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The Jameson Raid and The Boers in South Africa 1895

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South Africa

The Jameson Raid and The Transvaal

When on December 29, 1895, Dr Leander Starr Jameson (1853-1917) led some 600 troopers from Mafeking into the Boer republic of the Transvaal he was invading a country with which Great Britain was at peace.

In 1806 Cape Colony in South Africa had become a British possession and about 30 years later the Boers, or descendants of the Dutch settlers, went north on the 'Great Trek' and set up their own republic in the Transvaal. Gold was discovered there in 1886 and attracted many fortune hunters who founded the town of Johannesburg. The Boers felt that these new-comers, whom they called Uitlanders and most of whom were British, were a danger to the republic and they would not give them any say in affairs unless they became citizens of the Transvaal. When the Uitlanders complained to Paul Kruger, President of the Transvaal, he replied: 'This is my country; these are my laws. Those who do not like to obey my laws can leave my country.'

The Uitlanders therefore began a plot to over-throw the Transvaal government. Cecil Rhodes, the Prime Minister of Cape Colony, knew about the plot and in order to help it to succeed he persuaded Jameson, an old and trusted friend, to make a raid into the Transvaal at the same time as a rising that had been planned in Johannesburg. However, at the last moment the plotters found they were not ready and sent messages to stop Jameson. He took no notice and continued with the raid. He and his force were captured by the Boers at Doornkop and handed over to the British govemment for punishment. Jameson was tried in London and sentenced to 15 months imprisonment. He continued to be the trusted friend and companion of Rhodes and later became Prime Minister of Cape Colony. In I909 he was knighted.

When the Jameson Raid failed the Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany sent a telegram of congratulations to Kruger which caused ill feeling between Great Britain and Germany, but the raid itself increased the bitterness between the Boers and the British and helped to bring about the Boer War (1899-1902).

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