MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS,
PRETORIA, 9th October, 1899.
The Government of the South African Republic feel themselves compelled to again refer the Government of Her Majesty, the Queen of Great Britain, to the London Convention of 1884, concluded between this Republic and the United Kingdom, which in Article XIV. guarantees certain specified rights to the white inhabitants of this Republic, to wit:—
"All those who, although not born in this Country, yet abide by the laws of the South African Republic, (a) shall have full freedom to come with their families into, to travel in, or to reside in any part of the South African Republic; (b) shall be entitled to hold in possession their houses, factories or warehouses, shops, and allotments, either on hire or as their own property; (c) may transact their business, either in person or through agents, to their own satisfaction; (d) shall not be subjected to any other general or local taxation—with regard to their families or properties, or their commerce or trade—than those which shall be laid on the burghers of the said Republics."
Our Government wishes also to draw attention to the fact that the above-mentioned rights are the only ones which Her Majesty's Government, in the above-mentioned Convention, has stipulated for the foreign inhabitants in this Republic, and that only contravention of these rights can give the British Government the right of diplomatic intervention; whereas, further, the adjustment of all other questions concerning the position, or the rights, of the foreign inhabitants under the said Convention is vested in the Government and National Representatives of the South African Republic; among the questions the adjustment of which comes exclusively under the authority of the Government and the Volksraad, are those of the Franchise and representation in this Republic.
Although, therefore, the exclusive right of this Franchise and representation is indisputable, our Government has approved of discussing in a friendly way the Franchise and the representation with Her Majesty's Government; without, however, acknowledging by so doing any right thereto on the side of Her Majesty's Government. Our Government has also, by the wording of the already existing Voting Law, and the decision concerning the representation, always kept this friendly consultation in view.
On the side of Her Majesty's Government, however, the friendly manner of these consultations has made way for a more threatening tone; and the minds of the people of this Republic, and of the whole population of South Africa, have been brought into a state of apprehension; and a state of unusual tension has been created by the action of Her Majesty's Government, in no longer abiding by the laws concerning the voting right, and the decision concerning the representation of this Republic; and lastly, as is expressed in your letter of the 25th of September, 1899, in breaking off all friendly communication, giving us to understand that Her Majesty's Government were about to formulate their own proposals for final arrangement. Our Government can see in the before-mentioned notification nothing less than a new violation of the Convention of 1884, which does not reserve to Her Majesty's Government the right of a one-sided adjustment of a question which belongs exclusively to the inner policy of our Government, and has been already settled by them.
On the grounds of the tension, the considerable loss arising therefrom, and the interruption of business in general, which is caused by the correspondence on the Franchise and the representation of this Republic, Her Majesty's Government has not long ago insisted on a speedy adjustment, and finally, through your intervention, insisted on an answer—within forty-eight hours—(later on somewhat amended)—to your Memorandum of the 12th of September, which was answered by the Memorandum of our Government of the 15th of September, and by the Memorandum of the 25th of September, 1899; on which other friendly negotiations were interrupted, and our Government received notice that the proposal for final arrangement would be made within a short time; but although these promises were repeated, no such proposal has as yet reached our Government. When the friendly correspondence was still going on, a great increase of troops was made by Her Majesty's Government, which troops were drawn up in the neighbourhood of the frontiers of our Republic. Taking into consideration certain events in the history of our Republic, which events need not here be recited, our Government found themselves compelled to look upon the Army in the neighbourhood of the frontier as a threat to the independence of the South African Republic, because they were not aware of any circumstances which could justify the presence of such a force in South Africa and in the neighbourhood of their frontier.
In answer to a question concerning this, addressed to His Excellency the High Commissioner, our Government received, to their great astonishment, the covert accusation that from the State of the Republic an attack on Her Majesty's Colonies was being arranged, and also a mysterious hint of coming possibilities, by which our Government were strengthened in their suspicion, that the independence of the Republic was threatened.
As a measure of defence, they were, therefore, compelled to send a body of burghers to the frontiers in order, if required, to be able to resist such an eventuality. The unlawful interference of Her Majesty's Government in the inner policy of our Republic, in defiance of the London Convention of 1884, which interference consisted in the exceptional strengthening of troops in the neighbourhood of the Republic's borders, has thus created an unbearable state of affairs, of which our Government—not only in the interests of our Republic, but also in the interests of the whole of South Africa,—feel it their duty to bring to an end as speedily as possible, and consider themselves called upon to insist emphatically and energetically on an immediate conclusion of this condition of things, and to ask Her Majesty's Government to give them the assurance (a) that all points of mutual difference shall be adjusted by friendly arbitration, or by any other amicable way that may be agreed upon between our Government and that of Her Majesty; (b) that the troops on the frontiers of the Republic shall be recalled at once, and that all reinforcements which, after the 1st of June, 1899, have arrived in South Africa, shall be removed within a time agreed upon with our Government,—with the counter assurance and guarantee from our Government that no attack on, or hostilities against, any part of the possessions of the British Government shall be undertaken by the Republic during the further negotiations within the time which shall be agreed upon by the Government—our Government shall, in accordance with this, be ready to call back the armed burghers of the Republic from the frontiers; (c) that Her Majesty's troops, which are now on the high sea, shall not be landed in any of the harbours of South Africa.
Our Government has to insist on an immediate and favourable answer on the above four points, and urgently requests Her Majesty's Government to give an answer in this spirit before, or on, Wednesday, October 11th, 1889, before 5 o'clock in the afternoon. They wish to add further, that in case, against their expectations, no satisfactory answer within this time should be received by them, that they, to their great sorrow, would be obliged to look upon the actions of Her Majesty's Government as a formal declaration of war, for the consequences of which they do not consider themselves responsible; and, in case further movements of troops should take place within the above-mentioned time in the direction of our borders, that our Government will be compelled to look upon this also as a formal declaration of war.
