November 20, 2012
King Leopold’s Ghost is a non-fiction, narrative type of historical account of the King of Belgium Leopold II and his conquest of the Congo. Adam Hochschild’s motivation in writing the book was to make people aware of what happened in the Congo and what effects Colonialism had on the African Nation. He also sheds light on the following reform movement that took place when the public found out about the atrocities happening in the Congo and how it was the beginning of any civil rights campaign occurring currently.
Leopold had always wanted a colony; he had seen the other European nations amassing great wealth and natural resources that Leopold wanted a part of. By this time though, most of the New World had been colonized and all that was left was Africa. Leopold wanted to take part in the “slicing up of Africa”, making sure that he and his country Belgium would get its piece. Leopold found the perfect person in the explorer Henry Morton Stanley to begin his expedition into the Congo, Stanley was one of the most famous explorers of the day. Stanley had recently crossed the continent of Africa and was well know to Leopold through his articles published in newspapers. Under the guise of philanthropy and ending the slave trade, Stanley started to make his way through the Congo setting up infrastructure to gather the resources found in the Congo. Originally they were there for the ivory but as industrialization came into full swing, rubber became the most profitable resource found. There were great injustices with the native people in the Congo; people were basically slaves for Leopold and his colony only being used for the free labor, which is the exact opposite of the reasons Leopold was supposedly there. Leopold also set up the brutal ‘Force Publique” who ran the ivory and subsequent rubber siege. Some estimates of the death caused by the Colonization and the removal of rubber is that half of the native population...
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