December 09, 2013

On this day December 9th...

DARC Ethiophile Chronicles

On December 9, 1906 - The New York American reports Belgian King Leopold II bribed the US Senate commission on the Congo.
In the 1880s, as the European powers were carving up Africa, King Leopold II of Belgium seized for himself the vast and mostly unexplored territory surrounding the Congo River. Carrying out a genocidal plundering of the Congo, he looted its rubber, brutalized its people, and ultimately slashed its population by ten million--all the while shrewdly cultivating his reputation as a great humanitarian. Of all the worlds’ tyrants in Africa Leopold II holds the dubious distinction as being the most wicked, he is responsible for killing and maiming more African than anyone in history.
In 1906 Leopold sent United States President Chester A. Arthur carefully edited copies of cloth-and-trinket treaties obtained by Stanley, and proposed that, as an entirely disinterested humanitarian body, the Association administer the Congo for the good of all, handing over power to the local inhabitants as soon as they were ready for that grave responsibility. He worked to convince the United States, with its growing economic and military power, to recognize the treaties and the Congo Free State. Leopold's men told Southern Congressmen that the Congo Free State could be a new home for freed slaves. They loved the idea. He promised the President open and free trade.
In April, the U.S. Congress decided that the treaties had legal standing and that the Congo was a sovereign state under the Belgian king. France's recognition soon followed, and then Germany, and soon all the other European nations. Since the IAA was seen as a legitimate government of a recognized sovereign state, Bismarck invited King Leopold to discuss African affairs with the Great Powers of Europe. Thus on November 15, 1884, the International Conference met to resolve "the African question" concerning the disposition of African territories among European powers. After long debate and ten sittings, the Great Powers agreed, without input from Africa or thought to tribal politics, on borders for the colonies. The Congo Free State encompassed nearly a million square miles, the largest claim in central Africa.

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