I have the honour to be, etc.,
MR. CHAMBERLAIN'S TELEGRAMS:—
FROM MR. CHAMBERLAIN TO THE HIGH COMMISSIONER, SIR ALFRED MILNER.
(Sent 7.30 p.m. 10th October, 1899)
"10th October, No. 7. The British Agent has, in answering the demands of the Government of the South African Republic, to say that, as the Government of the South African Republic have declared in their dispatch, that they will look upon a refusal to consent to their demands as a formal declaration of war, he has received orders to demand his passport."
FROM MR. CHAMBERLAIN TO THE HIGH COMMISSIONER, SIR ALFRED MILNER.
(Sent 10.45 p.m. 10th October, 1899)
"10th October, No. 8. The Government of Her Majesty has received with great sorrow the determined demands of the Government of the South African Republic contained in your telegram of the 9th of October, No. 3. You will, as an answer to the Government of the South African Republic, communicate to them that the conditions put forward by the Government of the South African Republic are of such a nature that the Government of Her Majesty cannot possibly think of taking them into consideration."
CORRESPONDENCE BETWEEN THE TWO PRESIDENTS AND LORD SALISBURY
FROM THE STATES-PRESIDENT OF THE SOUTH AFRICAN REPUBLIC AND THE ORANGE FREE STATE TO HIS EXCELLENCY LORD SALISBURY, LONDON.
"BLOEMFONTEIN, 5th March, 1900.
"The blood and tears of the thousands who have suffered through this war, and the prospect of all the moral and material ruin which now threatens South Africa, render it necessary for both parties carrying on the war to ask themselves calmly, and in the faith of the Trinity, for what they are fighting and if the aims of both justify all this horrible misery and devastation. On this account, and with an eye to the assertion of several English Statesmen that the war was begun and carried on with the determined end to undermine Her Majesty's authority in South Africa, and to establish in the whole of South Africa a Government independent of Her Majesty's Government, we consider it our duty to declare that this War was only commenced as a measure of defence and for the purpose of obtaining a guarantee for the threatened independence of the South African Republic, and was only continued in order to ensure the indisputable independence of both Republics as Sovereign International States, and to obtain the assurance that the subjects of Her Majesty who have taken part with us in the war will not suffer the least hurt either in their lives or their possessions. On these conditions alone we demand, as in the past, to see peace restored in South Africa, and an end made to the wrong that now exists there. But if Her Majesty's Government has decided upon destroying the independence of the Republic, nothing remains to us and our people but to persist to the bitter end on the road now taken, notwithstanding the overpowering might of the British Empire, trusting that God, who has lit the inextinguishable fire of the love of liberty in our hearts, and in the hearts of our fathers, will not abandon us, but will fulfil His work in us, and in our descendants.
"We hesitated to lay this declaration earlier before Your Excellency, because we were afraid that as long as the advantage was on our side, and our Army had in their occupation positions of defence far into the British Colonies, such a declaration would have hurt the feelings of the English nation; but now that the prestige of the British Empire may be considered to be restored, through the capture of one of our armies, and we are compelled by this to sacrifice other positions which our armies occupied, this difficulty is removed, and we can no longer hesitate to tell you, in the face of the whole civilized world, why we are fighting, and on what conditions we are prepared to make peace."
FROM LORD SALISBURY TO THEIR EXCELLENCIES THE STATES-PRESIDENTS OF THE SOUTH AFRICAN REPUBLIC AND ORANGE FREE STATE.
"LONDON, 11th March, 1900.
"I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your Honour's cable, dated 5th March, from Bloemfontein, of which the purport is principally whether Her Majesty's Government will acknowledge the indisputable independence of the South African Republic and Orange Free State and treat them as Sovereign International States, and will offer to conclude the war on these conditions.
"In the beginning of October of this year, there was peace between the Queen and the two Republics, under the Convention which then held good. There was a discussion carried on during a few months between Her Majesty's Government and the South African Republic, of which the purport was the amendment of very serious grievances under which English inhabitants suffered in the South African Republic. In the course of these negotiations, the South African Republic obtained the knowledge that Her Majesty's Government had made considerable preparations for war, and had taken steps to provide the necessary reinforcements for the English garrisons at Cape Colony and Natal. No inroad on the rights guaranteed by the Conventions had, until then, taken place on the English side. Suddenly the South African Republic, after having two days previously issued an insulting ultimatum, declared War on Her Majesty; and the Orange Free State, with which there had been no disagreement, took a similar step. Thereupon an inroad was made into Her Majesty's territory by the two Republics; three towns within the British frontier were besieged, a great part of the two Colonies was over-run, with great destruction of property and life, and the Republics claimed the right to treat the inhabitants of Her Majesty's territory as if this territory had been annexed by one of these States. The Transvaal having these actions in view, had for years stored up, on an enormous scale, military provisions, which could only have been destined for use against England.
"Your Excellencies made some remarks of a negative nature concerning the aim for which these preparations were made. I do not consider it necessary to discuss the question which you have thus raised, but the consequences of the preparations, made in great secrecy, have been that the British Empire has found itself forced to repel an inroad which has brought on a costly war, and caused the loss of thousands of valuable lives. This great misfortune has been the punishment that Great Britain has had to undergo during the last few years for having suffered the two Republics to exist. Keeping in sight the use which the two Republics have made of the position presented to them, and the misfortunes which their unprovoked attacks on Her Majesty's territory have brought, Her Majesty's Government can only reply to Your Honour's telegram by saying that they are not prepared to acknowledge the independence either of the South African Republic, or of the Orange Free State."