Friday, October 29, 2010

Gold, Politics, the Jameson Raid and South African War

The Cecil John Rhode’s dream to further British colonies form Cape to Cairo was not only demonstrated in his will to control the vast lands but to have a monopoly over the mineral resources in South Africa. With him spearheading the BSC company to occupy Rhodesia him and Jameson wanted to further not only their political status but economical dominance. The Jameson raid in 1895 was plot to further the British and the BSC British Southern Africa interests in the mining industry of South Africa. This essay is going to discuss if the Jameson Raid was essentially the plot of mining capitalists or inspired by ambitious politicians who hoped to create an economic or political union of Sothern Africa, under Britain’s shield.

To really ascertain why the Raid was established by Rhodes and his followers in 1895 is very difficult as different authors have propounded different reasons to why this Raid occurred. According to Blainey (1965;350) cites that Henry Laboucher argued that Rhodes and other financiers organized the Jameson Raid in order to raid the market in British South Africa Company while the other assumption propounds that financiers of the Jameson Raid explained that Transvaal gold industry was endangered by harsh and unjust taxes of Kruger administration. Although there are different views to the real reason to what emanated to Jameson Raid I assume that the real reason why the Jameson Raid was propagated and formulated by Rhodes and Jameson was because of them enhancing their political and economic dominance in the booming Gold industry in Transvaal. The reason to justify the Jameson to the harsh laws of the Kruger administration mostly to deep level mines is criticized by other historians according to Blainey (1965) as mining laws were liberal in the Transvaal region then adjacent territories and more records of profits in 1895 as well as massive profits on Rand shares.

The Jameson Raid had a lot of support from the British leadership Cecil John Rhode and Jameson could by no chance overthrow Kruger’s administration without the help of the imperial thrown. Blainey (1965;352) postulates that within political realm to justify the raid the British colonial secretary Joseph Chamberlain gave vital aid to Rhode’s plan of rebellion in the hope that Britain would take over the Transvaal and so maintain its supremacy in Southern Africa. This can be one of the justifiable reasons that really links to the raid as it was not only British’s attention to overthrow the Kruger administration but the BSC Company. The Jameson Raid as l may ascertain cannot be linked to economic hardships caused by the Kruger policies in the deep level mines as the beacons of the raid Rhodes and Jameson owned outcrop mines that we attaining a lot of profits that deep level mines. Blainery (1965) elaborates that the great circumspection and secrecy were mining houses controlled by Whernher, Beit and Co and Cecil John Rhodes which virtually took all the 15 miles parallel to the outcrop companies. With the Rand eighteen months before the raid being estimated to produce two thirds of the world gold l assumed the Rhodes as an ambitious politician and capitalists had to devise a method to spearhead his interest thus which emanated to the Jameson Raid.

The supposition that outcrop mines will be outpaced by deep level mines in gold produce led to mass investments in the mining sector which according to Blainey (1965) cites that between 1894 and 1895 the owners of deep level mines got heavy investments. But this was short lived as one of the major companies in 1895 according to Blainey (1965;355) Geldhenuis Deep Gold Mining Company crushed its first deposits of ore in a big 100 stamp milling and produced virtually unexpected amounts of gold this initial failure shook the deep-level mines. This however could be one of the elements that led to the Jameson Raid as the capitalist blamed the Kruger regime for economic policies that hindered deep-level mine to produce at a profit. Blainey (1965;356) cites the same notions as Krugerism penalized the deep-level companies with more severity than outcrop companies, the effects of the dynamite monopoly was perceived by the capitalists as a sign of the corruption and nepotism in the Kruger regime as more costs were incurred by deep-level mines in attaining explosives. Also the failure of the regime to secure enough native labour supply as the grievance by the capitalists made the deep-level mine to operate at a loss. These complaints that Kruger was plundering the mining sector and the inefficient policy that made deep- level companies to suffer more than outcrop companies from Kruger method of taxing state owned minerals while the outcrop mines were treated generously.
When the final decision by Rhodes and Jameson to carry out the Jameson raid it was after the assessment of these grievances l do not assume that it was for the mutual benefit of all the deep- level mining owners as according to Blainey (1965;362) Rhodes was the managing director of Consolidated Gold Fields of South Africa and under the company’s articles he and his colleague C. D Rudd received management fee of two fifteenth of the company earnings while the Consolidated Gold Fields were the largest source of income in 1895. Beit as one of the plotters to the Jameson Raid held nearly all shares in the private Johannesburg firm of H.Eckstein and Co which was basically half of the shares in the Rand Mines. Rhodes and Beit to my assumption knew that it was invertible to gain support from capitalists that owned deep-level mines for his political and economic interests to overthrow the Kruger regime. Blainey (1965;361) the quick overthrow of Kruger’s government would lossen the economic yoke that choked deep-level mines and would instal a sympathetic government that might revive the confidence of European speculators.

