1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Orange Free State
Orange Free State, an inland province of British South Africa; formerly—from 1854 to 1900—an independent republic. From May 1900 to June 1910 it was known as the Orange River Colony, since when under the style of Orange Free State it has formed a province of the Union of South Africa. It lies north of the Orange and south of the Vaal rivers, between 26° 30′ and 30° 40′ S. and 24° 20′ and 29° 40′ E., and has an area of 50,392 sq. m., being nearly the size of England. It is surrounded by other British possessions, being bounded N. by the Transvaal, E. by Natal, S.E. by Basutoland, S. and W. by the Cape province. Its greatest length is 356 m., its greatest breadth 304 m.
Physical Features.—The country forms part of the inner tableland of South Africa and has an elevation of between 4000 and 5000 ft. On the N.E. or Natal border the crest of the Drakensberg forms the frontier. The northern slopes of Mont aux Sources (11,000 ft.), the highest land in South Africa, are within the province, as are also the Draken's Berg (5682 ft.), the mountain from which the range takes its name, Melanies Kop (7500 ft.) and Platberg (about 8000 ft.), near Harrismith. Though rugged in places, with outlying spurs and secondary chains, the westward slopes of the Drakensberg are much gentler than the eastern or Natal versant of the chain. Several passes exist through the mountains, that of Van Reenen, 5500 ft., being traversed by a railway. From the mountainous eastern district the country dips gradually westward. No natural boundary marks the western frontier, a line across the veld (separating it from the Griqualand West district of the Cape) from the Orange to the Vaal rivers.
The aspect of the greater part of the country is that of vast undulating treeless plains, diversified by low rands and isolated tafelbergs and spitzkops, indicating the former level of the country. These hills are either of sandstone or ironstone and in altitude vary from about 4800 ft. to 5300 ft. Ironstone hills are numerous in the south-west districts. The whole country forms part of the drainage basin of the Orange river, it's streams, with insignificant exceptions, being tributaries of the Vaal or Caledon affluents of that river. The watershed between the Vaal and Caledon is formed by chains of hills, which, leaving the main range of the Drakensberg at Mont aux Sources, sweep in semicircles west and south. These hills are known as the Roodebergen, Wittebergen, Korannaberg, Viervoet, &c., and rise to nearly 7000 ft. The well-known Thaba Nchu (Black Mountain) is an isolated peak between this range and Bloemfontein. Three-fourths of the country lies north of these hills and is typical veld; the valley of the Caledon, sheltered eastward by the Maluti Mountains in Basutoland, is well watered and extremely fertile. The Caledon, from its source in Mont aux Sources to Jammerberg Drift near Wepener, forms the boundary of the province, the southern bank being in Basutoland; below Wepener the land on both sides of the Caledon is in the province. Here, between the Caledon and the Orange, is the fertile district of Rouxville. The north bank of the Orange, from the Kornet Spruit confluence to a point a little east of the spot where the railway from Cape Town to Kimberley crosses the river, forms the southern frontier of the province. The chief tributaries of the Vaal (q.v.) wholly or partly within the province are, going from east to west, the Klip (this stream from near its source to its confluence with the Vaal divides the Free State from the Transvaal), the Wilge, Rhenoster, Vet, Modder and Reit. The Sand river, on whose banks the convention recognizing the independence of the Transvaal Boers was signed in 1852, is a tributary of the Vet and passes through the centre of the country. All the affluents of the Vaal mentioned flow north or west. The Vaal itself for the greater part of its course forms the boundary between the province and the Transvaal. From the Klip river confluence it Mows west and south-west, entering Griqualand West above Kimberley. The river beds are generally 40 to 80 ft. below the level of the surrounding land. Most of the rivers have a considerable slope and none is navigable. Except the Caledon, Vaal and Orange, they are dry or nearly dry for three or four months in the year, but in the rainy season they are often raging torrents. The valleys of the Modder, Reit and the lower Caledon contain rich alluvial deposits. Besides the rivers water is obtained from numerous springs. A remarkable feature of the western plains is the large number of salt pans and salt springs grouped together in extensive areas, especially in the Boshof district.
Geology.—Except a small area around Vredefort in the north, the whole of the province is occupied by rocks of Karroo age. At Vredefort there is a granitic boss, belonging to the Swaziland series, regarded as being an intrusive in the overlying Witwatersrand series by G. A. F. Molengraaff, but to be of older date by F. A. Hatch. This boss is bounded, except on the south, by the Witwatersrand series, the lower portion of which consists of quartzites and slates and the upper portion of quartzites and conglomerates. At Hoopstad and at Stinkhoutboom the Witwatersrand series is unconformably overlain by 500 ft. of boulder beds and amygdaloidal lavas belonging to the Vaal River System. The Black Reef series of quartzites and conglomerates and dolomite form a narrow outcrop resting unconformably upon the last-mentioned system. Of the Karroo System all the groups from the basal Dwyka Conglomerate to the Cave Sandstone of the Stormberg series (see Cape Colony) are represented; but these rocks have not been so minutely subdivided as in the Cape. The Dwyka Conglomerate forms a narrow outcrop in the north-west, and is known from boreholes to extend over large areas beneath the Ecca Shales and to rest directly on rocks of older age. At Vierfontein a seam of coal is worked above it. The Ecca series extends over the major portion of the province. It consists mainly of sandstones, but these are often thin-bedded and pass into shales. Impressions of plants and silicified stems are frequently found. The Beaufort series occupies a portion of the area formerly regarded as being composed of the Stormberg beds. The prevailing rocks are sandstones, mudstones and shales. Reptilian remains abound; plants are also plentiful. The Stormberg series is confined to the north-east.
Climate.—Cut off from the warm, rain-bearing winds of the Indian Ocean by the Drakensberg, the country is swept by the winds from the dry desert regions to the west. It is also occasionally subject to hot, dry winds from the north. The westerly wind is almost constant and, in conjunction with the elevation of the land, greatly modifies the climatic conditions. The heat usual in subtropical countries is tempered by the cool breezes, and the atmosphere is dry and bracing. The climate indeed is noted for its healthiness, the chief drawback being dust-storms. The average temperature for the four winter months—May-August—is 49° F.; hard frosts at night are then common. For the other eight months the average temperature is 66°, December-February being the hottest months. The average daily range of the thermometer is from 25° to 30°, the highest recorded range in one day being 74° (from 20° to 94°). Rain falls on from sixty to seventy days during the year, chiefly in the summer (December-April). Rain is generally preceded by thunder and lightning and falls heavily for a short period. Most of the water runs off the surface into the spruits and in a little while the veld is again dry. The western part of the province is driest, as the rain clouds often pass over the lower levels but are caught by the eastern hills. The average annual rainfall varies from 18 in. or less in the west to 24 in. in the central regions and 30 in the eastern highlands.
Flora and Fauna.—The flora is typical of a region of scanty rainfall. Over the greater part of the plains little now grows save veld, the coarse long grass of South Africa. Formerly, much of the country was covered with mimosa bush, but the trees were to a large extent cut down by the early white immigrants. Thorny acacias, euphorbias and aloes are still, however, found in patches on the plains. Timber trees are almost confined to the river valleys, where willows, yellow wood, iron wood, red wood, mimosas and, in deep gorges, the wild fig are found. The tobacco plant also grows wild. In moist regions ferns and mosses, the arum and other broad flat-leaved plants are found. The characteristic plants are thorny and small leaved, or else bulbous. Among veld plants the elandsboontje provides tanning material equal to oak bark. European fruit trees and vines flourish in certain localities, while in the drier regions the Australian wattle, gum trees and pepper trees have been introduced with success.
The fauna has undergone a great alteration since the first white settlers entered the country. Big game was then abundant. The elephant, giraffe, lion, leopard, hyena, zebra, buffalo, gnu, quagga, kudu, eland and many other kinds of antelope roamed the plains; the rhinoceros, hippopotamus and crocodile lived in or frequented the rivers, and ostriches and baboons were numerous. The immigrant farmers ruthlessly shot down game of all kinds and most of the animals named were exterminated, so far as the province was concerned. Of animals still found may be mentioned baboons and monkeys, the leopard, red lynx (Felis caracal), spotted hyena, aard wolf, wild cat, long-eared fox, jackals of various kinds, the dassie or rock rabbit, the scaly anteater, the ant bear (aardvark), the mongoose and the spring haas, a rodent of the jerboa family. Antelope of any kind are now scarce; a few white-tailed gnu are preserved. None of the dangerous wild beasts is common, but there are several varieties of poisonous snakes. Scorpions and tarantulas are numerous, and lizards, frogs, beetles, ants, butterflies, moths and flies are abundant. Locusts are an intermittent plague. There are few earthworms or snails. The birds include eagles—some are called lammervangers from their occasional attacks on young lambs—vultures, hawks, kites, owls, crows, ravens, the secretary bird, cranes, a small white heron, quails, partridges, korhaans, wild geese, duck, and guineafowl, swallows, finches, starlings, the mossie or Cape sparrow, and the widow bird, noted for the length of its tail in summer. Barbel and yellow mudfish are found in the rivers.
