Why did the Dutch, French & British acquire minor colonies in South America?

Why did the Dutch, French & British acquire minor colonies in South America?

We know that South America was partitioned between Spain and Portugal in the early days of empire when Spain and Portugal were the major powers. Later, in the 19th century, when Spain and Portugal went into decline, the countries of South America gained independence.

Somewhere along the line the colonial powers which across the globe had generally superseded Spain and Portugal, namely Britain, France and the Netherlands, gained a foothold in South America in Guyana/Guiana/Surinam.

So why did Britain, France and the Netherlands take a limited bite of the North-East of the continent of South America? Why bother to seize any of it? Why not seize all of it?

The main trade in the Caribbean in the 16th and 17th centuries was the sugar trade. Spain had gotten most of the islands, but Britain, the Netherlands and France managed to get a few, such as the Antilles. To supplement these footholds, they also carved out chunks of South America near the Caribbean. These were initially trading posts more than anything else, not real settlements.

The answer to your question is one of timing, power and the types of colonies.

There were 5 countries that were the main competitors in the global colonization game. The Spanish, Portuguese, English, French and Dutch.

Simply said the Spanish and Portuguese were about 100 years ahead of the rest, Also known as the Age of Discovery. Portugal and Spain, due to their geographic "isolated" location in Europe, made peace with each other in 1411 (Treaty of Ayllón). While the rest of Europe were in constant war-mode Portugal and Spain prospered and were able to explore. They had trade routes and outposts in Africa and Asia already, but they were looking for a shorter eastern route to India. They left most of North America alone and ended up in South America and the Caribbean. The Treaty of Tordesillas divided the world up in Spanish and Portuguese.

The Dutch, English and French came in action too late and had a different purely business economic interest in the area. The Portuguese and Spanish were in it for "Gold and God". The Portuguese and Spanish came as an army with mostly males. They married native and African women, creating the large mestizo and mullatos population we see in Latin America.

The Dutch and French tried and even managed to claim parts of South America. The largest colony was New Holland from 1630-1654, but lacking the military and population backup (and not mixing with the locals) they Portuguese took the area back again.

The Dutch, French and Englished focused more on the Caribbean with their sugar plantations, which were closer to Europe and made them not wanting Brazil back, because the economic necessity was not there.

Suriname was a Dutch Colony which they shared with the English called Guyana. They got total control over Suriname after a trade against New Amsterdam with the English. The other parts were called (British) Guyana. and French Guyana.

More useful information on The differences in colonization: British, French, Spanish, Portuguese, who drew his information from the source: The Great Migrations: From the Earliest Humans to the Age of Globalization (2008)

In the colonial era, sugar then was comparable to oil now - it was an extremely valuable commodity, and countries sought to produce as much of it as possible. The Guianas had a suitable climate for growing sugar and had been left unsettled by the Spanish/Portuguese, so it was not surprising that they would be eventually conquered by other European powers. Together with their holdings in the Caribbean, they were able to produce sufficient amounts of sugar. There was no need to expand further in South America.

France and Britain didn't focus much on South America because it wasn't really valuable territory. they already had access to North America which was a much closer densely forested land in a more familiar climate. They really didn't stand to gain as much by creating a large presence in the area because they had other colonies providing many of the same goods. Managing and controlling colonies is a lot of work and takes a lot of investment especially when they get large, so it requires a massive benefit to be worthwhile, the benefit wasn't there for South America.

The Netherlands mostly was active in the area to hurt the flow of gold and other riches to the coffers of their European enemies, the islands (and coastal forts) they took were a side effect of that more than anything.
In part the same can be said for a lot of what the French and British did in the Caribbean and South America, they were all at war with Spain, Portugal, and each other in various combinations of alliances for centuries and this was reflected in whose buccaneers and privateers attacked whose ships on the high seas, raided which islands and towns.
Later those privateers were largely drawn into the active armed forces of the nations involved, the towns being brought under the control of their respective governments rather than being run by private interests (like the Dutch and British West Indies Companies, and sometimes groups of pirates).
The Surinam was never conquered by the Dutch, it was acquired in trade with the British who sold it to the Dutch in payment for Manhattan Island (which they renamed from New Amsterdam to New York in the process).

British occupation of the Cape

When Great Britain went to war with France in 1793, both countries tried to capture the Cape so as to control the important sea route to the East. The British occupied the Cape in 1795, ending the Dutch East India Company’s role in the region. Although the British relinquished the colony to the Dutch in the Treaty of Amiens (1802), they reannexed it in 1806 after the start of the Napoleonic Wars. The Cape became a vital base for Britain prior to the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869, and the Cape’s economy was meshed with that of Britain. To protect the developing economy there, Cape wines were given preferential access to the British market until the mid-1820s. Merino sheep were introduced, and intensive sheep farming was initiated in order to supply wool to British textile mills.

The infrastructure of the colony began to change: English replaced Dutch as the language of administration the British pound sterling replaced the Dutch rix-dollar and newspaper publishing began in Cape Town in 1824. After Britain began appointing colonial governors, an advisory council for the governor was established in 1825, which was upgraded to a legislative council in 1834 with a few “unofficial” settler representatives. A virtual freehold system of landownership gradually replaced the existing Dutch tenant system, under which European colonists had paid a small annual fee to the government but had not acquired land ownership.

A large group of British settlers arrived in 1820 this, together with a high European birth rate and wasteful land usage, produced an acute land shortage, which was alleviated only when the British acquired more land through massive military intervention against Africans on the eastern frontier. Until the 1840s the British vision of the colony did not include African citizens (referred to pejoratively by the British as “Kaffirs”), so, as Africans lost their land, they were expelled across the Great Fish River, the unilaterally proclaimed eastern border of the colony.

The first step in this process included attacks in 1811–12 by the British army on the Xhosa groups, the Gqunukhwebe and Ndlambe. An attack by the Rharhabe-Xhosa on Graham’s Town ( Grahamstown) in 1819 provided the pretext for the annexation of more African territory, to the Keiskamma River. Various Rharhabe-Xhosa groups were driven from their lands throughout the early 1830s. They counterattacked in December 1834, and Governor Benjamin D’Urban ordered a major invasion the following year, during which thousands of Rharhabe-Xhosa died. The British crossed the Great Kei River and ravaged territory of the Gcaleka-Xhosa as well the Gcaleka chief, Hintsa, invited to hold discussions with British military officials, was held hostage and died trying to escape. The British colonial secretary, Lord Glenelg, who disapproved of D’Urban’s policy, halted the seizure of all African land east of the Great Kei. D’Urban’s initial attempt to rule conquered Africans with European magistrates and soldiers was overturned by Glenelg instead, for a time, Africans east of the Keiskamma retained their autonomy and dealt with the colony through diplomatic agents.

The British had chronic difficulties procuring enough labour to build towns and develop new farms. Indeed, though Britain abolished its slave trade in 1807 and pressured other countries to do the same, the British in Southern Africa continued to import some slaves into the Cape after that date, but in numbers insufficient to alleviate the labour problem. A ban in 1809 on Africans crossing into the Cape aggravated the labour shortage, and so the British, like the Dutch before them, made the Khoe serfs through the Caledon (1809) and Cradock (1812) codes.

Anglo-Boer commandos provided another source of African labour by illegally capturing San women and children (many of the men were killed) as well as Africans from across the eastern frontier. Griqua raiding states led by Andries Waterboer, Adam Kok, and Barend Barends captured more Africans from among people such as the Hurutshe, Rolong, and Kwena. Other people, such as those known as the Mantatees, were forced to become farmworkers, mainly in the eastern Cape. European farmers also raided for labour north of the Orange River.

Cape authorities overhauled their policy in 1828 in order to facilitate labour distribution and to align the region with the growing imperial antislavery ethos. Ordinance 49 permitted Black labourers from east of the Keiskamma to go into the colony for work if they possessed the proper contracts and passes, which were issued by soldiers and missionaries. This was the beginning of the pass laws that would become so notorious in the 20th century. Ordinance 50 briefly ended the restrictions placed on the Khoe, including removing the requirement for passes, and allowed them to choose their employers, own land, and move more freely. Because an insufficient labour force still existed, Anglo-Boer armies (supported by Khoe, Tembu, Gcaleka, and Mpondo auxiliaries) acquired their own workers by attacking the Ngwane east of the Great Kei at Mbolompo in August 1828. The formal abolition of slavery took place in 1834–38, and control of African labourers became stricter through the Masters and Servants Ordinance (1841), which imposed criminal penalties for breach of contract and desertion of the workplace and increased the legal powers of settler employers.

Some jobs offered are dress makers, bakers, blacksmiths, cobblers and farmers. The printer is just one job of the Southern colonies. The printers write and print newspapers for all to see. The farmers in the south often had big plantations and had slaves work on them.

They were very successful due to a warm climate, rich soil, and long growing season. These conditions promoted an agricultural based economy in the South. They grew rice, indigo, and tobacco. Most of the labor was supplied through indentured servants and African Slaves.

Why did the Dutch, French & British acquire minor colonies in South America? - History

Six countries: Portugal, Spain, the Netherlands, Great Britain, France, and the United States, had colonies in Southeast Asia.

The Portuguese had the least impact on Southeast Asia. They captured Malacca in 1511, holding it until the Dutch seized it in 1641. Otherwise, they maintained only a small piece of territory on the island of Timor, southeast of Bali.

Spain ruled the Philippines from its conquest of Cebu in 1565 and Manila in 1571 until its defeat in the Spanish-American War in 1898.

The Netherlands
Dutch colonialism falls into two periods. the first, that of the V.O.C., or Dutch East India Company, lasted from 1605 to 1799. The V.O.C. had little interest in territorial administration its primary concern was to maximize profits through trading monopolies.

When the V.O.C. collapsed in 1799, the Dutch government took control of its assets in 1825, after the Napoleonic Wars, and began to bring the Indonesian archipelago under its administrative authority. This process was completed during the 1930s.

At the end of the Second World War, the Dutch had hoped to retain the Netherlands East Indies as a colony, but the Indonesians opposed the return of the Dutch, setting up a republic in 1945. In 1949, after four years of fighting, the Indonesians gained their independence with the assistance of the United Nations which served as a mediator between the Indonesians and the Dutch.

Great Britain
The British conquered Burma, fighting three Anglo-Burmese Wars in 1824-26, 1852, and 1885-86. Unlike other colonies which maintained their ethnic identity, Burma was a province of British India. The Burmese, therefore, had two sets of rulers, the British at the top with the Indians in the middle. In 1935 the British agreed to separate Burma from India, putting this agreement into effect in 1937. Burma was able to negotiate its independence from Great Britain in 1948.

Penang (acquired in 1786), Singapore (founded by Raffles in 1819), and Malacca (Melaka, acquired in 1824), were governed by Britain as the Straits Settlements. The Straits Settlements served as a base for British expansion into the Malay Peninsula between 1874 and 1914. When the Malay States entered into negotiations for their independence--achieved in 1957--Penang and Malacca became part of Malaysia as did Singapore in 1963. However, Singapore was asked to withdraw from the federation in1965. Singapore has been an independent city state since that date. Sarawak and Sabah which joined Malaysia in 1963 continue to remain members of the federation.

France moved into Vietnam in 1858, capturing Saigon in 1859. Using the south, then called Cochin China, as a base the French moved west and north completing the conquest of Indochina by 1907. (Indochina--the five territories under French authority: Cochin China, Annam, Tongking, Laos, and Cambodia.) The French also wanted to retain their colony after the Second World War. The Vietnamese rejected French rule, and after defeating the French at Dien Bien Phu, obtained their independence at the Geneva Conference in 1954.

The United States
The United States moved into the Philippines as a result of the peace settlement with Spain in 1898. The Filipinos were granted a Commonwealth (internal autonomy) government in 1935, and their independence in 1946.

Thailand continued to be independent. It was the only Southeast Asian state to remain independent during the colonial period.

The impact of colonial rule was different for each region of Southeast Asia.

Key questions for the study of colonialism in Southeast Asia:

To what extent did the colonial authority support the rule of law--applied equally to both Europeans and Southeast Asians?

To what extent did the colonial authority provide for civil liberties: fair trial freedom of assembly free speech free press etc.?

To what extent did the colonial authority make modern education available to Southeast Asians? Did it permit foreign study? Was education available to people from all social classes?

To what extent did the colonial authority allow Southeast Asians to engage in modern economic activities, to form their own businesses, to participate in foreign trade?

Was there a problem of corruption in the colonial government?

Liberal colonial governments. The two liberal colonial governments were Great Britain and the United States.

These two governments maintained a good record with respect to the rule of law, civil liberties, political participation, open education, and economic opportunity. Both were willing to allow their colonies to become independent and had begun to prepare them for future independence before the Second World War began.

Repressive colonial governments. The Spanish, Dutch, and French had a very different attitude toward their colonies.

They generally placed the European in a superior legal position, and limited civil liberties. Political activities were discouraged. Access to modern education was restricted in numbers and to certain social groups. Censorship was common. Southeast Asians were not encouraged to engage in modern economic activities. And there were major problems of corruption in the Spanish and French colonial governments.

Nationalism--organized political movements which had as their goal the restoration of their country's independence. More moderate nationalist movements appeared in those countries with liberal colonial governments while more radical nationalist movements developed in countries with repressive colonial governments.

Nationalism in Southeast Asia developed from three sources: 1, indigenous religions 2, western education and 3, contact with social radicals such as socialists and communists.

Indigenous Religions
In Burma the earliest nationalist movement was led by Buddhists who established the Young Man's Buddhist Association in 1906. They wanted to revitalize Buddhism in Burma, reducing Western influence.

In Indonesia, Muslims were the first to organize a nationalist political party, Sarekat Islam (1912). Sarekat Islam sought to bring all Indonesian Muslims together under its banner of reformist Muslim ideas. It was the first mass political party to appear in Southeast Asia.

Western Education
In Burma the new Western educated elite worked with Buddhist monks and with other Burmese. In 1935 students at the University of Rangoon formed the Dobayma Asiyone, the "We Burman" society. The members of the Dobayma Asiyone called themselves "Thakins" (Master). Many Thakins, Aung San, U Nu, and Ne Win, would become political leaders in independent Burma.

In the Philippines the Western educated leaders first fought against Spain, but later worked with the United States.

In Malaya, educated Malays were brought into the civil service. Throughout the colonial period, they worked closely with their British rulers.

In Indonesia a small group of Indonesians, educated in Dutch schools, formed the P.N.I., the Indonesian Nationalist party, in 1927. The party was forced underground by the Dutch and its leaders exiled.

In Indochina, nationalist activity was confined to Vietnam. Many Western educated Vietnamese were encouraged to identify with the French. Others formed small, generally moderate, political groups, but these organizations were never allowed to become important.

Social Radicals
The communists in Burma tended to be badly split. They have had little impact on Burmese society.

The P.K.I., the Indonesian Communist Party, was founded in 1920. Its major impact came after independence, in the 1950s and early 1960s. It was destroyed by the Indonesian army in 1965.

Despite French repression, the Vietnamese communists became the leading nationalists, taking control of the nationalist movement in the 1930s.

Nationalism was a successful activity in Southeast Asia. All of the countries in the region were independent by 1965, and, in most cases, nationalist leaders were the first of the region's independent heads of state.

The French in Vietnam
The French were never able to come to a compromise with Vietnamese nationalism. Their rule was unusually repressive. Political parties, even moderate ones, would be broken up and their leaders jailed. Experiments with local advisory councils would be canceled. Any protests met with prompt response and was often accompanied by the removal of Vietnamese from government positions and a reduction in educational opportunities.

Over time, Vietnamese political parties moved left. The moderates were driven out by the French.

The left was able to survive because it was able to move underground and because its leaders could escape across the border to China. At times the leaders of the left were imprisoned by the Chinese, at other times they received Chinese support.

