Cause of the Boer War

            The Boer War was the armed conflict between Britain and the two Boer republics of Transvaal and Orange Free State in South Africa. It began on October 11, 1899 and lasted almost three years ending May 31, 1902. During that three-year period, the British were humiliated by an undermanned force in the Boers, which led to the implementation of barbarous and savage techniques for which the British were heavily scrutinized. Capitalism caused this British version of Vietnam, and by doing so demonstrated the foundation of British imperialism.

             Several factors contributed to the outbreak of the war, including race, nationalism and international power politics, but the main reason was the capitalistic nature of the British. The British forced the war in 1899 to gain control of the Transvaal, the independent republic where Boers had political control and where gold mining was a major new industry. During the late 1800's, gold had become the keystone of the world's expanding commerce. By 1890 London was the financial center of the world's trade, and a steady supply of the world's stock of gold was critical for maintaining this position. .

             The conflict between the British and Dutch-descendents was not new. A rivalry between the Boers and British settlers in these areas had been going on for 50+ years as Britain sought to consolidate its control in South Africa, while the Dutch-descended settlers strove to maintain their autonomy and culture. .

             In 1877 Britain took over the Transvaal, declaring it a British crown colony after the discovery of diamonds near Kimberley in 1872. The Transvaal Boers protested, and rose in rebellion in 1880: the First Anglo-Boer or Transvaal war. The Boers humiliated the British in the Battle of Majuba Hill, and PM Gladstone sued for peace. The Transvaal was handed back to the Boers, but the humiliation suffered by the British was not forgotten.

             Upon the discovery of gold at Witwatersrand in the Transvaal hills, 1886, led to a gold rush.

Related Essays: