Louis Botha

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Louis Botha
Louisbotha.jpg
1st Prime Minister of South Africa
In office
31 May 1910 27 August 1919
Monarch George V
Governor-General The Viscount Gladstone
The Earl Buxton
Preceded byOffice Established
Succeeded by Jan Christiaan Smuts
Prime Minister of the Transvaal
In office
4 February 1907 [1]  31 May 1910
Monarch Edward VII
George V
Governor The Earl of Selborne
Preceded byOffice Established
Succeeded byHimself
As Prime Minister of the Union of South Africa
Personal details
Born27 September 1862
Greytown, Colony of Natal
Died27 August 1919(1919-08-27) (aged 56)
Pretoria, Transvaal Province, Union of South Africa
Resting place Heroes' Acre, Pretoria, South Africa
Nationality Afrikaner
Political party South African Party
Other political
affiliations
Het Volk Party
Spouse(s)Annie Emmett
ProfessionCareer military officer, politician
Signature Louis Botha sign.png
Military service
AllegianceFlag of Transvaal.svg  South African Republic
Red Ensign of South Africa (1910-1912).svg  Union of South Africa
Flag of the United Kingdom.svg British Commonwealth
Years of service1899–1902 (Transvaal Commandos)
1902-1919 (British Imperial Armies)
RankGeneral
Commands Boer, South African Republic
Battles/wars Second Boer War:
Colenso
Spioen kop
– Retreat from Pretoria
First World War:
South-West Africa Campaign

Louis Botha (Afrikaans pronunciation: [ˈlu.i ˈbʊəta] ; 27 September 1862 – 27 August 1919) was a South African politician who was the first Prime Minister of the Union of South Africa—the forerunner of the modern South African state. A Boer war hero during the Second Boer War, he would eventually fight to have South Africa become a British Dominion.

Union of South Africa state in southern Africa from 1910 to 1961, predecessor to the Republic of South Africa

The Union of South Africa is the historical predecessor to the present-day Republic of South Africa. It came into being on 31 May 1910 with the unification of the Cape Colony, the Natal Colony, the Transvaal, and the Orange River Colony. It included the territories that were formerly a part of the South African Republic and the Orange Free State.

Prime Minister of South Africa position

The Prime Minister of South Africa was the head of government in South Africa between 1910 and 1984.

Boer descendants of Dutch-speaking settlers in Southern Africa

Boer is the Dutch and Afrikaans noun for "farmer". In South African contexts, "Boers" refers to the descendants of the then Dutch-speaking settlers of the eastern Cape frontier in Southern Africa during the 18th and much of the 19th century. From 1652 to 1795 the Dutch East India Company controlled this area, but the United Kingdom incorporated it into the British Empire in 1806.

Contents

In 1905, as prime minister, he called for the newly discovered Cullinan Diamond to be presented to King Edward VII.

Cullinan Diamond Largest rough diamond discovered

The Cullinan Diamond was the largest gem-quality rough diamond ever found, weighing 3,106.75 carats (621.35 g), discovered at the Premier No. 2 mine in Cullinan, South Africa, on 26 January 1905. It was named after Thomas Cullinan, the mine's chairman. In April 1905, it was put on sale in London, but despite considerable interest, it was still unsold after two years. In 1907 the Transvaal Colony government bought the Cullinan and presented it to Edward VII, King of the United Kingdom, who had it cut by Asscher Brothers in Amsterdam.

Early life

Louis Botha was born in Greytown, Natal, South Africa one of 13 children born to Louis Botha Senior (26 March 1827 – 5 July 1883) and Salomina Adriana van Rooyen (31 March 1829 – 9 January 1886). He briefly attended the school at Hermannsburg before his family relocated to the Orange Free State. The name Louis runs throughout the family, with every generation since General Louis Botha having the eldest son named Louis.

Greytown, KwaZulu-Natal Place in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Greytown is a town situated on the banks of a tributary of the Umvoti River in a richly fertile timber-producing area of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

Colony of Natal British colony in south Africa (1843–1910)

The Colony of Natal was a British colony in south-eastern Africa. It was proclaimed a British colony on 4 May 1843 after the British government had annexed the Boer Republic of Natalia, and on 31 May 1910 combined with three other colonies to form the Union of South Africa, as one of its provinces. It is now the KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa.

Hermannsburg, KwaZulu-Natal Place in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Hermannsburg is a small hamlet located in the Province of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa. It is home to the Hermannsburg School.

First Boer War

Louis Botha led "Dinuzulu's Volunteers", a group of Boers that had supported Dinuzulu against Zibhebhu in 1884.

Dinuzulu's Volunteers (1884) were a militant group of farmers that fought for Dinuzulu kaCetshwayo, the king of the Zulu nation, led by Louis Botha.

Politician

Botha later became a member of the parliament of Transvaal in 1897, representing the district of Vryheid.