During the Second World War Japan was able to occupy Indochina through a treaty with the pro-German Vichy government in France. France was allowed to continue to administer the country and to prohibit natonalist activity.

Vietnamese nationalists sought refuge in China. At first the Chinese ignored the Vietnamese communists. But their need for intelligence about Japanese activities in Vietnam led the Chinese to release Ho Chi Minh and Vo Nguyen Giap from jail. They set up an intelligence network in Vietnam behind Japanese lines. The two men returned to Vietnam as intelligence agents for the Allies (China and the United States).

In 1945 events moved quickly. Two major Vietnam wars had their origin in this period.

March 9, 1945. Japan mounted a coup against the French. The Japanese encouraged the Emperor Bao Dai to organize a government under Japanese sponsorship.

August 14, 1945. Japan surrendered to the Allies in Tokyo. Ho Chi Minh and Vo Nguyen Giap moved to take control over Hanoi and Hue. A United Front government was set up in Saigon.

August 25, 1945. The Emperor Bao Dai abdicated to Ho. Ho Chi Minh then formed a provisional government with himself as its president.

September 2, 1945. Ho Chi Minh declared Vietnam independent.

September 12, 1945. British troops arrived in Saigon to receive the surrender of the Japanese and to find out what was happening in Vietnam.

September 22, 1945. The British freed the French troops who had been imprisoned by the Japanese.

September 24-25, 1945. The Vietnamese turned against the French and began to fight.

In accord with the agreements drawn up by the Allies, China was to occupy the northern half of Vietnam and to receive the surrender of the Japanese. The Chinese occupied the north from mid-September 1945 to March 1946. The Chinese sought to use the occupation to gain concessions from the French. They did not interfere with Ho Chi Minh's efforts to set up a government in the north.

Negotiations broke down between Ho and the French over the return of the French to Hanoi. French troops moved into Hanoi in December 1946 as the war spread throughout Vietnam.

In 1949 the Chinese Communist Party won the civil war in China. The United States, fearing communist expansion, increased its assistance to France. The Vietnamese communists were now in a position to obtain aid from both the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China.

In March 1954 the French lost the Battle of Dien Bien Phu in northwestern Vietnam. They finally agreed to negotiate with the communists.

At the Geneva Conference in 1954, Vietnam, and the two other countries of Indochina gained their independence. A military truce line was set up at the 17th parallel in preparation for elections for the reunification of Vietnam.

South Vietnam, with the backing of the United States, refused to allow the elections to take place. After a few years of relative peace and reconstruction, the communists decided to renew military activities with the goal of unifying the country.

A.M. Jones. Africa and Indonesia. Leiden, 1964. A study of the influence of Malayo-Polynesian culture on that of Madagascar and Africa

James Hornell. Water Transport. Cambridge, 1946. The development of the outrigger canoe along with other types of boats is discussed.

David Lewis. We, the Navigators. Honolulu, 1972. The techniques of natural navigation as used by the Polynesians are tested on a Pacific voyage.


The Field Museum of Natural History, Exhibit on Traveling the Southern Seas

National Geographic. This magazine has published several articles on the traditional navigational practices of the Pacific peoples.

Public Television Stations. The PBS likes to support independent documentaries and in the past has shown a number of programs on pre-modern navigation and oceanic voyages.

The New England Colonies

The first English emigrants to what would become the New England colonies were a small group of Puritan separatists, later called the Pilgrims, who arrived in Plymouth in 1620 to found Plymouth Colony. Ten years later, a wealthy syndicate known as the Massachusetts Bay Company sent a much larger (and more liberal) group of Puritans to establish another Massachusetts settlement. With the help of local natives, the colonists soon got the hang of farming, fishing and hunting, and Massachusetts prospered. 

As the Massachusetts settlements expanded, they generated new colonies in New England. Puritans who thought that Massachusetts was not pious enough formed the colonies of Connecticut and New Haven (the two combined in 1665). Meanwhile, Puritans who thought that Massachusetts was too restrictive formed the colony of Rhode Island, where everyone–including Jewish people𠄾njoyed complete “liberty in religious concernments.” To the north of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, a handful of adventurous settlers formed the colony of New Hampshire.


Norsemen Edit

Norse explorers were the first Europeans known to have set foot on what is now North America. Norse journeys to Greenland and Canada are verified by historical and archaeological evidence. [5] The Norsemen established a colony in Greenland in the late 10th century, and lasted until the mid 15th century, with court and parliament assemblies (þing) taking place at Brattahlíð and a bishop located at Garðar. [6] The remains of a settlement at L'Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland, Canada, were discovered in 1960 and were dated to around the year 1000 (carbon dating estimate 990–1050 CE). [7] L'Anse aux Meadows is the only site widely accepted as evidence of pre-Columbian trans-oceanic contact. It was named a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1978. [8] It is also notable for its possible connection with the attempted colony of Vinland, established by Leif Erikson around the same period or, more broadly, with the Norse colonization of the Americas. [9] Leif Erikson's brother is said to have had the first contact with the native population of North America which would come to be known as the skrælings. After capturing and killing eight of the natives, they were attacked at their beached ships, which they defended. [10]

Spain Edit

While some Norse colonies were established in north eastern North America as early as the 10th century, systematic European colonization began in 1492. A Spanish expedition headed by the Italian explorer Christopher Columbus sailed west to find a new trade route to the Far East but inadvertently landed in what came to be known to Europeans as the "New World". He landed on 12 October 1492 on Guanahani (possibly Cat Island) in The Bahamas, which the Lucayan people had inhabited since the 9th century. Western European conquest, large-scale exploration and colonization soon followed after the Spanish and Portuguese final reconquest of Iberia in 1492. Columbus's first two voyages (1492–93) reached Hispaniola and various other Caribbean islands, including Puerto Rico and Cuba. In the 1494 Treaty of Tordesillas, ratified by the Pope, the two kingdoms of Castile (in a personal union with other kingdoms of Spain) and Portugal divided the entire non-European world into two areas of exploration and colonization, with a north to south boundary that cut through the Atlantic Ocean and the eastern part of present-day Brazil. Based on this treaty and on early claims by Spanish explorer Vasco Núñez de Balboa, discoverer of the Pacific Ocean in 1513, the Spanish conquered large territories in North, Central and South America. They started colonizing the Caribbean, using islands such as Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Hispaniola as bases.

The Spanish had different goals in their exploration of the land than the later European powers. They had three goals for exploration: “Conquer, convert, or become rich”. [11] [ failed verification ] The Spanish justified their claims to the New World based on the Ideals of the Reconquista. [12] They saw their reconquest of the Iberian Peninsula out from the Moor's control as evidence of the “divine help". They believed it to be their duty to save the natives from eternal damnation by converting them to Christianity. In 1492 the first Spaniard had finally become Pope and Spain justified their right to implement Christianity throughout the world. [13]

Over the first century and a half after Columbus's voyages, the native population of the Americas plummeted by an estimated 80% (from around 50 million in 1492 to eight million in 1650), [14] mostly by outbreaks of Old World disease. Some authors have argued this demographic collapse to be the first large-scale act of genocide in the modern era. [15] [16] Ten years after Columbus arrived to the Americas, the administration of Hispaniola was given to Nicolás de Ovando of the Order of Alcántara, founded during the Reconquista. As in the Iberian Peninsula, the inhabitants of Hispaniola were given new land masters, while religious orders handled the local administration. Progressively the encomienda system, which granted tribute (access to indigenous labor and taxation) to European settlers, was set in place. Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés took over the Aztec Kingdom and from 1519 to 1521, he waged a campaign against the Aztec Empire, ruled by Moctezuma II. The Aztec capital, Tenochtitlan, became Mexico City, the chief city of what the Spanish were now calling "New Spain". More than 240,000 Aztecs died during the siege of Tenochtitlan, 100,000 in combat, [17] while 500–1,000 of the Spaniards engaged in the conquest died. Other conquistadors, such as Hernando de Soto, Francisco Vázquez de Coronado, and Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, pushed farther north, from Florida, Mexico, and the Caribbean, respectively, in the early 1500s. In 1513, Vasco Núñez de Balboa crossed the Isthmus of Panama and led the first European expedition to see the Pacific Ocean from the west coast of the New World. In an action with enduring historical import, Balboa claimed the Pacific Ocean and all the lands adjoining it for the Spanish Crown. It was 1517 before another expedition, from Cuba, visited Central America, landing on the coast of Yucatán in search of slaves. To the south, Francisco Pizarro conquered the Inca Empire during the 1530s. As a result, by the mid-16th century, the Crown of Castile had gained control of much of western South America, and southern North America, in addition to its earlier Caribbean territories. The crown established the laws of the Indies to assert its power against the encomenderos and conquistadors and to regulate the incorporation of the natives into colonial society. The centuries of continuous conflicts between the North American Indians and the Anglo-Americans were less severe than the devastation wrought on the densely populated Mesoamerican, Andean, and Caribbean heartlands. [18] To reward their troops, the Conquistadores often allotted Indian towns to their troops and officers. Black African slaves were introduced to substitute for Native American labor in some locations—including the West Indies, where the indigenous population was nearing extinction on many islands.

On Columbus's return to Hispaniola in 1493, he arrived with 17 ships and 1,200 men but there was little gold left. They "roamed the island in gangs looking for gold, taking women and children as slaves for sex and labor.” [19] In 1500, Columbus wrote that “there are many dealers who go about looking for girls those from nine to 10 are now in demand.” [19] Due to the shortage in gold, the Spanish established the “Practice of Tribute” under the encomienda system which required every Indian male to turn in a certain amount of gold every ninety days or face death. The reading of The Requerimento before war was both unintelligible to the natives and used as a manipulation tactic. The document stated that the indigenous were subjects of the Spanish Crown and would be tortured if they resisted. [20] As the indigenous population declined, the Europeans abducted people from other islands, like the Lucayan, to labor in the fields and mines of Hispaniola. By the 1600s, the island had been deserted for over a century. [19]

Portugal Edit

Over this same time frame as Spain, Portugal claimed lands in North America (Canada) and colonized much of eastern South America naming it Santa Cruz and Brazil. On behalf of both the Portuguese and Spanish crowns, cartographer Americo Vespuscio explored the American east coast, and published his new book Mundus Novus (New World) in 1502–1503 which disproved the belief that the Americas were the easternmost part of Asia and confirmed that Columbus had reached a set of continents previously unheard of to any Europeans. Cartographers still use a Latinized version of his first name, America, for the two continents. In April 1500, Portuguese noble Pedro Álvares Cabral claimed the region of Brazil to Portugal the effective colonization of Brazil began three decades later with the founding of São Vicente in 1532 and the establishment of the system of captaincies in 1534, which was later replaced by other systems. Others tried to colonize the eastern coasts of present-day Canada and the River Plate in South America. These explorers include João Vaz Corte-Real in Newfoundland João Fernandes Lavrador, Gaspar and Miguel Corte-Real and João Álvares Fagundes, in Newfoundland, Greenland, Labrador, and Nova Scotia (from 1498 to 1502, and in 1520).

During this time, the Portuguese gradually switched from an initial plan of establishing trading posts to extensive colonization of what is now Brazil. They imported millions of slaves to run their plantations. The Portuguese and Spanish royal governments expected to rule these settlements and collect at least 20% of all treasure found (the quinto real collected by the Casa de Contratación), in addition to collecting all the taxes they could. By the late 16th century silver from the Americas accounted for one-fifth of the combined total budget of Portugal and Spain. [21] In the 16th century perhaps 240,000 Europeans entered ports in the Americas. [22] [23]

France Edit

France founded colonies in the Americas: in eastern North America (which had not been colonized by Spain north of Florida), a number of Caribbean islands (which had often already been conquered by the Spanish or depopulated by disease), and small coastal parts of South America. French explorers included Giovanni da Verrazzano in 1524 Jacques Cartier (1491–1557), Henry Hudson (1560s–1611), and Samuel de Champlain (1567–1635), who explored the region of Canada he reestablished as New France.

In the French colonial regions, the focus of economy was on sugar plantations in Caribbean. In Canada the fur trade with the natives was important. About 16,000 French men and women became colonizers. The great majority became subsistence farmers along the St. Lawrence River. With a favorable disease environment and plenty of land and food, their numbers grew exponentially to 65,000 by 1760. Their colony was taken over by Britain in 1760, but social, religious, legal, cultural and economic changes were few in a society that clung tightly to its recently formed traditions. [24] [25]

England Edit

British colonization began with North America almost a century after Spain. The relatively late arrival meant that the British could use the other European colonization powers as models for their endeavors. [26] Inspired by the Spanish riches from colonies founded upon the conquest of the Aztecs, Incas, and other large Native American populations in the 16th century, their first attempt at colonization occurred in Roanoke and Newfoundland, although unsuccessful. [27] In 1606, King James I granted a charter with the purpose of discovering the riches at their first permanent settlement in Jamestown, Virginia in 1607. They were sponsored by common stock companies such as the chartered Virginia Company financed by wealthy Englishmen who exaggerated the economic potential of the land. [28]

The Protestant Reformation of the 16th century broke the unity of Western Christendom and led to the formation of numerous new religious sects, which often faced persecution by governmental authorities. In England, many people came to question the organization of the Church of England by the end of the 16th century. One of the primary manifestations of this was the Puritan movement, which sought to "purify" the existing Church of England of its residual Catholic rites. The first of these people, known as the Pilgrims, landed on Plymouth Rock, MA in November 1620. Continuous waves of repression led to the migration of about 20,000 Puritans to New England between 1629 and 1642, where they founded multiple colonies. Later in the century, the new Pennsylvania colony was given to William Penn in settlement of a debt the king owed his father. Its government was established by William Penn in about 1682 to become primarily a refuge for persecuted English Quakers but others were welcomed. Baptists, German and Swiss Protestants and Anabaptists also flocked to Pennsylvania. The lure of cheap land, religious freedom and the right to improve themselves with their own hand was very attractive. [29]

Mainly due to discrimination, there was often a separation between English colonial communities and indigenous communities. The Europeans viewed the natives as savages who were not worthy of participating in what they considered civilized society. The native people of North America did not die out nearly as rapidly nor as greatly as those in Central and South America due in part to their exclusion from British society. The indigenous people continued to be stripped of their native lands and were pushed further out west. [30] The English eventually went on to control much of Eastern North America, the Caribbean, and parts of South America. They also gained Florida and Quebec in the French and Indian War.

John Smith convinced the colonists of Jamestown that searching for gold was not taking care of their immediate needs for food and shelter. The lack of food security leading to extremely high mortality rate was quite distressing and cause for despair among the colonists. To support the colony, numerous supply missions were organized. Tobacco later became a cash crop, with the work of John Rolfe and others, for export and the sustaining economic driver of Virginia and the neighboring colony of Maryland. Plantation agriculture was a primary aspect of the colonies in the southeast US and in the Caribbean. They heavily relied on African slave labor to sustain their economic pursuits. [11]

From the beginning of Virginia's settlements in 1587 until the 1680s, the main source of labor and a large portion of the immigrants were indentured servants looking for new life in the overseas colonies. During the 17th century, indentured servants constituted three-quarters of all European immigrants to the Chesapeake region. Most of the indentured servants were teenagers from England with poor economic prospects at home. Their fathers signed the papers that gave them free passage to America and an unpaid job until they became of age. They were given food, clothing, housing and taught farming or household skills. American landowners were in need of laborers and were willing to pay for a laborer's passage to America if they served them for several years. By selling passage for five to seven years worth of work, they could then start on their own in America. [31] Many of the migrants from England died in the first few years. [28]

Economic advantage also prompted the Darien Scheme, an ill-fated venture by the Kingdom of Scotland to settle the Isthmus of Panama in the late 1690s. The Darien Scheme aimed to control trade through that part of the world and thereby promote Scotland into a world trading power. However, it was doomed by poor planning, short provisions, weak leadership, lack of demand for trade goods, and devastating disease. [32] The failure of the Darien Scheme was one of the factors that led the Kingdom of Scotland into the Act of Union 1707 with the Kingdom of England creating the united Kingdom of Great Britain and giving Scotland commercial access to English, now British, colonies. [33]

When Pope Alexander VI issued the Inter caetera bull in May 1493 granting the new lands to the Kingdom of Spain, he requested in exchange an evangelization of the people. During Columbus's second voyage, Benedictine monks accompanied him, along with twelve other priests. Through a practice called the Mission System, supervised communities were established in frontier areas so that Spanish priests could preach the gospel to the indigenous population. These missions were established throughout the Spanish colonies which extended from the southwestern portions of current-day United States through Mexico and to Argentina and Chile. In the 1530s, the Spanish Roman Catholic Church, needing the natives' labor and cooperation, evangelized in Quechua, Nahuatl, Guaraní and other Native American languages. This contributed to the expansion of indigenous languages, including the establishment of tribal writing systems. One of the first primitive schools for Native Americans was founded by Fray Pedro de Gante in 1523.

