States and then all the major nations of Europe to recognize his claim. Although Belgiums government felt that colonies would be an extravagance for a small country with no navy or merchant marine, that situation suited Leopold perfectly. 2 volumes. However, as he approached Stanley Falls at the junction between the Congo proper and the Lualaba (close to the general vicinity of Central Africa where he had found Livingstone six years before), it soon became clear that Stanley's men were not the only intruders. One particularly notorious practice grew out of the suppression of those rebellions. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Jolle Sambi Nzeba, a Belgian-Congolese poet and spokesperson for the Belgian Network for Black Lives, says the statues tell her she is "less than a regular Belgian". Seeing what profits Leopold was reaping from forced labor, officials in these colonies soon adopted exactly the same systemincluding women hostages, forced male labor, and the chicottewith equally fatal consequences. After all, destroying the iconography of Adolf Hitler did not mean the history of Nazi Germany was forgotten, she points out. First, the system of exploitation established there became a model for colonial rule in other parts of central Africa. More than one thousand mass meetings to protest slave labor in the Congo were held, mostly in Britain and the United States, but also in Europe and as far away as Australia and New Zealand. They refused to surrender, and when troops finally entered the cave three months later, they found 178 bodies. He spoke contemptuously of Belgiums small size, could not speak proper Dutch, the native language of more than half of its citizens, spent long winters in luxurious quarters on the French Riviera, and was estranged from two of his three daughters. Leopold II became the next King of Belgium in 1865 and reigned until his death on December 17th, 1909. On Friday the younger brother of Belgium's King Philippe, Prince Laurent, defended his ancestor saying Leopold II was not responsible for atrocities in the colony "because he never went to. As a result of King Leopold actions, thousands of African tribes populations decreased significantly. They write new content and verify and edit content received from contributors. Ascherson, Neal (1963). The people being colonized are robbed of their land, resources, and freedom.) King Leopold II was the ruler of the Congo Free State, and the King of Belgium. Leiden, Netherlands: E.J. He produced an excoriating, detailed report, complete with sworn testimony from witnesses, which is in many ways a model for the reports produced by contemporary organizations like Amnesty International or Human Rights Watch. Within three years, his capacity for hard work, his skill at playing one social group off against another, his ruthless use of modern weaponry to kill opponents, and above all his relentless determination opened the route to the Upper Congo. "Congo Free State Rubber Regime Atrocities." A hundred lashes of the chicotte, a not infrequent punishment, could be fatal. Yet, in the most astonishing and improbable way imaginable, he managed virtually single-handedly to upset the balance of power in Africa and usher in the terrible age of European colonialism on the black continent. But taking the monument away does not solve the problem of racism, she believes, while creating one museum devoted to the statues would not be useful either. Sadly, Williams, only forty-one years old, died of tuberculosis on his way home from Africa, but not before writing several additional denunciations of what he had seen in the Congo. Now, Stanley discovered, Tippu Tip's men had reached still further west in search of fresh populations to enslave. The museum is largely protected by heritage law but, in the streets outside, monuments to a monarch who seized a huge swathe of Central Africa in 1885 have no such security. Outside of the Cape of Good Hope and the Mediterranean coast, Europe had no African colonies of any significance. Encyclopedia of Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity. Leopold II may never have set foot there, but he poured the profits into Belgium and into his pockets. Bennett, Norman Robert. oliviall Answer: Since the consequences of the scheme in the Congo could too easily be blamed on one man who could comfortably be targeted because he did not serve a great power, a Leopold-focused foreign uproar. In the early 1890s, however, a larger source of wealth suddenly loomed. Estimates vary, but about half the Congolese population died from punishment and malnutrition. Bierman, John (1990). Brussels: Didier Hatier. Stanley was applauded, admired, decoratedand ignored. Nzansu, a chief in the region near the great Congo River rapids, led rebels who killed a hated colonial official and pillaged several state posts, although they carefully spared the homes of nearby Swedish missionaries. Cite this article Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography. Brussels: Institut Royal Colonial Belge. For decades, colonial history has been barely taught in Belgium. King Leopold's