King Leopold’s Ghost

An early human rights activist, and arguably the “hero” of the book, Edmund Dene Morel was one of the first Europeans to recognize the existence of slavery in the Belgian-controlled Congo and publicize his findings. While he was a young man working for a shipping company, Morel discovered a trading imbalance between the Congo and Europe: rubber and ivory flowed out of Africa, but nothing but guns and ammunition entered it. Concluding that the Belgians practiced slavery, Morel published a series of articles that galvanized the European public into action. For more than ten years, Morel recruited hundreds of journalists, statesmen, and businessmen to his cause, and this effort arguably convinced the Belgian Parliament to reform some of their practices in the Congo. Morel’s great contribution to history, Hochschild argues, wasn’t simply to “solve” the problem of human rights abuses in the Congo (in fact, human rights abuses continue there to this day); rather, his activism has provided a model for other activists for more than a hundred years.

Edmund Dene Morel Quotes in King Leopold’s Ghost

The King Leopold’s Ghost quotes below are all either spoken by Edmund Dene Morel or refer to Edmund Dene Morel. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Imperialism Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Houghton Mifflin edition of King Leopold’s Ghost published in 2005.
Chapter 14 Quotes

Significantly, Morel's humanitarian political ancestors, unlike his socialist contemporaries, had firmly believed that improving the lot of downtrodden people everywhere was good for business … Such humanitarians never saw themselves as being in conflict with the imperial project—as long as it was British imperialism. … This was the tradition in which Morel felt at home, and it was a tradition that perfectly suited his organizational talent.

Related Characters: Edmund Dene Morel
Page Number: 212
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 16 Quotes

Just as he had done in Britain, Morel smoothly shaped his message for different American constituencies. Most of his allies were progressive intellectuals like Mark Twain, but he was willing to sup with the devil to help his cause. He made shrewd use of Senator John Tyler Morgan, the former Confederate general who had helped to engineer U.S. recognition of Leopold's Congo twenty years earlier. Morgan, still thundering away about sending blacks back to Africa so as to make an all-white South, wanted the abuses in the Congo cleaned up with no delay. Otherwise, how could black Americans be persuaded to move there?

Related Characters: Edmund Dene Morel, Senator John Tyler Morgan, Mark Twain
Page Number: 242
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 17 Quotes

Morel was locked in a double race against time: against the inevitable British recognition of the Congo as a Belgian colony, which finally came in 1913, and against the waning fervor of his supporters. Even Casement felt that "the break-up of the pirate's stronghold [was] nearly accomplished" and urged Morel to declare the campaign over. Despite some doubts voiced in his private correspondence, Morel decided to publicly claim victory. "I do not wish to paint the present in roseate hues. The wounds of the Congo will take generations to heal. But . . . the atrocities have disappeared. . . . The revenues are no longer supplied by forced or slave labor. The rubber tax has gone. The native is free to gather the produce of his soil. . . . A responsible Government has replaced an irresponsible despotism." The one major goal not achieved, he acknowledged, was African ownership of land.

Related Characters: Edmund Dene Morel
Page Number: 273
Explanation and Analysis:

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Edmund Dene Morel Character Timeline in King Leopold’s Ghost

The timeline below shows where the character Edmund Dene Morel appears in King Leopold’s Ghost. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Introduction
Indifference and Activism Theme Icon
...person, even if he hasn’t been to the best schools. His name is Edmund Dene Morel, and he works for a Liverpool shipping line, a subsidiary of which controls all the... (full context)
Imperialism Theme Icon
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Like most Europeans, Edmund Dene Morel knows that the Congo Free State is owned by King Leopold II of Belgium. Leopold... (full context)
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Morel, who speaks fluent French, goes between Britain and Belgium to supervise cargo transportation from the... (full context)
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Within just a few years, Edmund Dene Morel has become one of the most important human rights activists in the world. He travels... (full context)
Chapter 11
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In the mid-1890s, Edmund Dene Morel, a young, hardworking man, began working for a company called Elder Dempster, a Liverpool shipping... (full context)
Chapter 12
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At the time when Morel realized what was going on in the Congo, few Europeans had spoken out about the... (full context)
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Morel began by telling his superiors what he’d learned. Elder Dempster had a lucrative deal with... (full context)
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What kind of man was Morel? He grew up in a working class home, and was a member of the Church... (full context)
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As Morel became better known for his denunciations of the Congo, other people approached him with leaked... (full context)
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Leopold II, furious with Morel, arranged for one of his representatives to meet with Morel and offer him a bribe... (full context)
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By the end of 1903, Morel had succeeded in creating a national outcry. British politicians, missionaries, and humanitarians wanted to solve... (full context)
Chapter 13
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After Morel succeeded in popularizing the “Congo Question,” the British Foreign Office ordered representatives to travel to... (full context)
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...where he gave many interviews describing the Congo. It was there that he first met Morel. Together, Casement and Morel formed the Congo Reform Association (CRA). By early 1904, the CRA... (full context)
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Morel and Casement were sincere people who genuinely believed in the human rights of the Congolese.... (full context)
Chapter 14
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Morel’s newly-created CRA proved highly influential. He worked long hours writing articles for his newspaper and... (full context)
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In spite of the limitations of his political and racial views, Morel campaigned vigorously against King Leopold’s policies in the Congo. He enlisted businessmen in his cause,... (full context)
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While Morel spread information about Leopold throughout Britain, Leopold began to monitor the situation in the Congo... (full context)
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Around the same time that Morel was attacking Leopold in the press, a scandal came to light: Leopold, aged 65, had... (full context)
Chapter 16
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...against Leopold had become truly international. Members of the Swedish Parliament signed a statement supporting Morel’s CRA, and human rights groups protesting Leopold appeared in many European countries. In response, Leopold... (full context)
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...lobbied against Leopold in Washington, D.C., causing other politicians and writers to join the cause. Morel visited the U.S. and met with John Tyler Morgan, who still supported a “back to... (full context)
Chapter 17
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In 1910, Casement returned to the Congo cause, reuniting with his old ally Morel and enlisting the help of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the famous author of the Sherlock... (full context)
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It was difficult for Morel, Doyle, and Casement to mobilize the public against the Belgian Parliament for three main reasons.... (full context)
Chapter 18
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...it seems clear that the achievements of Roger Casement, George Washington Williams, and Edmund Dene Morel were not in vain: they led the Belgian government to reform conditions in the Congo... (full context)
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In 1914, Morel entered a new phase of his life when he became one of the most famous... (full context)
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When Morel was released from prison in 1918, he was surprised to find himself a hero to... (full context)
Chapter 19
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...in the end, was the legacy of the Congo reform movement? First, and most obviously, Morel, Williams, and Sheppard succeeded in preserving a huge amount of information that the Belgian authorities... (full context)