Brand, Johannes Henricus (DNB01)
BRAND, Sir JOHANNES HENRICUS (JAN HENDRIK) (1823–1888), president of the Orange Free State, the son of Sir Christoffel Brand (1797–1875), speaker of the House of Assembly at the Cape, was born at Cape Town on 6 Dec. 1823, and educated at the South African College at that place. On 18 May 1843 he entered Leyden University, graduating LL.D. in 1845 (Peacock, Leyden Students, p. 13). He was admitted student of the Inner Temple in London on 9 May 1843, and was called to the bar on 8 June 1849. He returned almost immediately to South Africa, and commenced to practise as an advocate before the supreme court of the Cape Colony, making gradually a sound reputation. In 1854 he became a member of the first House of Assembly, representing the borough of Clanwilliam. In the house, as at the bar, his speeches were delivered with vehemence, and his manner was confident, but he made no great impression in the assembly. In 1858 he was elected professor of law at the South African College, Cape Town.
In November 1863 Brand was elected by the burghers of the Orange Free State, then at a very low ebb, to be their president, and he migrated to the new sphere thus opened to him, taking the oaths, on 2 Feb. 1864, and thus nominally relinquishing British citizenship. The burghers' choice was amply justified. From the first Brand handled their finances with prudence, and organised the service of the state on an economical and efficient basis. A few years after he assumed the office of president, a state which had been on the point of begging the British empire to take it over became a flourishing and hopeful territory.
Brand had no light task before him on taking up his post ; he was immediately called upon to arrange the boundary with the Basutos. Brand had appealed to the British high commissioner, Sir Philip Wodehouse [q.v. Suppl.], but the Basutos declined to accept Sir Philip's award. A war with Moshesh, the Basuto chief, ensued, and lasted from June 1865 to April 1866. The peace then made was not lasting, and when war began again on 16 July 1867, Brand at once set himself to free the republic of its chronic strife with the Basutos. He served himself through the campaign, and at the close of it was in a position to exact his own terms from the natives. At this juncture, however, the British government interposed, and the terms settled by the convention of Aliwal North, where in February 1869 Brand met Sir Philip Wodehouse for this purpose, were somewhat lenient to the beaten natives.
In 1869 Brand was re-elected president. On the discovery of diamonds in Griqualand West the Orange Free State claimed the district, and Brand was deputed to support the claim at Cape Town, where he arrived on 29 Dec. 1870, but he was not successful in carrying his point. In the following year his influence was so great that he was approached with a view to becoming president of the Transvaal Republic as well as the Orange Free State, but on learning that the coalition was to be hostile to Great Britain he declined. In 1874 he was again elected president. In 1876 he made a journey to England to discuss with the British government the question of South African confederation and the general relations of Great Britain and the republics. He was again re-elected president in 1879.
In the struggle between the British and his old enemies the Basutos in 1880 Brand preserved' strict neutrality. In the war of Great Britain with the Transvaal in 1881 he was equally careful not to commit himself to either side, though he offered to arbitrate on the points of difference, and finally, in the
negotiations for peace, appeal was frequently made to his opinion. In 1885 he acted with great judgment as arbiter in the dispute between Sepniara and Samuel, the Baralong chiefs, and averted what might have been a serious feud within the territories of the republic. In 1886 he had what was practically his first collision with the llaad. The queen offered him the dignity of G.O.M.G., and he desired to accept it ; but the council at first objected, and it was not till they understood that he would not tolerate their obstruction that they gave way. In the following year (1887) he was engaged in conferences with President Kruger of the Transvaal as to the question of railway connection between the two republics and the outer world, and took a strong line in favour of preserving the connection of the Orange Free State with the Cape Colony. The party in his own Raad which favoured Kruger's pretensions carried a resolution in secret session which censured Brand's attitude. They passed their vote only by a narrow majority, but Brand at once resigned. This step was the signal for an outburst of popular enthusiasm in his favour, which was almost pathetic in its intensity. He was at last induced to withdraw his resignation, and the Raad passed a resolution of confidence in him, with but one dissentient vote. He thus successfully resisted every effort that Kruger made to draw him into a position of close alliance with the Transvaal and antagonism to the British, always holding that the best bond of union in South Africa in the future would be a real understanding between the races.
Brand's health broke down a year later, in 1888, and he decided to visit Cape Colony, where Sir Hercules Robinson (afterwards Lord Rosmead) [q.v. Suppl.], then governor, had placed the Grange at his disposal. He died suddenly of heart disease at Bloemfontein on 14 July 1888. His death was de- plored in speeches in the British parliament (Hansard, 16 July 1888 ; Times, 17 July, p. 6). He was an honest, zealous, and prudent administrator, to whose personal effort alone was due the erection of the Orange Free State into a really prosperous republic. He had none of the unctuousness which so often mars South Africans of Dutch descent. His head was fine and presence striking (see portrait in Theal's Geschiedenis van Zuid Afrika, p. 381),
Brand married a daughter of Johanna Zustron, and left eight sons, some of whom were in the Orange Free State service at the time of his death, and three daughters. One of the sons took a prominent part with the Boers during the great Boer war in their second invasion of Cape Colony in January 1901.
[Cape Argus of 16 July 1888; Noble's South Africa, p. 322 n; Wilmot's Hist. of our own Times in South Africa, pp. 100–10; Foster's Men at the Bar; Life and Times of Sir John C. Molteno; Froude's Two Lectures on South Africa, ed. 1900, pp. 60–3, 95; Theal's History of South Africa (the Republics), passim; Lord Carnarvon's Essays, iii. 77–8; W. P. Greswell's Our South African Empire, and work above cited, pp. 380–2. Cf. Robinson's Lifetime in South Africa, p. 343; Butler's Life of Colley, p. 322 sqq.]