"Aurum Est Potestas." In Latin, it translates into "Gold is power." What better way to sum up the idea of Imperialism? Imperialism is defined as the policy of extending a nation's authority by territorial acquisition or by the establishment of economic and political hegemony over other nations. Territorial acquisition and economic hegemony both reflect the attitude of the world in the eighteenth and ninetieth century. Countries struggled to gain control of what they view to be weaker countries, with no thought as to the rich cultures these lands had cultivated. After gaining control, these "mother countries" began taking the natural resources of their colonies, and tried to turn the "heathens" of their conquests to the ideas of Christianity. Right in the middle of the economic and religious struggle stood Africa, and more importantly, the Belgian Congo.
The story of imperialism in the Belgian Congo started in 1885. At the time it was internationally recognized as the Congo Free States.
The title, however, was really a joke. King Leopold ruled the land with a combination of terror and greed. His system of exploration was aimed at increasing Belgium's profit in commercial industries such as ivory and rubber. Under such a system, the people of the Belgian Congo suffered through the most brutal colonial regime in modern history. The reports of slave labor, summary executions, mutilations, rape, and many other brutal forms of torture were circling the globe. Finally, in 1904, the Congo Reform Association was formed in England. With help from the United States, the Congo Reform Association used both written testimony and photographic evidence to encourage international intervention into the Congo on humanitarian grounds.
Belgium was facing international outrage for the cruel treatment the people of the Congo had to suffer under the control of King Leopold. To appease the...