Rule in Africa. All rights reserved. Since the 15th century, European explorers had sailed into the broad Congo estuary, planning to fight their way up the falls and rapids that begin only 100 miles (160km) inland, and then travel up the river to its unknown source. Inside the palatial walls of Belgium's Africa Museum stand statues of Leopold II - each one a monument to the king whose rule killed as many as 10 million Africans. [3], As a constitutional monarch, Leopold was charged with the usual constitutional duties of opening parliaments, greeting diplomats, and attending state funerals. [8], It was only at this point that Stanley was informed of the magnitude of Leopold's ambition: Stanley was not merely to construct a series of trading stations, he was to secretly carve out an entire nation. From the start the regime was founded on forced labor. For much of the journey he floated down the river, mapping its course for the first time and noting the many tributaries that, it turned out, comprised a network of navigable waterways more than 7,000 miles long. But for Leopold this posed no problem; he would acquire his own. Equipped with repeating rifles, cannons, and machine guns and fighting against Africans with only spears or antiquated muskets, King Leopold's 19,000-man army (black conscripts under white officers) gradually took control of the vast territory. The history of Colonialism as a policy or practice go, THE CAUSE OF DECOLONIZATION It was not until 1867 that the Congo was explored by Europeans, and even then it was not from the sea, but from the other side of the African continent. ." He was a veteran of the American Civil War, a historian, a Baptist minister, a lawyer, and the first black member of the Ohio state legislature. Arab vs. European: Diplomacy and war in Nineteenth-Century East Central Africa. With most able-bodied adults prisoners or forced laborers for several weeks out of each month, villages had few people who could plant and harvest food, or go hunting or fishing, and famine soon spread. Marchal, Jules (1996). The focus of the great powers was still firmly on the lands that had made Europe's fortune: the Americas, the East Indies, India, China, and Australasia. Leopold was an intelligent and ruthless man who wasn't afraid to lie or kill in order to expand Belgium's power. Franklin, John Hope (1985). )1978 Leopold II, it seemed, was the only European willing to finance Stanley's dream: the building of a railway over the Crystal Mountains from the sea to Stanley Pool, from which river steamers could reach 1,000 miles (1,600km) into the heart of Africa. Pakenham, Thomas (1991). While every effort has been made to follow citation style rules, there may be some discrepancies. It was the worlds only private colony, and Leopold referred to himself as its proprietor.. Belgium took over the colony in 1908 and it was not until 1960 that the Republic of the Congo was established, after a fight for independence. By 1908, Leopold II's rule was deemed so cruel that European leaders, themselves violently exploiting Africa, condemned it and the Belgian parliament forced him to relinquish control of his fiefdom. When the ships turned around and steamed back to Africa, however, they carried no merchandise in exchange. The newly named Belgian Congo remained a colony until the Democratic Republic of Congo gained its independence in 1960. Presenting himself as a philanthropist eager to bring the benefits of Christianity, Western civilization, and commerce to African nativesa guise that he perpetuated for many yearsLeopold hosted an international conference of explorers and geographers at the royal palace in Brussels in 1876. Unlike previous European nations that spread their influence over As he put it, he did not want to miss out on the opportunity of getting a slice of "this magnificent African cake." King . The king's stated goal was to bring civilization to the people of the Congo, an enormous region in Central Africa. The army become known for its brutality, with the officers and soldiers being accused ofdestroying villages, taking hostages, raping, torturing, and extorting the people. King Leopold II and the Congo The European colonization of Africa was one of the greatest and swiftest conquests in human history. Dark Safari: The Life behind the Legend of Henry Morton Stanley. The current protests are not the first time Belgium's ugly history in Congo has been contested in the streets. There seemed no economic sense to investing energy in Africa when the returns from other colonies were likely to be both richer and more immediate. At various times, he launched unsuccessful schemes to buy an Argentine province, to buy Borneo from the Dutch, rent the Philippines from Spain, or establish colonies in China, Vietnam, Japan, or the Pacific islands. The vicious fighting and terror of the Congo Free State is better understood as another example of the incredible capacity of people for incomprehensible cruelty. Last week thousands in the country of 11 million joined solidarity protests about the killing of US black man George Floyd in police custody. (1952). The king of Belgium wanted the Congo for the vast amounts of wild rubber it held, and to establish a colony as he thought kings were supposed to do. Charles Michel, prime minister at the time, declined. 