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King Leopold's Ghost: Greed, Terror, And Heroism In Colonial Africa

1084 words - 4 pages

The historical book King Leopold's Ghost written by Adam Hochschild is well-known for

depicting the horrific atrocities conducted by King Leopold II. He enslaved the Congolese in order to

import rubber, ivory, and other valuable goods. The slaves were abused or killed, while others died of

foreign diseases. While the Congolese population plummeted, King Leopold's fortune increased

incredibly. During his reign, millions of Congolese people died.

However, there were also people who strongly opposed King Leopold's actions. There were

several activists who exposed his cruelty to the public. Among them, one was a journalist,

Edmund Dene Morel. Desperately trying to support his family, he began to work for Elder Dempster, a

Liverpool shipping line. Upon discovering Leopold's sins, he became determined to gain more

information regarding the conditions in the Congo. He created his own publication, the “West African

Mail,” despite losing his job. Having his own publication, he was able to reveal Leopold's sins to the

public. Years later, he started a collaboration with Roger Casement. Casement was appointed by

Leopold to work for Elder Dempster, where he discovered the brutality that occurred in the Congo.

Casement and Morel collaborated, and their Congo reform movement succeeded. However, Casement

was soon executed for treason. A year after, Morel was also imprisoned. Due to the poor conditions in

the prison, he developed several health risks. Regardless of having heart complications, he died

peacefully.

An interesting story that I came upon was about a sixteen year old named Caroline. She

was Antoine-Emmanuel Durrieux's mistress, but she left him for Leopold. At the time, Leopold was

sixty-five years old. Despite the age difference, Caroline still enjoyed being in a relationship with

him. Her false love was merely filled with her greed for Leopold's great wealth. Caroline fed on

Leopold's wealth, once even spending three million francs on gowns. She was not popular in the eyes

of the public due to her obvious greed. She had two sons, the first was named Duke of Terveren, but

the second son's name was not identified. After the birth of Duke of Terveren, she was granted the title

Baroness de Vaughan. Not surprisingly, Leopold also bought Caroline grand villas and estates to care

for her sons.

Another short section of the book that I found interesting was about Colonel Henry I. Kowalsky.

Even though he never enlisted in the army, he fooled people into believing he did. Leopold saw him the

perfect candidate for throwing off his critics. He was hired immediately and was gifted an elaborate

office on Wall Street. Instead of allying with Leopold, he provided his colleagues with secret

documents that contained Kowalsky's salary and additional bribes from the king. Leopold was

oblivious to what Kowalsky was doing, so Kowalsky used him for money. He complained that he had

paid a hefty amount to...

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