Where Readers Meet Authors

Share This Post

Author Blogs

Rob’s History Blog #2

Today I’d like to introduce everyone to one of my new favorite people in history. His name is Edmund Morel.

Morel shouldn’t be a historical figure at all. He was a clerk in a shipping company named Elder Dempster in Britain that was involved in the trade with the Belgian Congo; hardly what traditional heroes are made of.

By 1901, he’d realized something. The ships coming back from the Congo Free State contained a lot of two things: ivory and rubber. The ships leaving Europe to go to the Congo also contained a lot of two things: soldiers and weapons.

In short, he realized that the Congo “trade” wasn’t trade at all: it was the military destruction and pillage of Central Africa’s people and natural resources. He dedicated his life to exposing the horrors of Belgium’s King Leopold’s rule there.

He could have told himself it wasn’t his job to worry about this, but instead he decided to raise hell. His company offered him a promotion to stop; he wouldn’t. Then it bribed him with a large salary in exchange for working one hour per day; even though Morel had several children and a sick mother to take care of, he refused the bribe.

Before his career was over, he published, wrote for, and edited his own weekly publication, the “West African Mail,” wrote five books, hundreds of newspaper articles in English and French for papers in Britain, France, and Belgium, wrote hundreds more letters to the editor to papers in those countries, and published several dozen pamphlets.

His works were not simply propaganda, either. Being a former clerk, he was also meticulously accurate with figures–to this day, many researchers still cite his work with confidence.

In the end, he won his crusade, to some extent. Leopold died in 1908 and control of the Congo passed to the Belgian state. It would be a lie to say that conditions in the Belgian Congo got noticeably better, but thanks to Morel’s work, the world could no longer claim ignorance of what happened there–only indifference to the fate of black Africans.

Morel eventually went to prison for opposing World War 1, but afterward gained election to the House of Commons in 1922, defeating Winston Churchill for the seat, and received a nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize. He died in 1924.

Recommended1 recommendationPublished in Author Blogs

Share This Post

I hold a PhD in history from the University of Arkansas, where I attended school as a Distinguished Doctoral Fellow, as well as several other degrees. In addition to my writing and publishing business, I am the History Department Chair at Flathead Valley Community College in Kalispell, Montana, where I teach United States History, Western Civilization, Montana History, Environmental History, Civil Rights Movement History, and the occasional Honors class. Besides my love for history, I grew up a sports fan, especially baseball. Once I get all my history books published, you’ll find an entire series of books on baseball in the 1880s. There is at least one non-baseball history book in the works, too, but that era of baseball history fascinates me, and so, after years of researching it, I’m ready to share what I’ve learned with the world. In my historical novels, I attempt to bring to light some historical events that are not general knowledge. After all, do we really need another Western novel featuring gunfighters or another courtly romance set in the Middle Ages? Not to put down authors who write those books because there have been many good ones over the years, but I’d like to add something new, something a bit more original. That’s why the main character in my first novel, My Australian Adventure, is a young boy named Clarence Duval who travels the world in 1888 as the mascot for a pair of traveling baseball teams. In the third book (upcoming) in the Clarence Duval Series, he takes part in the removal of Cree Indians from Montana in 1896. Even though the world doesn’t remember it anymore, that was a real event, a repeat in miniature of the Trail of Tears experienced by the Cherokee in the 1830s. When I’m not writing, researching, or teaching, I spend time with my sweetheart of a dog, Ally, and enjoy the outdoors in Western Montana. I also like strategy games, fitness activities, and, of course, reading. I still hope to run that marathon someday.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>