As slavery was prohibited between Christians and could only be imposed in non-Christian prisoners of war or on men already sold as slaves, the debate on Christianization was particularly acute during the 16th century. Later, two Dominican priests, Bartolomé de Las Casas and the philosopher Juan Ginés de Sepúlveda, held the Valladolid debate, with the former arguing that Native Americans were endowed with souls like all other human beings, while the latter argued to the contrary to justify their enslavement. In 1537, the papal bull Sublimis Deus definitively recognized that Native Americans possessed souls, thus prohibiting their enslavement, without putting an end to the debate. Some claimed that a native who had rebelled and then been captured could be enslaved nonetheless. The process of Christianization was at first violent: when the first Franciscans arrived in Mexico in 1524, they burned the places dedicated to pagan cult, alienating much of the local population. [34] Consequently, the indigenous were forced to denounce their intergenerational tribal beliefs and subjugate their history.

The practice of slavery was not uncommon in native society prior to the arrival of the Europeans. Captured members of rival tribes were often used as slaves and/or for human sacrifice. But with the arrival of white colonists, Indian slavery "became commodified, expanded in unexpected ways, and came to resemble the kinds of human trafficking that are recognizable to us today". [35]

While disease was the main killer of the Indians, the practice of slavery was also significant contributor to the indigenous death toll. [13] With the arrival of other European colonial powers, the enslavement of native populations increased as these empires lacked legislation against slavery until decades later. It is estimated that from Columbus's arrival to the end of the nineteenth century between 2.5 and 5 million Native Americans were forced into slavery. Indigenous men, women, and children were often forced into labor in sparsely populated frontier settings, in the household, or in the toxic gold and silver mines. [36] To further extract as much gold as possible, the Europeans required all males above the age of 13 to trade gold as tribute. This practice was known as the encomienda system and granted free native labor to the Spaniards. Based upon the practice of exacting tribute from Muslims and Jews during the Reconquista, the Spanish Crown granted a number of native laborers to an encomendero, who was usually a conquistador or other prominent Spanish male. Under the grant, they were bound to both protecting the natives and converting them to Christianity. In exchange for their forced conversion to Christianity, the natives had to pay tributes in the form of gold, agricultural products, and labor. The Spanish crown saw the severe abuses going on and tried to terminate the system through the Laws of Burgos (1512–13) and the New Laws of the Indies (1542). However, the encomenderos refused to comply with the new measures and the indigenous people continued to be exploited. Eventually, the encomienda system was replaced by the repartimiento system which was not abolished until the late 18th century. [37]

In the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, the Pueblo tribe led an uprising that resulted in the death of 400 Spanish colonizers and the reclaiming of indigenous land. Andrés Resendez argues this to be "the greatest insurrection against the other slavery". [35] Resendez also argues that the perpetrators of native slavery were not always European colonists. He claims that the rise of powerful Indian tribes in what is now the American Southwest, such as the Comanche, led to indigenous control of the Native American slave trade by the early 1700s. The arrival of European settlers in the West increased the slave traffic by the nineteenth century. [36] There is debate over whether the indigenous population of the Americas suffered a greater demographic decline than the African continent, despite the latter having lost roughly 12.5 million individuals to the transatlantic slave trade. [35]

By the 18th century, the overwhelming number of black slaves was such that Amerindian slavery was less commonly used. Africans, who were taken aboard slave ships to the Americas, were primarily obtained from their African homelands by coastal tribes who captured and sold them. Europeans traded for slaves with the slave capturers of the local native African tribes in exchange for rum, guns, gunpowder, and other manufactures. The total slave trade to islands in the Caribbean, Brazil, the Portuguese, Spanish, French, Dutch, and British Empires is estimated to have involved 12 million Africans. [38] [39] The vast majority of these slaves went to sugar colonies in the Caribbean and to Brazil, where life expectancy was short and the numbers had to be continually replenished. At most about 600,000 African slaves were imported into the United States, or 5% of the 12 million slaves brought across from Africa. [40]

Even though slavery went against the mission of the Catholic Church, the colonizers justified the practice through the belts of latitude theory, supported by Aristotle and Ptolemy. In this perspective, belts of latitude wrapped around the earth and corresponded with specific human traits. The peoples from the "cold zone" in Northern Europe were "of lesser prudence", while those of the "hot zone" in sub-Sahara Africa were intelligent but "weaker and less spirited". [35] According to the theory, those of the "temperate zone" across the Mediterranean reflected an ideal balance of strength and prudence. Such ideas about latitude and character justified a natural human hierarchy. [35]

During the Gold Rush of the 1800s, Indian enslavement flourished. American landowner, John Bidwell, coerced Indian children to work on his ranch by scaring them with tales of man-eating grizzly bears. He justified his protection and offering of food and clothing as fair payment for indigenous labor. Captain John Sutter paid the Indian slaves with metal disks that were punched with star-shaped holes to keep track of how much work they did. Two weeks of work meant they could receive a cotton shirt or a pair of pants. Andrew Kelsey organized the enslavement of five hundred Pomo Indians, where they flogged and shot these people for entertainment. They also raped young Indian women. In 1849, the Indians finally rebelled and murdered Kelsey in what became known as the Bloody Island Massacre. Other laws legalized a peonage system that allowed trial and punishment of any Indian who was traveling without a proper certificate of employment. These documents listed the "advanced wages" as a debt to be repaid before the Indian could be free to leave. This system allowed ranchers to control the migration of Indians and subject them to the labor draft. The Indian Act of 1850 legalized all types of exploitation and atrocities of indigenous people, including the "apprenticeship" of Indian minors which in practice gave the petitioner control of both the child and their earnings. Thus, the establishment of encomiendas, repartimientos, selling of convict labor, and debt peonage replaced formal slavery by instituting informal labor coercive practices that were nearly impossible to track, thus enabling the slave trade to continue. [35]

Roman Catholics were the first major religious group to immigrate to the New World, as settlers in the colonies of Portugal and Spain, and later, France, belonged to that faith. English and Dutch colonies, on the other hand, tended to be more religiously diverse. Settlers to these colonies included Anglicans, Dutch Calvinists, English Puritans and other nonconformists, English Catholics, Scottish Presbyterians, French Huguenots, German and Swedish Lutherans, as well as Jews, Quakers, Mennonites, Amish, and Moravians. [41]


Prehistory Edit

Scientists researching the periods before written historical records were made have established that the territory of what is now referred to generically as South Africa was one of the important centers of human evolution. It was inhabited by Australopithecines since at least 2.5 million years ago. Modern human settlement occurred around 125,000 years ago in the Middle Stone Age, as shown by archaeological discoveries at Klasies River Caves. [8] The first human habitation is associated with a DNA group originating in a northwestern area of southern Africa and still prevalent in the indigenous Khoisan (Khoi and San). Southern Africa was later populated by Bantu-speaking people who migrated from the western region of central Africa during the early centuries AD.

At the Blombos cave Professor Raymond Dart discovered the skull of a 2.51 million year old Taung Child in 1924, the first example of Australopithecus africanus ever found. Following in Dart's footsteps Robert Broom discovered a new much more robust hominid in 1938 Paranthropus robustus at Kromdraai, and in 1947 uncovered several more examples of Australopithecus africanus at Sterkfontein. In further research at the Blombos cave in 2002, stones were discovered engraved with grid or cross-hatch patterns, dated to some 70,000 years ago. This has been interpreted as the earliest example ever discovered of abstract art or symbolic art created by Homo sapiens. [9]

Many more species of early hominid have come to light in recent decades. The oldest is Little Foot, a collection of footbones of an unknown hominid between 2.2 and 3.3 million years old, discovered at Sterkfontein by Ronald J. Clarke. An important recent find was that of 1.9 million year old Australopithecus sediba, discovered in 2008. In 2015, the discovery near Johannesburg of a previously unknown species of Homo was announced, named Homo naledi. It has been described as one of the most important paleontological discoveries in modern times. [10]

The descendants of the Middle Paleolithic populations are thought to be the aboriginal San and Khoikhoi tribes. The settlement of southern Africa by the ancestors of the Khoisan corresponds to the earliest separation of the extant Homo sapiens populations altogether, associated in genetic science with what is described in scientific terms as matrilinear haplogroup L0 (mtDNA) and patrilinear haplogroup A (Y-DNA), originating in a northwestern area of southern Africa. [11] [12] [13]

The San and Khoikhoi are grouped under the term Khoisan, and are essentially distinguished only by their respective occupations. Whereas the San were hunter-gathers, the Khoikhoi were pastoral herders. [14] [15] [16] The initial origin of the Khoikhoi remains uncertain. [17] [18]

Archaeological discoveries of livestock bones on the Cape Peninsula indicate that the Khoikhoi began to settle there by about 2000 years ago. [19] In the late 15th and early 16th centuries, Portuguese mariners, who were the first Europeans at the Cape, encountered pastoral Khoikhoi with livestock. Later, English and Dutch seafarers in the late 16th and 17th centuries exchanged metals for cattle and sheep with the Khoikhoi. The conventional view is that availability of livestock was one reason why, in the mid-17th century, the Dutch East India Company established a staging post where the port city of Cape Town is today situated.

The establishment of the staging post by the Dutch East India Company at the Cape in 1652 soon brought the Khoikhoi into conflict with Dutch settlers over land ownership. Cattle rustling and livestock theft ensued, with the Khoikhoi being ultimately expelled from the peninsula by force, after a succession of wars. The first Khoikhoi–Dutch War broke out in 1659, the second in 1673, and the third 1674–1677. [20] By the time of their defeat and expulsion from the Cape Peninsula and surrounding districts, the Khoikhoi population was decimated by a smallpox epidemic introduced by Dutch sailors against which the Khoikhoi had no natural resistance or indigenous medicines. [21]

The Bantu people Edit

The Bantu expansion was one of the major demographic movements in human prehistory, sweeping much of the African continent during the 2nd and 1st millennia BC. [22] Bantu-speaking communities reached southern Africa from the Congo basin as early as the 4th century BC. [23] The advancing Bantu encroached on the Khoikhoi territory, forcing the original inhabitants of the region to move to more arid areas. [ citation needed ] Some groups, ancestral to today's Nguni peoples (the Zulu, Xhosa, Swazi, and Ndebele), preferred to live near the eastern coast of what is present-day South Africa. [24] Others, now known as the Sotho–Tswana peoples (Tswana, Pedi, and Sotho), settled in the interior on the plateau known as the Highveld, [24] while today's Venda, Lemba, and Tsonga peoples made their homes in the north-eastern areas of present-day South Africa.

The Kingdom of Mapungubwe, which was located near the northern border of present-day South Africa, at the confluence of the Limpopo and Shashe rivers adjacent to present-day Zimbabwe and Botswana, was the first indigenous kingdom in southern Africa between AD 900 and 1300. It developed into the largest kingdom in the sub-continent before it was abandoned because of climatic changes in the 14th century. Smiths created objects of iron, copper and gold both for local decorative use and for foreign trade. The kingdom controlled trade through the east African ports to Arabia, India and China, and throughout southern Africa, making it wealthy through the exchange of gold and ivory for imports such as Chinese porcelain and Persian glass beads. [25]

Specifics of the contact between Bantu-speakers and the indigenous Khoisan ethnic group remain largely unresearched, although linguistic proof of assimilation exists, as several southern Bantu languages (notably Xhosa and Zulu) are theorized in that they incorporate many click consonants from the Khoisan languages, as possibilities of such developing independently are valid as well.

Colonization Edit

Portuguese role Edit

The Portuguese mariner Bartolomeu Dias was the first European to explore the coastline of South Africa in 1488, while attempting to discover a trade route to the Far East via the southernmost cape of South Africa, which he named Cabo das Tormentas, meaning Cape of Storms. In November 1497, a fleet of Portuguese ships under the command of the Portuguese mariner Vasco da Gama rounded the Cape of Good Hope. By 16 December, the fleet had passed the Great Fish River on the east coast of South Africa, where Dias had earlier turned back. Da Gama gave the name Natal to the coast he was passing, which in Portuguese means Christmas. Da Gama's fleet proceeded northwards to Zanzibar and later sailed eastwards, eventually reaching India and opening the Cape Route between Europe and Asia. [26]

Dutch role Edit

The Dutch East India Company (in the Dutch of the day: Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie, or VOC) decided to establish a permanent settlement at the Cape in 1652. The VOC, one of the major European trading houses sailing the spice route to the East, had no intention of colonising the area, instead wanting only to establish a secure base camp where passing ships could shelter and be serviced, [24] and where hungry sailors could stock up on fresh supplies of meat, fruit, and vegetables. To this end, a small VOC expedition under the command of Jan van Riebeeck reached Table Bay on 6 April 1652. [27]

The VOC had settled at the Cape in order to supply their trading ships. The Khoikhoi stopped trading with the Dutch [ citation needed ] , and the Cape and the VOC had to import Dutch farmers to establish farms to supply the passing ships as well as to supply the growing VOC settlement. The small initial group of free burghers, as these farmers were known, steadily increased in number and began to expand their farms further north and east into the territory of the Khoikhoi. [24] The free burghers were ex-VOC soldiers and gardeners, who were unable to return to Holland when their contracts were completed with the VOC. [28] The VOC also brought some 71,000 slaves to Cape Town from India, Indonesia, East Africa, Mauritius, and Madagascar. [29]

The majority of burghers had Dutch ancestry and belonged to the Dutch Reformed Church, but there were also some Germans, who often happened to be Lutherans. In 1688, the Dutch and the Germans were joined by French Huguenots, who were Calvinist Protestants fleeing religious persecution in France under its Catholic ruler, King Louis XIV.