The most fundamental reason that might be the sole explanation to the Jameson Raid was the motive of the British government to bring to Transvaal region under its rule and to revive the jaded commerce of the Cape Town Blainey (1965;366) argues this point as his partners in this plan were not cabinet ministers of Cape Colony but mining leaders on the rand who had no interests in the politics of South Africa federalism or the British or in the economic condition of Cape Colony. I disagree with Blainey’s philosophy as economic interests are closely linked to political interests so l assume if the capitalists really wanted to over throw the Kruger regime it was also in their political interests. Blainey (1965;365) elaborates that Rhodes and Beit personally had strong monetary motives for overthrowing Kruger and were both indispensable in the plot.

To sideline the point that the Jameson raid was more politically planned is not justified Galbraith (1970;145) elaborates that the overthrow Transvaal Government had of course been the subject among the imperial officials long before the raid. This to my view can provide the major reason to why Chamberlain was indirectly involved to the Jameson Raid as Galbraith (1970;146) propounds the same notions in which he questions the very question of Chamberlain’s complicity became involved in a bitter controversy within the board of the British South Africa Company as to the relationship Cecil Rhodes should have to the Company after the Raid. Furthermore the assumption by Grey according to Galbraith (1970;149) that Chamberlain was aware of a plan to employ an armed force under Company control to assist a rebellion and that he looked on such intervention and the allegation by Rhodes that Chamberlain was fully responsible as him to the implications of the Raid. The Jameson Raid was not only the act of capitalists who wanted to further their economic interests but it can closely related to the British government political interests Galbraith (1970;149) elaborates that Rhodes had no doubt that he had acted with blessing of the imperial government.

Although Chamberlain declined the intentions to overthrow the Kruger regime according to Galbraith (1970;153) he was prepared to employ the British force to ensure the success of Utilander revolution if the objective could not be achieved by peaceful means while he deplored Jameson’s action he condemned the Transvaal government’s injustice to the Utilanders and demanded reforms. While the BSAC Company denounced the acts of Rhodes to spearhead the Jameson Raid l ascertain that this was only an act to counter attack the alleged complicity of their involvement and took steps immediately to counter this threat to the Charter for public inquiry. While Rhodes was gaining popular support for handling the Matabeleland rebellion his influential role in the Company his resignations form the company never meant anything according to Galbraith (1970;157) there was the undeniable fact that Rhodes was considered by the directors the shareholders, the British public and the people of Rhodesia as the heart of the Company and the future of the company depended on him. Furthermore Galbraith (1970;158) the Jameson Raid as the Duke of Fife postulates that it was a deliberate planned and carried out by the company’s agents without their knowledge and without their possible consent. This fact emanates to the very question of the company interests in the Transvaal region Jameson Raid had somehow had the support of these capitalists.

The restoration of Rhodes and Beit to the broad after the Jameson raid as well with some of the company directors even reluctant to condemn him according Galbraith (1970;158) when the directors had bowed to the pressure of the government they had made it clear that they did so for reasons of expediency rather than abhorrence for what he had done. The question that Jameson Raid was essentially the plot of mining capitalists or inspired by ambitious politicians who hoped to create an economic or political union of Sothern Africa, under Britain’s shield can be provided by the failure of the British government to act upon Rhodes ,Beit and Jameson who had committed acts of banditry and treason against the Kruger regime instead Rhodes became a hero for both British capitalist and politicians.
However there conflicting assumptions to what really led to the Jameson Raid Blainey is criticized by Katz (1995;304) of notions that economic grievances of the deep level mine owners differed markedly from those of the outcrop owners. Katz argues that working costs of the first row deeps, although an unrealistic index of profits, were virtually identical to those of the outcrop mines. So according to Katz they were no substantiated reasons why the capitalists in deep level mines would have wanted to overthrow the Kruger regime. According to Katz (1995;306) some of the problems the deep level mines faced were linked to mismanagement as well as geological problems peculiar to the area for instance Village Main in 1895 was forced to shut down due to these problems not the fact that it was a deep-level mine. The notion that the Kruger economic policies caused severe damage in the deep-level company is exaggerated according to Katz(1995;317) as Blainey ascertained that Kruger’s decision to retain the dynamite monopoly ‘penalized the deep-level companies with more severity than the outcrop companies. Another point that Katz raises is the blame given to the Kruger regime for not being able to supply enough African unskilled labour as exaggerated.

Katz (1995;325)cites that the Rhodes and Beit conspiracy, economic motives had been smashed with political objectives Rhodes economic investments on the Witwatersrand were long-term while Beit was not affected by the Kruger policies as Beit holdings were barely compromised by the monopoly concessions of Kruger. Katz rises major points that can substantiate the reason that the Jameson raid was carried out with only political interests rather political. Mendelsohn (1980;158) however seems to back up the Blainey notions that economic grievances of the deep-level mines led to the Jameson Raid as working conditions and capital requirements, governmental policies exacerbated deep level mines.
Blainey G. “Lost Causes of Jameson Raid.” The Economic History review. New Series, Vol 18 No 2 1965
Galbraith, J.S. “The British South Africa Company and theJameson Raid.” The journal of British Studies,Vol 10 No 1 November 1970
Katz, E. N. “Outcrop and Deep Level Mining In South Africa Before the Anglo Boer War; Re-Examining the Blainey Thesis,”Economic History Review.No.2 1995
Mendelson, R.Blainey and the Jameson Raid;The Debate Renewed.” Journal of southern African Studies.Vol.6 No2 April 1980