made effective their contention that the trekkers were still British subjects. As has been demonstrated the action taken was one of vacillation between these two courses. and was complicated by a native policy which, though Well intentioned and intelligible, needlessly irritated the white colonists (British and Dutch) and did not prevent bloodshed. In the words of Mr Paul Botha, a Boer writer, England first blew hot and then blew cold. But in 1854 a definite standpoint appeared to have been reached—Great Britain would confine her energies to the Cape and Natal, leaving the republics to work out their own destinies undisturbed. It was at this juncture that Sir George Sir George Grey.Grey was sent to the Cape as governor. A gifted and far-seeing man, he had no sooner arrived than he addressed himself with energy and diligence to the great problems awaiting him. His first care was to ameliorate the condition of Cape Colony. He resolved that in dealing with the natives on the eastern frontier an attempt should be made to civilize them and thus do away with the necessity of periodical warfare. Grey's efforts to promote good government in Kaffraria received unexpected help in consequence of the extraordinary delusion among the Ama-Xosa in 1856, which resulted in the death of many thousands of natives (see Cape Colony: History). Land left derelict was occupied by colonial farmers, and over 2000 German immigrants were introduced by Sir George and settled along the frontier (1858–1859). By this time the colonists of British descent predominated in the eastern provinces-a circumstance which had important bearings on the future of the colony.
Sir George Grey found it impossible to maintain a policy of total abstention from the affairs of the republics. The party in the Free State which had objected to independence being forced upon it was still strong and made overtures for union with the Cape; attempts were also made to unite the Free State and the Transvaal. In the conflicts between the Free Staters and the Basutos Grey's intervention was sought. All the evidence before Sir George, and the study he made of the Boer character, convinced him that the barriers separating the various white communities were largely artificial. He sought to remedy the mistake which had been made, and in 1858 he submitted a scheme of federation between the various South African states. In a memorable despatch to Sir E. Bulwer Lytton, then colonial secretary in the second Derby administration, he wrote (November 19, 1858):—
states, bound together by no ties of union, it was thought that the mother country derived no real benefit from the possession of this part of the African continent, except in holding the seaport of Simon's Bay. … It was further thought that the occupation by Great Britain of the country beyond the Orange River had been a bubble and a farce, in which the Cape colonists were all interested; for that it was to them a great gaming table and out of the reach of the police … Although these European countries lying beyond our colonies are treated as separate nations, their inhabitants bear the same family names as the inhabitants of this colony, and maintain with them ties of the closest intimacy and relationship. … I think there can be no doubt that in any great public, or popular, or national question and movement the mere fact of calling these people different nations would not make them so, nor would the fact of a mere fordable stream running between them sever their sympathies or prevent them from acting in unison. … Experience has shown that the views which led to the dismemberment of South Africa were mistaken ones … What therefore I would recommend would be that … measures should be taken which would permit of the several states and legislatures of this country forming amongthemselves a federal union.
When he penned this despatch Grey was well aware of the distraught condition of the Free State and the agitation for a change in its government. He held that the federation of that state with Cape Colony was preferable to its union or federation with the Transvaal, and it was with considerable satisfaction that he learned that on the 7th of December of the same year (1858) the Volksraad of the Free State had passed a resolution in favour of “a union or alliance with the Cape Colony” and sought to ascertain the views of the Cape legislature on the subject. In bringing the matter before the Cape parliament in March 1859 Grey stated that in his opinion it would confer a lasting benefit upon Great Britain and upon the inhabitants of South Africa if it could succeed in devising a form of federal union. First Confederation Proposal.Unfortunately, Grey's views did not meet with the approval of the British government. Had they been supported it is highly probable that federation would have been effected. But the golden opportunity was lost. When Grey attempted to persevere with his scheme he was recalled. He left Cape Town in August 1859, but on his arrival in England he found that there had been a change of ministry. The new colonial secretary, the duke of Newcastle, reinstated him, but with instructions not again to raise the federation issue. The first project for reunion thus came to naught, but from that time forward it was recognized in South Africa that federation would afford the best solution of most of the difficulties that beset the country. The Transvaal was perhaps the greatest sufferer through Grey's failure, that country continuing for years in a distracted condition. The Free State, under the guidance of Sir John Brand, who became president in 1864, attained a considerable measure of prosperity. Its difficulties with the Basutos were at last composed, and Moshesh and his people were in 1868 definitely taken under British protection. The policy of non-interference proclaimed in 1854 had proved impracticable, and the annexation of Basutoland was an open confession of the fact. In 1871 the country was annexed to Cape Colony, but its pacification proved a task of great difficulty.
Up to the year 1870 the Dutch considerably outnumbered the British inhabitants; indeed, save in Natal, in the eastern province Economic Development.and in Cape Town, the British inhabitants were comparatively few. The industries were almost entirely pastoral, and remained chiefly in the hands of the Dutch. The continual feuds with the Kaffirs, and also the continual desire to trek into new countries, all tended to keep back farming, and the country in the years 1867 to 1870 was in a generally very depressed condition. But in 1870 the era of commercial expansion began. In that year, following smaller finds of diamonds on the banks of the Vaal and Orange rivers, the diamond mines of Du Toits Pan and Bultfontein were opened up. In 1869 gold had been found in the Lydenburg and Zoutpansberg districts in the Transvaal, and diggers had resorted there from different parts of the world; moreover, in the far interior, in the territories of Mashonaland, Thomas Baines had reported discoveries of gold. Among the purely pastoral population ostrich farming became a new industry and added a considerable asset to the wealth of Cape Colony. The revenue derived from the exportof ostrich feathers in 1899 was recorded at half a million. It was, however, the discoveries of diamonds and gold that chiefly determined the development of the country. Alarge population grew up, first at Kimberley, afterwards at Barberton, and finally at Johannesburg—a population modern in its ideas, energetic, educated, cosmopolitan, appreciating all the resources that modern civilization had to offer them, and with a strong partiality for the life of the town or the camp rather than that of the farm and the veld. The majority of the Boers remained very much what they had been in the 17th century. Their life of continual strife with natives, continual trekking to fresh pastures, had not been conducive to education or the enlargement of intellectual outlook. In religion they were Caivinistic, fanatic, and their old traditions of Dutch East India government, together with their relation to the natives, developed a spirit of caste and even tyranny.
It was at this stage of affairs that responsible government was granted to Cape Colony (1872). From that time down to The Carnarvon Confederation Scheme.the annexation of the Transvaal in 1877, to quote once more the homely phrase of Paul Botha, Great Britain “blew hot” in South Africa. A great change in public sentiment towards the colonies generally began to make itself felt in Great Britain in the late sixties and early seventies of the 19th century. The constitution of the Dominion of Canada (1867–1873) was an evidence of that feeling.
- Sir E. Bulwer Lytton wrote (Feb. 11, 1859): “H.M. Government are not prepared to depart from the settled policy of their predecessors by advising the resumption of British sovereignty in any shape over the Orange Free State.”