Conference between the Commission appointed to represent the meeting of Delegates at Vereeniging, and Lord Kitchener and Lord Milner.
Lord Kitchener was informed that the Meeting representing the two Republics had delegated Commandant General Louis Botha, Chief Commandant C. R. de Wet, General J. H. de la Rey, General J. C. Smuts, and General J. B. M. Hertzog to confer with the representatives of the British Government, and in the afternoon of Saturday, May 17, the Governments received a reply from Lord Kitchener that he and Lord Milner, on behalf of the British Government, were prepared to meet the Commission, who were requested to proceed to Pretoria immediately for that purpose.
The Commission left Vereeniging that same evening for Pretoria, where they arrived at 8 o'clock p.m. They were accommodated in "Park zicht," the residence of Mr. Carl Rood, corner of Maré and van der Walt Streets.
On Monday morning, May 19, 1902, the Commission assembled early and wrote the following letter to be submitted to Lord Kitchener and Lord Milner, and in which the wishes of the peoples' Representatives were expressed:--
To their Excellencies Lord KITCHENER and Lord MILNER, Pretoria. PRETORIA, May 19, 1902.
With the object of finally terminating the existing hostilities, we have the honour, by virtue of the authority from the Governments of both the Republics, to propose the following points as a basis of negotiations, in addition to the points already offered during the negotiations in April last:--
(a) We are prepared to give up our independence as far as foreign relations are concerned;
(b) We wish to retain internal self-government under British supervision;
(c) We are prepared to give up a portion of our territory.
If Your Excellencies are prepared to negotiate on this basis, the above-mentioned points can be more fully set forth.
We have the honour to be, Your Excellencies' obedient servants, LOUIS BOTHA, C. R. DE WET, J. H. DE LA REY, J. B. M. HERTZOG, J. C. SMUTS.
Minutes of Conference held at Pretoria on Monday, May 19, and following days between Lord KITCHENER and Lord MILNER, representing the British Government, and Commandant-General Louis BOTHA, Chief Commandant C. R. DE WET, General J. H. DE LA REY, General J. B. M. HERTZOG, and General J. C. SMUTS, representing the Meeting of the People's Delegates assembled at Vereeniging on May 15, 1902.
Mr. Advocate N. J. de Wet acted as interpreter, and as secretaries: for the British Representatives, Mr. O. Walrond, and for the Commission representing the Republics, the Rev. J. D. Kestell and Mr. D. E. van Velden.
The Commission met the British Representatives in Lord Kitchener's house at 10 a.m. After the parties had taken their seats, General BOTHA said: To begin with, I wish to say that although the negotiations have occupied a longer time than we expected, I nevertheless wish to give Your Excellencies the assurance of our good faith, and that everything is done seriously with the object of concluding the desired peace.
Further, I wish to say that everything we agree upon here must be submitted to the Representatives of our People for approval.
Thereupon the British Representatives said that they would like to hear what proposals the Commission had to make, and the letter (see page 98) written by the Committee was read.
Lord MILNER: On account of the wide difference between this proposal and that made by His Majesty's Government when we separated, I must say that I foresee no hope for good results from negotiation on this basis. I think that Lord Kitchener shares my view.
Lord KITCHENER: We can take these proposals into consideration, but I cannot see how we can bring them into accord with those of His Majesty's Government.
General BOTHA: If you take up that attitude, we would like to have a final answer from you on our proposal.
Lord MILNER: Do you wish your proposal to be referred to His Majesty's Government?
General BOTHA: Yes, unless you have authority to give a final reply.
Lord MILNER: I am convinced that your proposal will not be accepted, and if you wish to make another proposal, it will injure you to refer this proposal to His Majesty's Government.
General BOTHA: If you have authority to reject our proposed basis, we would like to see you do so.
Lord MILNER: I have no hesitation to take upon myself to reject your proposals. The instructions received by me and Lord Kitchener are so clear on this point.
General BOTHA: Must I then understand that when Lord Salisbury said some time ago that this war was not waged with a view to obtaining territory he did not mean it?
Lord KITCHENER: There is now no question of territory, as the annexation stands.
General BOTHA: I fail to see that our proposal is in conflict with the annexation.
Lord MILNER: I do not recollect the exact words of Lord Salisbury, but it is true that Lord Salisbury said that his Government did not commence the war with the object of obtaining territory, but in the course of the war circumstances developed in such a manner that no other course was open than to annex the Republics, and my Government have expressed their fixed intention not to go back on their decision.
General HERTZOG: I would like to know what is really the difference between the basis now laid down by us and that laid down by His Majesty's Government in the negotiations last year? I do not mean so much in detail as in general principle.
Lord KITCHENER: Does your proposal assume that the Boers become British citizens?
General SMUTS: I do not see that our proposal is necessarily in conflict with the proposal of last year. Our proposal only makes provision as regards the government.
Lord MILNER then read out the following clause from the terms offered last year (the Middelburg proposals, March 7, 1901): "At the earliest possible date military administration will cease and be replaced by civil administration in the form of a crown colony government. In each of the new colonies there shall be at first a Governor and Executive Council consisting of the principal officials, with a Legislative Council consisting of a certain number of official members, to whom will be added a nominated non-official element. But it is the desire of His Majesty's Government, as soon as circumstances permit, to introduce a representative element and ultimately to extend to the new colonies the privilege of self-government." "It may be," he remarked, "that I do not quite understand your proposal; but it appears to me to differ from the scheme here set forth not only in details but also in principle."
[Footnote 3: See Appendix]
General HERTZOG: I fully agree with you that it can be taken to differ in principle, but a principle that is found to vary even from principles adopted in Colonies of the same State. In other words, you find that one principle was conceded to one colony, while another principle was applied to another colony, and yet they belong to the same Empire.
Lord MILNER: Absolutely. There are different principles in different colonies, but it appears to me that the principle laid down in your proposal differs from that laid down by His Majesty's Government.
General HERTZOG: I believe that I express the opinion of the entire Commission when I say that we desire to have peace, and the remarks I have made were intended to show that I consider that if we mutually really wish to arrive at peace, we must not attach too much value to theoretical differences as long as the practical object be attained. For instance, in the various colonies now constituting the United States of America, there were different principles for different colonies. Now the principle laid down in our proposal does not differ so much from your proposal that a practical difference would be created thereby, as would be the case if negotiations were confined strictly to your basis. I suppose that England's position towards South Africa is to arrive at a certain result with us, and that that result will now be equally well attained through our proposal as through the Middelburg proposals. And therefore I ask you whether the difference is so great that an entirely new situation will be created whereby England would not attain the object she has in view?
Lord MILNER: We compare two different matters. Here in the Middelburg proposals there are a number of definite proposals, which go into a great mass of details. I do not say that these details are perfect or are perfectly expressed. And I understand that it is entirely within the authority of Lord Kitchener and myself to confer further with you with reference to details, with the object of explaining anything that might be doubtful, and perhaps to make alterations which would not fundamentally affect the scheme. If you say that your proposals are not in conflict with the Middelburg proposals, there is no reason why you should not put your proposal aside and discuss the Middelburg proposals, which are definite.
General HERTZOG: I entirely admit that you are entitled to say that there is a fundamental difference between our proposals; but whether for the purpose for which we are together here that difference is of such a nature that if we are mutually inclined to make peace, we shall not arrive at something that would satisfy us both, and, further, that if we negotiated on the basis proposed by us, the same result would not be attained as by negotiating on the Middelburg proposals, I cannot see.