South African Republic Former republic in southern Africa

The South African Republic, also referred to as the Transvaal Republic, was an independent and internationally recognised country in Southern Africa from 1852 to 1902. The country defeated the British in what is often referred to as the First Boer War and remained independent until the end of the Second Boer War on 31 May 1902, when it was forced to surrender to the British. After the war the territory of the ZAR became the Transvaal Colony.

Vryheid Place in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Vryheid is a coal mining and cattle ranching town in northern KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Vryheid is the Afrikaans word for "freedom".

Caricature of Louis Botha by D. C. Boonzaier (in his Owlographs, 1901). The caricature was accompanied by a short poem wryly praising Botha's guerilla tactics. Caricature of Louis Botha by D. C. Boonzaier, 1901.jpg
Caricature of Louis Botha by D. C. Boonzaier (in his Owlographs, 1901). The caricature was accompanied by a short poem wryly praising Botha's guerilla tactics.

Second Boer War

Early battles

In 1899, Louis Botha fought in the Second Boer War, initially joining the Krugersdorp Commando, [2] continuing to fight under Lucas Meyer in Northern Natal, and later as a general commanding and leading Boer forces impressively at Colenso and Spion Kop. On the death of P. J. Joubert, he was made commander-in-chief of the Transvaal Boers, where he demonstrated his abilities again at Belfast-Dalmanutha. After the battle at the Tugela, Botha granted a twenty-four-hour armistice to General Buller to enable him to bury his dead. [3]

Second Boer War war between South African Republic and the United Kingdom

The Second Boer War was fought between the British Empire and two Boer states, the South African Republic and the Orange Free State, over the Empire's influence in South Africa. It is also known variously as the Boer War, Anglo-Boer War, or South African War. Initial Boer attacks were successful, and although British reinforcements later reversed these, the war continued for years with Boer guerrilla warfare, until harsh British counter-measures brought them to terms.

Krugersdorp Commando

Krugersdorp Commando or Kommando was a light infantry regiment of the South African Army. It was active as a part of the South African Army Infantry Formation as well as the South African Territorial Reserve.

Battle of Colenso A battle between British and Boer forces, South Africa on 15 December 1899

The Battle of Colenso was the third and final battle fought during the Black Week of the Second Boer War. It was fought between British and Boer forces from the independent South African Republic and Orange Free State in and around Colenso, Natal, South Africa on 15 December 1899.

Capture of Winston Churchill

Winston Churchill revealed [4] that General Botha was the man who captured him at the ambush of a British armoured train on 15 November 1899. Coetzer 1996 , p. 30 also claims that Botha captured Churchill at train ambush 15 November 1899. Churchill was not aware of the man's identity until 1902, when Botha travelled to London seeking loans to assist his country's reconstruction, and the two met at a private luncheon. The incident is also mentioned in Arthur Conan Doyle's book, The Great Boer War , published in 1902. But more recent sources claim that Field-Cornet Sarel Oosthuizen was in fact the Boer-soldier who, at gunpoint, captured Churchill. [5] Another version claims that the unit to capture Churchill was the Italian Volunteer Legion and its commander, Camillo Ricchiardi. [6]

Later campaigns

After the fall of Pretoria in June 1900, Louis Botha led a concentrated guerrilla campaign against the British together with Koos de la Rey and Christiaan de Wet. The success of his measures was seen in the steady resistance offered by the Boers to the very close of the three-year war.

Role after the Boer War

Louis Botha Louis Botha - Project Gutenberg eText 16462.jpg
Louis Botha

Botha was a representative of his countrymen in the peace negotiations of 1902, and was signatory to the Treaty of Vereeniging. After the grant of self-government to the Transvaal in 1907, General Botha was called upon by Lord Selborne to form a government, and in the spring of the same year he took part in the conference of colonial premiers held in London. During his visit to England on this occasion General Botha declared the whole-hearted adhesion of the Transvaal to the British Empire, and his intention to work for the welfare of the country regardless of (intra-white) racial differences (in this era referring to Boers/Afrikaners as a separate race to British South Africans).

He later worked towards peace with the British, representing the Boers at the peace negotiations in 1902. In the period of reconstruction under British rule, Botha went to Europe with de Wet and de la Rey to raise funds to enable the Boers to resume their former avocations. [7] Botha, who was still looked upon as the leader of the Boer people, took a prominent part in politics, advocating always measures which he considered as tending to the maintenance of peace and good order and the re-establishment of prosperity in the Transvaal. His war record made him prominent in the politics of Transvaal and he was a major player in the postwar reconstruction of that country, becoming Prime Minister of Transvaal on 4 March 1907.

In 1911, together with another Boer war hero, Jan Smuts, he formed the South African Party, or SAP. Widely viewed as too conciliatory with Britain, Botha faced revolts from within his own party and opposition from James Barry Munnik Hertzog's National Party. He was a South African Freemason. [8] When South Africa obtained dominion status in 1910, Botha became the first Prime Minister of the Union of South Africa.