Inhabitants.—The Bushmen (q.v.) are, presumably, the oldest inhabitants of this, as of many other parts of South Africa. Next came the Hottenots (q.v.), and in the i6th century Bantu negroes of the Bechuana tribes appear to have established themselves in the country. The Barolong, one of the oldest Bechuana tribes, are believed to have entered the country subsequently to the Bakuena, the particular tribe from which the general name of the race is derived (see Bechuana; and Transvaal: Inhabitants). Clans representing the southern Bakuena were welded together into one tribe in the 19th century, and are now known as Basuto (see Basutoland). The Basuto were already a strong force when the first white settlers, Dutch farmers from the Cape, entered the country in 1824; the white element has since been reinforced by a considerable strain of British, particularly Scottish, blood. Since the advent of the whites there has also been a considerable immigration of Zulus. The majority of the inhabitants live in the eastern part of the country; the arid regions west of the main railway line containing a scanty pastoral population and no towns of any size. The first census, taken in 1880, showed a total population of 133,518; in 1890 there were 207,503 inhabitants—an increase in ten years of 55.41%—and at the census of 1904 there were 387,315 inhabitants, a further increase of 85.56%. The density in 1904 was under 8 persons per sq. m. The inhabitants are officially divided into “Europeans or white,” “aboriginal natives” and “mixed and other coloured races.” Between 1880 and 1904 the proportion of whites dropped from 45.70% to 36.84%. Of the 142,679 white inhabitants in 1904, 85,036 were born in the province; 29,727 in the Cape; 3116 in the Transvaal; 1835 in Natal; and 18,487 in the United Kingdom. Of the 2726 European immigrants born in non-British states 1025 came from Russian Poland.
According to the 1904 census classification the “aboriginal inhabitants” numbered in that year 229,149. In this term are included, however, Zulu-Kaffir immigrants. The tribe most largely represented was the Basuto (130,213 persons), former owners of considerable tracts in the eastern part of the country, now known as “The Conquered Territory.” In the eastern districts of Harrismith, Bethlehem, Ficksburg and Ladybrand the Basutos are largely concentrated. Barolong numbered 37,998 and other Bechuana 5115. Of the Zulu-Kaffir tribes Zulus proper numbered 35,275, Fingoes 6275, and Ama Xosa 5376 (see Kaffirs; and Zululand: Inhabitants). The Bushmen numbered 4048 persons. Of these 1131 were in the Bloemfontein district. The Bushmen have left in drawings on caves and in rocks traces of their habitation in regions where they are no longer to be found. In Thaba'nchu a petty Barolong state enjoyed autonomy up to 1884, and the majority of the Barolong are found in that district and the adjoining district of Bloemfontein. The Zulus are mostly found in that part of the country nearest Zululand. In 1904 the number of persons belonging to “mixed and other coloured races” was 15,487. The proportion between the sexes was, for all races, 84.35 females to 100 males; for white inhabitants only 74.91 females to 100 males; for aboriginal inhabitants only 90.86 females to 100 males. Of the population above fifteen years old 55.87% of the men and 33.69% of the women were unmarried. Among whites for every 100 unmarried men there were 65.33 unmarried women; there were 93.04 married women for every 100 married men, and 173.81 widows for every 100 widowers.
Classified by occupations the census of 1904 gave the following results: dependants, mainly young children, 28.53%; agriculture, 39.51 %; commercial and industrial pursuits, 7.62%; professional, 3.18%, ; domestic (including women living at home other than those helping in farm work), 15.75%). Divided by races 8.19% of the whites were engaged in professional work and only 0.26% of the coloured classes.
Chief Towns.—The capital, Bloemfontein (pop. in 1904, 33,883), is fairly centrally situated on the trunk railway to Johannesburg. Kroonstad (pop. 7191) lies 127 m. N.N.E. of Bloemfontein on the same railway line. Harrismith, 8300, is in the N.E. of the colony, 60 m. by rail from Ladysmith, Natal. Jagersfontein, 5657, is in the S.W. of the province and owes its importance to the existence there of a diamond mine. Ladybrand, 3862, Ficksburg, 1954, and Wepener, 1366, lie in the valley of the Caledon near the Basutoland frontier. Winburg, 2762, lies between Bloemfontein and Kroonstad. All these towns are separately noticed. Other towns on the trunk railway, going from south to north, are Springfontein, 1000, an important railway junction; Trompsburg, 1378; Edenburg, 1562, and Brandfort, 1977. In the S.E. Thaba'nchu, 1134, Zastron, 1157, Dewetsdorp, 971 (named after the father of Christian De Wet), Reddersburg, 750, Smithfield, 999, and Rouxville, 990. These are all centres of fine agricultural regions. Bethulie, 1686, on the Orange river, in the “Conquered Territory,” has been the scene of the labours of French Protestant missionaries since 1832, and possesses a fine park. Through it passes the main line from East London. In the N.E. are: Bethlehem, 1777, on the railway, 57 m. W. of Harrismith, an agricultural and coal-mining centre; Senekal, 1039; Heilbron, 1544; Vrede, 1543; Frankfort, 747; Lindley, 646; and Reitz, 526. In the north-west of the trunk railway are; Parijs, 1732, finely situated on the Vaal, and Vredefort, 759. Farther west and south are: Hoopstad, 452, on the Vet river; Boshof, 1308, a fruit and vegetable centre, 30 m. N.E. of Kimberley; and Jacobsdal, 764. In the S.W. are: Philippolis, 809, at one time capital of the Griqua chief Adam Kok and named after the Rev. John Philip (q.v.), Fauresmith, 1363, a mining centre, 6 m. W. of Jagersfontein, and Koffyfontein, 1657, where is a diamond mine. Many of the towns were the scenes of encounters between the Boers and British, March 1900-May 1902. At Boshof fell the leader of the Boers' European Legion, Colonel de Villebois Mareuil, on the 5th of April 1900. At the census of 1904 Harrismith and Kroonstad were the only towns where the white inhabitants outnumbered the coloured population. Nine towns contained more than 1000 white inhabitants, the total white population of these towns being 31,505, of whom 15,501 lived in Bloemfontein.
Communications.—Largely owing to its situation—being on the direct route between the Cape ports and the Transvaal, and between Durban and Kimberley—the province possesses an extensive network of railways. The railways are state owned and of the standard South African gauge—3 ft. 6 in. They may be divided into two systems, (1) those connecting the province with the Cape and the Transvaal, and (2) those linking it with Natal.
The first system consists of a trunk line, formed by the junction of lines from Cape Town and Port Elizabeth, which crosses the Orange at Norvals Pont, traverses the province from south to north, passing through Bloemfontein and Kroonstad, and enters the Transvaal at Viljoens Drift (331 m. from Norvals Pont), being continued thence to Johannesburg. This line is joined at Springfontein by a railway from East London which crosses the Orange near Bethulie. From Bloemfontein a line (102 m. long) runs west to Kimberley, on the main line from Cape Town to Rhodesia, and from Springfontein a branch (56 m. long) goes past Jagersfontein to Fauresmith.
The second system is formed by a line leaving the Natal trunk railway at Ladysmith which crosses the Drakensberg at Van Reenen's Pass and is continued thence through Harrismith to Bethlehem. At Bethlehem it divides, one branch going N.W. to Kroonstad (178 m. from the Natal border and 393 m. from Durban), the other S.W. along the Caledon valley to Modderpoort near Ladybrand, and thence directly west to Bloemfontein. The distance from Van Reenen's Pass to Bloemfontein by this route is 278 m. The two systems, it will be seen, are doubly connected, namely at Bloemfontein and at Kroonstad, and the lines running east from those towns afford the quickest connexion between Cape Town and Durban. Besides the lines enumerated there are various local lines, one branching at Sannah's Post station from the Bloemfontein–Bethlehem line running south-east to Wepener. Another branch from the same line crosses the Caledon to Maseru, Basutoland. In 1910 there were in all 1060 m. of railway open in the province. There are well-kept high-roads connecting all the towns, and a government service of mail carts to places not on the railway. The light Cape cart is largely used, and the wagon, drawn by a team of oxen, is still employed by farmers to bring their produce to market. There is an extensive telegraphic system and a well-organized postal service.
