Page:EB1911 - Volume 25.djvu/495

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South Africa

advantageously be sought, not, as the Kruger party and extremists of the Bond believed, by working for an independent South Africa, but by working for the development of South Africa as a whole on democratic, self-reliant, self-governing lines, under the shelter of the British flag. Hofmeyr was among those whom Kruger's attitude drove into a loose alliance with Rhodes. In 1884, having the power in his hands when the Scanlen ministry fell, Hofmeyr had put into office a ministry dependent upon the Bond, and had talked of a possible Dutch rebellion in Cape Colony if the Boer freebooters in Bechuanaland were ejected; in 1890 Rhodes became premier with Hofmeyr's approval and support. Rhodes remained in office as prime minister until January 1896. During these six years the part he played in the development and public life of South Africa was greater than that of any other man. He used his period of power to put into execution his plans for the extension of British dominion over the country up to the Zambezi.

In 1888 Rhodes had succeeded in inducing Sir Hercules Robinson, the high commissioner, to allow J. S. Moffat, the British South Africa Company.British resident at Bulawayo, to enter into a treaty with Lobengula, the Matabele chief. Under this treaty Lobengula bound himself not to make a treaty with any other foreign power, nor to sell or in any other way dispose of any portion of his country without the sanction of the high commissioner. This step prevented the country from falling into the hands of Germany, Portugal or the Boers. The treaty was followed by the formation of the British South Africa Company, which obtained a royal charter in 1889, and by the occupation of Mashonaland in 1890. Difficulties with the Portuguese followed, but the Salisbury administration firmly upheld British claims, with the result that the British sphere of influence was extended not only to the Zambezi but beyond to the shores of Lake Tanganyika (see Africa: §5). In 1893 a war was fought with the Matabele by Dr L. S. Jameson, then administrator of Mashonaland, and Bulawayo was occupied. The name Rhodesia was conferred upon the country in 1894 (see Rhodesia). Living in Cape Town and at the head of the government, Rhodes used every effort to demonstrate to the Cape Colonists that the work he was doing in the north must eventually be to the advantage of Cape Colonists and their descendants. On the whole, Hofmeyr and his friends were well pleased at having secured the co-operation of the “big Englander” Rhodes, or, as he was at one time called by Mr J. X. Merriman,[1] an old parliamentary hand and treasurer-general during part of Rhodes's premiership, the “young burgher.”

In 1891 the Bond Congress was held at Kimberley, and harmony appeared to reign supreme. During his term of Rhodes and the Mr Rhodes addressed himself to bringing together all interests, as far as it was practicable to do so. He showed that his views of the situation were broad and statesmanlike. His handling of the native question in Cape Colony gave general satisfaction. Rhodes was also a firm believer in the federation of the South African states and colonies, and he sought to promote this end by the development of inter-state and inter-colonial railway systems, and the establishment of common customs, tariffs, and inter-colonial free trade under a customs union.[2] The persistent opponent to both these measures was the Transvaal. In matters of domestic legislation, such as taxation and excise, Rhodes fell in to a considerable extent with Dutch prejudices.

While in the rest of South Africa there was a growing feeling of trust between the Dutch and British, accompanied by increasing First Transvaal Reform and the development of agriculture, the condition of the Transvaal was becoming serious. At first the new-comers to the Rand had submitted to the economic and political burdens to which they were subjected, but as they grew in numbers and found their burdens increased they began to agitate for reforms. In 1892 (the year in which the railway from Cape Town reached the Rand), the National Union was founded at Johannesburg by ex-Cape Colonists of the Imperial progressive party. For three years petitions and deputations, public meetings and newspaper articles, the efforts of the enlightened South African party at Johannesburg and Pretoria, were all addressed to the endeavour to induce President Kruger and his government to give some measure of recognition to the steadily increasing Uitlander population. Urgent representations were also made by the British government. President Kruger remained as impenetrable as adamant. Nine-tenths of the state revenue was contributed by the Uitlanders, yet they had not even any municipal power. By a law of 1882 aliens could be naturalized and enfranchised after a residence in the country of five years, but between 1890 and 1894 the franchise laws were so altered as to render it practically impossible for any foreigner to become a burgher. By the law of 1894 the immigrant must have been at least 14 years in the country and be 40 years old before in the most favourable circumstances he could be admitted to the franchise. The Uitlanders once more petitioned, over 34,000 persons signing a memorial to the Raad for the extension of the franchise. The appeal was refused (August 1895). Up to this period a section of the Uitlanders had believed that Kruger and his following would listen to reason; now all realized that such an expectation was vain. Rhodes, who had large interests in the Rand mines, had consistently endeavoured to conciliate the extreme Boer section in the Transvaal and win it over (as had happened in the case of the Cape Dutch) to a policy which should benefit the whole of South Africa. He was even willing to see the Transvaal obtain a seaport (at Kosi Bay, in Amatongaland) if in return it would join the customs union. This opportunity Kruger let slip; and in May 1895, on the representation of Sir H. Loch, the Rosebery administration annexed Amatongaland, thus making the British and Portuguese frontier conterminous. This action, finally blocking the Boer road to the sea, taken by a Liberal government, 'was clear indication that Great Britain was determined to maintain her supremacy in South Africa.

The situation in August 1895 was thus one of extreme tension. There had been a change of ministry in Great Britain and Joseph Chamberlain had become colonial secretary. Sir Hercules Robinson, who was regarded sympathetically by the Dutch population of South Africa, had succeeded Loch as high commissioner. Both high commissioner and the imperial government were hopeful that Kruger might even yet be induced to modify his policy; the Uitlanders now entertained no such hope and they prepared to appeal to arms to obtain redress of their grievances. The first proposals for an armed rising came from Rhodes in June, but it was not until November that the Uitlander leaders came to a definite understanding with the Cape premier as to the course to be pursued. To lay before South Africa the true position of affairs in the Transvaal Charles Leonard issued a manifesto as chairman of the National Union. It concluded with a list of demands (see Transvaal), their gist being “the establishment of this republic as a true republic” with equitable franchise laws, an independent judicature and free trade in South African products.

This manifesto, issued on the 26th of December, called a public meeting for the night of Monday the 6th of January 1896, “not with the intention of holding the meeting, but as a blind to cover the simultaneous rising in Johannesburg and seizing of the arsenal in Pretoria on the night of Saturday the 4th of January” (Fitzpatrick, The Transvaal from Within, ch. iii.). Had the Transvaal government given way, even at the last hour, the reformers would have been satisfied. Of this, however, there was no expectation. The arrangement with Rhodes The Jameson Raid.included the use of an armed force belonging to the Chartered Company, and led by Dr Jameson. Accordingly some troops were brought from Rhodesia and stationed near Mafeking, a few miles from the Transvaal frontier. For some weeks the plot appeared to progress

  1. Mr Merriman (b. 1841) was a son of N. J. Merriman (1810–1882), bishop of Graham's Town. He was a member of various Cape ministries from 1875 onwards.
  2. For Rhodes's scheme of commercial federation see further Cape Colony: History.