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Explorers Reading Comprehension Worksheet

Directions: Read the passage and answer the questions below.

 

In the 1870s, the Welsh explorer Henry Morton Stanley navigated the Congo river under the sponsorship of King Leopold of Belgium.

Wherever he stopped, he made treaties with the African chiefs he encountered. As a result, when Stanley returned to Europe, King Leopold was able to take possession of an area eighty times the size of Belgium. Leopold promptly called the area the Belgium Congo and turned it into his own private goldmine, almost destroying the Congo in the process.

Under Leopold’s rule, the Congolese were faced with impossibly high taxes and forced into slave labor. Agents of the Belgian government would give each Congolese family a basket to fill with rubber. If members of the family did not return the basket with the required number of pounds of rubber, their home would be burned to the ground. Anyone who rebelled would be put in prison. Meanwhile, Leopold grew enormously rich, squandering his blood money on yachts, mansions, and mistresses. To keep the Belgian people quiet, he also expended enormous sums on public works. Nevertheless, public opinion against Leopold and his vicious ways grew stronger.

Ultimately he was forced to give up his stranglehold on the Congo, but not before millions of people had been imprisoned and thousands had died.

1. Who funded Henry Morton Stanley's travels?

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2. Which nation is credited with demise of most of Northern Africa's gold resources?

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3. Under Belgian rule, which crop was extremely important to Congolese life ?

 

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4. Do you feel Henry Morton Stanley should be to blame for the downfall of Congolese life ? Explain your answer.

 

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