A CENTURY OF WRONG
National sentiment in South Africa kindled by the Jameson Raid.
The foregoing sketch has shown how deeply our people felt and resented the wrong that was done to them. It was to be expected that such a treacherous attack on the Republics, emanating from their own leader, would awaken the Africanders even in the remotest districts, and would bring fresh energy into the arena of politics. To give an instance of the measure of the feeling which had been quickened by the raid, a short extract is given below from an article published in the organ of the Africander party, Our Land, a few months after the Raid, an article which undoubtedly expressed the feeling of Africanders:—
"Has not Providence over-ruled and guided the painful course of events in South Africa since the beginning of this year (1896)? Who can doubt it?
"The stab which was intended to paralyse Africanderdom once and for all in the Republics has sent an electric thrill direct to the national heart. Africanderdom has awakened to a sense of earnestness and consciousness which we have not observed since the heroic war for Liberty in 1881. From the Limpopo as far as Cape Town the Second Majuba has given birth to a new inspiration and a new movement amongst our people in South Africa. A new feeling has rushed in huge billows over South Africa. The flaccid and cowardly Imperialism, that had already begun to dilute and weaken our national blood, gradually turned aside before the new current which permeated our people. Many who, tired of the slow development of the national idea, had resigned themselves to Imperialism now paused and asked themselves what Imperialism had produced in South Africa? Bitterness and race hatred it is true! Since the days of Sir Harry Smith and Theophilus Shepstone and Bartle Frere to the days of Leander Jameson and Cecil Rhodes, Imperialism in South Africa has gone hand in hand with bloodshed and fraud. However wholesome the effects of Imperialism may be elsewhere, its continual tendency in this country during all these years has been nothing else but an attempt to force our national life and national character into foreign grooves; and to seal this pressure with blood and tears.... This is truly a critical moment in the existence of Africanderdom all over South Africa. Now or never! Now or never the foundation of a wide-embracing nationalism must be laid. The Iron is red hot, and the time for forging is at hand...
... The partition wall has disappeared. Let us stand manfully by one another. The danger has not yet disappeared; on the contrary, never has the necessity for a policy of a Colonial and Republican Union been greater; now the psychological moment has arrived; now our people have awakened all over South Africa; a new glow illuminates our hearts; let us now lay the foundation stone of a real United South Africa on the soil of a pure and all-comprehensive national sentiment."
Such language caused the Jingoes to shudder—not because it was disloyal, because that it certainly was not, but because it proved that the Jameson Raid had suddenly awakened the Africanders, and that owing to this defeat of the Jingoes a vista of further and greater defeats widened out in the future. The Colonial Africanders would certainly have to be reckoned with, in case an annexation policy were followed with regard to the Republics.
Victory of the Africander Party in the Cape Parliament
For some time the Jingoes cherished the hope that they would gain the majority in the Cape Parliament under an amended Redistribution Act. The General Election of 1898 took place, with the result that the Africander party obtained a small majority, and later, under a Redistribution Act forced upon them by the Jingoes, the majority of the former was considerably increased.
The cry of disloyalty
Instead of honestly admitting that the Africander victory was the natural result of the Jameson Raid, the Jingoes began, not only in South Africa, but also in England, to shout that the rule and supremacy of England in South Africa was menaced.
The Transvaal must be humiliated.
They contended that South Africa would be lost to England unless energetic intervention took place without delay, and that this menace to English rule was due to the Republican propaganda which the South African Republic had set in motion. That as long as the South African Republic refused to humiliate itself before British authority, but on the contrary kept its youthful head on high with national pride, other parts of South Africa would be inclined to follow its example, and there would thus be no certainty for British supremacy in this quarter of the globe. The South African Republic would have to be humiliated and to be crushed into the dust; the Africanders in other parts of South Africa would then abandon their alleged hope of a more extensive Republican South Africa.
The necessity for constitutional means
But how was this humiliation to be brought about, and how, above all, was it to be brought about by those "Constitutional means," which, since the failure of the conspiracy, had become a sine qua non?
The new Governor of the Cape Colony and High Commissioner of South Africa, who had enjoyed the distinction of a brilliant university career, who had learnt humility and moderation at the feet of Mr. W.T. Stead, and who had learnt by his experience with the fellaheen in Egypt how to govern the descendants of the Huguenots and the "Beggars of the Sea," would know very well how to evolve "Constitutional means" in order to humiliate the South African Republic, and to crush it into the dust.