2 volumes. Stanley made his way back to Europe with a sheaf of signed treaties in 1884. The treaties, some of which appear to have been subsequently doctored to Leopolds liking, were then put to use by the Belgian monarch. He traveled throughout Britain speaking to large audiences and was adept at recruiting bishops, well-known writers, and other luminaries to join him on the lecture platform. It was the world's only major colony owned by one man. For a dozen years, from 1901 to 1913, working sometimes fourteen to sixteen hours a day, he devoted his formidable energy and skill to putting the story of forced labor in King Leopold's Congo on the world's front pages. As the price of rubber soared, the quotas increased, and as vines near a village were drained dry, men desperate to free their wives and daughters would have to walk days or weeks to find new vines to tap. During that window of time those who profited were the people Why did Leopold want the Congo? Under his reign, the Congolese people were terrorized with forced labor and harsh treatment. As he headed back to England, Stanley was assiduously courted by King Leopold II of Belgium. For instance, Leopold II was a first cousin of Queen Victoria of Britain. No one owned more land like this than King Leopold II, for equatorial rain forest, dotted with wild rubber vines, comprised half of his Congo state. Cookies collect information about your preferences and your devices and are used to make the site work as you expect it to, to understand how you interact with the site, and to show advertisements that are targeted to your interests. Colonial administrators also kidnapped orphaned children from communities and transported them to "child colonies" to work or train as soldiers. [7], Stanley, much more familiar with the rigours of the African climate and the complexities of local politics than Leopold Leopold II never set foot in the Congo persuaded his patron that the first step should be the construction of a wagon trail and a series of forts. Early and Personal Life. Presbyterian Reformers in Central Africa: A Documentary Account of the American Presbyterian Congo Mission and the Human Rights Struggle in the Congo, 18901918. Joseph Conrad, who spent six months in the Congo in 1890, draws a memorable portrait of this rapacious trade in his novel Heart of Darkness. "Congo Free State Rubber Regime Atrocities." National Geographic Society is a 501 (c)(3) organization. In the period from 1885 to 1908, many atrocities were perpetrated in the Congo Free State (today the Democratic Republic of the Congo) which, at the time, was a state under the absolute rule of King Leopold II of the Belgians.These atrocities were particularly associated with the labour policies used to collect natural rubber for export. Meanwhile, Leopold had already begun the job of persuading first the United He wrote articles, appeared at public meetings, lobbied the rich and powerful tirelessly; and always his theme was the boundless opportunity for commercial exploitation of the lands he had discovered or, in his own words, to "pour the civilisation of Europe into the barbarism of Africa". (accessed May 1, 2023). I Have a Dream Europe was less than keen on the idea: the great European scramble for Africa had not yet begun. When the 1860s explorers focused attention on Africa, Leopold schemed to colonise Mozambique on the east coast, Senegal on the west coast, and the Congo in the centre. In Britain he founded the Congo Reform Association, and affiliated groups sprang up in the United States and other countries. Rather than control the Congo as a colony, as other European powers did throughout Africa, Leopold privately owned the region. By 1910 nearly this entire huge expanse had become European colonies or land, like South Africa, controlled by white settlers. He made further progress toward realizing his objective at a diplomatic conference in Berlin in 1884 and 1885 that the major European powers attended. official, Major Charles C. Liebrechts, made the same estimate in 1920. In actuality, Leopold wanted to get his hands on Congo's natural resources. It is at this point that Leopold II of Belgium took a part. In 1924 the first territory-wide census, when adjusted for undercounting, placed the number of colony inhabitants at some ten million. Rather than control the Congo as a colony, as other European powers did throughout Africa, Leopold privately owned the region. Millions of Congolese then found themselves suffering near-famine, which made them vulnerable to diseases they otherwise might have survived. "Leopold II certainly does not deserve a statue in the public domain," agrees Bambi Ceuppens, scientific commissioner at the Africa Museum. Almost the only early visitor to interview Africans about their experience of the regime, he took extensive notes, and, a thousand miles up the Congo River, wrote one of the greatest documents in human rights literature, an open letter to King Leopold that is one of the important landmarks in human rights literature. Many more suffered from disease and torture. But numerous surviving records from the rubber-bearing land in the adjoining French Congo, which closely followed the model of the Leopoldian forced labor system, also suggest a population loss there of around 50 percent. It was the last part of the continent to be colonized. The first nationwide Congolese political party, the Congo National Movement, was launched in 1958 by Patrice Lumumba and other Congolese leaders. 