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Cape Colony

incentive to the Boers to endeavour to capture the town, but his unique position and influence with the De Beers workmen enabled him to render yeoman service, and infused enthusiasm and courage into the inhabitants. The manufacture of a big gun, which was able to compete with the Boer “Long Tom,” at the De Beers workshops, under Rhodes's orders, and by the ingenuity of an American, Mr. Labram, who was killed a few days after its completion, forms one of the most striking incidents of the period.

With the relief of Mafeking on the 17th of May, the Cape rebellion ended, and the colony was, at least for a time, delivered of the presence of hostile forces.

On the 20th of March Mr (afterwards Sir James) Rose-Innes, a prominent member of the House of Assembly, who for several years had held aloof from either party, and who also had defended Mr Schreiner's action with regard to the passage of arms to the Free State, addressed his constituents at Claremont in support of the annexation of both republics; and in the course of an eloquent speech he stated that in Canada, in spite of rebellions, loyalty had been secured from the French Canadians by free institutions. In South Africa they might hope that a similar policy would attain a similar result with the Boers. In June, Mr Schreiner, whose recent support of Sir Alfred Milner had incensed many of his Bond followers, resigned in consequence of the refusal of some of his colleagues to support the disfranchisement bill which he was prepared, in accordance with the views of the home government, to introduce for the punishment of Cape rebels. The bill certainly did not err on the side of severity, but disfranchisement for their supporters in large numbers was more distasteful to the Bond extremists than any stringency towards individuals. Sir Gordon Sprigg, who after a political crisis of considerable delicacy, succeeded Mr Schreiner and for the fourth time became prime minister, was able to pass the Bill with the co-operation of Mr Schreiner and his section. Towards the end of the year 1900 the war entered on a new phase, and took the form of guerilla skirmishes with scattered forces of marauding Boers. In December some of these bands entered the Cape Colony and endeavoured to induce colonial Boers to join them. In this endeavour they met at first with little or no success; but as the year 1901 progressed and the Boers still managed to keep the various districts in a ferment, it was deemed necessary by the authorities to proclaim martial law over the whole colony, and this was done on the 9th of October 1901.

On the 4th of January 1901 Sir Alfred Milner was gazetted governor of the Transvaal and Orange River Colony, being shortly afterwards created a peer as Lord Milner, and Sir Walter Hely-Hutchinson, governor of Natal, was appointed his successor as governor of the Cape Colony. The office of high commissioner in South Africa was now separated from the governorship of the Cape and associated with that of the Transvaal- an indication of the changed conditions in South Africa. The division of the colonists into those who favoured the Boer states and those firmly attached to the British connexion was reflected, to the detriment of the public weal, in the parties in the Cape parliament. Proposals were made to suspend the constitution, but this drastic course was not adopted. The Progressive party, the name taken by those who sought a permanent settlement under the British flag, lost their leader, and South Africa its foremost statesman by the death, in May 1902, of Cecil Rhodes, a few weeks before the end of the war.

After the War.—The acknowledgment of defeat by the Boers in the field, and the surrender of some 10,000 rebels, did not weaken the endeavours of the Dutch to obtain political supremacy in the colony. Moreover, in the autumn of 1902 Sir Gordon Sprigg, the prime minister, nominally the leader of the Progressives, sought to maintain his position by securing the support of the Bond party in parliament. In the early part of 1903 Mr Chamberlain included Cape Town in his visit to South Africa, and had conferences with the political leaders of all parties. Reconciliation between the Bond and British elements in the colony was, however, still impossible, and the two parties concentrated their efforts in a struggle for victory at the coming election. Mr Hofmeyr, who had chosen to spend the greater part of the war period in Europe, returned to the Cape to reorganize the Bond. On the other side Dr Jameson came forward as the leader of the Progressives. Parliament was dissolved in September 1903. It had passed, since the war, two measures of importance—one (1902) restricting alien immigration, the other (1903) ratifying the first customs convention between all the South African colonies. This convention was notable for its grant of preferential treatment (in general, a rebate of 25% on the customs already levied) to imports from the United Kingdom.

The election turned on the issue of British or Bond supremacy. It was fought on a register purged of the rebel voters, many of whom, besides being disfranchised, were in prison. The issue was doubtful, and each side sought to secure the support of the native voters, who in several constituencies held the balance of power. The Bondsmen were more lavish than their opponents in their promises to the natives and even invited a Kaffir journalist (who declined) to stand for a seat in the Assembly. In view of the agitation then proceeding for the introduction of Chinese coolies to work the mines on the Rand, the Progressives declared their intention, if returned, to exclude them from the colony, and this declaration gained them some native votes. The polling (in January and February 1904) resulted in a Progressive majority of five in a house of 95 members. The rejected candidates included prominent Bond supporters like Mr Merriman and Mr Sauer, and also Sir Gordon Sprigg and Mr A. Douglass, another member of the cabinet. Mr W. P. Schreiner, the ex-premier, who stood as an Independent, was also rejected.

The Jameson Ministry.—On the 18th of February Sir Gordon Sprigg resigned and was succeeded by Dr L. S. Jameson, who formed a ministry wholly British in character. The first task of the new government was to introduce (on the 4th of March) an Additional Representation Bill, to rectify—in part—the disparity in electoral power of the rural and urban districts. Twelve new seats in the House of Assembly were divided among the larger towns, and three members were added to the legislative council. The town voter being mainly British, the bill met with the bitter opposition of the Bond members, who declared that its object was the extinction of their parliamentary power. In fact, the bill was called for by the glaring anomalies in the distribution of seats by which a minority of voters in the country districts returned a majority of members, and it left the towns still inadequately represented. The bill was supported by two or three Dutch members, who were the object of violent attack by the Bondsmen. It became law, and the elections for the additional seats were held in July, after the close of the session. They resulted in strengthening the Progressive majority both in the House of Assembly and in the legislative council—where the Progressives previously had a majority of one only.

At the outset of its career the Jameson ministry had to face a serious financial situation. During the war the supplying of the army in the field had caused an artificial inflation of trade, and the Sprigg ministry had pursued a policy of extravagant expenditure not warranted by the finances of the colony. The slow recovery of the gold-mining and other industries in the Transvaal after the war was reflected in a great decline in trade in Cape Colony during the last half of 1903, the distress being aggravated by severe drought. When Dr Jameson assumed office he found an empty treasury, and considerable temporary loans had to be raised. Throughout 1904, moreover, revenue continued to shrink—compared with 1903 receipts dropped from £11,701,000 to £9,913,000. The government, besides cutting down official salaries and exercising strict economy, contracted (July 1904) a loan for £3,000,000. It also passed a bill imposing a graduated tax (6d. to 1s. in the £) on all incomes over £1000. A substantial excise duty was placed on spirits and beer, measures of relief for the brandy-farmers being taken at the same time. The result was that while there was a deficit on the budget of 1904–1905 of £731,000, the budget of 1905–1906 showed a surplus of £5161. This small surplus was obtained notwithstanding a further shrinkage in revenue.