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Chamberlain Milner British Politicians Notes
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THE SOUTH AFRICAN WAR 1899-1902 TOPIC 2: THE IMPERIAL FACTOR & CHAMBERLAIN, MILNER AND KRUGER Possible Exam Question
1. Was the South African War 'Milner's War'?
2. Were Alfred Milner and Joseph Chamberlain the real architects of the South Two categories of solution for Africa:
The Imperial Solution Intervention from London Central intervention from the imperial government This was tried in the early 1880s with pretty disastrous results - crushing of the Zulu power and the First Anglo-Boer War This had therefore failed
2. The Colonial Solution
- Discovery of gold near Johannesburg in 1886 potentially destabilized the entire region
- Created a drive to expand around the Transvaal and then lead the Transvaal into some sort of federation with the British colonies, playing on the dissatisfaction of the Uitlander population
- This was led by Cecil Rhodes - champion of British interest in the region
- Jameson Raid in 1895 a disaster - destroys Rhodes political career
- Many of the mining capitalists are also implicated in the failed plot What happens after the Jameson Raid?
One of the key consequences of the Jameson Raid is that it stands as a massive defeat for the colonial factor and the colonial solution. The idea that agents within South Africa are effective is defeated. Rhodes is destroyed and the mining capitalists are seriously compromised however Chamberlain has come out relatively unscathed. Arguably, the Jameson Raid sets up the imperial factor to come back in again. Rhodes has failed and so now it is Chamberlain's turn. Imperial intervention is now necessary - it now needs to be done from London. How does the IMPERIAL FACTOR come into play again?
THE SOUTH AFRICAN WAR 1899-1902 Argument of Marks and Trapido:
Goal of British involvement was not to do with granting Africans rights
It was an IMPERIALIST goal
Any wish to transform the class structure was due to the fact that it would fulfill the demands of the mining industry
Britain is fighting to retain white supremacy in South Africa Milner raises national sentiment
Argues that British subjects are being treated as if they were Africans by the Boer government o Not allowed to vote o No say in running of state or own affairs o Police brutality and corruption, singling out Uitlanders
Britain has a duty to intervene and protect its subjects
Crucially all this is taking place when parliament is in summer recess - when no parliamentary debates are going on - is that significant? Have Milner and Chamberlain pushed this to a crisis exactly when there is no parliament to stop their actions?
How does Chamberlain defend himself?
Says if Liberals had been in power then they would have had to do the same thing
Accuses Boer government of being oppressive - uses example of men and women being murdered - but actually there is no evidence it was Boer government's fault
States that he gave Kruger opportunity to negotiate but evidence to suggest these letters were never delivered - intransigent government who had refused to negotiate with him
They had never changed their motives from the beginning to the end - accusation that Stead makes against Chamberlain - every time the Boers are willing to compromise the British add something else - Chamberlain disputes this and argues that he has always been consistent
Reiterates that he was always striving for peace - only recently came to the conclusion that war was inevitable Main lines of opposition:
Scott - asks Chamberlain why the Uitlander grievances being put to the forefront - says that Uitlanders haven't really been oppressed at all, they are making money etc. - Liberal consensus that the Uitlander grievances have been exaggerated
Something that Chamberlain has consciously planned - if Parliament had been sitting these last few months then
THE SOUTH AFRICAN WAR 1899-1902
there would not have been a war -Chamberlain played on fact that there was no Parliament Aren't enough troops in South Africa - Chamberlain has brought them into a very difficult and precarious position Scott's argument - British obsession with power and annexation that has caused animosity - a good relationship could have been established - says this is a war to support the mining capitalists.
Argues that Chamberlain couldn't control Milner
Though Chamberlain wasn't guilty of starting the war, he was guilty of getting Britain into a way without preparation Were Alfred Milner and Joseph Chamberlain the 'real architects' of the South African War?
