1922 Encyclopædia Britannica/Jameson, Sir Leander Starr

JAMESON, SIR LEANDER STARR, Bart. (1853-1917), British South African statesman (see 15.147). The union of the South African colonies in 1909 accomplished the main object which Jameson had set before himself as a political leader. He wished to carry the spirit of union further by forming a combination of political parties to support a non-racial Government for the new Union, regarded Gen. Botha as the natural leader of such a combination, and was completely ready to serve under him. This project of a “best man” Government, however, was not accepted by Botha, who thought that the Dutch-speaking people of South Africa were not ready for it. The alternative, to which Jameson then set himself, was the formation of a new party representing the majority of the English-speaking people in the Cape, the Transvaal, the Orange Free State and Natal. At a conference in Bloemfontein in 1910, before the first general election for the new South African Parliament took place, this project was carried out. Jameson presided over the conference with a patience, a tact and an insight which exhibited once more his remarkable gift for the ruling of men. The programme of the party thus formed — known as the Unionist party of South Africa — showed his influence in every clause. It repudiated opposition to the Botha Government for the mere sake of opposition, and promised the Prime Minister support in all measures designed to promote racial peace and material prosperity in South Africa. At the first South African general election in Sept. 1910 the Unionists fought on this programme with a considerable measure of success, especially in the Cape and Transvaal provinces. Natal, where the English-speaking people were in a great majority, withheld from Jameson and the Unionists the general support which it might have been expected to give, though the Unionists won a number of seats in that province. For two years Jameson led the Unionists in the South African House of Assembly with great moderation and self-restraint, but was compelled by ill health to retire from the leadership of the party in 1912. He returned to England and settled in London, devoting himself, when his health took a turn for the better, to business interests. He had an intimate knowledge of the affairs of the De Beers Corp. and of the British South African Co., commonly known as the Chartered Co. In June 1913 he became chairman of the Chartered Co., whose general meetings gave him, year by year, till his death in 1917, opportunities of proving in a new sphere his power of exercising a dominating influence over assemblies of men. When the war came in 1914 Jameson devoted himself to public work, leaving to members of the Government the choice of the sphere in which they thought he could be most useful. Meanwhile he had made more than one visit to Rhodesia as chairman of the Chartered Co., and the work which he did on behalf of the territory that he had helped to establish was recognized even by opponents of the policy of the Chartered Co. The war work which the Government chose for him was that of chairman of the Central Prisoners-of-War Committee, to which he devoted himself with all his remaining strength, organizing at the same time more than one private hospital overseas. Jameson's health had been precarious for years, and on Nov. 26 1917 he succumbed to a short illness. His name will stand very high among those of the men who did service to South Africa and Rhodesia. Diffident and utterly free from self-seeking, he was of those who make the least of their service to their country. But his labours for racial reconciliation and material prosperity in South Africa were conspicuous, and the close friendship of Botha was a final proof of the quality of his patriotism. It was, too, the measure of his stature as a man able beyond the recognition of most of his contemporaries, honest and plain-speaking, with a deep devotion to the most lofty ideals of public service. Jameson was created a K.C.M.G. on the inauguration of the Union in 1910 and a baronet in 1911. (B. K. L.)