Later career

Louis Botha General Botha, dedicasse.jpg
Louis Botha
Statue of Louis Botha in front of the South African Parliament building on Roeland Street, Cape Town. Louis Botha BW statue.JPG
Statue of Louis Botha in front of the South African Parliament building on Roeland Street, Cape Town.

After the First World War started, he sent troops to take German South-West Africa, a move unpopular among Boers, which provoked the Boer Revolt.

At the end of the War he briefly led a British Empire military mission to Poland during the Polish-Soviet War. He argued that the terms of the Versailles Treaty were too harsh on the Central Powers, but signed the treaty. Botha was unwell for most of 1919. He was plagued by fatigue and ill-health that arose from his robust waist-line. [9] That he was fat is certain as related in the marvellous account of Lady Mildred Buxton asking General Van Deventer if he was bigger than Botha, to which Van Deventer replied: “I am longer, he is thicker.” [10] (In Afrikaans thicker literally means fatter, and does not differentiate between long and tall)

Death

General Louis Botha died of heart failure following an attack of Spanish influenza on 27 August 1919 in the early hours of the morning. His wife Annie was at home and was joined by Engelenburg who had acted as a private secretary to Botha. [11] [12] Botha was laid to rest in Heroes' Acre, Pretoria.

Of Botha, Winston Churchill wrote in Great Contemporaries, "The three most famous generals I have known in my life won no great battles over a foreign foe. Yet their names, which all begin with a 'B', are household words. They are General Booth, General Botha and General Baden-Powell..." [13]

Honors

Sculptor Raffaello Romanelli created the equestrian statue of Botha that stands outside The Union Buildings in Pretoria in South Africa.

A street in Amsterdam was named after Louis Botha at the beginning of the 20th century. Because the name was considered too reminiscent of pro-apartheid politician Pieter Willem Botha, the street was renamed after Albert Luthuli at an unclear date after 1986. [14]

Related Research Articles

Transvaal Colony former British colony

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Paul Kruger Former President of the South African Republic

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Jan Smuts military leader, politician and statesman from South Africa

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Koos de la Rey South African general

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Dinuzulu kaCetshwayo king of the Zulu nation

Dinuzulu kaCetshwayo was the king of the Zulu nation from 20 May 1884 until his death in 1913. He succeeded his father Cetshwayo, who was the last king of the Zulus to be officially recognized as such by the British. Zululand had been broken up into 13 smaller territories by the British after the Anglo-Zulu War, and Cetshwayo, and subsequently Dinuzulu, administered one of them. The British later realized the futility of breaking up Zululand into the territories and restored Cetshwayo as paramount leader of the territories. However, they left one of Cetshwayo's sons, Usibepu (Zibhebhu), alone with his lands intact. On 22 July 1883, Usibepu attacked Cetshwayo's new kraal in Ulundi, wounding the king and causing him to flee.

Piet Joubert Boer politician and general

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Treaty of Vereeniging peace treaty that ended the Second Anglo-Boer War

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Christian Frederick Beyers South African general

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Ewald Auguste Esselen

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References

  1. "Transvaal Cabinet Sworn In. Message from the Premier". Wanganui Herald. 6 March 1907. p. 6. Retrieved 2016-10-03 via Papers Past.
  2. "Italian Volunteer Legion (The English War 1899-1902) - Piet Rudolph". www.volkstaat.net. Retrieved 2018-10-17.
  3. MacBride 2006, p. 43.
  4. Churchill 1996, p. 253.
  5. "Churchill, Sir Winston". Prominent people. 14 July 2013. Retrieved 2016-10-03.
  6. Lupini, Mario. "Italian participation in the Anglo-Boer War". The South African Military History Society. Retrieved 17 February 2015.
  7. "Boer Leaders Coming Here: Botha and De la Rey to Visit America" (PDF). The New York Times. 30 July 1902. p. 3.
  8. "Notable South African Freemasons" (PDF). Freemasons.org.za. Retrieved 13 September 2018.
  9. Engelenburg 1928, pp. 350–53.
  10. Meintjes 1970, p. 292.
  11. Engelenburg 1928, p. 355.
  12. Meintjes 1970, p. 302.
  13. Churchill 1948, p. 287.
  14. http://www.onsamsterdam.nl/tijdschrift/jaargang-2012/32-tijdschrift/tijdschrift-jaargang-2012/1396-nummer-4-april-2012?showall=&start=2

Sources

Further reading

Biographical

Historical

Fiction

Political offices
Preceded by
???
Member of South African Republic Parliament,
Vryheid District

1897–1899
Succeeded by
???
Preceded by
New office
Prime Minister, Transvaal
1907–1910
Succeeded by
Merged with other territories to form Union of South Africa
Preceded by
New office
Prime Minister, Union of South Africa
1910–1919
Succeeded by
Jan Smuts
Party political offices
Preceded by
New office
Leader of the Het Volk Party
1907–1910
Succeeded by
Merged with others to form South African Party
Preceded by
New office
Leader of the South African Party
1910–1919
Succeeded by
Jan Smuts