King Leopold II: The Congo Free State

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King Leopold II was the ruler of Belgium from 1865 - 1909. On February 5, 1885, The Congo Free State was established. This was a state 76x larger than Belgium, also ruled by Leopold II. In the Congo Free State, 10 million Africans died from war, starvation, birth reduction, and diseases, and there was a great loss of land. King Leopold was fully responsible for all of the effects of the Congo Free State on its people and the region. In 1885, right after the Berlin Conference, King Leopold II became the sole owner of the Congo Free State, a state at which had an estimated population of 30 million people. Before he claimed the state as his personal property, Leopold had no consent from the people of the Congo, had never even been there, and most…show more content…
In King Leopold’s letter to Henry Stanley, a journalist and Central African explorer, he tells him that it is “indispensable” to buy land from the Africans and have it under his “suzerainty”. This shows Leopold’s desperation to take control of as much land as he can. Furthermore, it is Leopold who will end up profiting from this lan purchase if it ends up happening, and it was also his idea for it to happen. In addition, Leopold is responsible for the mistreatment of the Africans, for as he says in his interview with Publishers’ Press in 1906, “It would be absurd for us to mistreat the blacks because no state prospers unless the population is happy and increasing … cruelty, even crimes have been committed … convictions before Congo tribunals for these offenses”. By publicizing this, King Leopold is hoping to gain the respect of Africans so he can expand his Congo and get more slaves for collecting rubber. As a result of their many hours of rubber and ivory collecting, many natives were considered “slaves in all but name” (Religious Tolerance). The more rubber and ivory exported from the Congo, meant more profit for Leopold, which gave him purpose for capturing Africans. As shown in Document C, the exports of rubber and ivory from the Congo as time progresses, it can be seen that rubber exports had significantly increased with time. This piece of data is a result of more slaves in the
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