Karl Peters - Encyclopedia

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KARL PETERS (1856-), German traveller in Africa, one of the founders of German East Africa, was born at Neuhaus on the Elbe on the 27th of September 1856, the son of a Lutheran clergyman. He studied at Gottingen, Tubingen and Berlin, and in 1879 was awarded a gold medal by the Berlin University for his Frieden zu Venedig. After visiting London to study English principles of colonization, he returned to Berlin and promoted the German Colonization Society (Deutsche Kolonialverein). In the autumn of 1884 he proceeded with two companions to East Africa, and concluded in the name of his society treaties with the chiefs of Useguha, Nguru, Usagara and Ukami. Returning to Europe early in 1885, he formed the German East Africa Company, which speedily obtained an imperial charter. The story of this enterprise, the first step in the formation of a German colony in East Africa, is told under Africa, § 5. In 1888 Peters undertook an expedition from the east coast of Africa, avowedly for the relief of Emin Pasha. This expedition was not sanctioned by the German government and was regarded by the British authorities as a filibustering exploit. One of its objects was to extend the sphere of German influence, and, reaching Uganda early in 1890, Peters concluded a treaty with the king of that country in favour of Germany. He left Uganda hastily on the approach of a representative of the British East Africa Company, and on reaching Zanzibar learned that his treaty was useless, as an agreement had been come to between Germany and Great Britain whereby Uganda was left in the British sphere. On his return to Germany Peters was received with great honours, and in 1891 published an account of his expedition entitled Die deutsche Emin Pasha Expedition, which was translated into English. In 1891 he went out again to East Africa as imperial high commissioner for the Kilimanjaro district, and in 1892 was one of the commissioners for delimiting the AngloGerman boundary in that region. In June 1892 accusations were brought against him of excesses in his treatment of the natives, and after three investigations had been held he was, in 1897, deprived of his commission for "misuse of official power." (He was regranted his title of imperial commissioner in 1906.) During1893-1895Peters was employed in the colonial office at Berlin. In 1896 he removed to London, where he occupied himself in schemes for exploiting parts of Rhodesia and Portuguese East Africa. In the interests of a company he formed, Peters explored the Fura district and Macombe's country on the Zambezi, where in 1899 he discovered ruins of ancient cities and deserted gold mines. He returned in 1901 and gave an account of his explorations in The Eldorado of the Ancients (1902). In 1905 he again visited the region between the Zambezi and Sabi rivers.

Besides the books already mentioned and some smaller treatises Peters published a philosophic work entitled Willenswelt and Weltwille (1883), and a disquisition on early gold production entitled Das goldene Ophir Salomos (18R5), translated into English in 1898.

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