Lord MILNER: I understand that you grant that there is a fundamental difference between the two bases. Well, then I consider that we are not authorised to negotiate on a basis differing from that laid down in the last despatch from H.M. Government, and also differing from that contained in the Middelburg proposals. I may say that in their last message H.M. Government went as far as they possibly could to meet you. The whole spirit of the cablegram was to that effect.
Chief Commandant DE WET: You must understand that if I speak I do not do so as a lawyer. (Lord Kitchener, laughing: "It's the same case with me.") I fully agree with what General Botha and General Hertzog have said with reference to our being in earnest to establish peace; but to be brief I must say I did not understand that His Excellency Lord Milner could have intended, as I also view the matter, that we went to the people with the Middelburg proposals with the idea of returning with those proposals.
Lord MILNER: If I have given that impression it is not quite what I mean. But I think that you went to the people with the last message from His Majesty's Government in your minds, and it was clear from that message that His Majesty's Government were not prepared to take any terms into consideration which differed widely from the principle laid down in the Middelburg proposals.
Chief Commandant DE WET: So I understand the matter, too, and therefore we have come with a proposal that does not differ so much from those proposals.
General SMUTS: I had thought that the vital principle for your Government was to get the independence out of the way. And here the independence of the two Republics, as far as foreign relations are concerned, is given away. I therefore thought that possibly the two parties would come to an arrangement on that basis. I did not think that the Middelburg terms were essential for the establishment of peace.
Lord MILNER: Not in details, but in general principles. If the British Government has laid down a basis, and you have had weeks to consider the matter, it will never do that you simply set it aside. Lord Kitchener has given you considerable time to consult the people; and now you come back and without even referring to the Middelburg proposals, you set aside those terms or that basis, and propose entirely different terms, and say: "Let us negotiate on them." I do not think that I and Lord Kitchener ought to do it; but if he takes another view the British Government can be asked whether they are prepared to set aside all the previous discussions and to commence now on a new basis.
Chief Commandant DE WET: We naturally cannot prevent Lord Kitchener from putting any question he pleases to his Government, but at the same time it is our request that you cable our request to the British Government.
General BOTHA: I cannot see that we have come here with a new basis, because in consequence of the negotiations during last April you were instructed by the British Government to encourage us to put forward new proposals. Our proposal stands in direct connection with that desire.
Lord MILNER: I did my best to get new proposals from you. But you would not make them. You forced the British Government to make proposals.
General BOTHA: I am of opinion that both parties should co-operate.
Lord KITCHENER: You were asked to put forward proposals, but you refused, and now after the British Government has made proposals you come forward with a proposal.
General DE LA REY: I think it was in consequence of the correspondence between the Netherlands and British Governments that we made our proposals. That correspondence was the commencement of the negotiations.
Chief Commandant DE WET: If we had had to make new proposals in April we would not have been able to put forward a proposal so reasonable and advantageous to the British Government as we do now, because unless the people consented we would have had to insist on retaining our entire independence.
Lord MILNER: I wish to remind you of what has taken place, and I do not do so to put you in the wrong, but to make the position clear, for these matters are very plain. You came and made a certain proposal. The British Government gave a clear reply--they refused to accept it. The reply was entirely straightforward and quite intelligible; and at the same time the British Government said: "We are desirous of peace; will you make other proposals?" You said: "No, we have no authority to do so without consulting the people." We admitted that argument. Then you said: "Let the British Government make proposals." The British Government did so, and they are equally entitled to an answer. What is the position you place Lord Kitchener and me in? You return with an entirely new proposal and say nothing of ours. This is not a reasonable treatment of the British Government, and we ought not to take your proposal into consideration.
General HERTZOG: I have attempted to point out that our reply really cannot be taken as no reply to the proposals of the British Government, because the great question raised in the correspondence last April between us and the British Government turned on the independence, and now after having consulted the people we come and say: "We are prepared to abandon the independence, and we define to what extent." And now, as General Smuts has said, that is exactly the basis that we lay down here in our proposal.
Lord MILNER: You say you abandon the independence as far as foreign relations are concerned?
General HERTZOG: Yes, but you must understand that this is only a basis, which we shall more fully specify later.
General SMUTS: The independence is abandoned as far as foreign relations are concerned, and with reference to the internal government, that is placed under the supervision of the British Government, so that the effect of these two clauses is: That the independence is abandoned and that the two Republics cannot after that be considered as sovereign States.
Lord MILNER: I understand very well that they would not then be sovereign States, but my mind is not clear enough to be able to say what they would virtually be.
Lord KITCHENER: They would be a new kind of "International Animal."
General SMUTS: As history teaches us, it has happened before that questions were solved by compromises. And this draft proposal is as near as we can come to colonial government.
Lord KITCHENER: Do you accept the annexations?
General SMUTS: Not formally, but I do not understand that this proposal would be in conflict with the annexation proclamations.
Lord KITCHENER: I fear that my mind is not clear enough to understand this. There will have to be two Governments in one State. And how do you propose that the government should be carried on?
General SMUTS: A fuller explanation would have to be given to the word supervision; and I thought that this was exactly the point which could be further discussed, and on which we could negotiate.
Lord MILNER: I shall certainly not depart from a clear basis to accept a vague basis.
Lord KITCHENER: I feel convinced that your proposal could never be carried out in the practical government of a country.
Chief Commandant DE WET: I am also of opinion that our proposal is not developed, just as little as the Middelburg proposals. This was clearly intimated by Lord Kitchener and Lord Milner when those proposals were made; and they were only considered as a basis on which we could negotiate, so that the matter could be set going. We naturally cannot bind the British Government to accept our explanations; but it is in any case a basis.
Lord MILNER: I am very anxious that these discussions should not end in smoke, and would not allow any formal point to stand in the way; but to depart from the definite proposals of Middelburg (March 7th, 1901) to a thing like this, and to begin discussions anew thereon on something that is very vague, will certainly land us in difficulties. I believe that we are entitled to hold you to the Middelburg proposals, which we can modify as far as details are concerned.
General BOTHA: Perhaps it will be well that you first reply to our proposal.
Chief Commandant DE WET: I understand that unless Your Excellencies are prepared to give a final answer to our proposals it would not be unreasonable of us to request that you first submit them to your Government.
General BOTHA: We have come here with the earnest desire to conclude peace, and I think that if our proposal is developed Boer and Briton will be able to live here side by side; and I assume that it is the desire of both parties not to suppress one race. We wish to conclude a peace, with which both parties are satisfied, and which will be permanent in South Africa.
Lord MILNER: Our object is the same.
Lord KITCHENER: Your proposal will cause important alterations in our proposals, to which we, in my opinion, cannot agree.
General BOTHA: I think that especially because a proposal has been made from your side you must give a decided answer to our proposal.
Lord KITCHENER and Lord MILNER: Then alter your proposal into ours.
Lord MILNER: I do not believe that the British Government is prepared to go further to meet you than they have gone in their last proposals. In their opinion they went far on the way to peace, further than the views of the British public.
Lord KITCHENER: The difference between our proposals, appears to me, to be too wide.
General BOTHA: We always remain under the supervision of the British Government.
