The Congo Reform Association was first formed in 1904 by Edmund D. Morel. Morel was a bulldog of a human rights activist and passionate force against Leopold II of Belgium who enslaved the entire Congo region for the rubber and ivory trades.

As a shipping clerk for Elder Dempster Company in Liverpool, Morel discovered the only goods Belgium was shipping to the Congo were guns, chains and ammunition. At great risk to himself and his family, Morel resigned from Elder Dempster to expose Leopold's crimes against humanity to the world.

Funded by the generosity of the Quaker chocolate millionaire, William Cadbury, Morel gathered the most notable authors, celebrities, politicians, and religious leaders in Europe and America of the day to form the Congo Reform Association. Worldwide outrage was galvanized against Leopold's brutality and oppression of the Congolese people. Had not the Congo Reform Association courageously stood against Leopold II, countless other Congolese would have surely perished.

Members of the Congo Reformation Association included:

Edmund D. Morel ( Photo Credits )

Edmund D. Morel (Photo Credits)

  • Mark Twain, who wrote the political satire, King Leopold's Soliloquy.
  • Booker T. Washington, American civil rights advocate and educator.
  • Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, author of the Sherlock Holme's series and Crimes of the Congo.
  • Joseph Conrad, author of Heart of Darkness.
  • William Morrison, American missionary to the Congo.
  • Roger Casement, Irish human rights advocate.
  • Anatole French, French poet, journalist, and Nobel Prize Winner for Literature. 
  • John Hobbis Harris, English missionary to the Congo and later, member of Parliament.
  • Alice Seely Harris, English missionary and early documentary photographer. Harris used the Kodak Brownie camera, documenting the earliest photojournalism of human rights abuses.

Through published books, tracts and 'Lantern Lectures' attended by thousands, the Congo Reform Association held mass rallies exposing the brutal regime of Leopold II to the world.

Morel's courageous and relentless leadership of the Congo Reform Association laid the earliest foundations for today's human rights organizations like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.

Click on the photos to read about the notable celebrities and dignitaries who formed the Congo Reform Association. These are just a few of the thousands who railed against the abuses in the Congo. 

Congo Reform Association Historical Documents and Photos

Click on the images below and hover your cursor over the images for more details.