There was at any rate the burning question of suzerainty, which the South African Republic had unconsciously and innocently raised in the following way:—
After the Jameson Raid
had passed certain laws with a view of removing some of the causes of that movement, as, for example, the law by which dangerous individuals could be expelled from the State, and the law by which paupers and people suffering from contagious diseases could be prevented from entering the Republic.(33)
These laws were declared to be in conflict with Article XIV. of the London Convention
. Violations of Article IV. were also said to have taken place in regard to certain extradition and other treaties, which had been concluded between the South African Republic and Foreign Powers.(34)
On the 7th May, 1897, the Government of the South African Republic dispatched a very important reply to these accusations, in which, after fully stating the reasons why the Government differed from Her Majesty's Government, an appeal was made for arbitration as being the most suitable method of settling the dispute.
This appeal was couched in the following language:
The appeal for Arbitration.
(35) "While it respects the opinion of Her British Majesty's Government, it takes the liberty, with full confidence in the correctness of its own views, to propose to Her British Majesty's Government the principle of Arbitration, with which the honourable the First Volksraad agreed, in the hope that it will be taken in the conciliatory spirit in which it is made. It considers that it has every reason for this proposal, the more so because the principle of Arbitration is already laid down in that Convention in the only case in which, according to its opinion at the time, a difference could be foreseen, to wit, with regard to Article I.; because it has already been proposed by Her British Majesty's Government, and accepted by this Government with regard to the difference in respect of Article 14 of the Convention arising in the matter of the so-called Coolie question, which was settled by Arbitration; because the Right Honourable the Secretary of State, Mr. Chamberlain, himself, in his letter of the 4th September, 1895, to His Excellency the High Commissioner at Cape Town, favours this principle in the same question, where he says: 'After 1886, as time went on, the manner in which the law was interpreted and was worked, or was proposed to be worked, gave rise to complaints on the part of the British Government, and as it seemed impossible to come to an agreement by means of correspondence, the Marquis of Ripon took what is the approved course in such cases, of proposing to the South African Republic that the dispute should be referred to Arbitration. This was agreed to ...,' because the principle of Arbitration in matters such as this appears to the Government to be the most impartial, just, and most satisfactory way out of the existing difficulty, and, lastly, because one of the parties to a Convention, according to all principles of reasonableness, cannot expect that his interpretation will be respected by the other party as the only valid and correct one. And although this Government is firmly convinced that a just and impartial decision might be obtained even better in South Africa than anywhere else, it wishes, in view of the conflicting elements, interests, and aspirations which are now apparent in South Africa, and in order to avoid even the appearance that it would be able or desire to exercise influence in order to obtain a decision favourable to it, to propose that the President of the Swiss Bondstate, who may be reckoned upon as standing altogether outside the question, and to feel sympathy or antipathy neither for the one party nor for the other, be requested to point out a competent jurist, as has already often been done in respect of international disputes. The Government would have no objection that the Arbitration be subject to a limitation of time, and gives the assurance now already that it will willingly subject itself to any decision if such should, contrary to its expectation, be given against it. The Government repeats the well-meant wish that this proposal may find favour with Her British Majesty's Government; and inasmuch as the allegations of breaches of the Convention find entrance now even in South Africa, and bring and keep the feelings more and more in a state of suspense, this Government will be pleased if it can learn the decision of Her British Majesty's Government as soon as possible."
England refuses to arbitrate on ground of suzerainty.
To this the British Government replied that according to the Convention of 1884, taken in conjunction with the preamble of the Convention of 1881, the South African Republic was under the suzerainty of Her Majesty, and that it was incompatible with the subordinate position of the South African Republic to submit to Arbitration any matters in dispute as to the construction of the Convention between it and the suzerain Power.
In order to avoid any misunderstanding as to this very remarkable document, the exact wording of the British dispatch is given:—(36)
"Finally, the Government of the South African Republic propose that all points in dispute between Her Majesty's Government and themselves relating to the Convention should be referred to Arbitration, the Arbitrator to be nominated by the President of the Swiss Republic. In making this proposal the Government of the South African Republic appear to have overlooked the distinction between the Conventions of 1881 and 1884 and an ordinary treaty between two independent Powers, questions arising upon which may properly be the subject of Arbitration. By the Pretoria Convention of 1881 Her Majesty, as Sovereign of the Transvaal Territory, accorded to the inhabitants of that territory complete self-government, subject to the suzerainty of Her Majesty, her heirs, and successors, upon certain terms and conditions, and subject to certain reservations and limitations set forth in 33 articles; and by the London Convention of 1884, Her Majesty, while maintaining the preamble of the earlier instrument, directed and declared that certain other articles embodied therein should be substituted for the articles embodied in the Convention of 1881. The articles of the Convention of 1881 were accepted by the Volksraad of the Transvaal State, and those of the Convention of 1884 by the Volksraad of the South African Republic. Under these Conventions, therefore, Her Majesty holds towards the South African Republic the relation of a suzerain who has accorded to the people of that Republic self-government upon certain conditions, and it would be incompatible with that position to submit to Arbitration the construction of the conditions on which she accorded self-government to the Republic."
Reply of the Transvaal Government.