Lord KITCHENER: Will you then consider yourselves as British subjects? "Supervision" is a new word, and "Suzerainty" has given us too much trouble.
General HERTZOG: The idea is not so new. There are, indeed, various kinds of States which all belong to the British Empire, Basutoland, for instance.
Lord MILNER: There are various kinds, but this is a new kind.
General HERTZOG: I trust Your Excellencies will understand us. We came here not to lose a minute of time. We have been to the people. We know what the people want and what the spirit prevailing amongst them is. If we therefore hand in a proposal we have to take two matters into consideration: (1) A proposal that will meet the British Government in a reasonable manner; and (2) A proposal which we have reasonable ground for believing our people will accept. For these reasons we have submitted a proposal, and now we are in the disadvantageous position that we are here before Your Excellencies, who have not full authority to decide finally.
Lord KITCHENER: We are in the same position as you.
General HERTZOG: We suggest something which we know to be in accordance with the spirit of our people, but it is impossible for us to do something that is contrary to that spirit.
Lord MILNER: Must we understand that the Middelburg proposals are not in the spirit of what your people wish?
General SMUTS: No answer has yet been given thereon. The only resolution taken by the meeting of representatives is that which we have submitted here.
Lord KITCHENER: Are you prepared to drop your proposal and to hand in another nearer to the Middelburg proposals? We must try to find a middle way. If we are here to try to arrive at something, let us try to get something that we can discuss. Shall we make a new proposal?
General SMUTS: If there is a final answer to our proposal, then we can take into consideration the question of putting forward a new one.
Lord MILNER: I believe the fact that you have refused to entertain the proposals from the British Government does not justify us to deal with your proposal. No, let us say that your reply is contained therein.
General SMUTS: I understand the position as follows: The British Government has rejected our proposals, and at the same they point to the old basis but without precluding us from making new proposals.
Lord MILNER: The entire difference between you and me is that I read the letter of March 7th, 1901, as being the extreme concession that the British Government could make, not so much to bind us to every clause and sentence of the proposals contained therein, but as an indication of how far they were prepared generally to go. Your reply now is no reply.
Lord KITCHENER read out his telegram, dated "April 14th, 1902: A difficulty has arisen in getting on with the proceedings. The representatives state that constitutionally they have no power to discuss terms based on the surrender of independence, inasmuch as only the burghers can agree to such a basis; therefore, if they were to propose terms, it would put them in a false position with regard to their people. If, however, His Majesty's Government could state the terms that subsequent to relinquishment of independence, they would be prepared to grant, the representatives, after asking for the necessary explanations, without any expression of approval or disapproval, would submit such conditions to their people." He continued: "You have evidently not adhered to what you undertook in this telegram."
Chief Commandant DE WET: If it was the intention that we should give an answer only to the basis given us in the British proposals, it would not have been necessary for the people to come to Vereeniging. But yet we have virtually come with something which in the proper sense of the word is almost similar to the Middelburg proposals, and which meets the British Government as far as possible.
General BOTHA: I do not see why we should so insist on our proposal. If it is not to the satisfaction of Your Excellencies, if it is not acceptable, give us a definite reply.
Lord MILNER: We want to have a reply to the proposal made by us.
General SMUTS: I do not understand that a proposal was made by the British Government. A certain basis only was laid down, and no formal answer is therefore necessary.
Lord MILNER: Our proposals are six times as definite as yours, and I am of opinion that the British Government are entitled to know whether your people are inclined to come to terms on the general lines of their proposals.
Lord KITCHENER: This is an entirely new proposal. How would it be if you went back to the people and asked them whether they would not accept our proposals?
General SMUTS: You must understand that the Middelburg proposals, with all that took place here in April, was read out to the people. Their reply was neither yes nor no, but the election of delegates. These delegates have given no reply yet. They are still considering the matter, and to save time they have delegated us to see whether we could not come to an agreement.
Lord MILNER: We are deviating from the agreement. Tell us what alterations you desire, and then lay our proposals before your people.
Lord KITCHENER: If you agree that your proposal is not in conflict with the annexation, then we have done something.
General SMUTS: Is it your opinion that our proposal must be set aside?
Lord KITCHENER: Yes, certainly. It is impossible for us to act on it.
Lord MILNER: We cannot take your proposal into consideration. We can send it to England, but it will certainly contribute to injure the negotiations. This is my personal opinion, which, of course, you need not accept. We can only say that this is all the reply that we can get out of you.
Lord KITCHENER: It will be better to draft a new document in which we note what is important and what not, and omit the unimportant.
General SMUTS: But Point 3 of our proposal has not even been touched upon. We are prepared to give up a portion of our territory.
Lord MILNER: That would be inconsistent with the annexation of the whole. If the whole is annexed by us, how can you part with a portion of it?
General SMUTS: The portion we gave up would then become a crown colony. The rest would be governed as proposed here.
Lord MILNER: You mean that one portion would become a British Colony of the ordinary type, and the other portion a Protected Republic?
Lord KITCHENER: Two forms of government in the same country would cause great friction. Our proposals are too divergent. From a military point of view, the two forms of government could not exist. We would be at war again in a year's time.
The meeting then adjourned until the afternoon.
During the adjournment the Republican Commission discussed the situation and sent General Smuts to talk over a few matters with Lord Kitchener and Lord Milner.
The Conference resumed at 4 o'clock.
Lord MILNER: In consequence of an informal conversation between General Smuts and ourselves, Lord Kitchener and I have drafted a document, which indicates the form in which we think the only agreement which can be entered into must be worded. This is a draft document which we think the Governments can subscribe to. Our idea is that after it has been considered here, it can be submitted to the burghers, and you can ask them: "Do you agree to our signing it?"
The document read as follows:
"The undersigned Leaders of the Burgher forces in the Field, accepting on behalf of themselves and the said Burghers the Annexations notified in Lord ROBERTS' Proclamations, dated respectively, the 24th day of May in the year of our LORD 1900, and No. 15 dated the 1st day of September in the year of our LORD 1900, and accepting as a result thereof their position as British Citizens, agree forthwith to lay down their arms, handing over all Guns, Rifles, and Munitions of war in their possession or under their control, and to desist from any further resistance to the Authority of His Majesty King Edward VII. or his successors.
"They take this course on the faith of the Assurances of His Majesty's Government that they and the Burghers surrendering with them will not be deprived of their personal freedom or their property, and that the future action of His Majesty's Government in dealing with the results of the war will be in accordance with the declaration set forth below.
"It is clearly understood that all Burghers, now Prisoners of war, must, in order to participate in the benefits of the aforesaid Assurances, signify their acceptance of the position as British Citizens."
[Illustration: Facsimile of a page of the Peace Proposals as submitted by the British Representatives, and amended by the Boer Representatives. The alterations are in the handwriting of Generals Smuts and Hertzog.]
General BOTHA: Must we understand that our proposal has now been entirely rejected?
Lord MILNER and Lord KITCHENER: Yes.
General BOTHA: Then I must understand that you are going to adhere to the Middelburg proposals only?
Lord KITCHENER: No, we can alter them.
Lord MILNER: This draft document was originally drawn up to be attached to the Middelburg proposals; but instead of the Middelburg proposals, this document has now been substituted to enable us to cast those proposals in another form.