24 February 2004. The king's colonial officials quickly set up a brutal but effective system for harvesting wild rubber. Thus was the Belgian Congo created. EUROPEAN EFFORTS TO REINVENT OVERSEA, Kenyatta, Jomo 1891(? "It is indispensable", instructed Leopold, "that you should purchase for the Comit d'tudes[fr] (i.e., Leopold himself) as much land as you can obtain". The only way to do that was through the use of terror. Civil rights leader From 1874 through 1877 the British explorer and journalist Henry Morton Stanley (18411904) crossed Africa from east to west. This army was composed of White officers and African soldiers. Leopolds reign over the Congo Free State, however, has become infamous for its brutality. Male rubber gatherers often died from exhaustion. . Setting out from Zanzibar, Henry Morton Stanley, a British-born American journalist and explorer aimed to find the famous Dr. Livingstone. Together with epidemic disease, famine, and a falling . On February 5, 1885, Belgian King Leopold II established the Congo Free State as his personal possession. In a TV debate this week, a former president of the Free University of Brussels, Herv Hasquin, argued there were "positive aspects" to colonisation, listing the health system, infrastructure, and primary education he said Belgium brought to Central Africa. "It's a good thing that everyone is waking up, looking around and thinking 'is this right?'" This brutal practice was a catastrophe for the population of the Congo, and Leopold was eventually forced to give up his hold on the colony. To secure their The king also faced enemies of another sort. Using a wide variety of local and church sources, Jan Vansina, professor emeritus of history and anthropology at the University of Wisconsin and the leading ethnographer of Congo basin peoples, calculates that the Congo's population dropped by some 50 percent during this period, an estimate with which other modern scholars concur. In order to enforce the near impossible rubber quotas imposed on villages, agents and officials called on the Free States army, the Force Publique., "King Leopold II and the Congo When Leopold II died in 1909, he was buried to the sound of Belgians booing. Biography of Ernesto Che Guevara, Revolutionary Leader, Top Ten Villains of Latin American History, War of the First Coalition in 1790s France, 10 Facts About the Independence of Texas From Mexico, Events Leading to the Scramble for Africa, A Photo Gallery of the Mexican Revolution, Biography of Emiliano Zapata, Mexican Revolutionary, Ph.D., History, University of Michigan - Ann Arbor, M.A., History, University of Michigan - Ann Arbor, B.A./B.S, History and Zoology, University of Florida. He was the architect of one of history's greatest, if lesser known, crimes against humanity. Leopold spoke of bringing civilization to the Africans and sent a small but heavily armed Belgian force into the Congo. To curry diplomatic favor, he allowed several hundred Protestant missionaries into the Congo. By the end of the 19th century, the Basin had been carved up by European colonial powers, into the Congo Free State, the French Congo and the Portuguese Congo (modern Cabinda Province of Angola). At a Glance In May 1885, Leopold took possession of his colony and named it the Congo Free State. Unfortunately, for the Congo, it was one of the only places in the world to have a large supply of wild rubber, and the government and its affiliated trading companies quickly shifted their focus to extracting the suddenly lucrative commodity. Henry Morton Stanley (2011). Aware that Belgian neutrality, maintained during the Franco-German War (187071), was imperilled by the increasing strength of France and Germany, he persuaded parliament in 1887 to finance the fortification of Lige and Namur. No one will ever know the precise figures, but, from all these causes, demographers estimate that between 1880 and 1920 the population of the Congo may have been slashed by up to 50 percent, from perhaps 20 million people at the beginning of that period to an estimated 10 million at the end. Video, The secret mine that hid the Nazis' stolen treasure, US black man George Floyd in police custody, statues of racist historical figures vandalised or removed, "rape, mutilation and genocide of millions of Congolese". Richmond, Va.: John Knox Press. William Morrison, a white man, and William Sheppard, the first black missionary in the Congo, were Presbyterians from Virginia whose acts of witness so infuriated Congo colonial authorities that they put the men