Jameson Raid

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The Jameson Raid (29 December 1895 – 2 January 1896) was a botched raid on Paul Kruger's Transvaal Republic carried out by a British colonial statesman Leander Starr Jameson and his Rhodesian and Bechuanaland policemen over the New Year weekend of 1895–96. It was intended to trigger an uprising by the primarily British expatriate workers (known as Uitlanders) in the Transvaal but failed to do so. The workers were called the Johannesburg conspirators. They were expected to recruit an army and prepare for an insurrection. The raid was ineffective and no uprising took place, but it was an inciting factor in the Second Boer War and the Second Matabele War.

Contents

Background

What later became South Africa was not, during the late nineteenth century, one single, united nation; rather, the territory had four distinct entities: the two British colonies of Cape Colony and Natal; and the two Boer republics of the Orange Free State and the South African Republic, more commonly referred to as the Transvaal.

Foundation of the colonies and republics

The Cape, more specifically the small area around present day Cape Town, was the first part of South Africa to be settled by Europeans; the first immigrants arrived in 1652. These settlers were transported by, and remained under the control of, the Dutch East India Company. Gradual consolidation and eastward expansion took place over the next 150 years; however, by the beginning of the nineteenth century, Dutch power had substantially waned. In 1806 Great Britain took over the Cape to prevent the territory's falling under Napoleon's hands and to secure control over the crucial Far Eastern trade routes.

Antipathy towards British control and the introduction of new systems and institutions grew amongst a substantial portion of the Boer community. One of the primary causes of friction was the attitude of the British authorities to slavery in the colony. In 1828 the British authorities passed legislation guaranteeing equal treatment under the law for all, regardless of race. In 1830 the government passed a new ordinance imposing heavy penalties for harsh treatment of slaves. The measure was controversial among some of the population, and in 1834, the government abolished slavery altogether. The Boers opposed the changes, as they believed they needed enslaved labor to make their farms work. They believed the slaveholders were compensated too little upon emancipation. They were also suspicious of how the government paid for compensation. This resentment culminated in the en-masse migration of substantial numbers of the Boers into the hitherto unexplored frontier, to get beyond the control of British rule. The migration became known as the Great Trek.

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