General SMUTS: If, then, the idea is to alter the Middelburg proposals, would it not be best to do so now and to attach them to this document?
Lord MILNER: What takes the place of the Middelburg proposals must be attached to this document as a schedule, and we must jointly work out the schedule.
General SMUTS: I think it would be better if you alter the proposal yourselves and then submit it to us for consideration, so that we can consider what we shall do with it.
Lord KITCHENER: I am of opinion that a sub-committee out of yourselves should be appointed to do that.
Lord MILNER: My idea is that the schedule can be drafted by two or three of us, to be then considered by us as a whole.
General SMUTS: We would like to consider first whether we shall assist.
Lord MILNER: I am willing to draft it with you or to let you draw it up alone, but on the ground of my experience I do not wish to do it alone.
General SMUTS: If we sign this document, would not the effect of it be that we leaders would make ourselves responsible for the burghers laying down their arms?
Lord MILNER: Yes, if the arms are not laid down, everything is a failure.
Lord KITCHENER: I do not think so. If all do not lay down their arms, the signatories cannot help it. There will always be some dissatisfied ones.
General SMUTS: The document does not say so.
Lord KITCHENER: You can draft it differently.
General DE LA REY: Then there will be no peace, for a portion of the burghers will remain to continue the war.
Lord MILNER: If the meeting of Representatives agrees to your signing this document, then it certainly means that the burghers as a body agree to it. And those who do not agree to it--I do not know what I shall call them--"outlaws." We cannot suppose such a thing.
General BOTHA: That is why we want a peace that will be honourable for both parties. And as I understand this document, we are now going further; we are not only giving up our independence, but every burgher is bound hand and foot. And where is, then, the honourable peace for us? If we make peace we must do so as people who must live and die here. We must not conclude a peace that is offensive to the feelings of one party. I wish to do everything that is in my power to attain that object, but it appears to me that this document demands too much, because, if I understand aright, we must give up the independence, everyone must lay down his arms, and the leaders must, in addition, sign a promise.
Lord MILNER: All that we want is that those persons must live together in peace as British citizens. If we do not attain that, I do not know what we shall get.
Lord KITCHENER: I believe that the Commandant General does not realise what the schedule contains. We say therein what we shall give. Perhaps it will be best if the schedule comes first, and then you will see that an honourable peace is proposed.
General BOTHA: Set the document forth more fully.
Lord KITCHENER and Lord MILNER: You must help us. We do not know what the burghers desire.
Chief Commandant DE WET: To sign this document will place us in the position which the Commandant General has described in plain words.
General DE LA REY: We cannot form an opinion about a thing that has not been worked out. I have no objection to the appointment of a sub-committee from our midst to assist.
General BOTHA: I also have no objection, for I clearly understand that no one is bound.
Lord KITCHENER: No, no one is bound.
General DE LA REY: We also wish to have the matter at an end, and to know what we have before us.
Chief Commandant DE WET: I wish it to be plainly understood that I see no chance to accept a body of which I have here only seen the head. This appears to me to be an unsurmountable difficulty. Holding this opinion, it would not be honest of me to remain silent; it would not be honest to Your Excellencies.
Lord KITCHENER: I think it would be better that General de Wet first saw the entire document before he gives his opinion.
It was then agreed that General Hertzog and General Smuts would act as a sub-committee to make a complete draft with Lord Kitchener and Lord Milner, advised by Sir Richard Solomon.
The meeting then adjourned.
WEDNESDAY, MAY 21, 1902.
The Conference was resumed.
Lord Milner submitted the document which had been drawn up during the adjournment with the assistance of the sub-committee.
The names of the members of the two Republican Governments were now filled in.
The document given hereunder was telegraphed to the British Government, the last paragraph of Clause II, which deals with the Government notes, the receipts and the sum of £3,000,000, having been added during the Conference between all the representatives of both parties on the terms drafted by the sub-committee. (See page 125.)
[Illustration: Facsimile of a page of the Peace Proposals as submitted by the British and amended by the Boer Representatives. The alterations are in the handwriting of General Smuts and Mr. Advocate N. J. de Wet.]
The document was read out in English and Dutch, and was as follows:--
General Lord KITCHENER OF KHARTOUM, Commanding in Chief,
His Excellency Lord MILNER, High Commissioner, on behalf of the BRITISH GOVERNMENT,
Messrs. S. W. BURGER, F. W. REITZ, LOUIS BOTHA, J. H. DE LA REY, L. J. MEYER, and J. C. KROGH, acting as the GOVERNMENT of the SOUTH AFRICAN REPUBLIC,
Messrs. M. T. STEYN, W. J. C. BREBNER, C. R. DE WET, J. B. M. HERTZOG, and C. OLIVIER, acting as the GOVERNMENT of the ORANGE FREE STATE, on behalf of their respective BURGHERS,
Desirous to terminate the present hostilities, agree on the following articles:--
1. The BURGHER Forces in the Field will forthwith lay down their Arms, handing over all Guns, Rifles, and Munitions of War in their possession or under their control, and desist from any further resistance to the Authority of His MAJESTY KING EDWARD VII., whom they recognise as their lawful SOVEREIGN.
The manner and details of this surrender will be arranged between Lord Kitchener and Commandant General Botha, Assistant Commandant-General de la Rey, and Chief Commandant de Wet.
2. BURGHERS in the Field outside the limits of the TRANSVAAL or ORANGE RIVER COLONY, on surrendering, will be brought back to their homes.
3. All Prisoners of War, at present outside of South Africa, who are Burghers, will, on their declaring their acceptance of the position of Subjects of His MAJESTY KING EDWARD VII., be brought back to the places where they were domiciled before the War.
4. The BURGHERS so surrendering or returning will not be deprived of their personal liberty or their property.
5. No Proceedings, CIVIL or CRIMINAL, will be taken against any of the BURGHERS so surrendering or returning for any Acts in connection with the prosecution of the War.
6. The DUTCH language will be taught in public schools in the TRANSVAAL and the ORANGE RIVER COLONY where the Parents of the Children desire it, and will be allowed in COURTS of LAW when necessary for the better and more effectual Administration of Justice.
7. The Possession of RIFLES will be allowed in the TRANSVAAL and ORANGE RIVER COLONY to persons requiring them for their Protection, on taking out a licence according to Law.
8. MILITARY ADMINISTRATION in the TRANSVAAL and ORANGE RIVER COLONY will at the earliest possible date be succeeded by CIVIL GOVERNMENT, and, as soon as circumstances permit, Representative Institutions, leading up to Self-Government, will be introduced.
9. The question of granting the Franchise to natives will not be decided until after the Introduction of Self-Government.
10. No Special Tax will be imposed on Landed Property in the TRANSVAAL and ORANGE RIVER COLONY to defray the Expenses of the War.
11. A JUDICIAL COMMISSION will be appointed to which Government Notes issued under Law No. 1 of 1900 of the SOUTH AFRICAN REPUBLIC may be presented within six months.
All such notes as are found to have been duly issued in the terms of that law, and for which the persons presenting them have given valuable consideration, will be paid, but without interest.
All receipts given by the Officers in the Field of the late Republics, or under their orders, may likewise be presented to the said Commission within six months, and if found to have been given bona fide for goods used by the Burgher Forces in the Field, will be paid out to the persons to whom they were originally given. The sum payable in respect of the said Government Notes and Receipts shall not exceed £3,000,000 sterling, and if the total amount of such Notes and Receipts approved by the Commission is more than that sum, there shall be a pro rata diminution. Facilities will be afforded the Prisoners of War to present their Government Notes and Receipts within the six months aforesaid.