Van Riebeeck considered it impolitic to enslave the local Khoi and San aboriginals, so the VOC began to import large numbers of slaves, primarily from the Dutch colonies in Indonesia. Eventually, van Riebeeck and the VOC began to make indentured servants out of the Khoikhoi and the San. The descendants of unions between the Dutch settlers and the Khoi-San and Malay slaves became known officially as the Cape Coloureds and the Cape Malays, respectively. A significant number of the offspring from the white and slave unions were absorbed into the local proto-Afrikaans speaking white population. The racially mixed genealogical origins of many so-called "white" South Africans have been traced to interracial unions at the Cape between the European occupying population and imported Asian and African slaves, the indigenous Khoi and San, and their vari-hued offspring. [30] Simon van der Stel, the first Governor of the Dutch settlement, famous for his development of the lucrative South African wine industry, was himself of mixed race-origin. [31]

British at the Cape Edit

In 1787, shortly before the French Revolution, a faction within the politics of the Dutch Republic known as the Patriot Party attempted to overthrow the regime of stadtholder William V. Though the revolt was crushed, it was resurrected after the French invasion of the Netherlands in 1794/1795 which resulted in the stadtholder fleeing the country. The Patriot revolutionaries then proclaimed the Batavian Republic, which was closely allied to revolutionary France. In response, the stadtholder, who had taken up residence in England, issued the Kew Letters, ordering colonial governors to surrender to the British. The British then seized the Cape in 1795 to prevent it from falling into French hands. The Cape was relinquished back to the Dutch in 1803. [ citation needed ] In 1805, the British inherited the Cape as a prize during the Napoleonic Wars, [24] again seizing the Cape from the French controlled Kingdom of Holland which had replaced the Batavian Republic. [ citation needed ]

Like the Dutch before them, the British initially had little interest in the Cape Colony, other than as a strategically located port. The Cape Articles of Capitulation of 1806 allowed the colony to retain "all their rights and privileges which they have enjoyed hitherto", [32] and this launched South Africa on a divergent course from the rest of the British Empire, allowing the continuance of Roman-Dutch law. British sovereignty of the area was recognised at the Congress of Vienna in 1815, the Dutch accepting a payment of 6 million pounds for the colony. [33] As one of their first tasks they outlawed the use of the Dutch language in 1806 with the view of converting the European settlers to the British language and culture. [34] This had the effect of forcing more of the Dutch colonists to move (or trek) away from British administrative reach. Much later, in 1820 the British authorities persuaded about 5,000 middle-class British immigrants (most of them "in trade") to leave Great Britain. Many of the 1820 Settlers eventually settled in Grahamstown and Port Elizabeth.

British policy with regard to South Africa would vacillate with successive governments, but the overarching imperative throughout the 19th century was to protect the strategic trade route to India while incurring as little expense as possible within the colony. This aim was complicated by border conflicts with the Boers, who soon developed a distaste for British authority. [24]

European exploration of the interior Edit

Colonel Robert Jacob Gordon of the Dutch East India Company was the first European to explore parts of the interior while commanding the Dutch garrison at the renamed Cape of Good Hope, from 1780 to 1795. The four expeditions Gordon undertook between 1777 and 1786 are recorded in a series of several hundred drawings known collectively as the Gordon Atlas, as well as in his journals, which were only discovered in 1964. [35]

Early relations between the European settlers and the Xhosa, the first Bantu peoples they met when they ventured inward, were peaceful. However, there was competition for land, and this tension led to skirmishes in the form of cattle raids from 1779. [24]

The British explorers David Livingstone and William Oswell, setting out from a mission station in the northern Cape Colony, are believed to have been the first white men to cross the Kalahari desert in 1849. [36] The Royal Geographical Society later awarded Livingstone a gold medal for his discovery of Lake Ngami in the desert. [37]

Zulu militarism and expansionism Edit

The Zulu people are part of the Nguni tribe and were originally a minor clan in what is today northern KwaZulu-Natal, founded ca. 1709 by Zulu kaNtombela.

The 1820s saw a time of immense upheaval relating to the military expansion of the Zulu Kingdom, which replaced the original African clan system with kingdoms. Sotho-speakers know this period as the difaqane ("forced migration") Zulu-speakers call it the mfecane ("crushing"). [38]

Various theories have been advanced for the causes of the difaqane, ranging from ecological factors to competition in the ivory trade. [39] Another theory attributes the epicentre of Zulu violence to the slave trade out of Delgoa Bay in Mozambique situated to the north of Zululand. [40] Most historians recognize that the Mfecane wasn't just a series of events caused by the founding of the Zulu kingdom but rather a multitude of factors caused before and after Shaka Zulu came into power. [41] [42] [24]

In 1818, Nguni tribes in Zululand created a militaristic kingdom between the Tugela River and Pongola River, under the driving force of Shaka kaSenzangakhona, son of the chief of the Zulu clan. [43] Shaka built large armies, breaking from clan tradition by placing the armies under the control of his own officers rather than of hereditary chiefs. He then set out on a massive programme of expansion, killing or enslaving those who resisted in the territories he conquered. His impis (warrior regiments) were rigorously disciplined: failure in battle meant death. [44]

The Zulu resulted in the mass movement of many tribes who in turn to tried dominate those in new territories, leading to widespread warfare and waves of displacement spread throughout southern Africa and beyond. It accelerated the formation of several new nation-states, notably those of the Sotho (present-day Lesotho) and the Swazi (now Eswatini (formerly Swaziland)). It caused the consolidation of groups such as the Matebele, the Mfengu and the Makololo.

In 1828 Shaka was killed by his half-brothers Dingaan and Umhlangana. The weaker and less-skilled Dingaan became king, relaxing military discipline while continuing the despotism. Dingaan also attempted to establish relations with the British traders on the Natal coast, but events had started to unfold that would see the demise of Zulu independence. Estimates for the death toll resulting from the Mfecane range from 1 million to 2 million. [45] [46] [47] [48]

Boer people and republics Edit

After 1806, a number of Dutch-speaking inhabitants of the Cape Colony trekked inland, first in small groups. Eventually, in the 1830s, large numbers of Boers migrated in what came to be known as the Great Trek. [38] Among the initial reasons for their leaving the Cape colony were the English language rule. Religion was a very important aspect of the settlers culture and the bible and church services were in Dutch. Similarly, schools, justice and trade up to the arrival of the British, were all managed in the Dutch language. The language law caused friction, distrust and dissatisfaction.

Another reason for Dutch-speaking white farmers trekking away from the Cape was the abolition of slavery by the British government on Emancipation Day, 1 December 1838. The farmers complained they could not replace the labour of their slaves without losing an excessive amount of money. [49] The farmers had invested large amounts of capital in slaves. Owners who had purchased slaves on credit or put them up as surety against loans faced financial ruin. Britain had allocated the sum of 1 200 000 British Pounds as compensation to the Dutch settlers, on condition the Dutch farmers had to lodge their claims in Britain as well as the fact that the value of the slaves was many times the allocated amount. This caused further dissatisfaction among the Dutch settlers. The settlers, incorrectly, believed that the Cape Colony administration had taken the money due to them as payment for freeing their slaves. Those settlers who were allocated money could only claim it in Britain in person or through an agent. The commission charged by agents was the same as the payment for one slave, thus those settlers only claiming for one slave would receive nothing. [50]

South African Republic Edit

The South African Republic (Dutch: Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek or ZAR, not to be confused with the much later Republic of South Africa), is often referred to as The Transvaal and sometimes as the Republic of Transvaal. It was an independent and internationally recognised nation-state in southern Africa from 1852 to 1902. Independent sovereignty of the republic was formally recognised by Great Britain with the signing of the Sand River Convention on 17 January 1852. [51] The republic, under the premiership of Paul Kruger, defeated British forces in 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. The territory of the South African Republic became known after this war as the Transvaal Colony. [52]

Free State Republic Edit

The independent Boer republic of Orange Free State evolved from colonial Britain's Orange River Sovereignty, enforced by the presence of British troops, which lasted from 1848 to 1854 in the territory between the Orange and Vaal rivers, named Transorange. Britain, due to the military burden imposed on it by the Crimean War in Europe, then withdrew its troops from the territory in 1854, when the territory along with other areas in the region was claimed by the Boers as an independent Boer republic, which they named the Orange Free State. In March 1858, after land disputes, cattle rustling and a series of raids and counter-raids, the Orange Free State declared war on the Basotho kingdom, which it failed to defeat. A succession of wars were conducted between the Boers and the Basotho for the next 10 years. [53] The name Orange Free State was again changed to the Orange River Colony, created by Britain after the latter occupied it in 1900 and then annexed it in 1902 during the Second Boer War. The colony, with an estimated population of less than 400,000 in 1904 [54] ceased to exist in 1910, when it was absorbed into the Union of South Africa as the Orange Free State Province.

Natalia Edit

Natalia was a short-lived Boer republic established in 1839 by Boer Voortrekkers emigrating from the Cape Colony. In 1824 a party of 25 men under British Lieutenant F G Farewell arrived from the Cape Colony and established a settlement on the northern shore of the Bay of Natal, which would later become the port of Durban, so named after Benjamin D'Urban, a governor of the Cape Colony. Boer Voortrekkers in 1838 established the Republic of Natalia in the surrounding region, with its capital at Pietermaritzburg. On the night of 23/24 May 1842 British colonial forces attacked the Voortrekker camp at Congella. The attack failed, with British forces then retreating back to Durban, which the Boers besieged. A local trader Dick King and his servant Ndongeni, who later became folk heroes, were able to escape the blockade and ride to Grahamstown, a distance of 600 km (372.82 miles) in 14 days to raise British reinforcements. The reinforcements arrived in Durban 20 days later the siege was broken and the Voortrekkers retreated. [55] The Boers accepted British annexation in 1844. Many of the Natalia Boers who refused to acknowledge British rule trekked over the Drakensberg mountains to settle in the Orange Free State and Transvaal republics. [56]

Cape Colony Edit

Between 1847 and 1854, Harry Smith, governor and high commissioner of the Cape Colony, annexed territories far to the north of original British and Dutch settlement.

Smith's expansion of the Cape Colony resulted in conflict with disaffected Boers in the Orange River Sovereignty who in 1848 mounted an abortive rebellion at Boomplaats, where the Boers were defeated by a detachment of the Cape Mounted Rifles. [57] Annexation also precipitated a war between British colonial forces and the indigenous Xhosa nation in 1850, in the eastern coastal region. [58]

Starting from the mid-1800s, the Cape of Good Hope, which was then the largest state in southern Africa, began moving towards greater independence from Britain. In 1854, it was granted its first locally elected legislature, the Cape Parliament.

In 1872, after a long political struggle, it attained responsible government with a locally accountable executive and Prime Minister. The Cape nonetheless remained nominally part of the British Empire, even though it was self-governing in practice.

The Cape Colony was unusual in southern Africa in that its laws prohibited any discrimination on the basis of race and, unlike the Boer republics, elections were held according to the non-racial Cape Qualified Franchise system, whereby suffrage qualifications applied universally, regardless of race.

Initially, a period of strong economic growth and social development ensued. However, an ill-informed British attempt to force the states of southern Africa into a British federation led to inter-ethnic tensions and the First Boer War. Meanwhile, the discovery of diamonds around Kimberley and gold in the Transvaal led to a later return to instability, particularly because they fueled the rise to power of the ambitious colonialist Cecil Rhodes. As Cape Prime Minister, Rhodes curtailed the multi-racial franchise, and his expansionist policies set the stage for the Second Boer War. [59]

Natal Edit

Indian slaves from the Dutch colonies had been introduced into the Cape area of South Africa by the Dutch settlers in 1654. [60]

By the end of 1847, following annexation by Britain of the former Boer republic of Natalia, nearly all the Boers had left their former republic, which the British renamed Natal. The role of the Boer settlers was replaced by subsidised British immigrants of whom 5,000 arrived between 1849 and 1851. [61]

By 1860, with slavery having been abolished in 1834, and after the annexation of Natal as a British colony in 1843, the British colonialists in Natal (now kwaZulu-Natal) turned to India to resolve a labour shortage. Men of the local Zulu warrior nation were refusing to adopt the servile position of labourers. In that year, the SS Truro arrived in Durban harbour with over 300 Indians on board.

Over the next 50 years, 150,000 more indentured Indian servants and labourers arrived, as well as numerous free "passenger Indians," building the base for what would become the largest Indian community outside India.

By 1893, when the lawyer and social activist Mahatma Gandhi arrived in Durban, Indians outnumbered whites in Natal. The civil rights struggle of Gandhi's Natal Indian Congress failed until the 1994 advent of democracy, Indians in South Africa were subject to most of the discriminatory laws that applied to all non-white inhabitants of the country.

Griqua people Edit

By the late 1700s, the Cape Colony population had grown to include a large number of mixed-race so-called "coloureds" who were the offspring of extensive interracial relations between male Dutch settlers, Khoikhoi females, and female slaves imported from Dutch colonies in the East. [62] Members of this mixed-race community formed the core of what was to become the Griqua people.

Under the leadership of a former slave named Adam Kok, these "coloureds" or Basters (meaning mixed race or multiracial) as they were named by the Dutch—a word derived from baster, meaning "bastard" [63] —started trekking northward into the interior, through what is today named Northern Cape Province. The trek of the Griquas to escape the influence of the Cape Colony has been described as "one of the great epics of the 19th century." [64] They were joined on their long journey by a number of San and Khoikhoi aboriginals, local African tribesmen, and also some white renegades. Around 1800, they started crossing the northern frontier formed by the Orange River, arriving ultimately in an uninhabited area, which they named Griqualand. [65]

In 1825, a faction of the Griqua people was induced by Dr John Philip, superintendent of the London Missionary Society in Southern Africa, to relocate to a place called Philippolis, a mission station for the San, several hundred miles southeast of Griqualand. Philip's intention was for the Griquas to protect the missionary station there against banditti in the region, and as a bulwark against the northward movement of white settlers from the Cape Colony. Friction between the Griquas and the settlers over land rights resulted in British troops being sent to the region in 1845. It marked the beginning of nine years of British intervention in the affairs of the region, which the British named Transorange. [66]

In 1861, to avoid the imminent prospect of either being colonised by the Cape Colony or coming into conflict with the expanding Boer Republic of Orange Free State, most of the Philippolis Griquas embarked on a further trek. They moved about 500 miles eastward, over the Quathlamba (today known as the Drakensberg mountain range), settling ultimately in an area officially designated as "Nomansland", which the Griquas renamed Griqualand East. [67] East Griqualand was subsequently annexed by Britain in 1874 and incorporated into the Cape Colony in 1879. [68]

The original Griqualand, north of the Orange River, was annexed by Britain's Cape Colony and renamed Griqualand West after the discovery in 1871 of the world's richest deposit of diamonds at Kimberley, so named after the British Colonial Secretary, Earl Kimberley. [69]

Although no formally surveyed boundaries existed, Griqua leader Nicolaas Waterboer claimed the diamond fields were situated on land belonging to the Griquas. [70] The Boer republics of Transvaal and the Orange Free State also vied for ownership of the land, but Britain, being the preeminent force in the region, won control over the disputed territory. In 1878, Waterboer led an unsuccessful rebellion against the colonial authorities, for which he was arrested and briefly exiled. [71]

Cape Frontier Wars Edit

In early South Africa, European notions of national boundaries and land ownership had no counterparts in African political culture. To Moshoeshoe the BaSotho chieftain from Lesotho, it was customary tribute in the form of horses and cattle represented acceptance of land use under his authority. [72] [73] To both the Boer and the British settlers, the same form of tribute was believed to constitute purchase and permanent ownership of the land under independent authority.

As British and Boer settlers started establishing permanent farms after trekking across the country in search of prime agricultural land, they encountered resistance from the local Bantu people who had originally migrated southwards from central Africa hundreds of years earlier. The consequent frontier wars, known as the Xhosa Wars, were unofficially referred to by the British colonial authorities as the "Kaffir" wars. In the southeastern part of South Africa, The Boers and the Xhosa clashed along the Great Fish River, and in 1779 the first of nine frontier wars erupted. For nearly 100 years subsequently, the Xhosa fought the settlers sporadically, first the Boers or Afrikaners and later the British. In the Fourth Frontier War, which lasted from 1811 to 1812, the British forced the Xhosa back across the Great Fish River and established forts along this boundary.

The increasing economic involvement of the British in southern Africa from the 1820s, and especially following the discovery of first diamonds at Kimberley and gold in the Transvaal, resulted in pressure for land and African labour, and led to increasingly tense relations with African states. [38]

In 1818 differences between two Xhosa leaders, Ndlambe and Ngqika, ended in Ngqika's defeat, but the British continued to recognise Ngqika as the paramount chief. He appealed to the British for help against Ndlambe, who retaliated in 1819 during the Fifth Frontier War by attacking the British colonial town of Grahamstown.

