King Leopold Essay

Submitted By reciana
Words: 1511
Pages: 7

The leadership of King Leopold II of Belgium over Belgium Congo was dissatisfying towards the Congolese during his reign. The Congolese were brutalized during the colonization; it was the worst out of all of Africa’s colonization. He didn’t directly look into how the local officers were treating his colonists. He had his colony in a forced labor regime. Leopold also exploited Belgium Congo’s futile resources of rubber trees for Belgium’s own selfish profit. He destroyed the economic system in the Congo. He also purposely sabotaged archives to hide what was going on in the Congo. Leopold had instructed the missionaries that traveled to Belgium’s new colony to “erase” any thoughts of courage to fight back for the native’s freedom and to love being oppressed. Even though he did so many horrible things, Leopold helped the Congo by ending the Arab Slave Trade.
Leopold II was often compared to Adolf Hitler of Germany when reports of approximately 50% of the Belgian Congo died over the expanse of the King’s rule. Obviously that number has to be absurd, seeing that close to half the population being wiped out wouldn’t be to any profit to Belgium (Vladko). He can be blamed in enticing his local officials with raises if they produced the quota of rubber. By doing this, the officials would defile the workers for their greater riches. He can also be blamed for being naïve and ignorant for believing his advisors that malicious actions were not taking place in his colony. That is probably the downfall of having an indirect rule over a colony (MadMonarchist). King Leopold was found guilty of having a forced labor regime in Belgium Congo. Close to hundreds of thousands of Congolese’s were forced to work as porters to carry the Belgian’s supplies and goods. Edmund Dene Morel was a worker at one of the ports that the steam boats would dock to drop of the supplies and raw materials gathered from Belgium Congo to Antwerp. He would notice the ships from the Congo were filled to the hatch with cargoes of ivory and rubber. But when the ships turned around and sailed back to Africa, there were no merchandise on board in exchange. Nothing was being sent to the Congo to pay for the profit made off of them. All that would be sent back were a restock of soldiers, guns, and ammunition (Hochschild). Soon after, the officials came up with a brutal, yet effective, way of forcing the well abled men to go out and tap the rubber vines for sap in the forests. They would send out soldiers to take the wives hostage, and the only way to have them released is to collect the sap and meet their monthly quotas. Children’s hands were chopped off as punishment for late deliveries (Vladko). It became harder to reach the quota when large areas of rubber vines became dry and the demand of rubber climbed higher. In order to keep the men in line and discipline the ones who couldn’t meet their quotas were beaten with a chichotte. A chichotte is a whip made from sun dried hippopotamus skin with razor sharp edges. Men died of exhaustion and their wives died of starvation. The decline of fertile adults led to the decline of childbirth, which lowered the amount of workers in the future. As long as the price of rubber was high, the forced labor regime would not let up. Forced labor remained a major part of the Belgian Congo’s economy for many years after World War I when the Congolese were then again forced to become porters (MadMonarchist). George Washington Williams ventured into the Congo to experience the “paradise of enlightened rule” that Leopold described to him. However, when Williams arrived, he said that Belgian Congo was the “Siberia of Africa”. In a letter to the U.S. Secretary of State, he declared King Leopold guilty of “crimes against humanity”, a phrase that would be later used at the end of the Holocaust (Hochschild). When the bicycle and automobile tire were invented, the demand for rubber highly increased. Belgium Congo was in an ideal location for…