12. As soon as conditions permit, a Commission, on which the local inhabitants will be represented, will be appointed in each district of the TRANSVAAL and ORANGE RIVER COLONY, under the Presidency of a Magistrate or other Official, for the purpose of assisting the restoration of the people to their homes, and supplying those who, owing to war losses, are unable to provide for themselves with food, shelter, and the necessary amount of seed, stock, implements, &c., indispensable to the resumption of their normal occupations. Funds for this purpose will be advanced by Government free of interest and repayable over a period of years.
Lord MILNER: If we agree, it is the English document that will be telegraphed to England, and it is that document upon which His Majesty's Government will decide and which will be signed.
General BOTHA: Will a Dutch translation not be attached to it?
Lord MILNER: I have no objection that a Dutch translation be annexed. Well, that is the document that we are prepared to submit to the British Government.
General BOTHA: There are a few points I wish to talk about. The first is with reference to receipts given by our officers. I would like to have them added to the paragraph referring to the Government notes. These receipts were given on instructions issued by our Government for the purchase of cattle or grain or necessaries, for the support of our commandos, and the chief officers now here, as well as all other officers, have acted in accordance with these instructions and issued receipts. For this reason, I make this request. Some of these receipts were discharged in full, and others in part, in Government notes, but many were not paid at all. I do not think that the amount is large, but it will strengthen our hands by enabling us honourably to terminate this matter, because our honour is in so far concerned that we have signed these receipts. It will be a great point for us if we can meet the delegates, most of whom are officers, and inform them that they have been protected in this matter.
Lord KITCHENER: I understand that General Botha does not refer to commandeer, or requisition notes, but only to actual receipts given on the Treasury.
Lord MILNER: I do not see the difference between these receipts and commandeer notes. The willingness of people to sell goods does not in my opinion make any difference in a legal document.
Lord KITCHENER: I think that it does make a difference if it is an order on the Treasury or a requisition note. I should limit this to receipts on the Treasury, issued in accordance with the law, which allowed that a certain sum could be spent.
Chief Commandant DE WET: In the Free State no resolution was taken fixing the amount that could be spent.
Lord KITCHENER: Do you mean that this is an undefined amount, or that it falls under the amount fixed by the Volksraad?
General SMUTS: The Volksraad authorised the Government to issue notes to a certain amount, which was done. Apart from this law, the officers in the field had the right to make purchases on behalf of the commandos and to grant receipts therefor.
Lord MILNER: I see no difference between these receipts and requisition notes, and, besides, it is for an unlimited amount.
General SMUTS: These receipts were issued under an entirely different law. They were not paid out of the credit voted by the Volksraad.
Chief Commandant DE WET: I wish it to be plainly understood that I fully agree with what has been said by the Commandant General, that the honour of every officer is affected by these documents. And if Your Excellencies agree, you give us a powerful weapon with which we can return to the Delegates.
Lord MILNER: The proposal is, in fact, that the British Government must pay all the money borrowed by the Republics to fight them.
Chief Commandant DE WET: But we were an honourable party in the fight, and if we cease to be a party, it is only reasonable that we are met on this matter.
General BOTHA: Must I understand from your attitude that we must hand over everything, and that you must walk off with the assets of our country, which amount to millions and millions, and take no responsibility on yourselves for the debts? We are acknowledged by you as a belligerent party, and, therefore, we have the more right to expect that if you walk off with the assets of the country, you must also take upon yourselves the responsibility for the debts; if the British Government attains its great object, then a minor matter like this ought not to stand in the way. We do not come here to haggle at little things, but to contend for something that is an actual difficulty, and you must agree that if we tell you something here, we really mean it. And if we wish to make peace, every one must not draw his own line, but we must take each other by the hand. Now we say that this matter stands in our way. We personally have not signed so many receipts, but the inferior officers who have signed the most mainly constitute the meeting at Vereeniging. In some cases special persons were appointed entrusted with this work.
Lord MILNER: We do not take over the assets of the country without its liabilities. We take over all the debts which the country had before the war, and we have even agreed to take over a debt--a lawful debt--in the shape of notes, the contracting of which we are aware was necessary only on account of the war, and therefore we already pay a share of the expenses incurred to fight us. I thought that this was a very great concession, and when I agreed to put it down, I said that I thought, and I still think so, that the British Government would take exception to it, although I hope that they will not do so. But to go further than that and to ask that we shall pay not only a debt incurred for the purposes of the war, but every debt incurred by every officer of both armies for the purpose of fighting us, is in my opinion a very extreme proposal. In reply to what General Botha has said, I must say that the Commission appear to think that we have no one behind us whose feelings and prejudices (if you wish it) we must consider. If this will cause you difficulty with your burghers, the proposal now made will, I am sure, cause the British Government the greatest difficulties with the people whose feelings they must consider.
Chief Commandant DE WET: I would like to explain the position of the Orange Free State. In the Transvaal a law was passed authorising the Government to issue £1,000,000 in notes. In the Orange Free State this was not done, because the Government had the right to pay with receipts, and we thought that a receipt was as good and lawful as the notes. And therefore these matters have the same importance for me.
General BOTHA: I don't think that we should be so technical, especially not in your case, because our being together here is with the object of causing hostilities which involve great expenditure of money every month, to cease, and our meeting can have the result of speedily putting an end to these costs. And therefore, by accepting our proposal and paying the receipts, you will greatly reduce your expenses. It will be much cheaper to terminate the war by co-operation than to let the negotiations be broken off; and therefore I think that we must accede to points which stand in the way.
Chief Commandant DE WET: I can give His Excellency Lord Milner the assurance that the idea always lived with the people that, even if everything was lost, they would still, after the war, receive the money in payment of the receipts. And therefore if this is not conceded I cannot conceive what the result will be. I fear that result, and hope that you will try to obviate it.
General BOTHA: It cannot be a particularly large amount; but we do not know how much it is.
Chief Commandant DE WET: You can well imagine that our expenditure was as a drop in a bucket compared with yours. And if I am not mistaken, the Orange Free State had three-quarters of a million pounds when we commenced the war; and the expenditure by means of receipts began after that amount was exhausted. Your Excellencies must therefore admit that these receipts impose upon us the same obligation towards creditors as any other debt would have done.
General BOTHA: You have already many of our notes in your possession. In one place, for instance, 50,000 were hidden and found by you.
General SMUTS: I have already privately used the argument with Lord Milner that what we are now contending for has in principle already been conceded by Lord Kitchener. In the Middelburg proposals the payment of the Government notes was refused, but it was laid down that receipts to the value of £1,000,000 would be paid out, and if this should now be withdrawn it would certainly be a deviation from the Middelburg proposals. The payment of notes is something lawful, and stands on another footing; and I cannot understand how the payment thereof could have been refused in the Middelburg proposals, and therefore an agreement to pay them now is reasonable. But with reference to receipts, the payment of them was partially acceded to, and now it is withdrawn. I think that when we have arrived at such a stage in the negotiations as we have now, then a point such as this, which was as good as agreed upon, must no longer be a stumbling-block to a final agreement. I believe that this amount is small. I was with General de la Rey for one year in command of the half of the South African Republic. Accounts were kept of all receipts, and where the books are no longer in our possession they are in your possession. The issue of these receipts took place in proper order and under proper regulations, and books thereof were kept. As far as I have been able to go into the matter the amount of receipts is really small. And although Lord Milner recoils from the payment of an enormous amount which may be presented for payment if our proposal be accepted, yet I personally think that the fear is vain, and that the amount will prove to be much less than you probably think.