Agriculture.—The chief industry is agriculture, including sheep farming and stock raising. The dry western plains are best adapted for sheep rearing, while the well-watered eastern regions are specially suitable for the growing of cereals and also for horse breeding. The land under cultivation in 1904 was 371,515 morgen (a morgen is 2.11 acres) or about 1230 sq. m. The chief crop is mealies, the staple food of the natives; wheat, oathay, Kaffir corn and oats coming next. Little barley is cultivated. The “Conquered Territory,” that is the valley of the Caledon, is the most fertile region and is styled the granary of South Africa. Here, in the districts of Ladybrand, Ficksburg, Bethlehem and Rouxville, most wheat is grown. The same regions, together with the adjacent regions of Harrismith and Thaba'nchu, produce the most oats and oathay. Besides grains the chief crops are those of pumpkins, potatoes and other table vegetables, and tobacco. The cultivation of potatoes and tobacco largely increased between the census years 1890 and 1904. The principal tobacco-growing regions are Vredefort, which produced 258,645 lb in 1904, and Kroonstad (80,385 lb), the districts of Bethlehem, Ladybrand and Winburg also producing considerable quantities. Fruit farming engages attention, about 8000 morgen being devoted to orchards in 1904. The fruit trees commonly cultivated are the peach, apricot, apple, orange, lemon, pear, fig and plum.
The rearing of live stock, the chief pursuit of the first Dutch settlers, is an important industry. Rinderpest and other epidemic diseases swept over the country in 1895–1896, and during the war of 1899–1902 the province was practically denuded of live stock. There was a rapid increase of stock after the close of hostilities. Sheep numbered over 5,000,000 in 1910, cattle over 600,000, horses over 100,000, goats (chiefly owned by natives) over 1,000,000. Large numbers of pigs are reared. Ostrich farming is growing in favour. The eastern and south-eastern districts have the greatest amount of stock per square mile, Ficksburg leading in cattle, horses and mules. Sheep are most abundant in the Rouxville, Wepener and Smithfield districts, goats in Philippolis. The dairying industry is increasing. The Afrikander cattle, powerful draught animals, large horned, bony and giving little milk, are being crossed with other stock. A government Department of Agriculture, created in 1904, affords help to the farmers in various ways, notably in combatting insect plagues, in experimental farms, and in improving the breed of horses, sheep and cattle.
Land Settlement.—Under the provisions of a Land Settlements Ordinance of 1902 over 1,500,000 acres of crown land had been by 1907 allotted, and in September 1909 there were 642 families, of whom over 570 were British, settled on the land. In 1907 a Land Settlement Board was created to deal with the affairs of these settlers. At the end of five years the Board was to hand over its duties to the government.
Diamond Mining and other Industries.—Next to agriculture the most important industry is that of diamond mining. The chief diamond mines are at Jagersfontein (q.v.) and Koffyfontein. There are also diamond mines in the Winburg and Kroonstad districts, and near Ficksburg, where old workings have been found 40 ft. deep. The alluvial deposits on the banks of the Vaal, N.E. of Kimberley, yield occasional diamonds of great purity. The value of the output from the diamond mines rose from £224,000 in 1890 to £1,508,000 in 1898. The war hindered operations, but the output was valued at £648,000 in 1904 and at £1,048,000 in 1909.
Coal-mines are worked in various districts in the north near the Vaal, notably at Vierfontein, and at Clydesdale, which lies a few miles south of Vereeniging. Before 1905 the mines were little worked; in that year the output was 118,000 tons, while in 1907 over 500,000 tons were raised. It dropped to 470,000 in 1909 owing to loss of railway contracts.
Of other minerals gold has been found, but up to 1909 was not worked; iron ore exists near Kroonstad and Vredefort, but it also is not worked. Petroleum has been found in the Ficksburg, Ladybrand and Harrismith districts, and is pumped to a limited extent. Good building stone is obtained near Bloemfontein, Ladybrand and other places, and excellent pottery clay near Bloemfontein.
Besides the industries mentioned flour-milling, soap-making, and the manufacture of jam and salt are carried on. During 1905 over 12,300,000 lb of salt were obtained from the salt springs at Zoutpan, near Jacobsdal, and Haagenstad, to the west of Brandfort. In 1907 the output had increased to nearly 23,000,000 lb.
Trade.–The bulk of the direct trade of the country is with the Cape and the Transvaal, Natal, however, taking an increasing share. Basutoland comes fourth. Its chief exports are diamonds, live stock (cattle, horses and mules, sheep and goats), wool, mohair, coal, wheat and eggs. Except the diamonds, which go to London via Cape Town, all the exports are taken by the neighbouring territories. The principal imports, over 90% being of British origin, are cotton goods, clothing and haberdashery, leather, boots, &c., hardware, sugar, coffee, tea and furniture.
The volume of trade in 1898, as represented by imports and exports, was £3,114,000 (imports £1,190,000; exports £1,923,000). For the four years beginning on June 30, 1902, that is immediately after the close of hostilities, the imports increased from £2,460,000 to £4,053,000, the exports from £285,000 to £3,045,000. For the fiscal year 1908–1909 the imports were valued at £2,945,000, the exports at £3,558,000. About a third of the imports are the produce or manufactures of other South African countries. Imported goods re-exported are of comparatively slight value–some £381,000 in 1908–1909.
Constitution.–From July 1907 to June 1910 the province was a self-governing colony. It is now represented in the Union parliament by sixteen senators and seventeen members of the house of assembly. For parliamentary purposes the province is divided into single-member constituencies. The franchise is given to all adult white male British subjects. There is no property qualification, but six months’ residence in the province is essential. There is a biennial registration of voters, and every five years the electoral areas are to be redivided, with the object of giving to each constituency an approximately equal number of voters. The qualifications for membership of the assembly are the same as those for voters.
At the head of the provincial government is an administrator (who holds office for five years) appointed by the Union ministry. This official is assisted by an executive committee of four members elected by the provincial council. The provincial council consists of 25 members (each representing a separate constituency) elected by the parliamentary voters and has a statutory existence of three years. Its powers are strictly local and delegated. The control of elementary education was guaranteed to the council for a period of five years following the establishment of the Union.
Justice.–The law of the province is the Roman-Dutch law, in so far as it has been introduced into and is applicable to South Africa, and as amended by local acts. Bloemfontein is the seat of the Supreme Court of the Union of South Africa and also of a provincial division of the same court. For judicial purposes the province is divided into twenty-four divisions, in each of which is a resident magistrate, who has limited civil and criminal jurisdiction. There are also special justices of the peace, having criminal jurisdiction in minor cases. The provincial court has jurisdiction in all civil and criminal matters, and is a court of appeal from all inferior courts. From it appeals can be made to the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court. Criminal cases are tried before one judge and a jury of nine, who must give a unanimous opinion. Circuit courts are also held by judges of the provincial court.
Finance.–The bulk of the revenue, e.g. that derived from customs and railways, is now paid to the Union government, but the provincial council has power to levy taxes and (with the consent of the Union ministry) to raise loans for strictly provincial purposes. In 1870–1871, when the province was an independent state and possessed neither railways nor diamond mines, the revenue was £78,000 and the expenditure £71,000; in 1884–1885 the revenue had risen to £228,000 and the expenditure to £229,000; in 1898, the last full year of the republican administration, the figures were: revenue, including railway profits, £799,000; expenditure, including outlay on new railways, £956,000. Omitting the figures during the war period, the figures for the year ending June 1903 were; revenue, £956,000; expenditure, £839,000. The depression in trade which followed caused a reduction in revenue, the average for the years 1904–1909 being: revenue, £820,000; expenditure, £819,000. These figures are exclusive of railway receipts and expenditure (see Transvaal: Finance).
Religion.—The vast majority (over 95%) of the white inhabitants are Protestants, and over 70% belong to the Dutch Reformed Church, while another 3% are adherents of the very similar organization, the Gereformeerde Kerk. Anglicans are the next numerous body, forming 12.53% of the white population. The Wesleyans number nearly 4% of the inhabitants. The Roman Catholics number 2.30% of the whites, the head of their church in the province being a vicar apostolic. At the head of the Anglican community, which is in full communion with the Church of England, is the bishop of Bloemfontein, whose diocese, founded in 1863, includes not only the Orange Free State, but Basutoland, Griqualand West and British Bechuanaland. All the churches named have missions to the natives, and in 1904, 104,389 aboriginals and 10,909 persons of mixed race were returned as Protestants, and 1093 aboriginals and 117 of mixed race as Roman Catholics. The total number of persons in the country professing Christianity was 251,904 or 65%. The Dutch Reformed Church had the largest number (21,272) of converts among the natives, the Wesleyans coming next. The African Methodist Episcopal (Ethiopian) Church had 4110 members, of whom only two were whites. The Jewish community numbered 1616. Nearly 33% of the population, 127,637 persons, were returned officially at the census of 1904 as of “no religion,” under which head are classed the natives who retain their primitive forms of belief, for which see Kaffirs, Bechuanas, &c.
Education.—At the census of 1904, 32.57% of the total population could read and write; of the whites over fifteen years old 82.63% could read and write. Of the aboriginals, 8.15% could read and write; of the mixed and other races, 12.28%. In the urban areas the proportion of persons, of all races, able to read and write was 50.67%; in the rural areas the proportion was 26.43%. By sexes, 35% of males and 29.63% of females could read and write.
