A Story of Imperialism, Exploitation, and Power

The reign of King Leopold and the excessive narrative of his acquisition of the Congo is explored in Adam Hochschildaa‚¬a„?s book entitled, King Leopoldaa‚¬a„?s Ghost. Perpetrating awful sums of atrociousnesss during his influence, utilizing methods of anguish, sex bondage, labour bondage, and level out robbery as agencies of control, King Leopold certainly left his grade on the Congo and itaa‚¬a„?s people even a hundred old ages after the declaration of the aa‚¬A“free state.aa‚¬A? Although some of Leopoldaa‚¬a„?s motivations can be traced in the beginning of the book through adolescent certification, a changeless subject within his reign of the Congo and his personal life was an intense desire for power, wealth, and seeing no boundary in his enterprises. At this point in history, colonialism was a popular maneuver for trade wealth within the major powers of Europe, so Leopold met small to no opposition in his constitution of a settlement to convey Belgium to the trade competition. The Berlin Conference in 1884 enabled Leopold to claim his interest in the Congo during this aa‚¬A“scramble for Africa.aa‚¬A? The continent was later partitioned among the European powers. Typical of the epoch, non a individual African attended the conference. Henry Morton Stanley ( Leopoldaa‚¬a„?s buddy and enabler of all the soiled work in the settlement ) , one of the lone work forces present to hold really stepped pes in Africa, represented Leopold at the conference and by its decision, Leopold ‘s position as the de facto crowned head of the settlement of the Congo was assured. By royal edicts of May 29, 1885, the fifty-year-old male monarch declared his new, in private controlled state, the Congo Free State. Through tools of false media representations and political graft, Leopold was able to picture a scene of Belgisch humbleness and applaudable work ; he claimed to convey the benefits of medical specialty, engineering and Christianity to alleged pagan peoples. By this method, Leopold was hailed as a great title-holder of humanism during the period of the worst maltreatments in the Congo in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Although King Leopold ab initio met no opposition, one time imperialism took full force, foreigners seemed to hold a really different sentiment of the self-proclaimed do-gooder in the aa‚¬A“paradiseaa‚¬A? of the Congo. King Leopold met much opposition from other European states including Britain and France, furthermore met negative force from the United States. His government besides dealt with rebelliousness interior of the Congo within his ain draftee ground forces, whose soldiers sometimes found commonalties with the Rebels they were supposed to prosecute. Although Leopold ensued highly violent and traumatising tactics within forced labour, he was met with largely nonviolent contention.

As Dr. Wilkie explained, Leopoldaa‚¬a„?s motives in the Congo were based around a type of new imperialism in the 19th century. Africa was rich with natural resources ( tusk and rubber being most desirable ) and Leopold took advantage of these resources to the fullest extent ( unluckily working the people in the Congo at the same time ) . This new imperialism was besides connected with a great sense of patriotism felt by Europe, the United States, and Japan. Each topographic point felt an overpowering sense that their state was so great that they needed to spread out their prestigiousness. ( 15 February 2011 ) King Leopold and his plotters surely felt this racial entitlement of the epoch and carried a hungriness for economic prosperity. Leopold wrote to Stanley “ There is no inquiry of allowing the slightest political power to Blacks. That would be absurd. The white work forces, caputs of the Stationss, retain all the powers ” ( Hochschild 67 ) . Their militia violent deaths and dehumanising patterns of labour conformity included utilizing household members for ransom in trade of work or goods, famishment, menaces to kill, cutting off custodies when gum elastic quotas were non met, colza, and killing extended Numberss of elephants for tusk ( merely to call a few occurrences ) . Within all of this psychological panic created within the community of the Congo, Leopoldaa‚¬a„?s attempts to cover up his confederacy of taking labour and stealing the natural resources of his settlement to sell in Europe did non travel unnoticed.

A assortment of travellers and bookmans went to the Congo and documented the troublesome activities and leaders, and a few made a important impact to itaa‚¬a„?s hereafter. George Washington Williams and Edmund Dene Morel made it possible to conceive of the atrociousnesss in the African settlement during the clip and created much oppugning and eventual anti-imperial opposition to the Kingaa‚¬a„?s government. George Washington Williams was an American Civil War veteran, historian, and curate. He carried a false individuality of holding a scholarly background and grade with political prestigiousness, yet he left his life behind in the Unites States to Belgium to finally go to the Congo. He finally did in 1890 with disheartenment from Leopold. Outraged at the many atrociousnesss he witnessed, he wrote a series of letters called the Open Letter, which were republished as booklets and later enjoyed broad circulation in newspapers. One missive reads,

Stanley and his white helpers has used a assortment of fast ones, such as gulling Africans into believing that Whites had supernatural powers, to acquire Congo heads to subscribe their lands over to Leopold… .Far from being a great hero, Stanley has been a autocrat. His aa‚¬E?name produces a frisson among this simple common people when mentioned ; they retrieve his broken promisesaa‚¬a„? … .Leopoldaa‚¬a„?s constitution of military bases along the river had caused a moving ridge of decease and devastation… Leopoldaa‚¬a„?s claim that that his new province was supplying wise authorities and public services was a fraud. There were no schools and no infirmaries… ( Hochschild 109-110 )