Wars against the Zulu Edit

In the eastern part of what is today South Africa, in the region named Natalia by the Boer trekkers, the latter negotiated an agreement with Zulu King Dingane kaSenzangakhona allowing the Boers to settle in part of the then Zulu kingdom. Cattle rustling ensued and a party of Boers under the leadership of Piet Retief were killed.

Subsequent to the killing of the Retief party, the Boers defended themselves against a Zulu attack, at the Ncome River on 16 December 1838. An estimated five thousand Zulu warriors were involved. The Boers took a defensive position with the high banks of the Ncome River forming a natural barrier to their rear with their ox waggons as barricades between themselves and the attacking Zulu army. About three thousand Zulu warriors died in the clash known historically as the Battle of Blood River. [74] [75]

In the later annexation of the Zulu kingdom by imperial Britain, an Anglo-Zulu War was fought in 1879. Following Lord Carnarvon's successful introduction of federation in Canada, it was thought that similar political effort, coupled with military campaigns, might succeed with the African kingdoms, tribal areas and Boer republics in South Africa.

In 1874, Henry Bartle Frere was sent to South Africa as High Commissioner for the British Empire to bring such plans into being. Among the obstacles were the presence of the independent states of the South African Republic and the Kingdom of Zululand and its army. Frere, on his own initiative, without the approval of the British government and with the intent of instigating a war with the Zulu, had presented an ultimatum on 11 December 1878, to the Zulu king Cetshwayo with which the Zulu king could not comply. Bartle Frere then sent Lord Chelmsford to invade Zululand. The war is notable for several particularly bloody battles, including an overwhelming victory by the Zulu at the Battle of Isandlwana, as well as for being a landmark in the timeline of imperialism in the region.

Britain's eventual defeat of the Zulus, marking the end of the Zulu nation's independence, was accomplished with the assistance of Zulu collaborators who harboured cultural and political resentments against centralised Zulu authority. [76] The British then set about establishing large sugar plantations in the area today named KwaZulu-Natal Province.

Wars with the Basotho Edit

From the 1830s onwards, numbers of white settlers from the Cape Colony crossed the Orange River and started arriving in the fertile southern part of territory known as the Lower Caledon Valley, which was occupied by Basotho cattle herders under the authority of the Basotho founding monarch Moshoeshoe I. In 1845, a treaty was signed between the British colonists and Moshoeshoe, which recognised white settlement in the area. No firm boundaries were drawn between the area of white settlement and Moshoeshoe's kingdom, which led to border clashes. Moshoeshoe was under the impression he was loaning grazing land to the settlers in accordance with African precepts of occupation rather than ownership, while the settlers believed they had been granted permanent land rights. Afrikaner settlers in particular were loathe to live under Moshoesoe's authority and among Africans. [77]

The British, who at that time controlled the area between the Orange and Vaal Rivers called the Orange River Sovereignty, decided a discernible boundary was necessary and proclaimed a line named the Warden Line, dividing the area between British and Basotho territories. This led to conflict between the Basotho and the British, who were defeated by Moshoeshoe's warriors at the battle of Viervoet in 1851.

As punishment to the Basotho, the governor and commander-in-chief of the Cape Colony, George Cathcart, deployed troops to the Mohokare River Moshoeshoe was ordered to pay a fine. When he did not pay the fine in full, a battle broke out on the Berea Plateau in 1852, where the British suffered heavy losses. In 1854, the British handed over the territory to the Boers through the signing of the Sand River Convention. This territory and others in the region then became the Republic of the Orange Free State. [78]

A succession of wars followed from 1858 to 1868 between the Basotho kingdom and the Boer republic of Orange Free State. [79] In the battles that followed, the Orange Free State tried unsuccessfully to capture Moshoeshoe's mountain stronghold at Thaba Bosiu, while the Sotho conducted raids in Free State territories. Both sides adopted scorched-earth tactics, with large swathes of pasturage and cropland being destroyed. [80] Faced with starvation, Moshoeshoe signed a peace treaty on 15 October 1858, though crucial boundary issues remained unresolved. [81] War broke out again in 1865. After an unsuccessful appeal for aid from the British Empire, Moshoeshoe signed the 1866 treaty of Thaba Bosiu, with the Basotho ceding substantial territory to the Orange Free State. On 12 March 1868, the British parliament declared the Basotho Kingdom a British protectorate and part of the British Empire. Open hostilities ceased between the Orange Free State and the Basotho. [82] The country was subsequently named Basutoland and is presently named Lesotho.

Wars with the Ndebele Edit

In 1836, when Boer Voortrekkers (pioneers) arrived in the northwestern part of present-day South Africa, they came into conflict with a Ndebele sub-group that the settlers named "Matabele", under chief Mzilikazi. A series of battles ensued, in which Mzilikazi was eventually defeated. He withdrew from the area and led his people northwards to what would later become the Matabele region of Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). [83]

Other members of the Ndebele ethnic language group in different areas of the region similarly came into conflict with the Voortrekkers, notably in the area that would later become the Northern Transvaal. In September 1854, 28 Boers accused of cattle rustling were killed in three separate incidents by an alliance of the Ndebele chiefdoms of Mokopane and Mankopane. Mokopane and his followers, anticipating retaliation by the settlers, retreated into the mountain caves known as Gwasa, (or Makapansgat in Afrikaans). In late October, Boer commandos supported by local Kgatla tribal collaborators laid siege to the caves. By the end of the siege, about three weeks later, Mokopane and between 1,000 and 3,000 people had died in the caves. The survivors were captured and allegedly enslaved. [84]

Wars with the Bapedi Edit

The Bapedi wars, also known as the Sekhukhune wars, consisted of three separate campaigns fought between 1876 and 1879 against the Bapedi under their reigning monarch King Sekhukhune I, in the northeastern region known as Sekhukhuneland, bordering on Swaziland. Further friction was caused by the refusal of Sekhukhune to allow prospectors to search for gold in territory he considered to be sovereign and independent under his authority. The First Sekhukhune War of 1876 was conducted by the Boers, and the two separate campaigns of the Second Sekhukhune War of 1878/1879 were conducted by the British. [85]

During the final campaign, Sekukuni (also spelled Sekhukhune) and members of his entourage took refuge in a mountain cave where he was cut off from food and water. He eventually surrendered to a combined deputation of Boer and British forces on 2 December 1879. Sekhukhune, members of his family and some Bapedi generals were subsequently imprisoned in Pretoria for two years, with Sekhukhuneland becoming part of the Transvaal Republic. No gold was ever discovered in the annexed territory. [86]

Discovery of diamonds Edit

The first diamond discoveries between 1866 and 1867 were alluvial, on the southern banks of the Orange River. By 1869, diamonds were found at some distance from any stream or river, in hard rock called blue ground, later called kimberlite, after the mining town of Kimberley where the diamond diggings were concentrated. The diggings were located in an area of vague boundaries and disputed land ownership. Claimants to the site included the South African (Transvaal) Republic, the Orange Free State Republic, and the mixed-race Griqua nation under Nicolaas Waterboer. [87] Cape Colony Governor Henry Barkly persuaded all claimants to submit themselves to a decision of an arbitrator and so Robert W Keate, Lieutenant-Governor of Natal was asked to arbitrate. [88] Keate awarded ownership to the Griquas. Waterboer, fearing conflict with the Boer republic of Orange Free State, subsequently asked for and received British protection. Griqualand then became a separate Crown Colony renamed Griqualand West in 1871, with a Lieutenant-General and legislative council. [89]

The Crown Colony of Griqualand West was annexed into the Cape Colony in 1877, enacted into law in 1880. [90] No material benefits accrued to the Griquas as a result of either colonisation or annexation they did not receive any share of the diamond wealth generated at Kimberley. The Griqua community became subsequently dissimulated. [91]

By the 1870s and 1880s the mines at Kimberley were producing 95% of the world's diamonds. [92] The widening search for gold and other resources were financed by the wealth produced and the practical experience gained at Kimberley. [93] Revenue accruing to the Cape Colony from the Kimberley diamond diggings enabled the Cape Colony to be granted responsible government status in 1872, since it was no longer dependent on the British Treasury and hence allowing it to be fully self-governing in similar fashion to the federation of Canada, New Zealand and some of the Australian states. [94] The wealth derived from Kimberley diamond mining, having effectively tripled the customs revenue of the Cape Colony from 1871 to 1875, also doubled its population, and allowed it to expand its boundaries and railways to the north. [95]

In 1888, British imperialist Cecil John Rhodes co-founded De Beers Consolidated Mines at Kimberley, after buying up and amalgamating the individual claims with finance provided by the Rothschild dynasty. Abundant, cheap African labour was central to the success of Kimberley diamond mining, as it would later also be to the success of gold mining on the Witwatersrand. [96] [97] It has been suggested in some academic circles that the wealth produced at Kimberley was a significant factor influencing the Scramble for Africa, in which European powers had by 1902 competed with each other in drawing arbitrary boundaries across almost the entire continent and dividing it among themselves. [98] [99]

Discovery of gold Edit

Although many tales abound, there is no conclusive evidence as to who first discovered gold or the manner in which it was originally discovered in the late 19th century on the Witwatersrand (meaning White Waters Ridge) of the Transvaal. [100] The discovery of gold in February 1886 at a farm called Langlaagte on the Witwatersrand in particular precipitated a gold rush by prospectors and fortune seekers from all over the world. Except in rare outcrops, however, the main gold deposits had over many years become covered gradually by thousands of feet of hard rock. Finding and extracting the deposits far below the ground called for the capital and engineering skills that would soon result in the deep-level mines of the Witwatersrand producing a quarter of the world's gold, with the "instant city" of Johannesburg arising astride the main Witwatersrand gold reef. [101]

Within two years of gold being discovered on the Witwatersrand, four mining finance houses had been established. The first was formed by Hermann Eckstein in 1887, eventually becoming Rand Mines. Cecil Rhodes and Charles Rudd followed, with their Gold Fields of South Africa company. Rhodes and Rudd had earlier made fortunes from diamond mining at Kimberley. [102] In 1895 there was an investment boom in Witwatersrand gold-mining shares. The precious metal that underpinned international trade would dominate South African exports for decades to come. [103]

Of the leading 25 foreign industrialists who were instrumental in opening up deep level mining operations at the Witwatersrand gold fields, 15 were Jewish, 11 of the total were from Germany or Austria, and nine of that latter category were also Jewish. [104] The commercial opportunities opened by the discovery of gold attracted many other people of European Jewish origin. The Jewish population of South Africa in 1880 numbered approximately 4,000 by 1914 it had grown to more than 40,000, mostly migrants from Lithuania. [105]

The working environment of the mines, meanwhile, as one historian has described it, was "dangerous, brutal and onerous", and therefore unpopular among local black Africans. [106] Recruitment of black labour began to prove difficult, even with an offer of improved wages. In mid-1903 there remained barely half of the 90,000 black labourers who had been employed in the industry in mid-1899. [107] The decision was made to start importing Chinese indentured labourers who were prepared to work for far less wages than local African labourers. The first 1,000 indentured Chinese labourers arrived in June 1904. By January 1907, 53,000 Chinese labourers were working in the gold mines. [108]

First Anglo-Boer War Edit

The Transvaal Boer republic was forcefully annexed by Britain in 1877, during Britain's attempt to consolidate the states of southern Africa under British rule. Long-standing Boer resentment turned into full-blown rebellion in the Transvaal and the first Anglo-Boer War, also known as the Boer Insurrection, broke out in 1880. [109] The conflict ended almost as soon as it began with a decisive Boer victory at Battle of Majuba Hill (27 February 1881).

The republic regained its independence as the Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek ("South African Republic"), or ZAR. Paul Kruger, one of the leaders of the uprising, became President of the ZAR in 1883. Meanwhile, the British, who viewed their defeat at Majuba as an aberration, forged ahead with their desire to federate the Southern African colonies and republics. They saw this as the best way to come to terms with the fact of a white Afrikaner majority, as well as to promote their larger strategic interests in the area. [ citation needed ]

The cause of the Anglo-Boer wars has been attributed to a contest over which nation would control and benefit most from the Witwatersrand gold mines. [110] The enormous wealth of the mines was in the hands of European "Randlords" overseeing the mainly British foreign managers, mining foremen, engineers and technical specialists, characterised by the Boers as uitlander, meaning aliens. The "aliens" objected to being denied parliamentary representation and the right to vote, and they complained also of bureaucratic government delays in the issuing of licenses and permits, and general administrative incompetence on the part of the government. [111]

In 1895, a column of mercenaries in the employ of Cecil John Rhodes' Rhodesian-based Charter Company and led by Captain Leander Starr Jameson had entered the ZAR with the intention of sparking an uprising on the Witwatersrand and installing a British administration there. The armed incursion became known as the Jameson Raid. [112] It ended when the invading column was ambushed and captured by Boer commandos. President Kruger suspected the insurgency had received at least the tacit approval of the Cape Colony government under the premiership of Cecil John Rhodes, and that Kruger's South African Republic faced imminent danger. Kruger reacted by forming an alliance with the neighbouring Boer republic of Orange Free State. This did not prevent the outbreak of a Second Anglo-Boer war.

Second Anglo-Boer War Edit

Renewed tensions between Britain and the Boers peaked in 1899 when the British demanded voting rights for the 60,000 foreign whites on the Witwatersrand. Until that point, President Paul Kruger's government had excluded all foreigners from the franchise. Kruger rejected the British demand and called for the withdrawal of British troops from the borders of the South African Republic. When the British refused, Kruger declared war. This Second Anglo-Boer War, also known as the South African War lasted longer than the first, with British troops being supplemented by colonial troops from Southern Rhodesia, Canada, India, Australia and New Zealand. It has been estimated that the total number of British and colonial troops deployed in South Africa during the war outnumbered the population of the two Boer Republics by more than 150,000. [113]

By June 1900, Pretoria, the last of the major Boer towns, had surrendered. Yet resistance by Boer bittereinders (meaning those who would fight to the bitter end) continued for two more years with guerrilla warfare, which the British met in turn with scorched earth tactics. The Boers kept on fighting.

The British suffragette Emily Hobhouse visited British concentration camps in South Africa and produced a report condemning the appalling conditions there. By 1902, 26,000 Boer women and children had died of disease and neglect in the camps. [114]

The Anglo-Boer War affected all race groups in South Africa. Black people were conscripted or otherwise coerced by both sides into working for them either as combatants or non-combatants to sustain the respective war efforts of both the Boers and the British. The official statistics of blacks killed in action are inaccurate. Most of the bodies were dumped in unmarked graves. It has, however, been verified that 17,182 black people died mainly of diseases in the Cape concentration camps alone, but this figure is not accepted historically as a true reflection of the overall numbers. Concentration camp superintendents did not always record the deaths of black inmates in the camps. [115]

From the outset of hostilities in October 1899 to the signing of peace on 31 May 1902 the war claimed the lives of 22,000 imperial soldiers and 7,000 republican fighters. [116] In terms of the peace agreement known as the Treaty of Vereeniging, the Boer republics acknowledged British sovereignty, while the British in turn committed themselves to reconstruction of the areas under their control.

