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Boer Politics By Yves Guyot Characters: 9085

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:04

1.-Krüger's Point of View.

Dr. Kuyper has a simple method of solving difficulties. Speaking of Article 4 of the Convention of 1884, which gives England the right of veto on all treaties contemplated between the South African Republic and foreign powers, he says:-

"This is not Mr. Krüger's point of view. He, like us, has always stigmatised the occupation of 1877 as a violation of the Sand River Treaty."

Mr. Krüger did not stigmatise it thus when he accepted office from the English Government. But, in any case, he was party to the negotiations which resulted in the Conventions of 1881 and 1884. Dr. Kuyper tells us that neither he nor Mr. Krüger recognise them, considering them to have been vitiated by the Annexation of 1877. Be it so; but in that view discussion is useless. Mr. Krüger held them as null and void. He has chosen his own time to declare war. A government has always the right to tear up a treaty just as a private individual has the right to refuse implement of a contract. In the case of the individual, his refusal exposes him to a claim of damages; in the case of a country, the result is war. It is the simplest thing in the world; but then why go seeking for pretexts and explanations, and worrying oneself about making everybody believe that it was England who brought about the war, when after all she was only claiming the due execution of a convention?

2.-England's Obligations.

When Mr. Gladstone committed the error of entering into the Convention of 1881, he fully believed that he was guaranteeing the rights of English and foreign residents in the Transvaal, of the Boers who might have compromised themselves with the English, and also of the natives.

At a meeting in Birmingham, on March 8th, 1881, on the motion of Sir Wilfrid Lawson, a resolution was passed demanding that "satisfaction should be given to the claims of the Boers, without prejudice always to the rights of the natives and English residents." On July 25th, Sir Michael Hicks-Beach reminded the House of the necessity for exacting the necessary guarantees, and of ensuring the tranquillity and security of the English possessions.[8] He reminded the House of the position of those 3,700 Boer petitioners who had asked for annexation, and of the British residents who had invested capital in the Transvaal, upon the guarantee of the British Government. Mr. William Rathbone proposed a resolution demanding equal political rights for all the white population in the Transvaal. Mr. Chamberlain stated that "loyal settlers" should be protected in their legal rights, lives, and property. Mr. Gladstone, at the close of the debate, stated that "they would all be in a position of most perfect equality with the other inhabitants." (July 25th, 1881.)

Thus, the British Government deliberately affirmed its obligations towards the foreign, British, and black population of the Transvaal, and its determination not to forsake them.

3.-Equality of Rights among the Whites according to Mr. Krüger in 1881.

The Blue Book of May, 1882, contains the report of the meeting of the British and Transvaal Commission of May 10th, 1881.

Mr. Krüger was a member of the latter, Sir Hercules Robinson was Chairman. Here is a dialogue between the Chairman and Mr. Krüger:-

"The Chairman: 'Before the Annexation, did British subjects enjoy the rights of complete freedom of trade throughout the Transvaal? Were they on the same footing as the citizens of the Transvaal?'"

"Mr. Krüger: 'They were on the same footing as the burghers. In accordance with the Sand River Convention there was not the slightest difference.'"

"Sir Hercules Robinson: 'I presume you do not object to that continuing?'"

"Mr. Krüger: 'No. There will be equal protection for everybody.'"

"Sir Evelyn Wood: 'And equal privileges?'"

"Mr. Krüger: 'We make no difference so far as burgher rights are concerned. There may be, perhaps, some slight difference in the case of a young person who has just come into the country.'"

On the 26th May, Dr. Jorissen, a Boer delegate, reverting to the question, said:-

"Concerning the paragraph referring to a young person, I desire to remove what may create an erroneous impression. What Mr. Krüger meant to say is this; according to our law, a newcomer is not immediately considered a burgher. The words 'young person' have not reference to age but to length of residence. According to our ancient 'Grondwet' (constitution) you must have resided one year in the country to become a burgher."


ese minutes were not compiled for the present occasion, for they were published in 1882.

4.-Preamble of the Convention of 1881.

The preamble of the convention is in the following terms:-

"Her Majesty's Commissioners for the settlement of the Transvaal territory, duly appointed as such by a Commission, &c., the 5th day of April, 1881, do hereby undertake and guarantee on behalf of Her Majesty, that from and after the 8th day of August, 1881, complete self-government, subject to the suzerainty of Her Majesty, her heirs and successors, will be accorded to the inhabitants of the Transvaal territory."

It is evident that this is not a treaty between two parties contracting on a footing of equality. The English Government grants the Transvaal the right of self-government, reserving the suzerainty under certain conditions. I have already shown the difficulties in the way of carrying out the Convention of 1881, the false position of the Resident who was as one conquered, was supposed to control the actions of the conqueror; and I have also spoken of the great and long suffering of the English Government.

Mr. R.D. Faure, who acted as interpreter to the Conference of 1884, has stated that "the Transvaal delegates asked for a clause suppressing the suzerainty, and that Lord Derby refused it." To this Mr. R.G.W. Herbert, Permanent Under Secretary for the Colonies, replied "that the Commissioners did not venture to ask for the abolition of the suzerainty." They confined themselves to asking in their letter to Lord Derby of November 14th, 1883, that "the relation of dependence, publici juris, in which our Country finds itself placed with regard to the Crown of Great Britain should be replaced by that of two contracting parties."

Lord Derby on 29th November, answered that "neither in form, nor in substance could the Government accept such a demand." The Government thus refused to substitute a "treaty" for a "convention" in which the Queen granted to the Transvaal the right of self-government under certain conditions.

5.-Articles 4, 7 and 14 of the Convention of 1884.

These conditions are determined by the articles 4, 7 and 14 of the convention of 1884, of which the following is the text:-

"Article 4. The South African Republic will conclude no treaty or engagement with any State or Nation other than the Orange Free State, nor with any native tribe to the Eastward or Westward of the Republic, until the same has been approved by Her Majesty the Queen.

"Such approval shall be considered to have been granted if Her Majesty's Government shall not, within six months after the receipt of a copy of such treaty (which shall be delivered to them immediately upon its completion), have notified that the conclusion of such treaty is in conflict with the interests of Great Britain, or of any of Her Majesty's possessions in South Africa.

"Article 7. All persons who held property in the Transvaal on the 8th day of August, 1881, and still hold the same, will continue to enjoy the rights of property which they have enjoyed since the 12th April, 1877. No person who has remained loyal to Her Majesty during the late hostilities shall suffer any molestation by reason of his loyalty; or be liable to any criminal prosecution or civil action for any part taken in connection with such hostilities; and all such persons will have full liberty to reside in the country, with enjoyment of all civil rights, and protection for their persons and property.

"Article 14. All persons, other than natives, conforming themselves to the laws of the South African Republic (a) will have full liberty, with their families, to enter, travel, or reside in any part of the South African Republic; (b) they will be entitled to hire or possess houses, manufactories, warehouses, shops, and premises; (c) they may carry on their commerce either in person or by any agents whom they may think fit to employ; (d) they will not be subject, in respect of their persons or property, or in respect of their commerce or industry, to any taxes, whether general or local, other than those which are or may be imposed upon Citizens of the Republic."

In Dr. Kuyper's estimation the Articles 7 and 14 are as nothing. I do not even think he makes mention of them in his article (fifty-three pages in length), that has appeared in the Revue des Deux Mondes. Thus, nothing is easier than to argue in the vacuum he creates about his readers. They hear nothing but words; of the facts they are kept in ignorance.

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