Title: "England on the Congo River."

Journal: New York Freeman

Place of Publication: New York

Date: April 26, 1884

Places: Congo Basin; Congo River


Most Americans did not have access to Congressional debates about whether the U.S should recognize the sovereignty of King Leopold II of Belgium's Congo Free State—which prompted the convening of the Berlin Conference—or discussions of U.S. engagement with the "African Question." [note 1] They turned to newspapers to glean any information about the major international issue for the West at the time—the present and future state of African affairs. U.S. media coverage of the Berlin Conference of 1884-85 was extensive, with articles published in the major coastal newspapers and dailies in the South, West, and Midwest, attesting to the scope of American interest in European designs on Africa.

Read More

England on the Congo River.

The discovery and explorations of Stanley and De Brazza have interested all nations in the Congo River. This broad, deep, and powerful body of water flows into the Atlantic Ocean on the west coast of Africa about six degrees south of the equator. It is destined to become the gate way to the heart of equatorial Africa. Hence the interest of Europe and the United States.

Portugal claims this great river and the surrounding territory. The Pope gave it to her several centuries ago. Who gave or sold it to his Holiness? Portugal has done nothing for the people or the country. She has no right to be there as owner. She ought not to be permitted to doom millions of people, now on the way to a new civilization, to poverty, ignorance and degradation.

England, in her foreign policy, is a sly, grasping, avaricious bully. Her policy is dictated by her selfish, money-getting merchants ands manufacturers. These have put their covetous eyes on the Congo river and territory. They send there every year out of Liverpool alone goods to the value of five million dollars. It would arouse the other great powers of the world if England were to establish an open protectorate over the Congo. She has with the slyness of a fox entered into a treaty with Portugal, recognizing the claim of this stagnant nation to the ownership of the great West African river. That is simply an outrageous blind, an infamous subterfuge. It simply means that England will play the monkey and Portugal the cat'spaw. One will be, to all appearances, the throne, but the other the power behind he throne.

Deeply interested in the auspicious events daily transpiring in Africa, we protest against this arrangement. we want to see the flag of the International Association planted upon every part of the Congo territory. England must not dominate, France must not control, Portugal must not be sovereign on the Congo river. Let this key and gate-way to equatorial Africa be free and open to all nations alike. Let it be international ground. The country will develope the more rapidly. The people will receive speedier and greater benefits from our civilization and Christianity.

We applaud the action of the United States Senate in recognizing the claims of the International Association and in declining to recognize the treaty concluded between England and Portugal; and we hope that the President will store up all the great powers of the world the resist unitedly this unholy and infamous scheme, and establish over the Congo Valley de jure and de facto international jurisdiction.