The Boer republics strike gold
• After 1842, the Great Trek moved on further north-east. Eventually the trekkers established two independent republics: the Transvaal and the Orange Free State.
• After the discovery of diamond and gold deposits in 1867 and 1886, the British renewed their interest in annexing the Boer republics.
• The driving force behind this enterprise was Cecil Rhodes.
• Rhodes arrived in Kimberley in 1871 to make a fortune in the diamond fields. He later extended his interests to the gold mines of the Transvaal.
• By the end of the decade his two companies, De Beers Consolidated Mines and Gold Fields of South Africa, dominated the South African trade.
But Rhodes had wider imperialist ambitions: he dreamt of establishing British colonies north of the Transvaal, as the first step towards his ultimate grand vision: a continuous strip of British Empire connected by a railway line, “from Cape to Cairo”.
The Second Boer War
• Rhodes became Prime Minister of the Cape Colony in 1890, and set out to bring the Boer Republics into a federation where the Cape would be the dominant power.
• Large numbers of mostly British ‘uitlanders’ had emigrated to the Transvaal to make their fortunes on the mines. Tensions rose between the Boer authorities and the British government over the rights of these ‘uitlanders’, and Britain’s evident desire to annex the Boer republics.
• In 1895 Rhodes hatched a disastrous plot to take the Transvaal by force: the Jameson Raid. Tensions culminated in war.
• The second Boer War (1899-1902) became infamous for the British use of concentration camps, trenches, and the displacement of the civilian population.
• After the Boers were defeated, the Treaty of Vereeniging (31 May 1902) incorporated the two republics to the British Empire.