Elementary education is administered by the provincial council, assisted by a permanent director of education. From 1900 to 1905 the schools were managed, teachers selected and appointed and all expenses borne by the government. They were of an undenominational character and English was the medium of instruction. The teaching of Dutch was optional. In 1904 the Dutch Reformed Church started Christian National (i.e. Denominational) Schools, but in March 1905 an agreement was come to whereby these schools were amalgamated with the government schools, and in June 1905 a further agreement was arrived at between the government and the leading religious denominations. By this arrangement “religious instruction of a purely historical character” was given in all government schools for two hours every week, and might be given in Dutch. Further, ministers of the various denominations might give, on the special request of the parents, instruction to the children of their own congregations for one hour on one day in each week. The attendance at government schools reached in 1908 a total of nearly 20,000, as against 8000 in 1898, the highest attendance recorded under republican government. On the attainment of self-government the colonial legislature passed an act (1908) which in respect to primary and secondary education made attendance compulsory on all white children, the fee system being maintained. English and Dutch were, nominally, placed on an equal footing as media of instruction. Every school was under the supervision of a committee elected by the parents of the children. Schools were grouped in districts, and for each district there was a controlling board of nine members, of whom five were elected by the committees of the separate schools and four appointed by the government. Religious instruction could only be given by members of the school staff. Dogmatic teaching was prohibited during school hours, except in rural schools when parents required such teaching to be given. The application of the provision as to the media of instruction gave rise to much friction, the English-speaking community complaining that instruction in Dutch was forced upon their children (see further, § History). Primary- education for natives is provided in private schools, many of which receive government grants. In 1908 over 10,000 natives were in attendance at schools.
Provision is made for secondary education in all the leading town schools, which prepare pupils for matriculation. At Bloemfontein is a high school for girls, the Grey College school for bovs, and a normal school for the training of teachers. The Grey University College is a state institution providing university education for the whole province. It is affiliated to the university of the Cape of Good Hope.
The country north of the Orange river was first visited by Europeans towards the close of the 18th century. At that time it was somewhat thinly peopled. The majority of the inhabitants appear to have been members of the Bechuana Establishment of a Boer republic.division of the Bantus, but in the valleys of the Orange and Vaal were Korannas and other Hottentots, and in the Drakensberg and on the western border lived numbers of Bushmen. Early in the 19th century Griquas established themselves north of the Orange. Between 1817 and 1831 the country was devastated by the chief Mosilikatze and his Zulus, and large areas were depopulated. Up to this time the few white men who had crossed the Orange had been chiefly hunters or missionaries. In 1824 Dutch farmers from Cape Colony seeking pasture for their flocks settled in the country. They were followed in 1836 by the first parties of the Great Trek. These emigrants left Cape Colony from various motives, but all were animated by the desire to escape from British sovereignty. (See South Africa, History; and Cape Colony, History.) The leader of the first large party of emigrants was A. H. Potgieter, who concluded an agreement with Makwana, the chief of the Bataung tribe of Bechuanas, ceding to the farmers the country between the Vet and Vaal rivers. The emigrants soon came into collision with Mosilikatze, raiding parties of Zulus attacking Boer hunters who had crossed the Vaal without seeking permission from that chieftain. Reprisals followed, and in November 1837 Mosilikatze was decisively defeated by the Boers and thereupon fled northward. In the meantime another party of emigrants had settled at Thaba'nchu, where the Wesleyans had a mission station for the Barolong. The emigrants were treated with great kindness by Moroko, the chief of that tribe, and with the Barolong the Boers maintained uniformly friendly relations. In December 1836 the emigrants beyond the Orange drew up in general assembly an elementary republican form of government. After the defeat of Mosilikatze the town of Winburg (so named by the Boers in commemoration of their victory) was founded, a volksraad elected, and Piet Relief, one of the ablest of the voortrekkers, chosen “governor and commandant-general.” The emigrants already numbered some 500 men, besides women and children and many coloured servants. Dissensions speedily arose among the emigrants, whose numbers were constantly added to, and Retief, Potgieter and other leaders crossed the Drakensberg and entered Natal. Those that remained were divided into several parties intensely jealous of one another.
Meantime a new power had arisen along the upper Orange and in the valley of the Caledon. Moshesh, a Bechuana chief of Early relations with British, Basutos and Griquas.high descent, had welded together a number of scattered and broken clans which had sought refuge in that mountainous region, and had formed of them the Basuto nation. In 1833 he had welcomed as workers among his people a band of French Protestant missionaries, and as the Boer immigrants began to settle in his neighbourhood he decided to seek support from the British at the Cape. At that time the British government was not prepared to exercise effective control over the emigrants. Acting upon the advice of Dr John Phihp, the superintendent of the London Missionary Society’s stations in South Africa, a treaty was concluded in 1843 with Moshesh, placing him under British protection. A similar treaty was made with the Griqua chief, Adam Kok III. (See Basutoland and Griqualand.) By these treaties, which recognized native sovereignty over large areas on which Boer farmers were settled, it was sought to keep a check on the emigrants and to protect both the natives and Cape Colony. Their effect was to precipitate collisions between all three parties. The year in which the treaty with Moshesh was made several large parties of Boers recrossed the Drakensberg into the country north of the Orange, refusing to remain in Natal when it became a British colony. During their stay there they had inflicted a severe defeat on the Zulus under Dingaan (December 1838), an event which, following on the flight of Mosilikatze, greatly strengthened the position of Moshesh, whose power became a menace to that of the emigrant farmers. Trouble first arose, however, between the Boers and the Griquas in the Philippolis district. Many of the white farmers in this district, unlike their fellows dwelling farther north, were willing to accept British rule, and this fact induced Mr Justice Menzies, one of the judges of Cape Colony then on circuit at Colesberg, to cross the Orange and proclaim (October 1842) the country British territory, a proclamation disallowed by the governor, Sir George Napier, who, nevertheless, maintained that the emigrant farmers were still British subjects. It was after this episode that the treaties with Adam Kok and Moshesh were negotiated. The treaties gave great offence to the Boers, who refused to acknowledge the sovereignty of the native chiefs. The majority of the white farmers in Kok’s territory sent a deputation to the British commissioner in Natal, Henry Cloete, asking for equal treatment with the Griquas, and expressing the desire to come on such terms, under British protection. Shortly afterwards hostilities between the farmers and the Griquas broke out. British troops were moved up to support the Griquas, and after a skirmish at Zwartkopjes (May 2, 1845) a new arrangement was made between Kok and Sir Peregrine Maitland, then governor of Cape Colony, virtually placing the administration of his territory in the hands of a British resident, a post filled in 1846 by Captain H. D. Warden. The place chosen by Captain (afterwards Major) Warden as the seat of his court was known as Bloemfontein, and it subsequently became the capital of the whole country.
