the breaking up of a public meeting at Johannesburg, and in March the Uitlanders handed to the high commissioner a petition for intervention with 21,684 signatures attached to it (see Transvaal: History).
On the 4th of May 1899 Sir Alfred Milner felt it his duty to The Case for British Intervention.report at some length by cable to Mr Chamberlain. The concluding passages of this message, which summed up the whole South African situation in a masterly manner, were as follows:—
answer is that things will right themselves if left alone. But, in fact, the policy of leaving things alone has been tried for years, and it has led to their going from bad to worse. It is not true that this is owing to the Raid. They were going from bad to worse before the Raid. We were on the verge of war before the Raid, and the Transvaal was on the verge of revolution. The effect of the Raid has been to give the policy of leaving things alone a new lease of life,and with the old consequences.
in the position of helots, constantly chafing under undoubted grievances, and calling vainly to Her Majesty's government for redress, does steadily undermine the influence and reputation of Great Britain, and the respect for British government within the queen's dominions. A certain section of the press, not in the Transvaal only, preaches openly and constantly the doctrine of a republic embracing all South Africa, and supports it by menacing references to the armaments of the Transvaal, its alliance with the Orange Free State, and the active sympathy which, in case of war, it would receive from a section of Her Majesty's subjects. I regret to say that this doctrine, supported as it is by a ceaseless stream of malignant lies about the intentions of the British government, is producing a great effect upon a large number of our Dutch fellow-colonists. Language is frequently used which seems to imply that the Dutch have some superior right even in this colony to their fellow-citizens of British birth. Thousands of men peaceably disposed and, if left alone, perfectly satisfied with their position as British subjects, are being drawn into disaffection, and there is a correspondingexasperation on the side of the British.
propaganda but some striking proof of the intention of Her Majesty's government not to be ousted from its position in South Africa. And the best proofs alike of its power and its justice would be to obtain for the Uitlanders in the Transvaal a fair share in the government of the country which owes everything to their exertions. It could be made perfectly clear that our action was not directed against the existence of the republic. We should only be demanding the re-establishment of rights which now exist in the Orange Free State, and which existed in the Transvaal itself at the time of, and long after, the withdrawal of British sovereignty. It would be no selfish demand, as other Uitlanders besides those of British birth would benefit by it. It is asking for nothing from others which we do not give ourselves. And it would certainly go to the root of the political unrest in South Africa; and though temporarily it might aggravate, it would ultimately extinguish the race feud,which is the great bane of the country.
In view of the critical situation Milner and Kruger met in conference at Bloemfontein on the 31st of May. Milner practically confined his demands to a five years' franchise, which he hoped would enable the Uitlanders to work out their own salvation. On his side Kruger put forward inadmissible demands (see Transvaal), and the conference broke up on the 5th of June without any result. A new franchise law, on a seven years' naturalization basis, was passed in July by the Transvaal volksraad, but the law was hedged about with many restrictions. Messrs Hofmeyr and Herholdt, the one the leader of the Bond and the other the Cape minister of agriculture, visited Pretoria to reason with Kruger. They found him deaf to all arguments. The fact is that the Boers had made up their minds to a trial of strength with Great Britain for supremacy in South Africa. At the time which from a military standpoint they thought most opportune (October 9) an ultimatum was handed to the British agent at Pretoria, and a war was at once precipitated, which was not to close for over two and a half years.
D. From the Annexation of the Dutch Republics to lhe Union.—An account of the Anglo-Boer War of 1899–1902 will be found under Transvaal. After the surrender of Cronje at Paardeberg (February 1900) to Lord Roberts, Presidents Kruger and Steyn offered to make peace, but on terms which should include the acknowledgment of “the incontestable independence of both republics as sovereign international states”; the Boers also sought, unavailingly, the intervention of foreign powers. Last Efforts to Preserve the Boer Republics.The British government had decided that the continued existence of either republic was inadmissible; on the 28th of May 1900 the annexation of the Free State was formally proclaimed, and on the 1st of September the Transvaal was also annexed to the British Empire. A few days later ex-President Kruger sailed from Lourenço Marques for Europe. The refusal of the German Emperor to receive him extinguished alike his political influence and all hopes that the Boers might still have entertained of help from foreign governments. At that time all the chief towns in both of the late republics were held by the British, and the Boers still in the field were reduced to guerilla warfare. Most of the men on their side who had come to the front in the war, such as General Louis Botha in the Transvaal, had been opponents of the Kruger régime; they now decided to continue the struggle, largely because they trusted that the Cape Dutch, and their sympathizers in Great Britain, would be able to obtain for them a re-grant of independence. The Cape Dutch all through 1901 and the first part of 1902 conducted a strong agitation in favour of the former republics, the border line between constitutional action and treason being in many cases scarcely distinguishable. The Cape Afrikanders also formed what was styled a “conciliation committee” to help the party in Great Britain which still supported the Boer side. Messrs Merriman and Sauer went to England as delegates to plead the cause, but it was noted that Hofmeyr refused to join, and the appeal to the British public was a complete failure. The War had indeed stirred every part of the empire in support of the policy of the government, and from Australia, Canada, New Zealand and India, contingents were sent to the front. No terms could be granted which did not include the explicit recognition of British sovereignty. At last the Boer commandos gave up the struggle and on the 31st of May 1902 their leaders signed articles of peace at Pretoria. Henceforth, save for the German and Portuguese possessions, on the west and east coasts respectively, there was but one flag and one allegiance throughout South Africa. With the elimination of the republics one great obstacle to federation was removed; while the establishment of self-government in the new colonies, promised (after a probationary period of “representative institutions”) in No. VII. of the peace articles, would give them an opportunity to enter into federal union on equal terms.
The task of founding new and better administrative machinery in the new colonies was left to Lord Milner, and was begun even The Work of Reconstruction.before the war had ended. The two new colonies were for the time governed on crown colony lines. But the co-operation of the people was at once sought by nominating non-official members to the legislative councils; and seats on the Transvaal council were offered to Louis Botha, C. J. Smuts and J. H. Delarey. The Boer leaders declined the offer—they preferred the position of untrammelled critics, and the opportunity to work to regain power on constitutional lines when the grant of self-government should be made. Milner had thus an additional difficulty in his reconstruction work. The first necessity was to restart the gold mining industry on the Rand. The Uitlanders, who had fled from Johannesburg just before the war opened, began to return in May 1901, and by the time the war ended most of the refugees were back on the Rand and mining was resumed. A tax of 10% on their annual net produce, imposed in 1902, was the main available source of revenue. The repatriation of some 200,000 Boers followed, and the departments of justice, education and agriculture were remodelled. In all that he did Milner had endeavoured to promote closer union. Thus the railway and constabulary of both the ex-republics were under a single management. In this
- To aid him Milner had the services of some of the best men in the British service, e.g. Sir Godfrey Lagden, Sir Arthur Lawley, Sir J. Rose-Innes, Sir Richard Solomon. He also secured the help of a considerable number of young Oxford men who became known as “the Milner Kindergarten.”