During the years immediately following the Anglo-Boer wars, Britain set about unifying the four colonies including the former Boer republics into a single self-governed country called the Union of South Africa. This was accomplished after several years of negotiations, when the South Africa Act 1909 consolidated the Cape Colony, Natal, Transvaal, and Orange Free State into one nation. Under the provisions of the act, the Union became an independent Dominion of the British Empire, governed under a form of constitutional monarchy, with the British monarch represented by a Governor-General. Prosecutions before the courts of the Union of South Africa were instituted in the name of the Crown and government officials served in the name of the Crown. The British High Commission territories of Basutoland (now Lesotho), Bechuanaland (now Botswana), and Swaziland continued under direct rule from Britain. [117]

Among other harsh segregationist laws, including denial of voting rights to black people, the Union parliament enacted the 1913 Natives' Land Act, which earmarked only eight percent of South Africa's available land for black occupancy. White people, who constituted 20 percent of the population, held 90 percent of the land. The Land Act would form a cornerstone of legalised racial discrimination for the next nine decades. [118]

General Louis Botha headed the first government of the new Union, with General Jan Smuts as his deputy. Their South African National Party, later known as the South African Party or SAP, followed a generally pro-British, white-unity line. The more radical Boers split away under the leadership of General Barry Hertzog, forming the National Party (NP) in 1914. The National Party championed Afrikaner interests, advocating separate development for the two white groups, and independence from Britain. [119]

Dissatisfaction with British influence in the Union's affairs reached a climax in September 1914, when impoverished Boers, anti-British Boers and bitter-enders launched a rebellion. The rebellion was suppressed, and at least one officer was sentenced to death and executed by firing squad. [120]

In 1924 the Afrikaner-dominated National Party came to power in a coalition government with the Labour Party. Afrikaans, previously regarded as a low-level Dutch patois, replaced Dutch as an official language of the Union. English and Dutch became the two official languages in 1925. [121] [122]

The Union of South Africa came to an end after a referendum on 5 October 1960, in which a majority of white South Africans voted in favour of unilateral withdrawal from the British Commonwealth and the establishment of a Republic of South Africa.

First World War Edit

At the outbreak of World War I, South Africa joined Great Britain and the Allies against the German Empire. Both Prime Minister Louis Botha and Defence Minister Jan Smuts were former Second Boer War generals who had previously fought against the British, but they now became active and respected members of the Imperial War Cabinet. Elements of the South African Army refused to fight against the Germans and along with other opponents of the government they rose in an open revolt known as the Maritz Rebellion. The government declared martial law on 14 October 1914, and forces loyal to the government under the command of generals Louis Botha and Jan Smuts defeated the rebellion. The rebel leaders were prosecuted, fined heavily and sentenced to imprisonment ranging from six to seven years. [123]

Public opinion in South Africa split along racial and ethnic lines. The British elements strongly supported the war, and formed by far the largest military component. Likewise the Indian element (led by Mahatma Gandhi) generally supported the war effort. Afrikaners were split, with some like Botha and Smuts taking a prominent leadership role in the British war effort. This position was rejected by many rural Afrikaners who supported the Maritz Rebellion. The trade union movement was divided. Many urban blacks supported the war expecting it would raise their status in society. Others said it was not relevant to the struggle for their rights. The Coloured element was generally supportive and many served in a Coloured Corps in East Africa and France, also hoping to better themselves after the war. [123]

With a population of roughly 6 million, between 1914 - 1918, over 250,000 South Africans of all races voluntarily served their country. Thousands more served in the British Army directly, with over 3,000 joining the British Royal Flying Corps and over 100 volunteering for the Royal Navy. It is likely that around 50% of white men of military age served during the war, more than 146,000 whites. 83,000 Blacks and 2,500 Coloureds and Asians also served in either German South-West Africa, East Africa, the Middle East, or on the Western Front in Europe. Over 7,000 South Africans were killed, and nearly 12,000 were wounded during the course of the war. [124] Eight South Africans won the Victoria Cross for gallantry, the Empire’s highest and prestigious military medal. The Battle of Delville Wood and the sinking of the SS Mendi being the greatest single incidents of loss of life.

25,000 Black South Africans were recruited at the request of the British War Cabinet to serve as non-combatant labourers in the South African Native Labour Contingent (SANLC). 21,000 of them were deployed to France as stevedores at French ports, where they were housed in segregated compounds. A total of 616 men from the Fifth Battalion of the SANLC drowned on 21 February 1917 when the troopship SS Mendi, on which they were being transported to France, collided with another vessel near the Isle of Wight. [125] The Mendi disaster was one of South Africa's worst tragedies of the Great War, second perhaps only to the Battle of Delville Wood. [126] The South African government issued no war service medal to the black servicemen and the special medal issued by King George V to "native troops" that served the Empire, the British War Medal in bronze, was disallowed and not issued to the SANLC. [127]

Black and mixed-race South Africans who had supported the war were embittered when post-war South Africa saw no easing of white domination and racial segregation. [128]

The assistance that South Africa gave the British Empire was significant. Two German African colonies were occupied, either by South Africa alone or with significant South African assistance. Manpower, from all races, helped Allied operations not just on the Western Front and Africa, but also in the Middle East against the Ottoman Empire. South Africa’s ports and harbours on the Home Front were a crucial strategic asset when conducting a war on a global scale. Providing important rest and refuelling stations, the Royal Navy could ensure vital sea lane connections to the British Raj, and the Far East stayed open.

Economically, South Africa supplied two-thirds of gold production in the British Empire, with most of the remainder coming from Australia. At the start of the war, Bank of England officials in London worked with South Africa to block gold shipments to Germany, and force mine owners to sell only to the British Treasury, at prices set by the Treasury. This facilitated purchases of munitions and food in the United States and neutral countries. [129]

Second World War Edit

During World War II, South Africa's ports and harbours, such as at Cape Town, Durban, and Simon's Town, were important strategic assets to the British Royal Navy. South Africa's top-secret Special Signals Service played a significant role in the early development and deployment of radio detection and ranging (radar) technology used in protecting the vital coastal shipping route around southern Africa. [130] By August 1945, South African Air Force aircraft in conjunction with British and Dutch aircraft stationed in South Africa had intercepted 17 enemy ships, assisted in the rescue of 437 survivors of sunken ships, attacked 26 of the 36 enemy submarines operating the vicinity of the South African coast, and flown 15,000 coastal patrol sorties. [131] [132]

About 334,000 South Africans volunteered for full-time military service in support of the Allies abroad. Nearly 9,000 were killed in action. [133] On 21 June 1942 nearly 10,000 South African soldiers, representing one-third of the entire South African force in the field, were taken prisoner by German Field Marshal Rommel's forces in the fall of Tobruk, Libya. [134] A number of South African fighter pilots served with distinction in the Royal Air Force during the Battle of Britain, including Group Captain Adolph "Sailor" Malan who led 74 Squadron and established a record of personally destroying 27 enemy aircraft. [135]

General Jan Smuts was the only important non-British general whose advice was constantly sought by Britain's war-time Prime Minister Winston Churchill. [ citation needed ] Smuts was invited to the Imperial War Cabinet in 1939 as the most senior South African in favour of war. On 28 May 1941, Smuts was appointed a Field Marshal of the British Army, becoming the first South African to hold that rank. When the war ended, Smuts represented South Africa in San Francisco at the drafting of the United Nations Charter in May 1945. Just as he had done in 1919, Smuts urged the delegates to create a powerful international body to preserve peace he was determined that, unlike the League of Nations, the UN would have teeth. Smuts also signed the Paris Peace Treaty, resolving the peace in Europe, thus becoming the only signatory of both the treaty ending the First World War, and that which ended the Second. [132]

Pro-German and pro-Nazi attitudes Edit

After the suppression of the abortive, pro-German Maritz Rebellion during the South African World War I campaign against German South West Africa in 1914, the South African rebel General Manie Maritz escaped to Spain. [136] He returned in 1923, and continued working in the Union of South Africa as a German Spy for the Third Reich.

In 1896, the German Kaiser Kaiser Wilhelm had enraged Britain by sending congratulations to Boer republican leader Paul Kruger after Kruger's commandos captured a column of British South Africa Company soldiers engaged in an armed incursion and abortive insurrection, known historically as the Jameson Raid, into Boer territory. Germany was the primary supplier of weapons to the Boers during the subsequent Anglo-Boer war. Kaiser Wilhelm's government arranged for the two Boer Republics to purchase modern breech-loading Mauser rifles and millions of smokeless gunpowder cartridges. Germany's Ludwig Loewe company, later known as Deutsche Waffen-und Munitionfabriken, delivered 55,000 of these rifles to the Boers in 1896. [137]

The early-1940s saw the pro-Nazi Ossewa Brandwag (OB) movement become half-a-million strong, including future prime minister John Vorster and Hendrik van den Bergh, the future head of police intelligence. [138] The anti-semitic Boerenasie (Boer Nation) and other similar groups soon joined them. [139] When the war ended, the OB was one of the anti-parliamentary groups absorbed into the National Party. [140] [141]

The South African Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging or AWB (meaning Afrikaner Resistance Movement), a militant neo-Nazi, mainly Afrikaner white supremacist movement that arose in the 1970s, and was active until the mid-1990s, openly used a flag that closely resembled the swastika. [142] [143] In the early to mid-1990s, the AWB attempted unsuccessfully through various acts of public violence and intimidation to derail the country's transition to democracy. After the country's first multiracial democratic elections in 1994, a number of terrorist bomb blasts were linked to the AWB. [144] On 11 March 1994, several hundred AWB members formed part of an armed right-wing force that invaded the nominally independent "homeland" territory of Bophuthatswana, in a failed attempt to prop up its unpopular, conservative leader Chief Lucas Mangope. [145] The AWB leader Eugène Terre'Blanche was murdered by farm workers on 3 April 2010.

A majority of politically moderate Afrikaners were pragmatic and did not support the AWB's extremism. [146]

Apartheid legislation Edit

Racist legislation during the apartheid era was a continuation and extension of discriminatory and segregationist laws forming a continuum that had commenced in 1856, under Dutch rule in the Cape, and continued throughout the country under British colonialism. [147]

From 1948, successive National Party administrations formalised and extended the existing system of racial discrimination and denial of human rights into the legal system of apartheid, [148] which lasted until 1991. A key act of legislation during this time was the Homeland Citizens Act of 1970. This act augmented the Native Land Act of 1913 through the establishment of so-called "homelands" or "reserves". It authorised the forced evictions of thousands of African people from urban centres in South Africa and South West Africa (now Namibia) to what became described colloquially as "Bantustans" or the "original homes", as they were officially referred to, of the black tribes of South Africa. The same legislation applied also to South West Africa over which South Africa had continued after World War I to exercise a disputed League of Nations mandate. Apartheid apologists attempted to justify the "homelands" policy by citing the 1947 partition of India, when the British had done much the same thing without arousing international condemnation. [149]

Although many important events occurred during this period, apartheid remained the central pivot around which most of the historical issues of this period revolved, including violent conflict and the militarisation of South African society. By 1987, total military expenditure amounted to about 28% of the national budget. [150]

In the aftermath of the 1976 Soweto uprising and the security clampdown that accompanied it, Joint Management Centres (JMCs) operating in at least 34 State-designated "high-risk" areas became the key element in a National Security Management System. The police and military who controlled the JMCs by the mid-1980s were endowed with influence in decision-making at every level, from the Cabinet down to local government. [151]

UN embargo Edit

On 16 December 1966, United Nations General Assembly Resolution 2202 A (XXI) identified apartheid as a "crime against humanity". The Apartheid Convention, as it came to be known, was adopted by the General Assembly on 30 November 1973 with 91 member states voting in favour, four against (Portugal, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States) and 26 abstentions. The convention came into force on 18 July 1976. On 23 October 1984 the UN Security Council endorsed this formal determination. The convention declared that apartheid was both unlawful and criminal because it violated the Charter of the United Nations. [152] The General Assembly had already suspended South Africa from the UN organisation on 12 November 1974. On 4 November 1977, the Security Council imposed a mandatory arms embargo in terms of Resolution 181 calling upon all States to cease the sale and shipment of arms, ammunition and military vehicles to South Africa. The country would only be readmitted to the UN in 1994 following its transition to democracy. [153] Apartheid South Africa reacted to the UN arms embargo by strengthening its military ties with Israel, and establishing its own arms manufacturing industry with the help of Israel. [154] Four hundred M-113A1 armoured personnel carriers, and 106mm recoilless rifles manufactured in the United States were delivered to South Africa via Israel. [155]

Extra-judicial killings Edit

In the mid-1980s, police and army death squads conducted state-sponsored assassinations of dissidents and activists. [156] By mid-1987 the Human Rights Commission knew of at least 140 political assassinations in the country, while about 200 people died at the hands of South African agents in neighbouring states. The exact numbers of all the victims may never be known. [157] Strict censorship disallowed journalists from reporting, filming or photographing such incidents, while the government ran its own covert disinformation programme that provided distorted accounts of the extrajudicial killings. [158] At the same time, State-sponsored vigilante groups carried out violent attacks on communities and community leaders associated with resistance to apartheid. [159] The attacks were then falsely attributed by the government to "black-on-black" or factional violence within the communities. [160]

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) would later establish that a covert, informal network of former or still serving army and police operatives, frequently acting in conjunction with extreme right-wing elements, was involved in actions that could be construed as fomenting violence and which resulted in gross human rights violations, including random and targeted killings. [161] Between 1960–1994, according to statistics from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the Inkatha Freedom Party was responsible for 4,500 deaths, South African Police 2,700, and the ANC about 1,300. [162]

In early 2002, a planned military coup by a white supremacist movement known as the Boeremag (Boer Force) was foiled by the South African police. [163] Two dozen conspirators including senior South African Army officers were arrested on charges of treason and murder, after a bomb explosion in Soweto. The effectiveness of the police in foiling the planned coup strengthened public perceptions that the post-1994 democratic order was irreversible. [ citation needed ]

The TRC, at the conclusion of its mandate in 2004, handed over a list of 300 names of alleged perpetrators to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) for investigation and prosecution by the NPA's Priority Crimes Litigation Unit. Less than a handful of prosecutions were ever pursued. [164] [165]

Military operations in frontline states Edit

South African security forces during the latter part of the apartheid era had a policy of destabilising neighbouring states, supporting opposition movements, conducting sabotage operations and attacking ANC bases and places of refuge for exiles in those states. [166] These states, forming a regional alliance of southern African states, were named collectively as the Frontline States: Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and, from 1980, Zimbabwe. [167] [168]

In early-November 1975, immediately after Portugal granted independence to its former African colony of Angola, civil war broke out between the rival UNITA and MPLA movements. In order to prevent UNITA's collapse and cement the rule of a friendly government, South Africa intervened on 23 October, sending between 1,500 and 2,000 troops from Namibia into southern Angola in order to fight the MPLA. [169] [170] In response to the South African intervention, Cuba sent 18,000 soldiers as part of a large-scale military intervention nicknamed Operation Carlota in support of the MPLA. Cuba had initially provided the MPLA with 230 military advisers prior to the South African intervention. [171] The Cuban intervention was decisive in helping reverse SADF and UNITA advances and cement MPLA rule in Angola. More than a decade later 36,000 Cuban troops were deployed throughout the country helping providing support for MPLA's fight with UNITA. [172] The civil war in Angola resulted in 550,000–1,250,000 deaths in total mostly from famine. Most of the deaths occurred between 1992 and 1993, after South African and Cuban involvement had ended. [173] [174] [175]

Between 1975 and 1988, the SADF continued to stage massive conventional raids into Angola and Zambia to eliminate PLAN's forward operating bases across the border from Namibia as well as provide support for UNITA. [176] A controversial bombing and airborne assault conducted by 200 South African paratroopers on 4 May 1978 at Cassinga in southern Angola, resulted in around 700 South West Africans being killed, including PLAN militants and a large number of women and children. Colonel Jan Breytenbach, the South African parachute battalion commander, claimed it was "recognised in Western military circles as the most successful airborne assault since World War II." [177] The Angolan government described the target of the attack as a refugee camp. The United Nations Security Council on 6 May 1978 condemned South Africa for the attack. [178] On 23 August 1981 South African troops again launched an incursion into Angola with collaboration and encouragement provided by the American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). [179] [180] The Angolan army, in resisting what it perceived as a South African invasion, was supported by a combination of Cuban forces and PLAN and ANC guerrillas, all armed with weapons supplied by the Soviet Union. The apartheid-era South African military and political intelligence services, for their part, worked closely with American, British and West German secret services throughout the Cold War. [181]

