


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(1793–1826), Scottish explorer of central Africa. Born in Edinburgh on December 27, 1793, the son and grandson of distinguished educators, Laing was one of the best educated of all the seekers of Timbuctoo, and he was perhaps the most ambitious and courageous, as well as arguably one of the most heroic and tragic figures, in the annals of exploration history. He was thirteen years old when he entered the University of Edinburgh, where he was a top student of Latin. At age seventeen, he went to Barbados to work for his uncle, but later joined the military there and subsequently served in Antigua and Jamaica. With the Second West India Regiment, he undertook two journeys in 1822 into the unexplored interior of Sierra Leone, where he attempted to determine the exact location of Mount Soma, then thought to be the source of the Niger River. In 1823, he fought with distinction in the Ashanti War in present-day Ghana. Captain Laing returned to Britain in August 1824, where he published an account of his adventures the following year.

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From The Oxford Companion to World Exploration in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: World History.


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