on trial for libel. For many years Leopold II was widely known as a leader who defended Belgium's neutrality in the 1870-71 Franco-Prussian war and commissioned public works fit for a modern nation. Harper & Row. Ed. A cointegration analysis, CRE Working paper, n02/10, juin 2010,, The fever-ridden mangroves of the lower Niger by the brothers, This page was last edited on 23 October 2022, at 17:53. Tippu Tip, the most powerful of the Zanzibari slave traders of the 19th century, was well known to Stanley, as was the social chaos and devastation that slave-hunting brought. But the slashing of the territory's populationthrough a combination of disease, famine, slave labor, suppression of rebellions, and diminished birthrateindisputably occurred on a genocidal scale. Benedetto, Robert, ed. ." Leopold II, Williams declared, was guilty of "crimes against humanity." Stanley was lionised across Europe. 13(May 15). He attributes colonial crimes to the king himself, rather than the Belgian people or state. ThoughtCo. Last year a UN working group called on Belgium to apologise for atrocities committed during the colonial era. New and revised edition. Other parts of the Congo economy, from road building to chopping wood for steamboat boilers, operated by forced labour as well. This was to be his most enduring legacy. Tippu Tip had raided 118 villages, killed 4,000 Africans, and, when Stanley reached his camp, had 2,300 slaves, mostly young women and children, in chains ready to transport halfway across the continent to the markets of Zanzibar. Leopold agreed and in deepest secrecy, Stanley signed a five-year contract at a salary of 1,000 a year, and set off to Zanzibar under an assumed name. Initially, government and commercial agents focused on acquiring ivory, but inventions, like the car, dramatically increased the demand for rubber. Many women hostages were raped and a significant number starved to death. (2022, June 2). The audio, illustrations, photos, and videos are credited beneath the media asset, except for promotional images, which generally link to another page that contains the media credit. Therefore, its best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publications requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites: Angela Thompsell, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of British and African History at SUNY Brockport. These men were generally from other parts of the Congo or other colonies entirely, and the orphans and enslaved people had often been brutalized themselves. Renting a missionary steamboat, he spent more than three months traveling in the interior. Moreover, he had a well-known penchant for teenaged girls, and, when he was age 65, he began a liaison with a teenaged former prostitute who bore him two additional children. Leopold's reign over the Congo Free State, however, has become infamous for its brutality. The iconic images to emerge from this terror, though, were the baskets full of smoked hands and the Congolese children who survived having a hand cut off. Leopold (18351909) had ascended to the throne in 1865. At the time, his father, Leopold I, was the King of Belgium. In later years, Stanley would write that the most vexing part of his duties was not the work itself, nor negotiating with the natives, but keeping order amongst the ill-assorted collection of white men he had brought with him as overseers, who squabbled constantly over small matters of rank or status. Nor was there a strong humanitarian interest in the continent now that the American slave trade had been extinguished. It is clearly understood that in this project there is no question of granting the slightest political power to the negros. Furthermore, as in any society where men and women are separated, traumatized, or in flight as refugees, the birth rate dropped precipitously. Belgian King Leopold II ruthlessly seized control of the African continent on February 5, 1885, establishing the Congo Free State as a . Flament, F., et al. In the newly christened Belgian Congo, however, the forced labor system did not immediately end. State troops pursued them, trapping Mulume Niama and his soldiers in a large cave. Former President of Kenya "I will dance if it comes down. He provided for no education or vocational training, which would stunt future Congolese leaders from making sound economic and political policies. Why did King Leopold colonize the Congo? He promised a humanitarian and philanthropic mission that would improve the lives of Africans. If no button appears, you cannot download or save the media. Leopold II was the second son of Leopold I, first king of the Belgians, and his second wife, Marie-Louise of Orlans. Although Leopold II established Belgium as a colonial power in Africa, he is best known for the widespread atrocities that were carried out under his rule, as a result of which as many as 10 million people died in the Congo Free State. Statues have been daubed with red paint in Ghent and Ostend and pulled down in Brussels. , schneider funeral home mound city, kansas obituaries,
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