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No Congo Free State

Ricardolindo

Well-known member
Location
Portugal
Let's say Leopold II never gets the idea of the Congo Free State. How, exactly, is the territory divided? The UK would definitely get Katanga, which they tried to get. Portugal would definitely get at least the mouth of Zaire, which they claimed and would connect Angola and Cabinda. I am sure France would also take some territory bordering its colonies but how much? Would Germany get any territory in the far east? Could someone, please, make a map of what they think would have happened?
 

Warthog

views owe more to Methodism, looks more to Marx
Location
Mzansi
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If Leopold simply drops out of the picture, the other major players active in the Congo Basin were France and Britain.

De Brazza competed with Stanley in exploration of the Congo, so absent Leopold and a sponsor for Stanley, de Brazza could get to claim much of the middle Congo for France.

Alternatively Britain could have agreed to work with Stanley - his first choice before going with Leopold. Of Britain had done this with Stanley, and tried to link middle Congo with Equatoria that could have been interesting
 

Gary Oswald

It was Vampire Unions that got us Vampire Weekend
Sea Lion Press staff
Published by SLP
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I agree on portugal, france, germany and the uk probably all getting bits of it, its just not a scenario I find that interesting cos its a bunch of existing colonies containing more africans than otl but still being run the same.

Plausible enough but not something that tempts me to explore in detail.
 

Ricardolindo

Well-known member
Location
Portugal
I agree on portugal, france, germany and the uk probably all getting bits of it, its just not a scenario I find that interesting cos its a bunch of existing colonies containing more africans than otl but still being run the same.

Plausible enough but not something that tempts me to explore in detail.
It has a huge long term effect, though: The absence of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
 

Warthog

views owe more to Methodism, looks more to Marx
Location
Mzansi
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Less dead Congolese would be another big change (there'd still be brutalities and murders under other colonial governments but Leopold, man)
A Congo without genocide would have one of the larger populations on the continent, potentially emerging as a regional power like Ethiopia or Nigeria.

Except that in a no-Leopold scenario it would have been at least 2 colonies, and separate countries at independence
 

Gary Oswald

It was Vampire Unions that got us Vampire Weekend
Sea Lion Press staff
Published by SLP
Pronouns
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That's a depressing thought. Did Leopold just have worse PR or something?
He did have worse PR. He also had most of the rubber so his actions effected lots more people.

I think my actual opinion on this is Leopold's reign was uniquely violent but the main cause of declining population was far more the work conditions rather than the violence, which is why when the Belgian government took over and curbed the violence without ending the forced labour, the population decline continued.

I think you'd see less killings without the free state but I'm unconvinced you'd see a population twice as large as otl, given the general negative effect in population numbers of the colonial conquests across africa in the late 19th century.
 

Warthog

views owe more to Methodism, looks more to Marx
Location
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A fair number of my primary sources for my thesis mention how similar in climate Katanga was to Northern Rhodesia, and how it was a shame (to white contemporary commentators) that that particular province wasn't part of Greater Rhodesia politically, although even in OTL it was heavily tied to it economically.
and remains economically tied to this day...


settler politics and mining companies are part of the reason Tshombe's secession being backed by white SA mercenaries was no surprise
 

Simon

Oblivious
Let's say Leopold II never gets the idea of the Congo Free State. How, exactly, is the territory divided?
Rather than just have it divided up are there any other candidates for taking Leopold's/Belgium's place instead? Although that likely results in a lot of the same outcome so possibly not that interesting.
 

Gary Oswald

It was Vampire Unions that got us Vampire Weekend
Sea Lion Press staff
Published by SLP
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Rather than just have it divided up are there any other candidates for taking Leopold's/Belgium's place instead?
Honestly, no.

It's weird because this was such an assumption in a lot of AH that obviously to placate the british and the french some neutral actor would be found to take the congo and if not Leopold it'd be someone else.

But like honestly Leopold was scheming so hard and so early, it's absolutely not a role anybody else could have taken. If not Leopold, it would have just been divided between the active colonial figures.

The idea that he was just hanging around outside Berlin when Bismarck needed a neutral figures is just not true, the Berlin conference happened as a reaction to Leopold getting recognition of his claims from the USA. It was Leopold setting the pace and the colonial powers reacting to that.

There's nobody else who is going to put the effort in to be there.
 

Gary Oswald

It was Vampire Unions that got us Vampire Weekend
Sea Lion Press staff
Published by SLP
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The counter argument I suppose is that Chester Arthur desired a neutral free trade zone in central africa and that was why he supported Leopold and thus why the Berlin Conference was organised for the great european powers to discuss Leopold's claims.

So possibly without Leopold, Arthur would support someone else, perhaps even himself and thus you'd still get a neutral figure ready to be ratified at Berlin.

But a) Arthur was not the driver in this conversation, his support was won by King Leopold after Leopold hired the US envoy to Belgium to work as a promoter and tasked him on convincing Arthur, without Leopold driving the agenda, Arthur would have stayed out of it and b) Leopold's claim were supported by the USA, because he had men on the ground and treaties on the ground, no other neutral figure would be in that position.
 
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