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CONGO FREE STATE – First Postal Markings and The First Two Stamps Issues
King Leopold II, King of the Belgians, had the firm intention of giving Belgium a colony despite the lack of enthusiasm for the idea in Belgian financial and economic circles. Having decided to go ahead with his project, the King was on the lookout for every opportunity. Although they had been thought to have been killed by the natives, the arrival of Stanley's expedition in Boma on 9 August 1877 caused quite a stir in Europe. Stanley’s expedition had arrived exhausted and famished after 999 days spent crossing Africa from west to east and navigating up the Congo River. Leopold II was convinced that someone like Stanley was the right man to help with his project, given the knowledge he had acquired during his expedition and the tenacity with which he had pursued his goal. Stanley, on the other hand, believed his exploration of the Congo basin was going to open up vast prospects for his motherland, the United Kingdom. Despite being celebrated as a hero for his exploits, he received only lukewarm interest from the British authorities. Greatly disappointed with the attitude of his fellow countrymen and having been approached by Leopold II’s envoys, he made the decision to work for the Belgian King. Leopold had created a new organisation, the International Association of the Congo, in which he employed Stanley. Although he did not admit it, the aim of the association was to create occupation stations and enter into treaties with the local chiefs to cement the IAC’s stranglehold on as vast an area as possible in central Africa. The King achieved his aim following the Berlin Conference where, despite not officially demanding anything, he got everything he wished for: the creation of an independent state recognised by the colonial powers, with himself as sovereign.