the belgian congo and the berlin act

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Purchase of this book includes free trial access to where you can read more than a million books for free. This is an OCR edition with typos. Excerpt from book: CHAPTER II LEOPOLD II AND STANLEY It was at this juncture that King Leopold II of Belgium intervened with results which can hardly have been anticipated even by the most enthusiastic dreams of that far- seeing prince. The curiosity of Belgian historians has accumulated abundant evidence of the restless ambition which made the bounds of his small kingdom and the bondage of a constitutional monarchy amid a people jealous of liberty from the first irksome to the King, and drove him to ever new dreams of foreign adventure.1 The natural limitations of his position were increased by the neutrality which Europe had, unwisely for herself, and largely at the instance of Prussia, imposed on Belgium, and which precluded the King from any effective participation in the high politics which he loved. The conditions of the day were not favourable for the success of his ambitions: the Belgians were not a colonizing people and remained cold to suggestions of foreign adventure, and the occupation of the most favoured spots for settlement limited severely the possibilities of action. Projects of occupation of territory in Borneo, in Oceania, or in South America could hardly bear fruit, and it is scarcely to be wondered at that his mind should have t1trned to the conception of securing African territory. Direct annexation, however, he was powerless to effect: he could have expected little or no support for such a proposal in Belgium, and the powers which already had possessions in Africa were certain to regard with disfavour any new-comer, however little they themselves might be inclined to exercise effectively the rights which they claimed or might adduce. 1 Masoin, Histoire, i. 15-19. . Personal ambition and the desire to aggrandize the kingdom which he ruled must be deemed the motives ...
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