Lord MILNER: I do not think it is so much a question of the amount. This payment of Government notes and requisition notes is, in my opinion, very reprehensible. I believe that in this respect I feel what the great majority of the British people feels, that it would rather expend a large sum after the war to improve the condition of the people that has fought against them, than pay a smaller amount towards the expenses incurred in fighting them. Whether this be right or wrong, it is a strong feeling with which you must reckon. We do not wish to pay the accounts of both parties, and the clause in the Middelburg proposals with reference thereto was, in my opinion, always one of the bad ones in that document. If something of this kind must be done, then I think that the payment of the Government notes is not so bad as the payment of the requisition notes. I put the point with reference to the payment of notes in this draft proposal, because I thought that if a choice had to be made between the payment of the one or the other, you would consider it better that the Government notes were paid. If it is considered better to go back to the Middelburg proposals on this point, then, however much I object to it, I would agree, if Lord Kitchener agrees.
General SMUTS: I fear that we cannot agree to that, because we consider the Government notes indisputable.
General HERTZOG: I do not think that Your Excellency represents the matter fairly when you say, for instance, that you do not wish to pay the accounts of both parties. There is one matter with reference to the Orange Free State which we must specially note. We have contracted no loans and we have issued no Government notes. The notes we used were South African Republic notes, of which some were sent to the Orange Free State also. Our (Orange Free State) law is based on the principle that in case of war, all cost could be met by commandeering notes. This was acted on in the Orange Free State, and receipts in the usual form or in the shape of requisition notes were given. If we take this into consideration, and at the same time also the fact that we have always acted, and still act, as a party which is a lawful belligerent party, then we come and only say: from our side we give all that we possess, and ask the other party to acknowledge only that which if we had concluded a loan would in any case, in the shape of a public loan, have fallen on the British Government, which takes over everything from us. Lord Milner will thus understand that from our point of view it is of as much importance for us to obtain payment of these receipts as it will be for the South African Republic to obtain the taking over by the British Government of the liability of a loan concluded before the war. But I can even go further and give Lord Milner the assurance that if we had also concluded a loan before the war, we could never have acted so economically as we have done by using receipts. That was also actually the reason why the Orange Free State never wished to conclude a loan beforehand, because now we have purchased only what was absolutely necessary for the day and for the circumstances. So that really Lord Milner will have to admit that we stand in the same position in respect to those who now hold receipts as we would have stood to any other creditor that we may have had before the war. I have already informally pointed this out to Lord Milner, and can now only express my agreement with what the Commandant General has said that this difficulty is almost insurmountable.
Lord MILNER: We can refer this to our Government; but your proposal is entirely in conflict with the Middelburg proposals, because in them it was absolutely refused to take over all State debts.
Lord KITCHENER: I wish that we could know the amount.
General DE LA REY: I issued Government notes to the value of between £20,000 and £40,000; but to what amount receipts were issued I cannot say.
Lord MILNER: There is really a compromise possible, namely, to allow these notes and receipts to be presented, and to introduce again the limit of £1,000,000.
Lord KITCHENER: Would that meet your difficulty?
General BOTHA: No.
Lord KITCHENER: Would £2,000,000 or £3,000,000 meet you? We want to have a limit, so as to know what to do.
Chief Commandant DE WET: It is impossible to fix an amount.
Lord KITCHENER: If you could fix a limit it would clear up the matter.
Chief Commandant DE WET: With that I fully agree. I appreciate your standpoint, but it is an absolute impossibility to name the amount. Let us withdraw for a moment to discuss this point.
The meeting then adjourned and met again at 2.30 o'clock.
Chief Commandant DE WET: We have agreed to fix an amount of £3,000,000 for Government notes and receipts, which can be reduced pro rata if this amount is not sufficient. We have drafted a clause to submit to you.
General Smuts read the draft, which is embodied in the last paragraph of Clause 11 of the draft agreement. (See p. 117.)
In reply to Lord Kitchener:
Chief Commandant DE WET said: The prisoners-of-war on the various islands who hold such notes ought also to have the opportunity for presenting them.
Lord MILNER: What is your next point? We now understand what your views are on this matter.
General BOTHA: Must I understand that we pass from this point?
Lord MILNER: That document contains your views which we now know.
General BOTHA: We must know what we must say to our delegates.
Lord KITCHENER: Is that the only point or will other points be raised?
General BOTHA: There is another point with reference to the protection of debtors. This is a serious, a vital question for us.
Lord MILNER: There must be a good understanding between us.... Let everything be embodied in one document.
General SMUTS: Most of the debts incurred before the war will be payable at the conclusion of the war. And, if the debtors cannot pay, we are afraid it will be ruination for a large proportion of the population. And we would like to see that steps are taken to prevent this. If Lord Milner intends to take such steps we should like to be informed what they are.
Lord MILNER: I think it would be better if you made a proposal on this point.
General SMUTS: Our proposal generally would be: that all interest which became payable during the war be added to the principal sum, and that the payment of the principal be put off until twelve months after the conclusion of the war.
Lord KITCHENER: Is it necessary to have this as a proposal?
General SMUTS: If the Government is prepared to meet this difficulty it is unnecessary to make a formal clause of it in the draft agreement.
Lord MILNER: According to my view our Government makes certain promises in this document, and I am of opinion that all promises to which reference will later on be made must be embodied herein. Any matter on which it is desired to bind the Government must be in this document and not outside it. I will not say that I want further clauses, but above all I wish to prevent misunderstanding.
General SMUTS: In that case we are prepared to propose a clause to meet this difficulty.
General BOTHA: We raise this point so that early measures may be taken if we come to an understanding. If a great portion of the population become subjects of His Majesty, it is to the interest of everyone, especially of the Government, to see that these people are not ruined. They will be thrown on the Government, who will have to care for them. If we do not take any steps now then speculators who have bought up debts will demand payment immediately after peace is concluded; and as soon as the courts of law are open they can sue the debtors, and we want to guard against that.
Lord MILNER: I agree with the Commandant General that this is the view which I take of the matter, and that as soon as these people become subjects of His Majesty they must be cared for. But I think it is neither necessary nor advisable to lay down in all particulars the way in which His Majesty's Government must care for these people. I think that there is perhaps an idea--perhaps a natural idea--that because we have fought the burghers therefore when peace is concluded there will be a feeling of enmity towards them. The contrary, however, is the truth. From the moment hostilities cease our desire would naturally be to try to gain the confidence of the burghers, and to attend to the interests of the people. But if we must bind ourselves beforehand with reference to the manner with which we shall deal with all sorts of complicated legal questions, this will certainly lead to misunderstanding. Naturally if a certain amount of confidence is not reposed in us, that we shall try to be a just government, and try to keep the balance even between the various classes of His Majesty's subjects, then all I can say is this: Put in writing all that you can possibly think of, and let us submit it to His Majesty's Government and see what they think of it.
