Reform Committee's invitation to Jameson

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Reform Committee's invitation to Jameson  (1895) 
Johannesburg Reform Committee
This document was prepared by the Johannesburg Reform Committee on 20 November 1895, at the instruction of Dr. Leander Starr Jameson. In the build-up to the Jameson Raid, it was thought advisable to obtain a formal request of help from the Johannesburg uitlander population, so that Jameson's planned armed incursion should appear to have a formal justification, rather than appearing to be, as it in fact was, an attempt to pre-empt an uprising un order to overthrow the government of the Transvaal. The letter, as written, was left undated, but, in order to preserve the fiction that he was reacting in response to a plea for help, Jameson dated the document '29 December 1895'. The next day, 30 December, Jameson and his men, armed with the letter, entered the Transvaal.

[Undated]

The position of matters in this State has become so critical that we are assured that at no distant period there will be conflict between the Government and the uitlander population. It is scarcely necessary for us to recapitulate what is now a matter of history. Suffice it to say, that the position of thousands of Englishmen and others is rapidly becoming intolerable. Not satisfied with making the uitlander population pay, virtually the whole revenue of the country, while denying them representation, the policy of the Government has been steadily to encroach upon the liberty of the subject, and to undermine the security for property to such an extent, as to cause a very deep-seated sense of discontent and anger.

A foreign corporation of Hollanders is to a considerable extent controlling our destinies, and, in conjunction with the boer leaders, endeavouring to cast them in a mould which is wholly foreign to the genius of the people. Every public act betrays the most positive hostility, not only to everything English, but to the neighbouring States as well. In short, the internal policy of the Government is such, as to have roused into antagonism to it not only, practically, the whole body of uitlanders, but a large number of the boers, while its external policy has exasperated the neighbouring States causing the possibility of great danger to the peace and independence of this Republic.

Public feeling is in a condition of smouldering discontent. All the petitions of the people have been refused with a greater or less degree of contempt, and, in the debate on the franchise petition, signed by nearly 40,000 people, one member challenged the uitlanders to fight for the rights they asked for and not a single member spoke against him.

Not to go into detail, we may say that the Government has called into existence all the elements necessary for armed conflict. The one desire of the people here is for fair play, the maintenance of their independence, and the preservation of those public liberties without which life is not worth having. The Government denies these things and violates the national sense of the Englishmen at every turn.

What we have to consider is, what will be the condition of things here in the event of conflict?

Thousands of unarmed men, women, and children of our race will be at the mercy of well armed boers; while property of enormous value will be in the greatest peril. We cannot contemplate the future without the gravest apprehension, and feel that we are justified in taking any steps to prevent the shedding of blood, and to ensure the protection of our rights.

It is under these circumstances that we feel constrained to call upon you to come to our aid should disturbance arise here.

The circumstances are so extreme, that we cannot avoid this step, and we cannot believe that you, and the men under you, will not fail to come the the rescue of people who would be so situated. We guarantee any expense that may reasonably be incurred by you in helping us, and ask you to believe that nothing but the sternest necessity has prompted this appeal.

[Signed] Charles Leonard,

[Signed] Lionel Phillips,

[Signed] Francis Rhodes,

[Signed] John Hays Hammond,

[Signed] George Farrar.

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1923. It may be copyrighted outside the U.S. (see Help:Public domain).