South African War

Background

Beginning with the acquisition in 1814 of the Cape of Good Hope, Great Britain gradually increased its territorial possessions in S Africa and by the late 19th cent. it held Natal, Basutoland, Swaziland, Rhodesia, Bechuanaland, and other Bantu lands. The Boers (Dutch), already settled in some of these areas, strongly resented British incursions. Resentment was especially marked in the Transvaal (headed by the strongly anti-British Paul Kruger), which had actually been annexed (1877–81) to Great Britain.

Anti-British sentiment was further inflamed after the discovery (1886) of gold in the Witwatersrand brought a great influx of prospectors (mainly British) into the Transvaal. Soon almost all the newly established mines as well as much of the commerce passed into British hands. The Boer government, to protect itself from the growing number of foreigners, denied these Uitlanders [foreigners] citizenship and taxed them heavily, despite British objections. In 1895 the Jameson raid (see Jameson, Sir Leander Starr), which Transvaalers considered an officially sponsored plot to seize their country, aggravated the situation, and in 1896 the Transvaal and the Orange Free State (see Free State) formed a military alliance to protect their independence.

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