King Leopold II: The Conquest Of The Congo

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When Leopold II rose to the Belgian throne in 1865, he did so with the goal of building and ruling his own colony and financially profiting off it. Leopold’s acquisition and eventual conquest of the Congo was very meticulous and orchestrated and revealed his greed and willingness to exploit people and territory in order to acquire wealth. He created a guise by proclaiming his motivations toward colonization as being philanthropic and humanitarian. He did this by setting up the sham International African Association and by using pawns explorer Henry Morton Stanley and American ambassador to Belgium, Henry Sanford. In 1876 King Leopold II formed the International African Association as a front organization to portray that he was a humanitarian by promoting his efforts to civilize and educate the indigenous peoples of the Congo. Creation of this myth was key in his eventual takeover of the Congo and mass extraction of its natural resources for profit. As chairman of the association, he expressed his humanitarian efforts to present to the public that he was virtuous all while in the Congo millions of natives continued to be mutilated and enslaved at his command for his own economic gain and gain of his country. The indigenous people of the Congo were thought of as savages. Leopold told the public that they were uncivilized, untamed, and uncultured and therefore were in desperate need of European intervention and civilization. This helped him gain public support of exploration

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