When did King Leopold II rule the Congo?

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mrkirschner | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

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"I do not want to miss a good chance of getting us a slice of this magnificent African cake."  --Leopold II of Belgium 

King Leopold of Belgium ruled the Congo between 1885-1908.  He was granted the Congo Free State for his own personal use at the Berlin Conference of 1884-1885.  He convinced the powers of Europe that he could make the lives of Africans better in the region he was to govern.  This was a complete front. Almost immediately Leopold initiated the exploitation of the resources and human labor of the Congo.  Leopold amassed a personal fortune by extracting ivory and rubber from the Congo.  He enslaved the Africans through the use of his own personal army.  Human rights abuses were staggering as the consensus opinion of historians puts the death toll at over ten million.  As investigative journalists started to explore and report the depravity in the Congo, the world was outraged.  Leopold was forced to relinquish control in 1908.


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