The volksraad at Winburg during this period continued to claim jurisdiction over the Boers living between the Orange Annexation by Great Britain.and the Vaal and was in federation with the volksraad at Potchefstroom, which made a similar claim upon the Boers living north of the Vaal. In 1846 Major Warden occupied Winburg for a short time, and the relations between the Boers and the British were in a continual state of tension. Many of the farmers deserted Winburg for the Transvaal. Sir Harry Smith became governor of the Cape at the end of 1847. He recognized the failure of the attempt to govern on the lines of the treaties with the Griquas and Basutos, and on the 3rd of February 1848 he issued a proclamation declaring British sovereignty over the country between the Orange and the Vaal eastward to the Drakensberg. The justness of Sir Harry Smith’s measures and his popularity among the Boers gained for his policy considerable support, but the republican party, at whose head was Andries Pretorius (q.v.), did not submit without a struggle. They were, however, defeated by Sir Harry Smith in an engagement at Boomplaats (August 29, 1848). Thereupon Pretorius, with those most bitterly opposed to British rule, retreated across the Vaal. In March 1849 Major Warden was succeeded at Bloemfontein as civil commissioner by Mr C. U. Stuart, but he remained British resident until July 1852. A nominated legislative council was created, a high court established and other steps taken for the orderly government of the country, which was officially styled the Orange River Sovereignty. In October 1849 Moshesh was induced to sign a new arrangement considerably curtailing the boundaries of the Basuto reserve. The frontier towards the Sovereignty was thereafter known as the Warden line. A little later the reserves of other chieftains were precisely defined. The British Resident had, however, no force sufficient to maintain his authority, and Moshesh and all the neighbouring clans became involved in hostilities with one another and with the whites. In 1851 Moshesh joined the republican party in the Sovereignty in an invitation to Pretorius to recross the Vaal. The intervention of Pretorius resulted in the Sand River Convention of 1832, which acknowledged the independence of the Transvaal but left the status of the Sovereignty untouched. The British government (the first Russell administration), which had reluctantly agreed to the annexation of the country, had, however, already repented its decision and had resolved to abandon the Sovereignty. Lord Grey (the 3rd earl), secretary of state for the colonies, in a despatch to Sir Harry Smith dated the 21st of October 1851, declared, “The ultimate abandonment of the Orange Sovereignty should be a settled point in our policy.” A meeting of representatives of all European inhabitants of the Sovereignty, elected on manhood suffrage, held at Bloemfontein in June 1852, nevertheless declared in favour of the retention of British rule. At the close of that year a settlement was at length concluded with Moshesh, which left, perhaps, that chief in a stronger position than he had hitherto been. (See Basutoland: History.) There had been ministerial changes in England and the ministry then in power—that of Lord Aberdeen—adhered to the determination to withdraw from the Sovereignty. Sir George Russell Clerk was sent out in 1853 as special commissioner “for the settling and adjusting of the affairs” of the Sovereignty, and in August of that year he summoned a meeting of delegates to determine upon a form of self-government. At that time there were some 15,000 whites in the country, many of them recent emigrants from Cape Colony. There were among them numbers of farmers and tradesmen of British blood. The majority of the whites still wished for the continuance of British rule provided that it was effective and the country guarded against its enemies. The representations of their delegates, who drew up a proposed constitution retaining British control, were unavailing. Sir George Clerk announced that, as the elected delegates were Independence forced on the Boers.unwilling to take steps to form an independent government he would enter into negotiations with other persons. “And then,” writes Dr Theal, “was seen the strange spectacle of an English commissioner addressing men who wished to be free of British control as the friendly and well-disposed inhabitants, while for those who desired to remain British subjects and who claimed that protection to which they believed themselves entitled he had no sympathizing word.” While the elected delegates sent two members to England to try and induce the government to alter their decision Sir George Clerk speedily came to terms with a committee formed by the republican party and presided over by Mr J. H. Hoffman. Even before this committee met a royal proclamation had been signed (January 30, 1854) “abandoning and renouncing all dominion” in the Sovereignty. A convention recognizing the independence of the country was signed at Bloemfontein on the 23rd of February by Sir George Clerk and the republican committee, and on the 11th of March the Boer government assumed office and the republican flag was hoisted. Five days later the representatives of the elected delegates had an interview in London with the colonial secretary, the duke of Newcastle, who informed them that it was now too late to discuss the question of the retention of British rule. The colonial secretary added that it was impossible for England to supply troops to constantly advancing outposts, “especially as Cape Town and the port of Table Bay were all she really required in South Africa.” In withdrawing from the Sovereignty the British government declared that it had “no alliance with any native chief or tribes to the northward of the Orange River with the exception of the Griqua chief Captain Adam Kok.” Kok was not formidable in a military sense, nor could he prevent individual Griquas from alienating their lands. Eventually, in 1861, he sold his sovereign rights to the Free State for £4000 and removed with his followers to the district now known as Griqualand East. ((F. R. C.)) On the abandonment of British rule representatives of the people were elected and met at Bloemfontein on the 28th of Republican rule.March 1854, and between that date and the 18th of April were engaged in framing a constitution. The country was declared a republic and named the Orange Free State. All persons of European blood possessing a six months’ residential qualification were to be granted full burgher rights. The sole legislative authority was vested in a single popularly elected chamber styled the volksraad. Executive authority was entrusted to a president elected by the burghers from a list submitted by the volksraad. The president was to be assisted by an executive council, was to hold office for five years and was eligible for re-election. The constitution was subsequently modified but remained of a liberal character. A residence of five years in the country was required before aliens could become naturalized. The first president was Mr Hoffman, but he was accused of being too complaisant towards Moshesh and resigned, being succeeded in 1855 by Mr J. N. Boshof, one of the voortrekkers, who had previously taken an active part in the affairs of Natal.
Distracted among themselves, with the formidable Basuto power on their southern and eastern flank, the troubles of the A Transvaal raid into the Free State.infant state were speedily added to by the action of the Transvaal Boers. Marthinus Pretorius, who had succeeded to his father’s position as commandant-general of Potchefstroom, wished to bring about a confederation between the two Boer states. Peaceful overtures from Pretorius were declined, and some of his partisans in the Free State were accused of treason (February 1857). Thereupon Pretorius, aided by Paul Kruger, conducted a raid into the Free State territory. On learning of the invasion President Boshof proclaimed martial law throughout the country. The majority of the burghers rallied to his support, and on the 25th of May the two opposing forces faced one another on the banks of the Rhenoster. President Boshof not only got together some eight hundred men within the Free State, but he received offers of support from Commandant Schoeman, the Transvaal leader in the Zoutpansberg district and from Commandant Joubert of Lydenburg. Pretorius and Kruger, realizing that they would have to sustain attack from both north and south, abandoned their enterprise. Their force, too, only amounted to some three hundred. Kruger came to Boshof’s camp with a flag of truce, the “army” of Pretorius returned north and on the 2nd of June a treaty of peace was signed, each state acknowledging the absolute independence of the other. The conduct of Pretorius was stigmatized as “blameworthy.” Several of the malcontents in the Free State who had joined Pretorius permanently settled in the Transvaal, and other Free Staters who had been guilty of high treason were arrested and punished. This experience did not, however, heal the party strife within the Free State. In consequence of the dissensions among the burghers President Boshof tendered his resignation in February 1858, but was for a time induced to remain in office. The difficulties of the state were at that time (1858) so great that the volksraad in December of that year passed a resolution in favour of confederation with the Cape Colony. This proposition received the strong support of Sir George Grey, then governor of Cape Colony, but his view did not commend itself to the British government, and was not adopted (see South Africa: History). In the same year the disputes between the Basutos and the Boers culminated in open war. Both parties laid claims to land beyond the Warden line, and each party had taken possession of what it could, the Basutos being also expert cattle-lifters. In the war the advantage rested with the Basutos; thereupon the Free State appealed to Sir George Grey, who induced Moshesh to come to terms. On the 15th of October 1858 a treaty was signed defining anew the boundary. The peace was nominal only, while the burghers were also involved in disputes with other tribes. Mr. Boshof again tendered his resignation (February 1859) and retired to Natal. Many of the burghers would have at this time welcomed union with the Transvaal, but learning from Sir George Grey that such a union would nullify the conventions of 1852 and 1854 and necessitate the reconsideration of Great Britain’s policy towards the native tribes north of the Orange and Vaal rivers, the project dropped. Commandant Pretorius was, however, elected president in place of Mr Boshof. Though unable to effect a durable peace with the Basutos, or to realize his ambition for the creation of one powerful Boer republic, Pretorius saw the Free State begin to grow in strength. The fertile district of Bethulie as well as Adam Kok’s territory was acquired, and there was a considerable increase in the white population. The burghers generally, however, had not learned the need of discipline, of confidence in their elected rulers, or that to carry on a government taxes must be levied. Wearied like Mr Boshof of a thankless task, and more interested in affairs in the Transvaal than in those of the Free State, Pretorius resigned the presidency in 1863, and after an interval of seven months Mr (afterwards Sir) John Henry Brand (q.v.), an advocate at the Cape bar, was elected president. He assumed office in February 1864. His election proved a turning-point in the history of the country, which, under his beneficent and tactful guidance, became peaceful and prosperous and, in some respects, a model state. But Brand elected President.before peace could be established an end had to be made of the difficulties with the Basutos. Moshesh continued to menace the Free State border. Attempts at accommodation made by the governor of Cape Colony (Sir Philip Wodehouse) failed, and war between the Free State and Moshesh was renewed in 1865. The Boers gained considerable successes, and this induced Moshesh to sue for peace. The terms exacted were, however, too harsh for a nation yet unbroken to accept permanently. A treaty was signed at Thaba Bosigo in April 1866, but war again broke out in 1867, and the Free State attracted to its side a large number of adventurers from all parts of South Africa. The burghers thus reinforced gained at length a decisive victory over their great antagonist, every stronghold in Basutoland save Thaba Bosigo being stormed. Moshesh now turned in earnest to Sir Philip Wodehouse for preservation. His prayer was heeded, and in 1868 he and his country were taken under British protection. Thus the thirty years’ strife between Settlement of the Basuto troubles.the Basutos and the Boers came to an end. The intervention of the governor of Cape Colony led to the conclusion of the treaty of Aliwal North (Feb. 12, 1869), which defined the borders between the Orange Free State and Basutoland. The country lying to the north of the Orange river and west of the Caledon, formerly a part of Basutoland, was ceded to the Free State (see Basutoland). This country, some hundred miles long and nearly thirty wide, is a fertile stretch of agricultural land on the lower slopes of the Maluti mountains. It lies at an altitude of nearly 6000 ft., and is well watered by the Caledon and its tributaries. It has ever since been known as the Conquered Territory, and it forms to-day one of the richest corn-growing districts in South Africa. A year after the addition of the Conquered Territory to the state another boundary dispute was settled by the arbitration of Mr Keate, lieutenant-governor of Natal. By the Sand River Convention independence had been granted to the Boers living “north of the Vaal,” and the dispute turned on the question as to what stream constituted the true upper course of that river. Mr Keate decided (Feb. 19, 1870) against the Free State view and fixed the Klip river as the dividing line, the Transvaal thus securing the Wakkerstroom and adjacent districts.
