I would like readers to focus criticism on sentence structure and grammar, these are by far the weakest parts of my skill set and would appreciate any and all useful feedback no matter how harsh it is
Written By: Tyler Ethier
May 12, 2014
"Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed." (Mahatma Gandhi) Leopold understood this concept during the start of his reign in Belgium. Belgium was a small new country with little power and surrounded by colonial powers such as Britain, France and Germany; akin to every ruler at that time he wished to expand his Kingdom and solidify his power through any means necessary. Britain, France, Germany, Italy and even the United States all expanded their land in some way; Britain created colonies in India, the United States in the Philippines, Every nation had a proverbial "colonial cake" and Leopold's was no different. During a period of scientific innovation and colonial expansion, Leopold set his sights on the "…magnificent African cake..." (King Leopold's Ghost page, 58 ) the slice he wanted being the Congo which is located in the middle of the Africa. Leopold wanted expand his kingdom, gain power and prestige to increase his social standing among the colonial powers in the world. Leopold first wanted to increase just the size of his territory but after finding copious amounts of ivory he started the construction of a trade route and thus began the series of unimaginable atrocities as greed spread and Leopold's lust for power fueled the machine that paved a swath through the country and to the heart of darkness. This mans actions that have come to light make many distraught by the acts of pure malevolence that the Philanthropic King Leopold committed, from Conrad to General Sanford from myself to you our view on human nature has been changed negatively focusing around the identification of the "soul" (ability to show compassion or feel emotions from transgressions beyond human integrity) and the capacity of the human race to fall from faith. Leopold's orders for his lattice of soldiers in the Congo cannot in any way be excused, in fact some can easily be equivalent to the atrocities committed by the Nazi's during world war II. People have reasoned that Leopold was not to blame for these crimes against humanity because he was isolated/oblivious to the repercussions of his own orders. You might claim that he did what was thought appropriate for a ruler at that time just he hastened to process. Leopold's actions did range from Child labor camps "I believe we must set up three children's colonies, One is the Upper Congo near the equator, specifically military..." (King Leopold April 27, 1890, page 133) even the creation of the "Manual du Voyageur et du Resident au Congo, copy of which the administration gave to each agent and each state post. The manual's five volumes cover everything from keeping servants obedient to the proper firing of artillery salutes. Taking hostages was one more routine piece of work:" (Page, 162) This conniving form of giving his troops orders allowed Leopold to keep the ruse of being a philanthropist meanwhile using diverse means of communication the wide berth he was giving his soldiers in terms of rules. The pure, raw undeniably putridly self-centered acts justify any negative definition of Leopold's actions but was Leopold truly evil? Never fully trust a man who can out smart or out maneuver you; a common strategy that Leopold used often to increase the profitability of his endeavors "His Majesty displays the pretensions and naive selfishness of an Italian who considers that his charm and good looks will enable him to get away with anything…. Leopold outsmarted even the Iron Chancellor, once avian by working through the perfect intermediary." (Page, 83) It is undeniable that leopard's wit and intellect were that of a genius and his orders were those of any colonial power during that time the only difference being the the men that served under each ruler and the desire each leader had for profit. Leopold had men who had no qualms about the orders they received; he also posed the genius to cover his ulterior motives and he had the pure desire for profit that fueled the entire effort, the culmination of all these parts gave Leopold the opportunity that many people wish for. Leopold's ruse greatly influenced the general public and even those of high power; a network of false truths and empty promises that gave him the power needed to control the Congo. General Sanford was a wealthy business man whose many projects usually ended in failure. Leopold noticed this man and after discussing the possibility of free trade with the Congo he was able to gain an ally that influenced the United States into giving Leopold the right to own the Congo. General Henry Shelton Sanford became the right hand of Leopold reporting on every occurrence at conferences, influencing the various governments that Leopold's philanthropic plans would benefit them, even offer false agreements of free trade (although Sanford believed them to be true) to the United States government. Sanford after so much work and reverence of Leopold was betrayed when Leopold asked for custom's trade posts to be made along the newly erected railroad. "Henry Shelton Sanford, who attended the Anti-Slavery Conference as an American delegate, was horrified. Six years earlier he had won United Sates recognition for Leopold's Congo in exchange for his own signature on an agreement promising free trade; here was Leopold suddenly asking for custom duties. His Naive admiration shattered, Sanford felt that the king had betrayed him." (Page, 93) Although Sanford to our knowledge never became aware of the atrocities committed in Leopold's philanthropic Congo free state it is apparent that he no longer was enthralled and entranced by the words and actions of King Leopold II, however, before he could spread his discovery he died a year afterword "...bitterly disillusioned…" (page, 93). Joseph Conrad although he never met King Leopold in person he was present in the Congo to witness the atrocities he previously could not perceive develop right in front of his eyes during his time as an apprentice officer. Conrad faced horrible diseases and the almost physical manifestation of the disease given the name "Greed" "Finally, he was so horrified by the greed and brutality among white men he saw in the Congo that his view of human nature was permanently changed." (Page, 142) Never before had Conrad witnessed such horror as his mind delved into the heart of darkness.