Title: "Row in Peace Congress Over Congo Question"

Journal: New York Times

Place of Publication: New York

Date: October 8, 1904

Place: Congo Free State


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Row in Peace Congress Over Congo Question

Belgian Rule Denounced and Strenuously Defended.

Reform Association Scored

Commercial Motive is Alleged -- The Congress Decides on Lucerne for the Next Meeting.

Special to The New York Times.

Boston, Oct. 7. -- Belgium's rule in the Congo was the subject of an animated, indeed bitter, debate at a meeting this afternoon in connection with the International Peace Congress. King Leopold was fiercely attacked and strenuously defended, and the speeches were punctuated with cheers and hisses.

E. D. Morel of England, representing the Congo Reform Association, denounced the alleged condition of affairs in the Congo Free State. He declared that the natives were groaning and dying under a system of oppression and extortion; that the exploits of the Arab slave traders paled into insignificance beside the present state of things in the Congo, and that the people were groaning beneath a yoke heavier than the ten plagues of Egypt, but, unlike them, undeserved.

Mr. Morel said the one aim of the rulers of the COngo was to increase the rubber output, and that in the attainment of the object whole districts had been devastated and rendered desolate. He alluded to the part the United States took in the establishment of the Congo State, and said that in appealing to Americans he was appealing to those who primarily, through of course unwittingly, riveted the chains around millions of helpless Africans. He bitterly assailed King Leopold for his policy in Africa, declaring that he was personally responsible in a large measure of the cruelties practiced on the natives.

The Rev. W. M. Morrison, who was for seven years a missionary in the Congo State, also denounced Belgian rule there.

George Herbert Head of Cambridge, England, strongly defended King Leopold and the Belgian authorities. At the same time he attacked the Congo Reform Association. In the course of his speech he said:

"Mr. Morel has treated with splendid scorn the idea that there is any commercial motive in the mind of England, gives the splendid names we are all familiar with in England, members of the Congo Reform Association, and says that therefore it has nothing to do with commerce, but in every pamphlet, in every speech, in every document that I have ever seen coming form this Congo Reform Association they start with humanitarianism and end with commercialism. These questions in all their pamphlets are indissolubly connected.

"The Congo Free State is doing all that it is able to do to prevent acts of cruelty to the natives."

The congress to-day accepted a report of the Committee on Propaganda, recommending that the congress in 1905 be held at Lucerne.

"Pacigerance," or "Peace Making by States," was the subject of resolutions presented by Mrs. Belva A. Lockwood on behalf of Frederik Bajer, President of the Commission of the International Peace Bureau, the Danish Peace Society, and the Universal Peace Union of the United States.

The resolution asked the powers to establish a Pacigerent Union, pledging themselves to refer to The Hague Tribunal "every dispute or contention which may arise between them that cannot be solved by diplomacy," and further pledging themselves "not to engage in any warlike action directly or indirectly, with respect to each other."

After a brief discussion the resolutions were adopted unanimously, with the provision inserted that the congress merely called the attention of the powers to the treaty suggested as one model for adoption by all.

The Armenian question was taken up just before noon and a special committee presented its report. In it an appeal was made to the President of the United States to make use of the best means to put a stop to the "terrible sufferings of the various peoples of the Turkish Empire."

In a brief speech at a dinner to the members of the Congress in Horticultural Hall this evening Booker T. Washington arraigned the Belgian Government for the alleged outrages in the Congo Free State, and said that a state of affairs existed that was a blot upon modern civilization. He said in part:

"I have testimony direct from Dr. Shephard and from the lips of Dr. Morrison, two men who have gone into the Congo Free State to work among their own people. The influences of the civilized world should be felt and should free these people from the barbarities they are now suffering. Their villages have been burned, the people murdered and maimed.

"Dr. Shephard tells me that he has seem with his own eyes in one village eighty-one human hands hung up to dry to be presented to the Belgian authorities to show that the soldiers did their duty."

The General Triennial Convention of the Episcopal Church to-day sent greetings and assurances of profound sympathy to the International Peace Conference.