King Leopold II and Belgian Imperialism Essay

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King Leopold II and Belgian Imperialism

In 1865, King Leopold II succeeded his father to the thrown of Belgium and thus began one of the most brutal and insensitive periods of imperialism ever to exist. From manipulative treaties to straight forward intimidation, Leopold dominated his empire like no other. He was cruel, deceptive, and downright evil, yet it took the world over twenty years to recognize this. The record of King Leopold’s atrocity is an interesting account of how a jealous man could inflict some of the most disgusting forms of oppression upon his fellow members of the human race.

When Leopold came to power in 1865, he was incredibly disappointed at Belgium’s lack of power in the imperial
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This lack of restriction allowed Leopold II to use the most horrible methods possible to accomplish his goal of obtaining mass wealth. The native people and captured Muslim slaves were forced to work as either ivory hunters or rubber gatherers, jobs that often kept men away from their families for many months at a time. When the natives finally rebelled, Leopold’s private army, the Force Publique was called in to subdue them. After this task was accomplished, Leopold used his army to force the Muslim slave traders out of Africa under the guise of performing a great humanitarian act when, in reality, the reason for their expulsion was Leopold’s desire to control the upper portion of the Congo river. At this point, Leopold’s enterprise had not made a substantial amount of money, but this was all about to change.

In the mid-1890’s, the inflatable rubber tire was invented, thus beginning the use of the most brutal forced labor tactics ever known to man. With the increased demand for rubber, Leopold needed more men to journey deeper into the jungle in search of plentiful wild rubber. To obtain these extra men, Leopold decided to tax the African tribes by forcing them to provide his rubber industry with ever possible man they had. When these condition were not met, Leopold would hold the wives and children of the men hostage until they submitted to work. When the tribes rebelled, they were again defeated by the Force
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