Open letter to King Leopold on Congo

George Washington Williams (October 16, 1849 – August 2, 1891) was a soldier in the American Civil War and in Mexico before becoming a Baptist minister, politician, lawyer, journalist, and writer on African-American history. He served in the Ohio House of Representatives. In the late 1880s, Williams turned his interest to Europe and Africa. After having been impressed by meeting King Leopold II of Belgium, he traveled in 1890 to the Congo Free State (then owned by the king) to see its development. Shocked by the widespread brutal abuses and slavery imposed on the Congolese, he wrote an open letter to Leopold in 1890 about the suffering of the region’s native inhabitants at the hands of the king’s agents. This letter was a catalyst for an international outcry against the regime running the Congo, which had caused millions of deaths.

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