The Basutoland difficulties were no sooner arranged than the Free Staters found themselves confronted with a serious difficulty Discovery of the Kimberley Diamond Fields.on their western border. In the years 1870–1871 a large number of diggers had settled on the diamond fields near the junction of the Vaal and Orange rivers, which were situated in part on land claimed by the Griqua chief Nicholas Waterboer and by the Free State. The Free State established a temporary government over the diamond fields, but the administration of this body was satisfactory neither to the Free State nor to the diggers. At this juncture Waterboer offered to place the territory under the administration of Queen Victoria. The offer was accepted, and on the 27th of October 1871 the district, together with some adjacent territory to which the Transvaal had laid claim, was proclaimed, under the name of Griqualand West, British territory. Waterboer’s claims were based on the treaty concluded by his father with the British in 1834, and on various arrangements with the Kok chiefs; the Free State based its claim on its purchase of Adam Kok’s sovereign rights and on long occupation. The difference between proprietorship and sovereignty was confused or ignored. That Waterboer exercised no authority in the disputed district was admitted. When the British annexation took place a party in the volksraad wished to go to war with Britain, but the wiser counsels of President Brand prevailed. The Free State, however, did not abandon its claims. The matter involved no little irritation between the parties concerned until July 1876. It was then disposed of by the 4th earl of Carnarvon, at that time secretary of state for the colonies, who granted to the Free State £90,000 “in full satisfaction of all claims which it considers it may possess to Griqualand West.” Lord Carnarvon declined to entertain the proposal made by Mr Brand that the territory should be given up by Great Britain. One thing at least is certain with regard to the diamond fields—they were the means of restoring the credit and prosperity of the Free State. In the opinion, moreover, of Dr Theal, who has written the history of the Boer Republics and has been a consistent supporter of the Boers, the annexation of Griqualand West was probably in the best interests of the Free State. “There was,” he states, “no alternative from British sovereignty other than an independent diamond field republic.”
At this time, largely owing to the exhausting struggle with the Basutos, the Free State Boers, like their Transvaal neighbours, had drifted into financial straits. A paper currency had been instituted, and the notes—currently known as “bluebacks”—soon dropped to less than half their nominal value. Commerce was largely carried on by barter, and many cases of bankruptcy occurred in the state. But as British annexation in 1877 saved the Transvaal from bankruptcy, so did the influx of British and other immigrants to the diamond fields, in the early ’seventies, restore public credit and individual prosperity to the Boers of the Free State. The diamond fields offered a ready market for stock and other agricultural produce. Money flowed into the pockets of the farmers. Public credit was restored. “Bluebacks” recovered par value, and were called in and redeemed by the government. Valuable diamond mines were also discovered within the Free State, of which the one at Jagersfontein is the richest. Capital from Kimberley and London was soon provided with which to work them.
The relations between the British and the Free State, after the question of the boundary was once settled, remained perfectly Cordial relations with Great Britain.amicable down to the outbreak of the Boer War in 1899. From 1870 onward the history of the state was one of quiet, steady progress. At the time of the first annexation of the Transvaal the Free State declined Lord Carnarvon’s invitation to federate with the other South African communities. In 1880, when a rising of the Boers in the Transvaal was threatening. President Brand showed every desire to avert the conflict. He suggested that Sir Henry de Villiers, Chief Justice of Cape Colony, should be sent into the Transvaal to endeavour to gauge the true state of affairs in that country. This suggestion was not acted upon, but when war broke out in the Transvaal Brand declined to take any part in the struggle. In spite of the neutral attitude taken by their government a number of the Free State Boers, living in the northern part of the country, went to the Transvaal and joined their brethren then in arms against the British. This fact was not allowed to influence the friendly relations between the Free State and Great Britain. In 1888 Sir John Brand died. In him the Boers, not only in the Free State but in the whole of South Africa, lost one of the most enlightened and most upright rulers and leaders they have ever had. He realized the disinterested aims pursued by the British government, without always approving its methods. Though he had thrown the weight of his influence against Lord Carnarvon's federation scheme Brand disapproved racial rivalries.
During the period of Brand's presidency a great change, both political and economic, had come over South Africa. The renewal of the policy of British expansion had been answered by the formation of the Afrikander Bond, which represented the racial aspirations of the Dutch-speaking people, and had active branches in the Free State. This alteration in the political outlook was accompanied, and in part occasioned, by economic changes of great significance. The development of the diamond mines and of the gold and coal industries—of which Brand saw the beginning—had far-reaching consequences, bringing the Boer republics into vital contact with the new industrial era. The Free Staters, under Brand's rule, had shown considerable ability to adapt their policy to meet the altered situation. In 1889 an agreement was come to between the Free State and the Cape Colony government, whereby the latter were empowered to extend, at their own cost, their railway system to Bloemfontein. The Free State retained the right to purchase this extension at cost price, a right they exercised after the Jameson Raid. Having accepted the assistance of the Cape government in constructing its railway, the state also in 1889 entered into a Customs Union Convention with them. The convention was the outcome of a conference held at Cape Town in 1888, at which delegates from Natal, the Free State and the Colony attended. Natal at this time had not seen its way to entering the Customs Union, but did so at a later date.
In January 1889 Mr F. W. Reitz was elected president of the Free State. His accession to the presidency marked the beginning of a new and disastrous line of policy in the Alliance with the Transvaal.external affairs of the country. Mr Reitz had no sooner got into office than a meeting was arranged with Mr Kruger, president of the Transvaal, at which various terms of an agreement dealing with the railways, terms of a treaty of amity and commerce and what was called a political treaty, were discussed and decided upon. The political treaty referred in general terms to a federal union between the Transvaal and the Free State, and bound each of them to help the other, whenever the independence of either should be assailed or threatened from without, unless the state so called upon for assistance should be able to show the injustice of the cause of quarrel in which the other state had engaged. While thus committed to a dangerous alliance with its northern neighbour no change was made in internal administration. The Free State, in fact, from its geographical position reaped the benefits without incurring the anxieties consequent on the settlement of a large uitlander population on the Rand. The state, however, became increasingly identified with the reactionary party in the Transvaal. In 1895 the volksraad passed a resolution, in which they declared their readiness to entertain a proposition from the Transvaal in favour of some form of federal union. In the same year Mr Reitz retired from the presidency of the Free State, and was succeeded in February 1896 by M. T. Steyn (q.v.), a judge of the High Court. In 1896 President Steyn visited Pretoria, where he received an ovation as the probable future president of the two Republics. A further offensive and defensive alliance between the two Republics was then entered into, under which the Free State took up arms on the outbreak of hostilities with the Transvaal in 1899.
In 1897 President Kruger, bent on still further cementing the union with the Free State, visited Bloemfontein. It was on this occasion that President Kruger, referring to the London Convention, spoke of Queen Victoria as a kwaaje Vrouw, an expression which caused a good deal of offence in England at the time, but which, to any one familiar with the homely phraseology of the Boers, obviously was not meant by President Kruger as insulting.
In order to understand the attitude which the Free State took at this time in relation to the Transvaal, it is necessary to review the history of Mr Reitz from an earlier date. Previously The Afrikander ideal.to his becoming president of the Free State he had acted as its Chief Justice, and still earlier in life had practised as an advocate in Cape Colony. In 1881 Mr Reitz had, in conjunction with Mr Steyn, come under the influence of a clever German named Borckenhagen, the editor of the Bloemfontein Express. These three men were principally responsible for the formation of the Afrikander Bond (see Cape Colony: History). From 1881 onwards they cherished the idea of an independent South Africa. Brand had been far too sagacious to be led away by this pseudo-nationalist dream, and did his utmost to discountenance the Bond. At the same time his policy was guided by a sincere patriotism, which looked to the true prosperity of the Free State as well as to that of the whole of South Africa. From his death may be dated the disastrous line of policy which led to the extinction of the state as a republic. The one prominent member of the volksraad who inherited the traditions and enlightened views of President Brand was Mr (Afterwards Sir) John G. Fraser. Mr Fraser, who was an unsuccessful candidate for the presidency in 1896, was the son of a Presbyterian minister, who had acted as a minister in the Dutch Reformed Church since the middle of the century. He grew up in the country of his father’s adoption, and he consistently warned the Free State of the inevitable result—the loss of independence—which must follow their mischievous policy in being led by the Transvaal. The mass of Boers in the Free State, deluded by a belief in Great Britain’s weakness, paid no heed to his remonstrances. Mr Fraser lived to see the fulfilment of these prophecies. After the British occupation of Bloemfontein he cast in his lot with the Imperial Government, realizing that it had fought for those very principles which President Brand and he had laboured for in bygone years.