Both South Africa and Cuba claimed victory at the decisive battle of Cuito Cuanavale, which have been described as "the fiercest in Africa since World War II". [182] However, the South African military had lost air superiority and its technological advantage, largely due to an international arms embargo against the country. [183] South African involvement in Angola ended formally after the signing of a United Nations-brokered agreement known as the New York Accords between the governments of Angola, Cuba and South Africa, resulting in the withdrawal of all foreign troops from Angola and also South Africa's withdrawal from South West Africa (now Namibia), which the UN regarded as illegally occupied since 1966. [184] [185]

South Africa in the 1980s also provided logistical and other covert support to Resistência Nacional Moçambicana (RENAMO) rebels, in neighbouring Mozambique fighting the FRELIMO-run government during the Mozambique Civil War, and it launched cross-border raids into Lesotho, Swaziland and Botswana, killing or capturing a number of South African exiles. [186] [187] [188]

Resistance to apartheid Edit

Organised resistance to Afrikaner nationalism was not confined exclusively to activists of the oppressed, dark-skinned population. A movement known as the Torch Commando was formed in the 1950s, led by white war veterans who had fought fascism in Europe and North Africa during World War II, only to find fascism on the rise in South Africa when they returned home. With 250,000 paid-up members at the height of its existence, it was the largest white protest movement in the country's history. By 1952, the brief flame of mass-based white radicalism was extinguished, when the Torch Commando disbanded due to government legislation under the Suppression of Communism Act, 1950. Some members of the Torch Commando subsequently became leading figures in the armed wing of the banned African National Congress. [189]

From the 1940s to the 1960s, anti-apartheid resistance within the country took the form mainly of passive resistance, influenced in part by the pacifist ideology of Mahatma Gandhi. After the March 1960 massacre of 69 peaceful demonstrators at Sharpeville, and the subsequent declaration of a state of emergency, and the banning of anti-apartheid parties including the African National Congress (ANC), the Pan-Africanist Congress (PAC), and the Communist Party of South Africa, the focus of national resistance turned to armed struggle and underground activity. [190] The armed wing of the ANC, Umkhonto weSizwe (abbreviation MK, meaning Spear of the Nation) claimed moral legitimacy for the resort to violence on the grounds of necessary defence and just war. [191] From the 1960s onwards until 1989, MK carried out numerous acts of sabotage and attacks on military and police personnel. [192] The Truth and Reconciliation Commission noted in 2003 that, despite the ANC's stated policy of attacking only military and police targets, "the majority of casualties of MK operations were civilians." [193]

The national liberation movement was divided in the early 1960s when an "Africanist" faction within the ANC objected to an alliance between the ANC and the Communist Party of South Africa. Leaders of the Communist Party of South Africa were mostly white. [194] The Africanists broke away from the ANC to form the Pan-Africanist Congress and its military wing named Poqo, which became active mainly in the Cape provinces. During the early-1990s, Poqo was renamed Azanian People's Liberation Army (APLA). Its underground cells conducted armed robberies to raise funds and obtain weapons and vehicles. Civilians were killed or injured in many of these robberies. In 1993, attacks on white civilian targets in public places increased. APLA denied the attacks were racist in character, claiming that the attacks were directed against the apartheid government as all whites, according to the PAC, were complicit in the policy of apartheid. An attack on a Christian church in Cape Town in 1993, left eleven people dead and 58 injured. [195]

Hundreds of students and others who fled to neighbouring countries, especially Botswana, to avoid arrest after the Soweto uprising of 16 June 1976, provided a fertile recruiting ground for the military wings of both the ANC and PAC. [196] The uprising had been precipitated by Government legislation forcing African students to accept Afrikaans as the official medium for tuition, [197] with support from the wider Black Consciousness Movement. The uprising spread throughout the country. By the time it was finally quelled, hundreds of protesters had been shot dead with many more wounded or arrested by police. [198]

A non-racial United Democratic Front (UDF) coalition of about 400 civic, church, student, trade union and other organisations emerged in 1983. At its peak in 1987, the UDF had some 700 affiliates and about 3,000,000 members. It pursued a non-violent strategy known as "ungovernability" including rent boycotts, student protests, and strike campaigns. A strong relationship existed between the African National Congress (ANC) and the UDF, based on the shared mission statement of the Freedom Charter. [199] Following restrictions placed on its activities, the UDF was replaced in 1988 by the Mass Democratic Movement, a loose and amorphous alliance of anti-apartheid groups that had no permanent structure, making it difficult for the government to place a ban on its activities. [200]

A total of 130 political prisoners were hanged on the gallows of Pretoria Central Prison between 1960 and 1990. The prisoners were mainly members of the Pan Africanist Congress and United Democratic Front. [201]

The dissolution of the Soviet Union in the late-1980s meant the African National Congress (ANC) in alliance with the South African Communist Party, could no longer depend on the Soviet Union for weaponry and political support. It also meant the apartheid government could no longer link apartheid and its purported legitimacy to the protection of Christian values and civilisation in the face of the rooi gevaar, meaning "red danger" or the threat of communism. [202] Both sides were forced to the negotiating table, with the result that in June 1991, all apartheid laws were finally rescinded- opening the way for the country's first multiracial democratic elections three years later. [203] As the culmination of mounting local and international opposition to apartheid in the 1980s, including the armed struggle, widespread civil unrest, economic and cultural sanctions by the international community, and pressure from the anti-apartheid movement around the world, State President F. W. de Klerk announced the lifting of the ban on the African National Congress, the Pan Africanist Congress and the South African Communist Party, as well as the release of political prisoner Nelson Mandela on 2 February 1990, after twenty-seven years in prison. In a referendum held on 17 March 1992, the white electorate voted 68% in favour of democracy. [204]

After lengthy negotiations under the auspices of the Convention for a Democratic South Africa (CODESA), a draft constitution was published on 26 July 1993, containing concessions towards all sides: a federal system of regional legislatures, equal voting-rights regardless of race, and a bicameral legislature.

From 26–29 April 1994, the South African population voted in the first universal suffrage general elections. The African National Congress won, well ahead of the governing National Party and the Inkatha Freedom Party. The Democratic Party and Pan Africanist Congress, among others, formed a parliamentary opposition in the country's first non-racial parliament. Nelson Mandela was elected as President on 9 May 1994 and formed a Government of National Unity, consisting of the ANC, the National Party and Inkatha. On 10 May 1994 Mandela was inaugurated as South Africa's new President in Pretoria with Thabo Mbeki and F. W. De Klerk as his vice-presidents. The Government of National Unity lapsed at the end of the first parliament sitting in 1999, with the ANC becoming the sole party in power while maintaining a strategic alliance with the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and the South African Communist Party. After considerable debate, and following submissions from advocacy groups, individuals and ordinary citizens, the Parliament enacted a new Constitution and Bill of Rights in 1996. The death penalty was abolished, land reform and redistribution policies were introduced, and equitable labour laws legislated.

Emigration, debt burden and poverty Edit

The immediate post-apartheid period was marked by an exodus of skilled, white South Africans amid crime related safety concerns. The South African Institute of Race Relations estimated in 2008 that 800,000 or more white people had emigrated since 1995, out of the approximately 4,000,000 who were in South Africa when apartheid formally ended the year before. Large white South African diasporas, both English- and Afrikaans-speaking, sprouted in Australia, New Zealand, North America, and especially in the UK, to which around 550,000 South Africans emigrated. [205]

The apartheid government had declared a moratorium on foreign debt repayments in the mid-1980s, when it declared a state of emergency in the face of escalating civil unrest. With the formal end of apartheid in 1994, the new democratic government was saddled with an onerous foreign debt amounting to R86,700,000,000 (US$14,000,000,000 at then current exchange rates) accrued by the former apartheid regime. The cash-strapped post-apartheid government was obliged to repay this debt or else face a credit downgrading by foreign financial institutions. [206] The debt was finally settled in September 2001. [207]

A further financial burden was imposed on the new post-apartheid government through its obligation to provide antiretroviral (ARV) treatment to impoverished victims of the HIV/AIDS epidemic sweeping the country. South Africa had the highest prevalence of HIV/AIDS compared to any other country in the world, with 5,600,000 people afflicted by the disease and 270,000 HIV-related deaths were recorded in 2011. By that time, more than 2,000,000 children were orphaned due to the epidemic. The provision of ARV treatment resulted in 100,000 fewer AIDS-related deaths in 2011 than in 2005. [208]

Migrant labour remained a fundamental aspect of the South African mining industry, which employed half a million mostly black miners. Labour unrest in the industry resulted in a massacre in mid-August 2012, when anti-riot police shot dead 34 striking miners and wounded many more in what is known as the Marikana massacre. The incident was widely criticised by the public, civil society organisations and religious leaders. [209] The migrant labour system was identified as a primary cause of the unrest. Multi-national mining corporations including Anglo-American Corporation, Lonmin, and Anglo Platinum, were accused of failing to address the enduring legacies of apartheid. [210]

By 2014, around 47% of (mostly black) South Africans continued to live in poverty, making it one of the most unequal countries in the world. [211] Widespread dissatisfaction with the slow pace of socio-economic transformation, government incompetence and maladministration, and other public grievances in the post-apartheid era, precipitated many violent protest demonstrations. In 2007, less than half the protests were associated with some form of violence, compared with 2014, when almost 80% of protests involved violence on the part of the participants or the authorities. [212] The slow pace of transformation also fomented tensions within the tripartite alliance between the ANC, the Communist Party and the Congress of South African Trade Unions. [213]

The ANC had risen to power on the strength of a socialist agenda embodied in a Freedom Charter, which was intended to form the basis of ANC social, economic and political policies. [214] The Charter decreed that "the national wealth of our country, the heritage of South Africans, shall be restored to the people the mineral wealth beneath the soil, the banks and monopoly industry shall be transferred to the ownership of the people". [215] ANC icon Nelson Mandela, asserted in a statement released on 25 January 1990: "The nationalisation of the mines, banks and monopoly industries is the policy of the ANC, and a change or modification of our views in this regard is inconceivable." [216] But, after the ANC's electoral victory in 1994, the eradication of mass poverty through nationalisation was never implemented. The ANC-led government, in a historic reversal of policy, adopted neoliberalism instead. [217] A wealth tax on the super-rich to fund developmental projects was set aside, while domestic and international corporations, enriched by apartheid, were excused from any financial reparations. Large corporations were allowed to shift their main listings abroad. According to a leading South African economics expert, the government's concessions to big business represented "treacherous decisions that [will] haunt South Africa for generations to come". [218]

Corruption Edit

During the administration of President Jacob Zuma corruption in South Africa had also become a growing problem. [219] [220] [221] Notable corruption related scandals during this period included incidents of widespread state capture [222] often involving allegations against the Gupta family. [223] These also involved corruption related financial difficulties at some state owned enterprises such as Eskom and South African Airways that had a notable negative economic impact on the country's finances. [224] Other corruption related scandals to emerge during this period included the collapse of VBS Mutual Bank [225] and Bosasa. [222] The Zondo Commission of Inquiry was appointed during the Presidency of Cyril Ramaphosa to investigate allegations of state capture related corruption.

Xenophobia Edit

The post-apartheid period has been marked by numerous outbreaks of xenophobic attacks against foreign migrants and asylum seekers from various conflict zones in Africa. An academic study conducted in 2006, found that South Africans showed levels of xenophobia greater than anywhere else in the world. [226] The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) found that competition over jobs, business opportunities, public services and housing gave rise to tension among refugees, asylum seekers, migrants and host communities, identified as a main cause of the xenophobic violence. [227] South Africa received more than 207,000 individual asylum applications in 2008 and a further 222,300 in 2009, representing nearly a four-fold rise in both years over the levels seen in 2007. These refugees and asylum seekers originated mainly from Zimbabwe, Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia. [228]

Post-apartheid heads of state Edit

Under the post-apartheid Constitution the president is head of both state and government. The president is elected by the National Assembly and serves a term that expires at the next general election. A president may serve a maximum of two terms. In the event of a vacancy the Deputy President serves as Acting President.

BOTH IN AREA and character the Empire that grew into the Commonwealth differs greatly from the one we left 170 years ago. It is almost a brand-new one&mdashbut not quite. Our Revolution weakened the first Empire, but did not destroy it. Thirteen American colonies revolted, but seventeen remained loyal. Most of these were West Indian islands the others included Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, and Quebec, while in the remote north the Hudson&rsquos Bay Company had its fur-trading stations.

Outside America the old Empire consisted of two slave-trading posts in West Africa, a spice-buyers&rsquo depot in Sumatra, ports of call at St. Helena and the Falkland Islands, the naval base at Gibraltar, and some territory which the British East India Company controlled in India.

This catalogue of colonies was not impressive. Our Revolution had reduced the Empire&rsquos white population from 2,000,000 to about 170,000 and half these were French Canadians. No wonder, therefore, that some Britons felt that the empire business was played out and that the game was not worth the cost. It seemed ridiculous to spend vast sums of money defending and developing colonies if they broke away as soon as they felt strong enough to do so. Other colonies would probably want to follow the example of the ungrateful thirteen. Like apples they would drop off the tree when they were ripe like children they would leave home when they grew up. Well, let them, argued these Britons, but meanwhile don&rsquot bother to plant any more apple trees or have any more children.

This doubt concerning the value of an empire influenced British policy for almost a century. True, the British did not abandon empire building, but they lost all enthusiasm for it. World trade was the business in which they became interested, and for a long time their colonies provided only a small fraction of that commerce. Until the latter part of the nineteenth century debates on colonial questions were dull and listless. Any political party, it was said, would rather lose a colony than a vote in the House of Commons. No large sums of money were allotted for overseas development, and the post of secretary of state for the colonies was one of the least attractive cabinet offices.

The new British Empire

Yet the Empire grew, as the series of maps on page 9 makes clear. There is grim humor in the fact that we and the French, who combined to wreck the old Empire, gave the first impetus to the building of the new one.

When we drove out those colonists who remained loyal to England during the Revolution, about 30,000 of them made their homes in Nova Scotia or in the new colony of New Brunswick, next door to Maine. About 6,000 others settled among the French Canadians in Quebec or in the wilderness of Upper Canada, now the province of Ontario. The latter were sturdy backwoodsmen from upstate New York. They knew how to create farms out of the forest lands that were given them. Then they wrote to their friends back home in the United States to join them.

The invitation was eagerly accepted by thousands who were more interested in the quality and low price of the land underfoot than in the pattern on the flag overhead. By 1812 this migration had given Upper Canada a population of 80,000. Yet when we tried to capture Canada in the War of 1812, there was little fifth-column help up there. British North America had become strong enough, with aid from Britain, to preserve its independence and lay a firm foundation for the building of a dominion that eventually stretched from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

Our Revolution had another early effect on the British Empire. British judges had for a long time been sentencing minor offenders to &ldquotransportation&rdquo to some overseas colony. When the Revolution stopped these shipments to our shores, a new destination had to be found. Someone remembered that in 1770 the British explorer, Captain Cook, had discovered fertile land on the east coast of Australia. When a batch of convicts and their guards landed there in 1788, Australia got its first settlers. Soon vast grazing areas were discovered beyond the coastal mountains, and sheep ranching spread rapidly. Free settlers went out to supplement and then supplant the &ldquotransportees.&rdquo By 1850 Australia had become the world&rsquos largest wool producer, just as in the same years we had become the world&rsquos largest cotton producer.