The letters condemned Leopold ‘s disposal of the Congo and enumerated assorted other atrociousnesss including bondage, sexual bondage, anguish and widespread slaying. Leopold responded by discrediting Williams — easy to make as many of William ‘s certificates were fabricated. Although no immediate responses were considered, his initial certification opened the doors for others to come and see what was truly traveling on ; as the chapter suggests Williams was aa‚¬A“the foremost heretic.aa‚¬A? Other work forces, such as William Henry Sheppard ( an Afro-american Presbyterian missionary ) went into the settlement and documented their findings merely to be denied by King Leopold abundantly. Yet, a British journalist and human rights militant by the name of Edmund Morel would alter that form of denial. Morelaa‚¬a„?s involvement began when he secured a occupation as a clerk with Elder Dempster, and thereby gained entree to transportation manifests for cargo between Belgium and the Congo. For months he observed burden and unloading processs in Belgium and compared what he saw with the transportation manifests he reviewed. He rapidly realized that about the lone thing exported to the Congo were pieces and ammo ; whereas, a steady watercourse of tusk, gum elastic and other cherished goods arrived from the Congo. The trade was evidently supremely imbalanced, and Morel instead rapidly deduced that the lone account was widespread bondage. He knew he could non maintain lull about his finds, and quickly told his foreman that led to others seeking to corrupt him to maintain quiet. aa‚¬A“Morel knew he had taken a monumentous measure. aa‚¬E?I had launched the boat, aa‚¬a„? he wrote, aa‚¬E?and there could be no turning back.aa‚¬a„?aa‚¬A? ( Hochschild 186 ) His defeat led him to discontinue his occupation and give himself full-time to the campaign against atrociousnesss in the Congo and Africa. His attempts were indefatigable and his organisational abilities were formidable. Morel became the centre of human-centered publication, and legion other persons on a regular basis communicated with him.

From Morelaa‚¬a„?s manus at that place now flowed a downpour of onslaughts on Leopold… he started his ain publication. The West African Mail, aa‚¬E?An Illustrated Weekly Journal Founded to Meed the Quickly Turning Interest in West & A ; Cardinal African Questions, aa‚¬a„? would be a forum where no 1 could ban him. ( Hochschild 186 )

Largely due to Morel ‘s attempts, in 1903, the British Parliament passed a declaration protesting atrociousnesss in the Congo. The authorities decided to direct a representative to do an official circuit of the Congo, and they selected Roger Casement. His ocean trip through the Congo was thorough, and the adult male proved really observant and incorruptible. In 1904, he produced what would finally be known as the Casement Report, a cursing papers detailing maltreatments in the Congo. This study and ulterior certification given to Morel by Henry I. Kowalsky ( Colonel and attorney hired by King Leopold ) that showed payoffs paid to Judgess, journalists, politicians, and editors and similar stuffs were published. This created an utmost sum of force per unit area towards Leopold on the international political forepart. After seeking to salvage himself with the Commission of Inquiry, Henry was unable to distort anything else and the Commission merely validated the Casement Report ; ensuing in his concluding strategy to blow up back in his face. King Leopold shortly entered dialogues to sell the Congo to Belgium in his 1970ss. Because of everything that had happened in this sequence of events, it proves that one adult male can do a difference in an atrocious and powerful state of affairs, and anti-imperial outlooks of the King proved to be so impactful that it led to the death of his cherished Congo.

To sum up the atrociousnesss with countering oppositions that took topographic point in the Congo in the late 1800s and early 1900s, Hochschild says,

E. D. Morel talked, as good, about causes: above all, the larceny of African land and labour that made possible Leopold ‘s whole system of development. It was this radicalism, in the best and deepest sense of the word, that underlay the passion of the taking Congo reformists and that led Morel and Casement, after their conflict for justness in the Congo, to Pentonville Prison. The larger tradition of which they are a portion goes back to the Gallic Revolution and beyond ; it draws on the illustration of work forces and adult females who fought against tremendous odds for their freedom, from the slave rebellions of the Americas to the half-century of opposition that brought Nelson Mandela to power in South Africa. During its decennary on the universe phase, the Congo reform motion was a critical nexus in that concatenation, and there is no tradition more honest. At the clip of the Congo contention a hundred old ages ago, the thought of full human rights, political, societal, and economic, was a profound menace to the established order of most states on Earth. It still is today. ( 306 )

The narrative of King Leopold has a climbing nightshade stoping because although in this conflict of good versus immorality, good prevailed, but merely at the cost of about 10 million lives. Leopold and his government was met with resistance from many persons and great political powers by the terminal of his regulation in the African settlement. Mentalities within the Congo were supported by economic greed, imperial power, and racism. Outside the Congo had this outlooks as good, but they were non put into world every bit good as Leopold was able to make. By the terminal of this narrative, outlooks were evidently greatly shifted about corrupt metropoles with the horrors that were proven inside the settlement. Still, maintaining in head the thoughts of power within the written word and one manaa‚¬a„?s continuity, Morel was able to impact this calamity in historical and political humanity with singular strength, while besides triping new belief systems around colonialism and the rights of human existences.