King Leopold's Ghost

Topics: Congo Free State, Leopold II of Belgium, King Leopold's Ghost Pages: 5 (1785 words) Published: October 23, 2006
King Leopold II developed his dream for colonization at an early age. Before he even took the throne he was on the lookout for unconquered land that could later be in his possession. The king wanted to become rich as a result of his new land through the process of trading. Once King Leopold II set his sights on the Congo, he would not give up until the land was his. He connived, manipulated and conned his way into the land. He did not care who got hurt; he just wanted his dream to be fulfilled.

In order to achieve his dream, King Leopold II wanted to be sure that no other country got in his way. Belgium was a small country and Leopold knew that his country posed no threat to others. If he started to conquer the Congo, other countries might follow suit and overcome him. To sidestep this landmine, "he began planning a step to establish his image as a philanthropist and advance his African ambitions: he would host a conference of explorers and geographers (42-43)." The king would not talk about the profits he planned to make but about putting an end to slave trade and advancing scientifically. The guests were wooed with fancy rooms, fine dining and a persuasive opening speech by King Leopold II. Before his guests departed, they established the International African Association. King Leopold II selflessly offered to have the association's headquarters be in Brussels. He was also elected chairman; his term would last one year.

By forming the International African Association, King Leopold II took one step forward. He succeeded in convincing his would be competitors that his intention in the Congo was completely selfless. Although the International African Association met the following year, as per agreement, the committee dissolved afterwards. King Leopold II, however, still used the committee as a smokescreen for what he was doing. He also hid his true intentions in the Committee for Studies of the Upper Congo. The stockholders of this committee were Dutch and British businessmen and a Belgium banker. When one of the Dutch companies went bankrupt, Leopold "used the shock of the Dutch company's collapse to offer, in effect, a buy-out of the committee's other stockholders (65)". After they accepted, the company no longer existed legally but that did not stop the king from referring to the committee as still functioning. King Leopold II soon created the International Association of the Congo, which was nothing more than another cover up for the king's sole mission. Leopold managed to get a piece he authored published that stated that the International African Association "was sort of a ‘Society of the Red Cross; it has been formed with the noble aim of rendering lasting and disinterested services to the cause of progress' (66)". The king managed to fool almost everyone and receive some donations for his "humanitarian" endeavors. Another association that King Leopold II wanted to attach his name to was the Aborigines Protection Society. This society was an anti-slavery society. Although King Leopold II was not opposed to slavery, he had long been convincing people that he was. He joined this society in order to keep people thinking that he was against the idea of slavery. Leopold created such an illusion of anti-slavery that he was elected honorary president of the society.

King Leopold's men went over to the Congo with weapons, steamboats and medical knowledge, which was important in a disease ridden land. They were outnumbered by the African people, but they were more powerful. Leopold's men were able to control large amounts of Congolese with men toting rifles or whips. The people were beaten and killed and eventually they began to resist the forces that were taking their land. King Leopold II organized his African mercenaries into an army for his new state called the Force Publique. The Force Publique had its hands full. Many of the king's new subjects belonged to warrior peoples who...
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