Spoils of the Napoleonic Wars

While we thus stimulated these two developments, the French provided a third. From 1793 to 1815, France and Britain were locked in a gigantic struggle. At times Napoleon had virtually all Continental Europe under his thumb or on his side. For reasons of our own we teamed up with him in 1812. Yet British sea power, backed by a strong home front, wrecked Napoleon&rsquos dreams of world dominion. His fleet was smashed by Nelson at Trafalgar and a British army gave him the final knockout blow at Waterloo.

Britain emerged from the struggle so powerful that it could have kept all the French, Spanish, Dutch, and Danish colonies it had captured. But Britain had no enthusiasm for large-scale empire building. Its only interest was in naval bases and ports of call. It kept strategically placed Singapore and Malta, and the Dutch colonies of Ceylon, Guiana, and the Cape of Good Hope, but returned the rich spice islands. Of the French possessions it retained only Mauritius and three West Indian islands. In this way Britain further fortified the sea lanes along which its merchantmen must travel to its own colonies or to foreign markets and increased its ability to protect those colonies and ships against any naval power that might challenge it in the future.

No such power did challenge it for nearly a century, until Germany, having become a large industrial nation, resolved to be a great naval and imperial power as well. For just under a hundred years, 1815&ndash1914, the world at large enjoyed a period of peace.

Enterprise and expansion

In such a world the British Empire could move easily along the three lines already laid down, as an empire of settlement, of trading posts or areas, and of naval bases or ports of call.

Force played its part at some points, as it did in our own westward movement which was taking place at the same time. British school history books list about a score of noteworthy colonial wars, chiefly in India and Africa. Yet the use of military force for spreading political control over new areas was less important than was the energy with which explorers, missionaries, traders, settlers, shipowners, miners, and railroad builders swarmed to the frontiers and there went about their self-chosen tasks.

Sometimes settlement and trade followed the flag. Quite as frequently, however, the flag followed the settler and the trader, either because they cried out for its protection or because they clamored for its support in their desire to expand their field of operations.

All this energy at the circumference was matched by abounding vigor at the center. For in Britain there was a rapidly increasing population which was discovering new methods of manufacturing vast quantities of good cheap articles. It was building the ships to take them out. It was developing the banks and trading firms to handle the business. It was saving money to invest abroad. And it was ready, willing, and able to absorb whatever foods or raw materials the colonists&mdashor anybody else&mdashcared to send to British ports.

It was this private enterprise of men at the hub and on the rim, rather than the plans of London governments&mdashwhich for much of the time were apathetic toward imperial affairs&mdashthat made the Empire grow as it did.

The empire of settlement

Settlement went ahead in Canada and Australia. After 1815 South Africa began to attract a few British settlers. Some Afrikanders (Dutch South Africans) did not like them, their rulers, or their opposition to slavery, and moved into the interior. New Zealand began to attract settlers after 1840. The story in these four regions is very much like our own, except that we could move overland while the British colonists had to make a long jump overseas before they began to swarm over the new land.

None of the areas was so rich in resources as was the United States, and progress was therefore much slower as well as smaller. Gold discoveries, the building of railroads, the importation of capital, the rise of manufactures, the coming of the steamship, good times and lean years all played their part. Staple commodities&mdashlumber, wheat, wool, and metals, and later dairy produce, meats, fruit, and other perishables&mdashwere produced and exported, chiefly to Britain.

In all areas government came close on the heels of the frontiersmen, if it was not there first. Since the colonists insisted on having a share in making or administering the laws, self-government and democratic institutions spread.

Today the empire of settlement in North America, Africa, and Australasia covers about 9,000,000 square miles. It contains about 24,000,000 people of European origin, of whom 12,000,000 are in Canada and 9,000,000 in Australasia.

Britain supplied virtually all the settlers for Australia and New Zealand.

Canada started with Frenchmen and Americans. Then the British were the chief immigrants till about 1900. Since then there has been a large influx from the United States and from Continental Europe. Hence a third of Canada&rsquos population is of French descent, a half of British, and the remainder has been drawn from the United States or Continental Europe.

In South Africa half the 2,000,000 white people are of Dutch stock, half of British. There are 7,000,000 natives, and nearly 1,000,000 people whose ancestors were Asiatic.

The empire of commerce

The empire of trading posts or areas grew during the nineteenth century. The British had an expanding output of manufactured goods to sell and hence could buy far more of the produce of Asia and Africa. India supplied the jute needed for sacks and bags. Its black tea displaced green China tea in popularity. Its indigo was in growing demand, and it had a surplus of cotton and wheat for expert.

In return India became a market for British factory-made cotton goods, hardware, machines, and railroad equipment. It grew to be the largest single customer for British manufactures. The development of its resources and railroads was a fertile field for British investments of capital. And its exports of bulky commodities provided freight for a great part of the British merchant marine.

Chaos and anarchy forced the East India Company to pass from trading to ruling. That passage was long. When it ended, about 1,000,000 square miles had become &ldquoprovinces&rdquo ruled by British officials. The remaining 600,000 square miles were left in the hands of hundreds of native princes, who were bound by treaty to let the British supervise their relations with other princes in order to put an end to wars with neighbors. In return they were guaranteed possession of their states and thrones. The job of ruling such an India was too large a responsibility for a trading company. The task therefore passed by stages into the hands of the British government, and in 1858 London took complete control of Indian affairs.

Elsewhere in Asia trading outposts were secured. Hong Kong, a pirates&rsquo rocky nest, was taken from China in 1842 to serve as a base for trade with that country. Singapore grew to be the gateway to the Far East.

When the Suez Canal was opened in 1869 a new problem had to be faced, since that canal offered a short cut to India, Australasia, and the Far East. Britain therefore bought nearly half the shares of the canal company, obtained possession of Cyprus to guard the approach from the Mediterranean, gained control of affairs in bankrupt Egypt, and established a protectorate over a bit of Somaliland at the exit from the Red Sea.

In West Africa the slave-trading posts lost their importance when slavery was abolished in the United States, but by that time West Africa and the tropics generally were be coming valuable as sources of supply of a number of newly needed materials. Palm oil was being used in making soap, candles, and cooking fats. Cocoa was becoming a popular drink or ingredient in candy. Peanuts yielded cattle feed and the oil that went into margarine. Rubber was wanted for tires, and so on down a long list.

The new imperialism

At the very moment that this demand for tropical products grew strong, about 1870, a number of countries&mdashFrance, Germany, Italy, Russia, Japan, and the United States in a smaller way&mdashbegan to develop an acute desire to build empires and acquire colonies. It was not a desire for empires of settlement, since the tropics were too unhealthy for white men. It was rather a search for raw materials, markets, fields where capital could be invested, and for strategically valuable outposts.

The thirty years before World War I, therefore, were swept by a wave of &ldquonew imperialism.&rdquo Africa was partitioned, mostly by peaceful bargaining. France took Indo-China. Britain rounded out its possession of Burma. We took control of Cuba, annexed Hawaii, the Philippines, and Puerto Rico, and divided the unclaimed islands of the Pacific with Britain, France, and Germany. Various nations got footholds on the coast of China.

The British government at first took little interest in this new scramble, for it felt that more colonies would mean more expenditure on defense, more taxes, and more colonial or diplomatic headaches. It had to be pushed hard by the Australian colonies and by impending German expansion before it consented to take southeastern New Guinea, even after Germany had acquired the northeast part. It resisted many attempts by Cape Colony politicians to expand northward, though Germany had set foot on the southwest coast of Africa.

When an East African sultan invited a British company to take charge of his coast line in order to prevent it from being seized by Egypt, the British Foreign Office refused to approve the deal. Even when an area had been recognized as a British sphere, no elaborate government was set up. The early development was left to be carried out by chartered companies which resembled those of Hudson&rsquos Bay and East India, except that they did not get a monopoly of their trading area.

Such companies undertook the development of Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya, Northern and Southern Rhodesia in Africa, and of North Borneo in the East Indies. They had to fight the slave traders, negotiate treaties with native chiefs, try to bring peace and order, meet the rivalry of French and German companies, make roads and build railroads, wrestle with tropical disease, face the constant criticism of missionaries and humanitarians who sought to protect the natives from being exploited, and meanwhile try to organize production or trade in the hope of making a profit on their capital.

&ldquoOld Joe&rdquo Chamberlain

The double task, political and economic, was often too large, too costly, and usually too meager in profit&mdashfor the tropics do not abound in easy riches. Yet it was not till 1895 that any important British statesman felt that there was merit in the companies&rsquo work or value in the areas they were trying to develop.

In that year Joseph Chamberlain, one of the top men in the Conservative party, surprised his colleagues by asking for the post of colonial secretary. With him the policy of imperial indifference ended. The government of the company areas was taken over by the Colonial Office, and a policy which sought to combine the development of resources with the welfare of the natives took shape.

The new imperialism had its effect in strengthening the network of imperial trade routes and strategic bases. When Germany and others began to acquire footholds along the ocean routes or near British colonies, or when new navies appeared on the oceans, the British had to meet the changing strategic situation.

The mandates

The latest chapter in the building of the Empire came with the first World War. German colonies in the Southwest Pacific were quickly captured by Australia and New Zealand, while South Africa soon had German Southwest Africa in hand. Since Turkey was an ally of Germany, her empire round the eastern Mediterranean was overthrown by British and Anzac armies with Arab support.

At the peace settlement no one wished to return these lands to their former rulers. Yet someone had to look after them till they could stand alone.

The United States declined to take on any part of the job, and Italy was not regarded as suitable. Hence the former enemy colonies were entrusted as &ldquomandates&rdquo to the British, French, Belgians, and Japanese. Each mandatory power was to regard its task as a trust, put the welfare of the natives first and foremost, ban any traffic in slaves, liquor, or arms, and be responsible to the League of Nations as a faithful steward. Where possible, self-government was to be granted as soon as any area was ready for it.

On these terms the British Commonwealth received the greater part of the mandates. Britain was given control of Palestine, Trans-Jordan, and Iraq, but in 1932 Iraq became independent. It also received ex-German East Africa, which lay between two British colonies. South Africa kept the German territory it had captured next door. Australia retained ex-German New Guinea, which lay alongside her territory of Papua and New Zealand obtained Samoa.

The Commonwealth was thus increased by about 800,000 square miles and 9,000,000 people. South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand became empires in a small way. In a way, Canada had been an empire ever since the dominion government at Ottawa took over the Hudson&rsquos Bay Company territories&mdashincluding the Canadian prairies-in 1870 and the whole arctic region beyond 60° north latitude a little later. Britain&rsquos children by their own efforts and insistence now have children of their own, and it would not be wholly incorrect to speak of the &ldquoBritish Commonwealth of Empires.&rdquo

Few were able to pay for their passage

In many instances, men and women who had little active interest in a new life in America were induced to make the move by the skillful persuasion of promoters. William Penn publicized the opportunities awaiting newcomers to the Pennsylvania colony in a manner more than suggestive of modern advertising techniques. Ship captains, who received large rewards from the sale of service contracts of impecunious migrants, used every method from extravagant promises to out-and-out kidnapping to secure as many passengers as their vessels could transport. Judges and prison authorities were encouraged to offer convicted persons an opportunity to migrate to America in lieu of a prison sentence.

Of the mass of colonists who crossed the ocean, relatively few could finance the cost of passage for themselves and their families and of making a start in the new land. For the earliest colonists, the expenses of transport and maintenance were provided by colonizing agencies such as the Virginia Company and the Massachusetts Bay Company. In return, the settlers agreed to work for the agency as contract laborers. But a colonist who came to the new world under such an arrangement soon discovered that, since he was expected to remain a servant or tenant, he would have been better off in England without adding the hardships and dangers of a wilderness frontier to his dependent lot.

The system soon proved a handicap to successful colonization. In consequence, there developed a new method of encouraging settlers to come to America. Companies, proprietors, and independent families entered into a negotiable contract with the prospective settler. In exchange for passage and maintenance, the emigrant was bound to labor for the contract-holder for a given period of time-usually from four to seven years. Free at the end of this term, he would receive freedom dues, sometimes including a small tract of land, usually fifty acres. The emigrants so involved were called "indentured servants." It has been estimated that fully one-half of the immigrants to the colonies south of New England came to America under this system. Usually they fulfilled their obligations under the contracts faithfully. A few, however, ran away from their employers at the first opportunity. They, too, were able to secure land easily and to set up homesteads either in the colony where they had originally settled or in a neighboring one.

No social or other stigma attached to the family which had its beginnings in America under this semibondage arrangement. In every colony, in fact, many of the leading personages were either former indentured servants or their children. They, like all other colonists, were the most valuable assets of a country whose greatest need was population. Indeed, the colonies and all groups interested in their success prospered in direct ratio to the number of settlers who migrated. For land and other natural resources were practically unlimited, and progress was entirely dependent on the size of the population available to develop them.

Of the settlers who came to America in the first three quarters of the seventeenth century, the overwhelming majority was English. There was a sprinkling of Dutch, Swedes, and Germans in the middle region, a few French Huguenots in South Carolina and elsewhere, and here and there a scattering of Spaniards, Italians, and Portuguese. But these represented hardly ten per cent of the total population.

The Plantation System

This article describes the plantation system in America as an instrument of British colonialism characterized by social and political inequality. It links the agricultural prosperity of the South with the domination by wealthy aristocrats and the exploitation of slave labor.

Social Studies, U.S. History

Sugar Cane Plantation

Illustration of slaves cutting sugar cane on a southern plantation.

Photograph from the North Wind Picture Archives/Alamy Stock Photo

The plantation system developed in the American South as the British colonists arrived in Virginia and divided the land into large areas suitable for farming. Because the economy of the South depended on the cultivation of crops, the need for agricultural labor led to the establishment of slavery. It also created a society sharply divided along class lines. For this reason, the contrast between the rich and the poor was greater in the South than it was in the North. In the colonies south of the Mason Dixon line, a few wealthy, white landowners owned the bulk of the land, while the majority of the population was made up of poor farmers, indentured servants, and slaves.

The plantation system came to dominate the culture of the South, and it was rife with inequity from the time it was established. In 1606, King James I formed the Virginia Company of London to establish colonies in America, but when the British arrived, they faced a harsh and foreboding wilderness, and their lives became little more than a struggle for survival. So, to make settling the land more attractive, the Virginia Company offered any adult man with the means to travel to America 50 acres of land. At the encouragement of the Company, many of the settlers banded together and created large settlements, called hundreds, as they were intended to support one hundred individuals, usually men who led a household. These settlements were much like the colonies themselves. The wealthy aristocrats who owned them established their own rules and practices. The settlements required a large number of laborers to sustain them, and thus laborers were imported from Africa. African slaves began arriving in Virginia in 1619.

The term &ldquoplantation&rdquo arose as the southern settlements, originally linked with colonial expansion, came to revolve around the production of agriculture. Though wealthy aristocrats ruled the plantations, the laborers powered the system. The climate of the South was ideally suited to the cultivation of cash crops, and King James had every intention of profiting from the plantations. Tobacco and cotton proved to be exceptionally profitable. Because these crops required large areas of land, the plantations grew in size, and in turn, more slaves were required to work on the plantations. This sharpened class divisions, as a small number of people owned larger and larger plantations. Thus, the wealthy landowners got wealthier, and the use of slave labor increased.

Douglas V. Armstrong is an anthropologist from New York whose studies on plantation slavery have been focused on the Caribbean. In the Caribbean, as well as in the slave states, the shift from small-scale farming to industrial agriculture transformed the culture of these societies, as their economic prosperity depended on the plantation. Until the transatlantic slave trade was abolished in 1807, over 12 million Africans were transported to the New World, and over 90 percent of them went to the Caribbean and South America, many to work on sugar plantations. Throughout the New World, the plantation served as an institution in itself, characterized by social and political inequality, racial conflict, and domination by the planter class.