On entering Bloemfontein in 1900 the British obtained possession of certain state papers which contained records of negotiations between the Transvaal and the Orange Free State. The evidence contained in these state records so clearly marks the difference between the pohcy of Mr Kruger and the pacific, commercial policy of President Brand and his followers, that the documents call for careful consideration. From these papers it was found that, in 1887, two secret conferences had taken place between representatives of the Republics, dealing with various political and economical questions. At the first of these conferences, held in Pretoria, the object of the Free State deputies were to arrange a general treaty of amity and commerce which would knit the states more closely together, and to come to some agreement with reference to the scheme for building a railway across the Free State from the Cape, to connect with a farther extension in the Transvaal to Pretoria. The deputation also urged the Transvaal to join the South African Customs Union. Both of these suggestions were strongly disapproved by Mr Kruger, inasmuch as they meant knitting together the Boer republics and the British possessions, instead of merely bringing the Free State into completer dependence on the Transvaal. From the minutes of this conference it is clear that the two deputations were practically at cross purposes. In the minds of President Kruger and his immediate followers one idea was dominant, that of ousting and keeping out at all costs British influence and interests. On the part of the Free State there was obviously a genuine desire to further the best interests of the state, together with the general prosperity of the whole of South Africa. In President Kruger's eyes British trade meant ruin; he desired to keep it out of the Republic at all costs, and he begged the Free State to delay the construction of their railway until the Delagoa Bay line was completed. He said, “Delagoa is a life or death question for us. Help us: if you hook on to the Colony you cut our throat. … How can our state exist without the Delagoa railway? Keep free.” With regard to the Customs Union, President Kruger was equally emphatic; he begged the Free State to steer clear of it. “Customs Unions,” he said, “are made between equal states with equal access to harbours. We are striving to settle the question of our own harbour peacefully. The English will only use their position to swindle the Transvaal of its proper receipts.” In response, Mr Fraser, one of the Free State delegates, remarked that a harbour requires forts, soldiers, ships and sailors to man them, or else it would be at the mercy of the first gunboat that happened to assail it. President Kruger replied that once the Transvaal had a harbour foreign powers would intervene. Mr Wolmarans was as emphatic as President Kruger. “Wait a few years. … You know our secret policy. We cannot treat the [Cape] Colony as we would treat you. The Colony would destroy us. It is not the Dutch there we are fighting against. Time shall show what we mean to do with them; for the present we must keep them off.”
The result of this conference was a secret session of the Transvaal volksraad and the proposition of a secret treaty Anti-British designs.with the Free State, by which each state should bind itself not to build railways to its frontier without the consent of the other, the eastern and northern frontiers of the Transvaal being excepted. The railway from Pretoria to Bloemfontein was to be proceeded with; neither party was to enter the Customs Union without the consent of the other. The Transvaal was to pay £20,000 annually to the Free State for loss incurred for not having the railway to Cape Colony. Such a treaty as the one proposed would simply have enslaved the Free State to the Transvaal, and it was rejected by the Free State volksraad. President Kruger determined on a still more active measure, and proceeded with Dr Leyds to interview President Brand at Bloemfontein. A series of meetings took place in October of the same year (1887). President Brand opened the proceedings by proposing a treaty of friendship and free trade between the two Republics, in which a number of useful and thoroughly practical provisions were set forth. President Kruger, however, soon brushed these propositions aside, and responded by stating that, in consideration of the common enemy and the dangers which threatened the Republic, an offensive and defensive alliance must be preliminary to any closer union. To this Brand rejoined that, as far as the offensive was concerned, he did not desire to be a party to attacking any one, and as for the defensive, where was the pressing danger of the enemy which Kruger feared? The Free State was on terms of friendship with its neighbours, nor (added Brand) would the Transvaal have need for such an alliance as the one proposed if its policy would only remain peaceful and conciliatory. At a later date in the conference (see Transvaal) President Brand apparently changed his policy, and himself drafted a constitution resembling that of the United States. This constitution appears to have been modelled on terms a great deal too liberal and enhghtened to please Mr Kruger, whose one idea was to have at his command the armed forces of the Free State when he should require them, and who pressed for an offensive and defensive alliance. Brand refused to allow the Free State to be committed to a suicidal treaty, or dragged into any wild policy which the Transvaal might deem it expedient to adopt. The result of the whole conference was that Kruger returned to Pretoria completely baffled, and for a time the Free State was saved from being a party to the fatal policy into which others subsequently drew it. Independent power of action was retained by Brand for the Free State in both the railway and Customs Union questions.
After Sir John Brand’s death, as already stated, a series of agreements and measures gradually subordinated Free State interests to the mistaken ambition and narrow views of the Transvaal. The influence which the Kruger party had obtained in the Free State was evidenced by the presidential election in 1896, when Mr Steyn received forty-one votes against nineteen cast for Mr Fraser. That this election should have taken place immediately after the Jameson Raid probably increased Mr Steyn’s majority. Underlying the new policy adopted by the Free State was the belief held, if not by President Steyn himself, at least by his followers, that the two republics combined would be more than a match for the power of Great Britain should hostilties occur.
In December 1897 the Free State revised its constitution in reference to the franchise law, and the period of residence necessary to obtain naturalization was reduced from five to three years. The oath of allegiance to the state was alone required, and no renunciation of nationality was insisted upon. In 1898 the Free State also acquiesced in the new convention arranged with regard to the Customs Union between the Cape Colony, Natal, Basutoland and the Bechuanaland Protectorate. These measures suggest that a slight reaction against the extreme policy of President Kruger had set in. But events were moving rapidly in the Transvaal, and matters had proceeded too far for the Free State to turn back. In May 1899 President Steyn suggested the conference at Bloemfontein between President Kruger and Sir Alfred Milner, but this act, if it expressed a genuine desire for reconciliation, was too late. President Kruger had got the Free State ensnared in his meshes. The Free Staters were practically bound, under the offensive and defensive alliance, in case hostilities arose with Great Britain, either to denounce the policy to which they had so unwisely been secretly party, or to throw in their lot with the Transvaal. War occurred, and they Boer War.accepted the inevitable consequence. For President Steyn and the Free State of 1899, in the light of the negotiations we have recorded, neutrality was impossible. A resolution was passed by the volksraad on the 27th of September declaring that the state would observe its obligations to the Transvaal whatever might happen. Before war had actually broken out the Free State began to expel British subjects, and the very first act of war was committed by Free State Boers, who, on the 11th of October, seized a train upon the border belonging to Natal. The events of the war are given elsewhere (see Transvaal: History).
After the surrender of Cronje at Paardeberg on the 27th of February 1900 Bloemfontein was occupied by the British troops British administration.under Lord Roberts (March 13,) and on the 28th of May a proclamation was issued annexing the Free State to the British dominions under the title of Orange River Colony. For nearly two years longer the burghers kept the field under Christian de Wet (q.v.), and other leaders, but by the articles of peace signed on the 31st of May 1902 British sovereignty was acknowledged. A civil administration of the colony was established early in 1901 with Sir Alfred Milner as governor. Major (afterwards Sir) H. J. Goold-Adams was appointed lieutenant-governor, Milner being governor also of the Transvaal, which country claimed most of his attention. A nominated legislative council was established in June 1902 of which Sir John Fraser and a number of other prominent ex-burghers became unofficial members. The railways and constabulary of the two colonies were (1903) placed under an inter-colonial council; active measures were taken for the repatriation of the prisoners of war and the residents in the concentration camps, and in every direction vigorous and successful efforts were made to repair the ravages of the war. Over £4,000,000 was spent by the British government in Orange Colony alone on these objects. At the same time efforts were made, with a fair measure of success, to strengthen the British element in the country by means of land settlements. Special attention was also devoted to the development of the resources of the country by building new lines of railway traversing the fertile south-eastern districts and connecting Bloemfontein with Natal and with Kimberley. The educational system was reorganized and greatly improved.
