Title: "Hopes The President Will Aid Congo Reform"

Journal: New York Times

Place of Publication: New York

Date: October 17, 1904

Place: Congo Free State


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Hopes The President Will Aid Congo Reform

Morel Denies That He Was Turned Down in Washington.

Action By Peace Congress

Association Secretary Says King Leopold Has Sent Agents Here to Oppose Movement.

Despite the reported refusal of President Roosevelt to take a hand, there are indications that the friends of Congo reform may make this country their principal battle ground during the next few months in their fight for the overthrow of King Leopold's rule in the Congo Free State, or for a complete transformation, at least, of the administrative methods employed by his agents there.

E. D. Morel, Secretary of the Congo Reform Association in Great Britain, who came here two weeks ago to bear a memorial to President Roosevelt to take the initiative for Congo reform, turned to this city yesterday after appearing before the Boston Peace Congress.

He denied that President Roosevelt, as reported from Washington, had refused the appeal for intervention, and declared that the future course of the United States Government in regard to the matter still remained a mooted question.

"I was received by President Roosevelt within twenty-four hours of my landing on these shores," said Mr. Morel yesterday at the Murray Hill Hotel. "After placing the memorial in his hands I had a very pleasant talk with the President.

"I have been authorized by Secretary Hay, who received me yesterday, to say that the President was favorably impressed by the memorial, and that this Government does not doubt that the appeal has sprung from purely humanitarian motives. I am, of course, not in a position to disclose what occurred at the interviews with your President and Secretary Hay, but I can say that the matter far from being dismissed, as reported, is receiving the seriously consideration of the President and his Cabinet. I may say also that the outlook for some action is at least hopeful, if not optimistic."

Before Mr. Morel returns to England, which may be some time this week, it is expected that steps will have been taken for starting in this country an organization, with branches in all the principal cities, built on lines similar to those of the Congo Reform Association, which has been in existence in Great Britain for a number of years. On the other hand, King Leopold is said to have sent to this country some of his most trusted agents for the purpose of stemming any active propaganda.

King Leopold's agents, according to Mr. Morel, were very much in evidence in Boston while the Peace Congress was in progress. Chief among them, he said, were Gaston de Wiert, who is credited with being the private secretary of the King of the Belgians and George Herbert Head of Cambridge.

"The purpose of our movement in this country," said Mr. Morel, "will be to convey accurate information to the people here regarding conditions in Congo and to demonstrate that the Congo question is a world question, not merely a question for the nations of Europe to settle. As far as possible our aim will be to keep it out of politics and on the broad humanitarian basis where it properly belongs. On this basis America may usefully and with perfect propriety lend a hand to redress a great wrong without fear of international complications or infringement of the Monroe Doctrine.

"On the issue will depend the happiness of fifteen millions of human beings, the rescue of an enormous territory from a huge unprincipled trust with a European monarch for its managing Director, and -- in the last analysis -- the future of civilization in Africa."

The Peace Conference unanimously adopted resolutions endorsing the attitude of the Congo Reform Association, despite the opposition of Mr. Head and after Cardinal Gibbons had written a letter discouraging any action on the part of the congress with regard to the Congo question.

The resolutions called for an inquiry either by a conference of the powers or by The Hague tribunal into the Congo question for the purpose of determining the status of that territory and of King Leopold as its ruler in relation to the powers -- including the United States, which at the establishment of the Congo Free State gave its recognition to the flag of the International Association for the Exploration and Civilization of Africa, under the protectorate of which it was founded. This country was the first to recognize the flag of the new State as that of a friendly nation.

"It seems extraordinary," said Mr. Morel, "that a man of the weight and well-earned reputation of Cardinal Gibbons should have placed himself in a position of publicly defending a condition of affairs which if he knew the truth would meet with his most emphatic disapproval."