What Did King Leopold II Do During the Colonization of Africa?

Although he never set foot in Africa, during the colonization of Africa, King Leopold II founded the Association Internationale du Congo, defeated attempts to conquer the Congo basin and forced villagers into slavery. His private army burned villages, killed rebels and their families, and oversaw the exportation of ivory.

King Leopold II claimed that his Association Internationale du Congo would improve the life of native Africans, expose them to Christianity, end the slave trade, and set up hospitals and schools, and at first it did. His agent, Henry Morton Stanley, entered into treaties with native Africans, established military outposts and abolished the Muslim slave trade. He also took control of much of central African land and the Congo River region, which made widespread exploitation possible.

He forced Africans to produce ivory and rubber. Those who couldn't meet excessive production quotas were killed or mutilated, saw their villages burned, and could not stop the King's men from kidnapping their women and holding them hostage.

Historians estimate that King Leopold II is directly responsible for the deaths of 10 million native Africans. He used the profits he made off slave labor in Belgium for public works and construction projects. In 1908, the Belgian government forced King Leopold II to surrender his land in Africa.