(37) In its celebrated reply of the 16th April, 1898, the Government of the South African Republic proved with unanswerable force that the preamble of the Convention of 1881 had been abolished, that Lord Derby had himself in 1884 proposed a draft Convention, in which the preamble was erased (see Appendix B.), and that by the ultimate acceptance of that proposal, the suzerainty had ceased to exist.
On this account, as well as for other reasons, it contended that as no suzerainty existed between the two countries, the objection to Arbitration as a means of settling disputes would disappear, and the Government reiterated their appeal to have such differences or disputes disposed of by Arbitration.
The object of the suzerainty dispute.
Naturally this was exactly what Mr. Chamberlain did not want. He was opposed to Arbitration dispute, because it would have probably led to the humiliation of the British and not of the Boer Government. The suzerainty question was introduced in the meanwhile as a "Constitutional Proposal," which might be used for the purpose of humiliating the South African Republic.
In his answer to the arguments put forward by the South African Republic,(38) Mr. Chamberlain could only persist in repeating his contention that suzerainty still existed, and did not even attempt to refute the statement that Lord Derby had himself erased the preamble of the Convention of 1881. It was clearly his opinion that Lord Derby had, through stupidity and thoughtlessness, abandoned the suzerainty in 1884, just as Lord Russell had abandoned the idea of obtaining the South African Republic in 1852, so that he would now, just as Shepstone in 1877, have to try and disconcert the Republic by a display of force and inflexible determination, so as not to be deprived of these eminently "Constitutional means."
The Transvaal a sovereign international state.
His arguments in this dispatch, that both the suzerainty of Her Majesty and the right of the South African Republic to self-government were dependent upon the preamble of the Pretoria Convention, and that if the preamble were null and void, not only would the suzerainty but also the right to self-government disappear, were clearly designed to intimidate the South African Republic; but in other respects the argument was perfectly correct. Accordingly the Government of the South African Republic replied that it did not base its claim to self-government on the preamble of the Convention of 1881, nor on the Convention of 1884 (for no mention is made of self-government in that document), but simply on the ground of its being a sovereign international state.
In other words, it contended that the Convention of London implied that the South African Republic was a sovereign international state, and that it was therefore superfluous in that Convention to specify or define its rights. Into this answer, which is not only juridically and historically correct, but which rests on the basis of common sense, the astute High Commissioner was able to read a menace to Her Majesty's Government, although the Government of the Republic distinctly stated in that reply that it adhered to the Convention of London, an assurance which it had already made hundreds of times.
Justice of the Transvaal contention.
This is the whole history of the suzerainty dispute between the two Governments. The South African Republic had asked for arbitration on certain questions, and England, with Mr. Chamberlain as spokesman, had refused, because a suzerain Power could not be expected to settle disputes with its vassal by means of arbitration. So that according to the new principles of International Law, based on the "screw" ethics of Birmingham, it was to be judge and jury in its own disputes with other people.
The position taken up by our Government in this remarkable controversy is substantiated by the actions of Lord Derby during the negotiations about the Conventions, as well as by the following telegram, which he sent to the High Commissioner for communication to the two Republics:—
HIGH COMMISSIONER, CAPE TOWN.
To BRITISH RESIDENT, PRETORIA.
Please inform Transvaal Government that I have received the following from the Secretary of State:—27th February. Convention signed to-day. New south-western boundary as proposed, following trade road. British Protectorate country outside Transvaal established with delegates' consent. They promise to appoint Border Commissioner inside Transvaal, co-operate with ours outside; Mackenzie—British Resident. Debt reduced to quarter million. Same complete internal independence in Transvaal as in Orange Free State. Conduct and control diplomatic intercourse Foreign Governments conceded. Queen's final approval treaties reserved. Delegates appear well satisfied and cordial feeling two Governments. You may make the above known.
This Convention is also substantiated by the express declarations of Lord Rosmead and the Rev. D.P. Faure to the effect that it was clearly understood, at the time the London Convention was concluded, that the suzerainty was abolished. It is unnecessary to add anything about the evidence of the Members of the Transvaal Deputation. The suzerainty has thus not the slightest shadow of existence; and yet, as will be proved, Mr. Chamberlain is prepared to go to war with the South African Republic over this question, a war which will, according to his intentions, result in Annexation.
(33) Dispatches of 12th August, 1896; 21st August, 1896; 17th February, 1897. C. 8423 and C. 8721.
(34) Dispatches of the 6th March, 1897. C. 8423.
(35) Dispatch, 7th May, 1897. No. 3, C. 8721.
(36) Dispatch, October, 1897. No. 7, C. 8721.
(37) Dispatch, 16th April, 1898. No. 4, C. 9507.
(38) Dispatch. C. 9507. Page 33
(39) Dispatch, 17th March, 1899. C. 9507.