King Leopold and the Belgian Congo Essay

610 Words 3 Pages
King Leopold and the Belgian Congo

It is widely debated why exactly King Leopold decided to conquer the Congo, but the general consensus seems to be that it was out of the belief that “the highlands of the Congo may be as rich in gold as the mountains of the western slope of the American Continent” (Stead). In the mid-1870s, the King hired Henry Stanley, who was familiar with many parts of Africa, to help him go about conquering. During the following years Stanley stayed in Africa, talking various tribes into signing over their lands and rights. After this was completed the King officially took over the Congo, renaming it the Congo Free State. This was especially ironic because all natives of the country were either forced to give up
…show more content…
Eventually, word started to spread about what was going on. The public had strongly believed that the natives were benefiting from being “civilized” through their forced labor. However, between disgusted Belgian officials and authors such as Joseph Conrad and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the truth was becoming clearer. In 1904, the Congo Reform Association was founded. Four years later, King Leopold was made to turn over the Belgian Congo to the Belgian government. Much of the collected evidence against him was in the form of photographs. The king had managed to successfully bribe almost every single person who might otherwise have made a witness against the goings-on in the Belgian Congo, as it was renamed after being handed over to the Belgian government. This did very little good for the people of the Congo; they were still being overworked, repressed, and denied basic human rights. The situation was more than a little embarrassing for the king, who disliked his authority being overshadowed. Still, his profit from the matter was no cause for complaint. Leopold’s original investment was said to be somewhere in the neighborhood of six and a half million dollars; the financial gain was that number, multiplied many times over. Compared to Belgium’s profit, during its time of colonization the population of the Congo was decreased by
Open Document