Chief Commandant DE WET: I hope it will not be presumed that we sit here to bind the hands of His Majesty's Government. Sufficient other points will continually crop up by means of which the Government can gain the confidence of the population. But with reference to the financial condition of the burghers who have been entirely ruined, we feel ourselves obliged to make some arrangement which will be a weapon in our hand when we return to the delegates.
General BOTHA: I do not quite understand Lord Milner. I did not understand from Chamberlain's telegram that we should make new proposals to bind your hands. I understood that proposals should be made with the object and the wish to secure peace.
Lord KITCHENER: I do not think it quite necessary to embody this proposal in the document. It concerns a very complicated legal question, as to what the rights of creditors and debtors will be, and what the law in the Transvaal precisely is on this subject. I think that everyone may feel assured that the interests of the Boers will be protected equally well by the Government in every possible way, whether this point is actually stipulated or whether it is left over to the Government with the recommendation of this Commission to take the matter into serious consideration. I think that my suggestion is a better way of dealing with such a complicated question. Let the attention of the Government rather be drawn to it. I may be wrong, but as far as I know this will be an intricate question for lawyers, and it would take a long time to state it clearly. It is the desire of us all that you should go to the meeting of your delegates so equipped that you will be able to come to a decision; and I would therefore suggest that you be satisfied that the matter has been brought before us, and entered on the minutes of the meeting. That is, I believe, as far as it is necessary for you to go. The matter can then be taken into serious consideration, not only here, but also in England. And you can be perfectly assured that your interests will be considered in every possible way.
General DE LA REY: I think that the matter has been sufficiently brought to the notice of Your Excellencies, and that it need not be embodied in the draft contract, because by doing so one might possibly be infringing on legal principles.
Chief Commandant DE WET: I proceed from this standpoint: There are two parties, and the one ceases entirely to exist, and it is thus natural that that party cannot allow such a vital question to pass by unobserved. And therefore I cannot approve of it that the matter be not inserted in the draft contract. It will not be necessary to bind the Military Government that exists at present and will continue to exist after the war.
Lord KITCHENER: But this question will have to be dealt with by the civil Government. It is a matter for lawyers, and will have to be submitted to them and demand much consideration.
General BOTHA: If hostilities are terminated now a burgher can be sued for debt incurred before the war. I prefer this request, because our law lays down that no burgher can be sued until sixty days after the conclusion of peace.
Lord KITCHENER: You may rest fully assured that when the war is over every burgher will have the absolute right to have his position taken into consideration on all points, and that his interests will be protected by the Government just as much, I believe, under the new as under the old régime.
General BOTHA: I understand that quite well; but the possibility exists that syndicates may be formed to buy up all debts, and the people be ruined before a single burgher is in a position to earn something or to establish his position.
Lord KITCHENER: I quite agree with the Commandant General, and he does right to raise this question. But I do not believe that the draft contract is the place in which to bring the question forward. When there is peace, it is the duty of everyone to draw the attention of the Government to what is necessary to help the people. But to imagine difficulties now, and to try to put them right, appears to me to be an endless matter, for which this document is not intended.
Chief Commandant DE WET: I understand that this is something that must be settled by a proclamation, but I want to have as many weapons as possible in my hand when I go back to the Delegates; and one of the first questions which they will put is: "What guarantees have we that we shall not be ruined by our creditors?" And what objection is there that a draft proclamation be given to us to take to Vereeniging, which will be promulgated as soon as peace is concluded?
Lord KITCHENER: But this will be something apart from this agreement.
Chief Commandant DE WET: Yes.
Lord MILNER: What is the good of it then?
Chief Commandant DE WET: It is such a vital question for us that it cannot be taken amiss in us if we insist upon it, because we must give up everything.
Lord KITCHENER: Of course no one takes it amiss in you.
Lord MILNER: But I must point out without taking it amiss in anyone that the effect of what you propose would be that another clause would have to be embodied in the draft contract undertaking to promulgate such a proclamation.
Lord KITCHENER: I believe that if the Delegates received the assurance that the Government will take this matter into consideration in the interests of their subjects, whom they must protect, that this will be sufficient for them. There will be no written obligation, but only an obligation that the matter will be considered. It is not advisable to press this matter with the Government, after it has been brought before them. The opinions of the burghers will be brought before Lord Milner in other ways also.
Chief Commandant DE WET: There are many other small points which we could take up, which it would, however, not be desirable to do, but we are now speaking of a vital question.
Lord KITCHENER: This is one of those questions which, if brought to the attention of the Government, cannot be set aside. And you may inform the burghers that their interests will be protected as much as possible. I think that this ought to be sufficient for you on such a complicated matter. What is spoken here is being taken down, and the minutes will be considered not only here, but also in England. Are you satisfied with that?
General BOTHA: As far as I am personally concerned, yes.
Chief Commandant DE WET: So am I.
Lord MILNER: I hope it is understood that if the matter is left here, there is no obligation on my Government to deal with the matter in a particular way.
Lord KITCHENER: But there is a pledge that the matter will be properly considered.
Lord MILNER: Yes, of course, if we are going to put an understanding on record. Solemnly I think it is necessary that we understand that this document contains everything concerning which there is anything in the form of a "pledge."
Lord KITCHENER: There is thus a "pledge" that this point which you have raised will be considered in your interest.
General SMUTS: Now the question with reference to the payment of receipts still remains.
Lord KITCHENER: That will be referred to the British Government. As regards the amount, that is an essential point, but I am of opinion that the amount is high. I would like to know whether it is understood now that we are agreed on all these draft proposals with your amendment? And that there are not any other matters? Because they will have to be telegraphed to England.
Chief Commandant DE WET: We have no other matters.
Lord MILNER: The proposed telegram which I wish to transmit reads as follows: "The Commission is prepared to submit the following document to the meeting of representatives of their Burghers (if it is approved of by His Majesty's Government), and to ask that meeting for a 'yes' or 'no' vote." Is that good?
Chief Commandant DE WET: Yes, naturally, except that I cannot say that that document is approved of by me; but I will abide by what the Delegates do.
General HERTZOG: I would not like it to be understood that we will use our influence with the Delegates.
Lord MILNER: I think that that is quite understood. I do not understand that this binds the members of the Commission with reference to the opinion which they may express before the Burghers. It only binds them to lay this document before the people, if the British Government approves of it. The telegram which I have just read, and propose to send, makes this clear. I further wish to say that we have departed very much from the Middelburg proposals, and I believe it is fully understood that the Middelburg proposals are absolutely dead, and if this document is agreed to and signed, there can then be no attempt to explain this document or the terms thereof by anything in the Middelburg proposals.
The meeting then adjourned.
WEDNESDAY, MAY 28, 1902.
The Commission again met Lord Milner and Lord Kitchener at 11 a.m. to hear the reply of the British Government to the draft proposal submitted to them by their Lordships.
Lord Milner read the following Memorandum: "In reply to our last telegram drafted at our last meeting with the consent of the Commission, and of which they have received a copy, the following message has been received from His Majesty's Government: 'His Majesty's Government approves of submitting to the Meeting for a "yes" or "no" vote the document drafted by the Committee, and transmitted to the Secretary of State for War by Lord Kitchener on May 21, with the following alterations:
[Footnote 4: Compare the first document with what follows here.]
