Rhodes’s scheme. The arrival at Bulawayo of Dr L. S. Jameson, who had previously attended Lobengula professionally, and who strongly supported Rudd and his companions, appears to have been the factor which decided Lobengula to sign the concession. This concession once obtained, Rhodes proceeded with rapidity to prosecute his great enterprise. He extinguished the claims of earlier concessionaires by purchase (giving, for instance, £10,046 for the Baines and Swinburne grants), and united all interests in the British South Africa. Company, with a share capital of £1,000,000.
Following the example of Sir George Goldie in West Africa and of Sir William Maekinnon in East Africa, Rhodes determined to apply to the British government for a charter for the newly formed company, whose original directors were, in addition to Rhodes and Beit, the duke of Abercorn, the duke of Fife, Lord Gifford, Albert (afterwards 4th earl) Grey and George Cawston. In applying for a charter (in April 1889) the founders of the company stated their objects to be the following: (1) To extend northwards the railway and telegraph systems in the direction of the Zambezi; (2) to encourage emigration and colonization; (3) to promote trade and commerce; (4) to develop and work minerals and other concessions under the management of one powerful organization, thereby obviating conflicts and complications between the various interests that had been acquired within these regions, and securing to the native chiefs and their subjects the rights reserved to them under the several concessions. In making this application the boundaries in which they proposed to work were purposely left somewhat vague. The B.S.A. Co.’s charter.They were described to be the region of South Africa lying immediately north of British Bechuanaland, north and west of the South African Republic, and west of the Portuguese dominions on the east coast. The government, having ascertained the substantial nature of the company’s resources and the composition of the proposed directorate, and also that they were prepared to begin immediately the development of the country, granted the charter, dated the 29th of October 1889. From this date onward the company was commonly known as “the Chartered Company.”
A few points in the charter itself deserve to be noted. In the first place, it gave considerable extension to the terms of the original concessions by Lobengula. In short, it transformed the rights of working minerals and metals, and preventing others from doing so, into rights practically sovereign over the regions in which the company’s activity was to be employed. These rights the crown granted directly itself, not merely confirming a previous grant from another source. By Article X. the company was empowered to make ordinances (to be approved by the secretary of state), and to establish and maintain a force of police. A strict supervision was provided for, to be exercised by the secretary of state over the relations between the company and the natives. The British government reserved to itself entire power to repeal the charter at any time that it did not consider the company was fulfilling its obligations or endeavouring duly to carry out the objects for which the charter was granted. The sphere of operations of the company was not stated with any greater precision than had been indicated in the application for the charter; but by agreements concluded with Germany in 1900, with Portugal in 1891 and with the Congo State in 1894, the international boundaries were at length defined (see Africa, § 5). The agreements, while they took the British sphere north to Lake Tanganyika, disappointed Rhodes in that they prevented the realization of the scheme he had formed by the time the charter was granted, namely, for securing a continuous strip of British territory from the Cape to Egypt—a scheme which was but an enlargement of his original conception as formulated in 1878.
Much, however, had happened before the boundaries of the British sphere were fixed. While the railway from Cape Town was being continued northward as rapidly as possible, the determination was taken to occupy immediately part of the sphere assigned to the company, and Mashonaland was selected as not being in actual occupation by the Matabele but the home of more peaceful tribes. A pioneer force was sent up in June 1890 under Colonel Pennefather, consisting of five hundred mounted police and a few hundred pioneers. Accompanying this force as guide was the well-known traveller, F. C. Selous. The work of transport was attended with considerable difficulty, and roads had to be cut as the expedition advanced. Nevertheless, in a few months the expedition, without firing a shot, had reached the site of what is now the town of Salisbury, and had also established on the line of march small forts at Tuli, Victoria and Charter. Archibald Ross Colquhoun was chosen as the first administrator. He had not long been in office when, in May 1891, difficulties arose with the Portuguese on their north-west frontier, both parties claiming a tract of territory in which a Portuguese trading station had been established. Mashonaland occupied—A Boer trek prevented.The result was a skirmish, in which a small company of British South Africa police were victorious. In 1891 Dr Jameson, who had joined the pioneer force, was appointed administrator in succession to Colquhoun. The Boers for several years had been planning a settlement north of the Limpopo, and they now determined, in spite of the Moffat treaty and the British occupation, to carry out their object. An expedition known as the Banyailand Trek was organized under the leadership of Colonel Ferreira, and two large parties of Boers proceeded to the banks of the Limpopo. Information of the intended trek had been conveyed to Cape Town, and Sir Henry (afterwards Lord) Loch (the high commissioner) at once sent a strong protest to President Kruger, informing him that any attempt to invade the Chartered Company’s territories would be an act of hostility against the British Crown; and Kruger issued a proclamation forbidding the trekkers to proceed. Meanwhile, however, a party had already reached the Limpopo, where they were met by Jameson in command of the British South Africa Company’s forces. He told them that they would not be allowed to proceed except as private individuals, who might obtain farms on application to the Chartered Company. Colonel Ferreira was arrested and detained for a few days, and the expedition then broke up and dispersed.
The pioneers, who were granted farms and mining claims, having been settled in Mashonaland, Rhodes recognized the extreme importance of giving the country a port nearer than that provided by Cape Town. On his initiative proposals were made to Portugal, and the treaty concluded in 1891 between Great Britain and Portugal provided that a railway might be built from Beira in Portuguese territory to Salisbury, on condition that Portugal received a duty not exceeding 3% on the value of the goods imported. The treaty further stipulated for the free navigation of the Zambezi and the construction of telegraphs. Prospecting operations were at once started, and various gold mines were discovered containing traces of old workings. Fresh gold reefs were also opened up. The prospects of the country seemed promising, and although a good deal of fever occurred in the low-lying valleys under the conditions of camp life, the health of the community soon improved as more suitable habitations were erected. In two years a white population of 3000 people had settled in the newly opened country.
Though the company was now free from international rivalry it was soon faced by serious native trouble. The first pioneers had deliberately chosen Mashonaland as their place of settlement. Ever since the advent of Mosilikatze north of the Limpopo the unfortunate Mashonas had been the prey of the Matabele; they therefore, readily accepted the British occupation. The Matabele, however, were loth to abandon their predatory excursions among the Mashonas, and in July 1893 a large impi (native force) was sent into Mashonaland, and entered not only native kraals, but also the streets of the new township of Victoria. An attempt was made to preserve the peace, but it was evident from the attitude taken by the Matabele that nothing short of the authority which only superior force could command would settle the question. The Matabele were