If term means the originator of the war, then neither Alfred Milner nor Joseph Chamberlain could be defined as the 'real architects' o Cannot attribute responsibility for a war of this magnitude to individual personalities; there must be long-term pre-existing tensions and conditions that set the background for such a conflict o Smith rightfully states, Milner 'may have helped to stir the pot, but he did not supply the ingredients.' o Milner and Chamberlain played significant roles but Anglo-Boer tensions in SA had been gradually building for an extensive period, dating back to the abolition of slavery (1834) o It was these original and deep-rooted tensions that led to war, the tipping point arguably being in 1881 with the discovery of gold in the Transvaal, which made war inevitable even without the contribution of either British official
When placing the term 'architect of war' within a short-term framework, it could also be construed as someone who planned and engineered the timing and manner of the conflict o Chamberlain, and to a larger extent Milner, were indeed the main 'architects' of the Boer War as their actions and decisions were arguably the principal causes for its outbreak in October 1899 Argument:
THE SOUTH AFRICAN WAR 1899-1902 Milner's desire for war, and persistent attempts at bringing events to a head, made him the 'real architect', dragging Chamberlain into a conflict he did not want or anticipate Chamberlain and the Jameson Raid (1895): (LINK TO OTHER NOTES ON JAMES RAID AND CHAMBERLAIN'S COMPLICTY)
Sources differ in regard to Chamberlain's complicity
Garvin principally exonerates Chamberlain from all blame. o However, this source was written in 1934 and therefore he did not have access to the more recent evidence that has since surfaced about Chamberlain o Numerous historians have therefore justly challenged this view, concluding that Chamberlain was not only well informed of the plot but also encouraging of it
Useful source in supporting Chamberlain's complicity Sir Graham Bower, as he himself was present and complicit in the plot o Didn't release his private account until 1945 less likely to be influenced by a desire to simply shift blame off of himself o Rightly assigns much blame to Chamberlain, confirming historian views that he had been informed of the plot from the beginning and even began 'hurrying' Rhodes up o However, Bower's suggestion that if it weren't for the 'pressure from England', Rhodes 'would have stopped the movement', appears a slight exaggeration, and is likely influenced by Bower's close relationship with Rhodes.
Chamberlain aware of the plot + sent Rhodes a 'hurry up' telegram BUT it was 'men on the spot' such as Rhodes and Jameson that were the real engineers of the coup
Jameson 'went mad' and prematurely decided to enter the Transvaal; he should therefore receive most of the responsibility for the raid becoming such a public catastrophe
Whilst Chamberlain was not the most prominent figure in orchestrating the raid, his role in suppressing the evidence during the inquiry is undeniable
His role in the events of 1895-6 is significant as his position as Colonial Secretary implicated the entire British government in plot to overthrow a peaceful administration, and then also in a cover up.
This was to have enormous ramifications for AngloBoer relations.
THE SOUTH AFRICAN WAR 1899-1902 Impact of the Jameson Raid:
Chamberlain's prominent role in events of 1895-6 = indicative of his role as an 'architect' of war as the Jameson Raid was arguably one of the most significant events in triggering the conflict; some even perceive it as 'the real declaration of war.'
Crucial consequence damaging effects it had on the relationship between President Kruger and the British government
Stead's source is perhaps the most useful in demonstrating this o From Kruger's point of view, Chamberlain, was clearly 'privy to the conspiracy to overthrow his Government' and then played a major role in 'suppressing the evidence'. o Stead alludes to a rightful sense of distrust felt on the part of the Boer leader towards the British government o As a popular British journalist, his obvious reprimand of British actions is a reflection of contemporary opinion, demonstrating how British society associated the outbreak of war as being directly linked to the Jameson Raid
Hobson the coup impacted future negotiations, as it served as prove to Kruger that the British government's real aim was to take away the Transvaal's independence o Kruger's decision not to capitulate to British demands in 1899 is therefore directly linked to this event
Nasson emphasizes connection the 'ignominious failure' of the incursion confronted Chamberlain and Milner with 'the higher cost of a major war' in 1899 (due to the realization of Britain's true aims)
Coup also alienated much Cape Dutch support, demonstrated by the 'shattering' of the alliance procured by Rhodes with the Afrikaner Bond
This helped lead to war as administrators such as Selbourne consequently feared a union forming between the Cape Dutch and the Transvaal Boers, making imperial involvement appear increasingly vital as a means of prevention
Some historians highlight the Kaiser's telegram to Kruger in 1896 as being a direct cause for the outbreak of war years later o Caused initial fears in Parliament of a possible rapprochement between Germany and the Transvaal BUT evidence suggests that Germany had every
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