To a certain extent the leading ex-burghers co-operated with the administration in the work of reconstruction. The loss Oranjie Unie formed.of their independence was, however, felt bitterly by the Boers, and the attitude assumed by the majority was highly critical of the work of the government. Having recovered from the worst effects of the war the Boers, both in the Transvaal and Orange Colony, began in 1904 to make organized efforts to regain their political ascendancy, and to bring pressure on the government in respect to compensation, repatriation, the position of the Dutch language, education and other subjects on which they alleged unfair treatment. This agitation, as far as the Orange River Colony was concerned, coincided with the return to South Africa of ex-President Steyn. Mr Steyn had gone to Europe at the close of the war and did not take the oath of allegiance to the British Crown until the autumn of 1904. A congress of ex-burghers was held at Brandfort in December 1904, when among other resolutions passed was one demanding the grant of self-government to the colony. This was followed in July 1905 by a conference at Bloemfontein, when it was resolved to form a national union. This organization, known as the Oranjie Unie, was formally constituted in May 1006, but had been in existence for some months previously. A similar organization, called Het Volk, had been formed by the Transvaal Boers in January 1905. Both unions had constitutions almost identical with that of the Afrikander Bond, and their aims were similar—to secure the triumph of Boer ideals in state and society. Of the Oranjie Unie Mr Abraham Fischer became chairman, other prominent members being Messrs Hertzog, C. de Wet and Steyn. Mr Fischer, the leader of the part)-, was one of the ablest statesmen on the Boer side in the pre-war period. He was originally an attorney in Cape Colony and had joined the Free State bar in 1875. He became vice-president of the volksraad in 1893 and a member of the executive council of the state in 1896. He was one of the most trusted counsellors of Presidents Steyn and Kruger, and the ultimatum sent to the British on the eve of hostilities was recast by him. While the war was in progress he went to Europe to seek support for the Boer cause. He returned to South Africa early in 1903 and was admitted to the bar of the Orange Colony.
A counter-organization was formed by the ex-burghers who had whole-heatedly accepted the new order of things. They took the title of the Constitutional party, and Sir John Fraser was chosen as chairman. In Bloemfontein the Constitutionalists had a strong following; elsewhere their supporters were numerically weak. It was noteworthy that the programmes of the two parties were very similar, the real difference between them being the attitude with which they regarded the British connexion. While the ideal of the Unie was an Afrikander state, the Constitutionalists desired the perfect equality of both white races.
The advent of a Liberal administration under Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman in Great Britain in December 1905 Responsible government.completely altered the political situation in the late Boer states. The previous (Conservative) government had in March 1905 made public a form of representative government, intended to lead up to self-government for the Transvaal, and had intimated that a similar constitution would be subsequently conferred on the Orange Colony. The Campbell-Bannerman administration decided to do without this intermediary step in both colonies. In April 1906 a committee, under the chairmanship of Sir J. West-Ridgeway, was sent to South Africa to inquire into and report upon various questions regarding the basis of the franchise, single-member constituencies and kindred matters. There was in the Orange Colony a considerable body of opinion that the party system of government should be avoided, and that the executive should consist of three members elected by the single representative chamber it was desired to obtain, and three members nominated by the governor—in short, what was desired was a restoration as far as possible of the old Free State constitution. These views were laid before the committee on their visit to Bloemfontein in June 1906. When, however, the outline of the new constitution was made public in December 1906 it was found that the British government had decided on a party government plan which would have the inevitable and fully foreseen effect of placing the country in the power of the Boer majority. It was not until the 1st of July 1907 that the letters-patent conferring self-government on the colony were promulgated, the election for the legislative assembly taking place in November following. They resulted in the return of 29 members of the Oranjie Unie, 5 Constitutionalists and 4 Independents. The Constitutionalists won four of the five seats allotted to Bloemfontein, Sir John Fraser being among those returned. Following the elections the governor. Sir Hamilton Goold-Adams, sent for Mr Fischer, who formed a ministry, his colleagues being ex-General J.B.M. Hertzog, attorney-general and director of education; Dr A. E. W. Ramsbottom, treasurer; Christian de Wet, minister of agriculture, and Mr C. H. Wessels, minister of public works, &c. Mr Fischer, besides the premiership, held the portfolio of colonial secretary. The new ministry took office on the 27th of November. Of the members of the first legislative council five were supporters of the Oranjie Unie and five were regarded as Constitutionalists, the eleventh member holding the balance.
The responsible government entered upon its task in favourable conditions. Despite the many obstacles it had to meet, including drought, commercial depression and the hostility of many of the ex-burghers, the crown colony administration had achieved remarkable results. During each of its seven years of existence there had been a surplus of revenue over expenditure, despite the fact that taxation had not materially increased, save in respect to mining, which did not affect the general population. Custom duties were about the same as in 1898, but railway rates were materially lower and many new lines had been opened. The educational system had been placed on a sound basis. Departments of agriculture, mining, health and native affairs had been organized, and the civil service rendered thoroughly efficient. A substantial cash balance was left in the treasury for the use of the new government. Over 700 families had been settled on the land and thus an additional source of strength provided for the state. The first parliament under the new constitution met on the 18th of December 1907, when it was announced that the Transvaal and Orange Colony had each given notice of the termination of the intercolonial council with the intention of each colony to gain individual control of its railways and constabulary.
After a two days’ session the legislature was prorogued until May 1908, when the chief measure submitted by the government The unification movement.was an education bill designed to foster the knowledge of the Dutch language. This measure became law (see above § Education). Parliament also passed a measure granting ex-President Steyn a pension of £1000 a year and ex-President Reitz a pension of £500. In view of the dissolution of the inter colonial council a convention was signed at Pretoria on the 29th of May which made provision for the division of the common property, rights and liabilities of the Orange Colony and the Transvaal in respect to the railways and constabulary, and established for four years a joint board to continue the administration of the railway systems of the two colonies. The Orange Colony assumed responsibility for £7,700,000 of the guaranteed loan of £35,000,000 of 1903 (see Transvaal: Finance). The colony took part during this month in an inter-state conference which met at Pretoria and Cape Town, and determined to renew the existing customs convention and to make no alteration in railway rates. These decisions were the result of an agreement to bring before the parliaments of the various colonies a resolution advocating the closer union of the South African states and the appointment of delegates to a national convention to frame a draft constitution. In this convention Mr Steyn took a leading and conciliatory part, and subsequently the Orange River legislature agreed to the terms drawn up by the convention for the unification of the four self-governing colonies. Under the imperial act by which unification was established (May 31, 1910) the colony entered the union under the style of the Free State Province. (For the union movement see South Africa: History.) Mr Fischer and General Hertzog became members of the first union ministry while Dr A. E. W. Ramsbottom, formerly colonial treasurer, became the first administrator of the Free State as a province of the union.
The period during which the province had been a self-governing colony had been one of steady progress in most directions, Education controversy.but was greatly embittered by the educational policy pursued by General Hertzog. From the date of the passing of the education act in the middle of 1908 until the absorption of the colony into the union. General Hertzog so administered the provisions of the act regarding the media of instruction as to compel every European child to receive instruction in every subject partly in the medium of Dutch. This policy of compulsory bilingualism was persisted in despite the vehement protests of the English-speaking community, and of the desire of many Dutch burghers that the medium of instruction for their children should be English. Attempts to adjust the difficulty were made and a conference on the subject was held at Bloemfontein in November 1909. It was fruitless, and in March 1910 Mr Hugh Gunn (director of education since 1904) resigned. The action of General Hertzog had the support of his colleagues and of Mr Steyn and kept alive the racial spirit. Failing to obtain redress the English-speaking section of the community proceeded to open separate schools, the terms of the act of union leaving the management of elementary education to the provincial council.Authorities.—A. H. Keane, The Boer States: Land and People (1900); The Report on the 1904 census (Bloemfontein, 1906); The Statistical Year Book (Bloemfontein) and other official publications; W. S. Johnson, Orangia (1906), a good elementary geography; Précis of Information. Orange Free State and Griqualand West (War Office, 1878); D. Aitton, “De Oranje Vrijstaat,” Tijds. K. Ned. Aard. Genoots. Amsterdam, vol. xvii. (1900); H. Kloessel, Die Südafrikanischen Republiken (Leipzig, 1888). For a good early account of the country see Sir W. Cornwallis Harris, Narrative of an Expedition into Southern Africa during 1836–37 (Bombay, 1838). For history see, in addition to the British, Cape and Orange Free State parliamentary papers, H. Dehérain, L'Expansion des Boers au xixe siècle (Paris, 1905); G. McCall Theal, History of South Africa since 1795 [up to 1872], vols. ii., iii. and iv. (1908 ed.), and A. Wilmot’s Life and Times of Sir R. Southey (1904). G. B. Beak’s The Aftermath of War (1906) is an account of the repatriation work in the Orange River Colony. A. C. Murray and R. Cannon, Map of the Orange River Colony (6 sheets: 4 m. to 1 in., 1908). The place of publication, unless otherwise stated, is London. Consult also the bibliographies under Griqualand, Transvaal and South Africa.
- See for geology, A. H. Green, “A Contribution to the Geology and Physical Geography of the Cape Colony,” Quart. Journ. Geol. Soc. vol. xliv., 1888; E. J. Dunn, Geological Sketch Map of S. Africa (Melbourne, 1887); D. Draper, “Notes on the Geology of South-Eastern Africa,” Quart. Journ. Geol. Soc. vol. 1., 1894; F. H. Hatch and C. S. Corstorphine, The Geology of South Africa (2nd ed. London, 1909).
- See Mr Gunn’s pamphlet, The Language Question in the Orange River Colony, 1902–1910.