The World at War

FRENCH CONGO 1880 - 1910


1880September 10 Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza signs a treaty of protection with Makoko, King of the Batékés.
October 3 Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza takes possession of the territory between the Djoué and the Mpila rivers for France.
1881July 1 The Geographical Society of Paris and the International Africa Association name the station founded by Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza in October 1880 Brazzaville.
1883France occupies the seaport of Loango following further explorations of the interior regions of Gabon and Loango by Savorgnan de Brazza and Noel Ballay.
1885February A convention settles the conflicting claims of King Leopold’s International African Association and France in the Congo Basin.
1886April 27 Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza is named Commissioner General of the French Congo.
May The conclusion of agreements with Portugal secures French possession of the western portion of the colony.
July 26 The Congo and Gabon are placed under separated administrative authorities.
1888December 11 The French possessions in the Congo Basin and Gabon are again united under a single administration governed by a Commissioner General residing at Brazzaville.
The arrangement proves detrimental to the economic development of Gabon, which being outside the limits of the Congo Basin Free Trade Convention, enjoys a separate tariff.
1891April 30 The colony of Gabon-Congo is renamed the French Congo.
1899March - July The Minister of Colonies, Guillain, issues a decree granting 40 concessions in the French Congo . Nearly the whole of the colony is given over to concessionaires who are granted the sole right exploit their estates for 30 years in return for a 15% royalty on profits. The European Powers protest the action as a violation of the Berlin Accords which guarantee free trade in the Congo Basin. France contends that it has merely granted the concessionaires a monopoly to exploit the produce of the land rather than a monopoly on trade in the region.
March 21 An Anglo-French declaration accords equal tariff treatment to French and British goods sold in the Shari basin and in Wadai for 30 years.
1900June A Franco-Spanish treaty settles the limits of the Spanish territory on the coast. The boundaries of the French Congo on all its frontiers are determined in broad outline.
1903December 29 Under a decree effective July 1, 1904 The French Congo is divided into the Gabon Colony, the Middle Congo Colony and the Ubangi-Shari-Chad Colony which is further divided into the Ubangi-Shari and the Chad Circumscriptions under a Commissioner General at Brazzaville who has control of a general budget for the whole of French Congo but does not directly administer any part of it. The separate colonies are under the control of Lieutenant Governors and each has a separate budget and administrative autonomy.
1904January 21 Émile Gentil, explorer of the Shari and Chad, is appointed Commissioner General of the French Congo.
During the Year The concessionaires number about forty with holdings varying in size from 425 square miles to 54,000 square miles and a combined capital in excess of Ł2,000,000. The grant of concessions results in a rapid decline in the business of non-concessionaire traders, most notably the Liverpool merchants established in the Gabon before the arrival of the French.
1905Reports appear in the French press of two civil servants at remote post in the French Congo celebrating Bastille Day 1903 by blowing up a native with dynamite. Public opinion is aroused and the deputies demand an investigation. The Minister for the Colonies appoints Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza to lead the investigation.
April 5 Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza departs Marseilles on his sixth voyage to Africa, this time to investigate charges of cruelty and maladministration brought against officials of the colony, several of which proved well founded.
September 14 Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza dies in Dakar while traveling back to France.
During the Year French and German commissioners demarcate the border between the Congo and Cameroon.
Copper ores are exported from Mindule for the first time.
1906The population of the French Congo is estimated to number between 6,000,000 and 10,000,000 including 1,278 Europeans of whom 502 are officials.
February 15 The French government having decided to retain Emile Gentil as Commissioner General despite the negative report render by Savorgnan de Brazza, issues a decree enacting various changes in administration to protect the natives and control the concession companies.
1908February 13 Commissioner General Emile Gentil resigns.
April The Congo-Cameroon frontier is precisely defined by a Franco-German agreement.
June 28 Martial Merlin succeeds Emile Gentil as chief administrator of the French Congo with the title of Governor General.
September A decree reorganizes and tightens the local authorities’ control over the concession companies, especially in matters concerning native rights and free trade. November
Construction of the first railway in the French Congo, a 75 mile narrow gauge line from Brazzaville to Mindule in the cataracts region, begins.
December 23 A Franco-Belgian agreement precisely defines the borders of their possessions on the lower Congo. Bamu Island in Stanley Pool is recognized as French.
1910January 15 The French Congo is renamed French Equatorial Africa.

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