General Lord KITCHENER OF KHARTOUM, Commanding-in-Chief,
His Excellency Lord MILNER, High Commissioner, on behalf of the BRITISH GOVERNMENT,
Messrs. S. W. BURGER, F. W. REITZ, Louis BOTHA, J. H. DE LA REY, L. J. MEYER, and J. C. KROGH, acting as the GOVERNMENT of the SOUTH AFRICAN REPUBLIC,
Messrs. M. T. STEYN, W. J. C. BREBNER, C. R. DE WET, J. B. M. HERTZOG, and C. OLIVIER, acting as the GOVERNMENT of the ORANGE FREE STATE on behalf of their respective BURGHERS,
desirous to terminate the present hostilities, agree on the following Articles:--
1. The BURGHER Forces in the Field will forthwith lay down their Arms, handing over all Guns, Rifles, and Munitions of War, in their possession or under their control, and desist from any further resistance to the Authority of HIS MAJESTY KING EDWARD VII., whom they recognise as their lawful SOVEREIGN.
The manner and details of this Surrender will be arranged between Lord Kitchener and Commandant-General Botha, Assistant Commandant-General de la Rey, and Chief Commandant de Wet.
2. Burghers in the Field outside the limits of the TRANSVAAL and ORANGE RIVER COLONY, and all Prisoners of War at present outside South Africa, who are Burghers, will, on duly declaring their acceptance of the position of subjects of HIS MAJESTY KING EDWARD VII. be gradually brought back to their homes as soon as transport can be provided and their means of subsistence ensured.
3. The BURGHERS so surrendering or so returning will not be deprived of their personal liberty or their property.
4. No Proceedings, CIVIL or CRIMINAL, will be taken against any of the BURGHERS so surrendering or so returning for any Acts in connection with the prosecution of the War. The benefit of the Clause will not extend to certain Acts contrary to the usages of War which have been notified by the Commander-in-Chief to the Boer Generals, and which shall be tried by Court Martial immediately after the close of hostilities.
5. The DUTCH language will be taught in Public Schools in the TRANSVAAL and the ORANGE RIVER COLONY, where the Parents of the Children desire it, and will be allowed in COURTS of LAW when necessary for the better and more effectual Administration of Justice.
6. The Possession of Rifles will be allowed in the TRANSVAAL and ORANGE RIVER COLONY to persons requiring them for their protection, on taking out a licence according to Law.
7. MILITARY ADMINISTRATION in the TRANSVAAL and ORANGE RIVER COLONY will at the earliest possible date be succeeded by CIVIL GOVERNMENT, and, as soon as circumstances permit, Representative Institutions, leading up to Self-Government, will be introduced.
8. The question of granting the Franchise to natives will not be decided until after the introduction of Self-Government.
9. No Special Tax will be imposed on landed Property in the TRANSVAAL and ORANGE RIVER COLONY to defray the Expenses of War.
10. As soon as conditions permit, a Commission, on which the local inhabitants will be represented, will be appointed in each District of the TRANSVAAL and ORANGE RIVER COLONY, under the Presidency of a Magistrate or other official, for the purpose of assisting the restoration of the people to their homes and supplying those who, owing to war losses, are unable to provide for themselves, with food, shelter, and the necessary amount of seed, stock, implements, &c., indispensable to the resumption of their normal occupations.
His Majesty's Government will place at the disposal of these Commissions a sum of three million pounds sterling for the above purposes, and will allow all notes, issued under Law No. 1 of 1900 of the GOVERNMENT of the SOUTH AFRICAN REPUBLIC, and all receipts, given by the officers in the field of the late Republics or under their orders, to be presented to a JUDICIAL COMMISSION, which will be appointed by the Government, and if such notes and receipts are found by this Commission to have been duly issued in return for valuable consideration, they will be received by the first-named Commissions as evidence of War losses suffered by the persons to whom they were originally given. In addition to the above-named free grant of three million pounds, His Majesty's Government will be prepared to make advances as loans for the same purposes, free of interest for two years, and afterwards repayable over a period of years with 3 per cent. interest. No foreigner or rebel will be entitled to the benefit of this Clause."
Lord MILNER: In submitting this communication to the Commission, we are instructed to add that if this opportunity of concluding an honourable peace is not availed of within a time to be fixed by us, the Conference will be considered at an end, and that His Majesty's Government will not in any way be bound by the present terms. In order that there may be no misunderstanding with reference to these terms, I have made a copy of the document and of Lord Kitchener's telegram, with the additions and alterations made by His Majesty's Government with a memorandum of what I have now said.
A discussion followed over the time that would be required to consider the matter at Vereeniging, and it was agreed that General Botha would propose a time-limit before the Committee left Pretoria that day.
This was done later on, and the time was fixed for Saturday evening, May 31, 1902, at the latest.
General Botha asked whether there would be any objection to the Delegates deleting some clause or other from the proposal now submitted by the British Government?
Lord MILNER: There can be no alteration. There must simply be a reply of "yes" or "no."
General Botha thought that they had the right to alter one or more of the clauses, because the burghers in the field had the right to surrender unconditionally.
Lord Milner said that the burghers could naturally do so. But the document from the British Government could not be altered.
THE COLONIAL REBELS.
Privately, much discussion had already taken place in the interests of the Colonials who had fought on the Republican side, and an informal conversation now followed on this subject.
Lord Milner communicated what the British Government intended to do with these Colonists, which intention appears from the following document which he read:--
"HIS MAJESTY'S GOVERNMENT must place it on record that the treatment of CAPE and NATAL Colonials who have been in Rebellion, and who now surrender, will, if they return to their Colonies, be determined by the Colonial Governments and in accordance with the Laws of the Colonies, and that any BRITISH Subjects who have joined the Enemy will be liable to trial under the Law of that part of the BRITISH EMPIRE to which they belong.
"HIS MAJESTY'S GOVERNMENT are informed by the Cape Government that the following are their views as to the terms which should be granted to BRITISH Subjects of the Cape Colony who are now in the Field or who have surrendered or have been captured since April 12, 1901. With regard to Rank and File, that they should all upon surrender after giving up their Arms sign a document before the Resident Magistrate of the District in which surrender takes place acknowledging themselves guilty of High Treason, and that the Punishment to be awarded to them, provided they shall not have been guilty of Murder or other acts contrary to the usages of Civilised Warfare, should be that they shall not be entitled for life to be registered as Voters or to vote at any Parliamentary, Divisional Council, or Municipal Election.
"With reference to Justices of the Peace, and Field Cornets of the Cape Colony and all other persons holding an Official Position under the Government of the Cape Colony, or who may occupy the Position of Commandant of Rebel or Burgher Forces, they should be tried for High Treason before the ordinary Court of the Country or such special Courts as may be hereafter constituted by Law, the Punishments for their Offence to be left to the discretion of the Court, with this proviso, that in no case shall the penalty of Death be inflicted.
"The NATAL Government are of opinion that Rebels should be dealt with according to the Law of the Colony."
The Conference then broke up. The secretaries, assisted by Advocates N. J. de Wet and Igns. S. Ferreira immediately commenced with the task of making copies and translations of the proposals of the British Government for the use of the Meeting of the Delegates at Vereeniging. This work occupied them till the evening.
At 9 o'clock p.m. the Commission left for Vereeniging by special train.