As may be remembered, Sir Evelyn Wood was ordered to conclude an armistice, whereby the troops that had garrisoned the Transvaal might evacuate it. In the case of Potchefstroom, the execution of this design was treacherously prevented by Commandant Cronje'. This officer, after the armistice had been arranged, withheld the news from the garrison, and prevented supplies from reaching the fort. As a natural consequence, he became a national hero, and led the burghers against Dr Jameson in 1895 and the forces on the Western frontier in 1899.
The armistice was concluded in March 1881, and in August the Convention of Pretoria
was signed. Some form of inquiry was held into the conduct of persons who had been
guilty of acts contrary to the rules of civilised warfare, but the whole thing proved
to be a mere farce; and, as a matter of fact, not one of the perpetrators of murder
and other crimes during the course of the war was brought to justice. The Commission
insisted on a definite agreement for the purpose of securing British persons from
oppressive legislation, but, as we know, Boer promises were as completely pie-
At the beginning of June Mr. Gladstone wrote a letter in answer to that received from the loyal inhabitants. In this he said
"Her Majesty's Government willingly and thankfully acknowledge the loyal co-
"On the other hand, in the settlement which is now in progress, every care will be taken to secure to the settlers, of whatever origin, the full enjoyment of their property, and of all civil rights.''
The pledges conveyed in the last sentence received such fulfulment as they were to have by the insertion in the Convention of the following clauses
The Convention itself is now well known, but brief allusion to it may not be out of place. The preamble is important, and runs as follows
"Her Majesty's Commissioners for the settlement of the Transvaal territory, duly
appointed as such by a Commission passed under the Royal Sign Manual and Signet,
bearing date the 5th April 1881, do hereby undertake and guarantee, on behalf of
her Majesty, that from and after the 8th day of August 1881 complete self-
The new State was to be styled "The Transvaal State. A British Resident was appointed, and the right to move British troops through the State guaranteed. External relations were to be under British control, and intercourse with foreign Powers to be carried on through her Majesty's diplomatic and consular officers. The independence of Swaziland was guaranteed. Article 4 of the Sand River Convention, forbidding slavery, was reaffirmed in Article 16. Natives were to be allowed to acquire land, and to move about the country "as freely as may be consistent with the requirements of public order" Complete freedom of religion was established. Protection to loyalists was guaranteed by the Triumvirate. The British Resident was given wide authority in native affairs; was, in fact, constituted as an official protector of natives. The boundaries of the State were defined, and it engaged not to transgress them.
The government of the country was handed over to the Triumvirate, who engaged to summon a Volksraad as soon as possible. The Volksraad when it assembled, however, Was disinclined to ratify the Pretoria Convention. The burghers wanted the Old Republic of the Sand River Convention, and fretted at the idea that they should have agreed to acknowledge British suzerainty. This acknowledgment was made a condition of the grant of autonomy, and the British Resident in Pretoria was to have large powers in the direction of native affairs. The position of the post of British Resident was to be similar to that held by a British Resident in one of the Native States of India. "Africanus;" in his useful book on "The Transvaal Boers," thus describes the practical difference between the status of the two officials: "A Resident in an Indian State, though sometimes exposed to the risk of assasination, or of a general mutiny, is known by the inhabitants to have behind him the enormous military force of the Indian Empire, whereas the unhappy Resident at Pretoria was given no means of enforcing any protests which he might be called upon to make. His only course was to report disobedience to the High Commissioner; and if the disobedience was not of such a character as to force the Imperial Government to undertake military measures, it was sure to be overlooked. Thus the Resident, so far from controlling the policy of the Transvaal, was reduced to the position of counsel holding a watching brief"'
As will be seen, the interests of the Uitlanders were protected, but no provision was made by the Convention for future immigrants. Mr. Kruger, whose assurances at the time were believed to be sound, had promised to place them on equal footing with the burghers as regards freedom of trade. His words were: "We make no difference as far as burgher rights are concerned. There may, perhaps, be some slight difference in the case of a young person who has come into the country," but the term "young person," it was afterwards explained, had no reference to age, but to time of residence in the country.
Mr. Kruger, as leader of the reactionary section of the Boers, finally became the
President. The rival of Mr. Kruger was Mr. Joubert, otherwise known as "Slim Piet,"
on account of his wily ways, and between them from that day up to the present time
considerable jealousy existed. They were always of one accord, however, in struggling
to slip or squeeze out of any Conventions with the British. The first contravention
of treaty engagements was the return of the State to the old title of South African
Republic. The Home Government feebly remonstrated-
The Boer process of expansion is simple and time honoured. A case of spirits is exchanged for the right to graze on land belonging to an independent chief. The cattle graze, the master locates himself. If the intrusion is resented, a campaign follows, and the stronger ousts the weaker. Sometimes the Boer lends his services in warfare to a petty chief and those services are rewarded with a grant of land.
When the British annexed the Transvaal and conquered Sekukuni, the other chiefs submitted to the British Government. On the resumption of Boer rule, however, the chiefs were inclined to defy their authority. The territories of the Mapoch, Malaboch, and Mpefu were assigned to the Boers by the Convention of 1881, and consequently quarrels began. In 1883 Mapoch broke out against authority, and there was a campaign to subdue him. Malaboch became obstreperous in 1894 , and Mpefu followed his example in 1898. Most of the campaigns arose over the refusal to pay the hut tax. Before the Mapoch campaign in 1883 the Volksraad made a change in the terms of the franchise. It may be remembered that for burgher rights a residence of one year in the country and an oath of allegiance were necessary conditions. It was arranged that in future all candidates for citizenship must have resided and been registered in the Field Cornet's lists for five years, and must pay the sum of £25.
About this time Messrs. Kruger, Du Toit, and Smith traveled to England to agitate
for a new Convention. The Transvaal Government had "broken the spirit, and even the
letter," of the old Convention, and Lord Derby in the House of Lords expressed his
opinion that "it would be an easy thing to find a casus belli in what had taken
place." In spite of all this, Mr. Gladstone in 1884 obligingly agreed to a new Convention.
By examination of its terms, it will be seen how far and how ignobly the Government
went on the road to concession. By this Convention the British Resident was replaced
by a diplomatic agent; the old title of South African Republic was restored; the
Republic was allowed to negotiate on its own account with foreign Powers, limitations
|The Growth of the Transvaal|
|The Web Thickens|
|The Zulu War|
|Isandlwana, an hour by hour account|
|Affairs at Home|
|The First Anglo Boer War|
|Between the Wars|
|The Fate of SGT Elliot|
|The Siege of Pretoria|
|The Reform Movement|
|The Critical Moment|
|The Fate of the Raiders|