Leopold's Congo

Topics: Congo Free State, Leopold II of Belgium, King Leopold's Ghost Pages: 3 (1087 words) Published: October 13, 2013
Leopold’s Congo

During the nineteenth century many of the European empires raced for an exclusive access to new territories in search of natural resources or new markets for produced goods. The process of colonization was always a form of exploitation of the weak and underdeveloped countries. Belgian King Leopold II was one of the ambitious monarchs interested in acquiring a “slice of African Cake”. Ultimately, his reign over his Congo Free State was a regime of terror and monumental atrocities. The Belgium King, under a humanitarian pretense, was the person behind massive exploitation of African Congo. In his effort to maximize the profits from ivory and wild rubber, Leopold II imposed a system of torture, slavery and slaughter. His Congo Free State became nothing less of a forced labor camp, and his cruel regime brought holocaust upon the Congolese people. Leopold created plans to make the vast Congo territory his personal colony as soon as African explorations of Henry Morton Stanley became public. Despite Belgium’s disagreement with Leopold’s colonization ideas, he never stopped pursuing his plan. To get opposition’s approval Leopold II created a spurious philanthropic plan for the Congo and under this pretense continued his work. In 1878 the king asked Stanley to lead an exploration to provide bases and a headquarters. He also employed American businessman Henry Shelton Stanford to lobby in the United States for his “humanitarian" plan for Congo. However, as “King-Sovereign” of the newly acquired territory, Leopold’s main interest in the Congo was only “in extracting every possible penny of wealth – as the Congo’s proprietor” (Hochschild, 87). Leopold’s began his exploitation of the Congo by acquiring massive amounts of ivory from elephant’s tusks. Ivory was in a very in high demand in Europe at the time, as it could be easily carved into many items, anything from jewelry pieces to false teeth. Leopold gave a clear command to Stanley to...

Cited: Hochschild, Adam. King Leopold 's ghost: a story of greed, terror, and heroism in Colonial Africa. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1998. Print
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