South Africa pp 233-264 | Cite as

The Shaping of a White Dominion

  • T. R. H. Davenport
  • Christopher Saunders


When the Boer leaders met at Klerksdorp in April 1902 to consider making peace, they rallied to the exhortations of the ailing Steyn and proudly approached Kitchener with a peace offer which took their continued independence for granted. They would demilitarise the republics but asked for a treaty of friendship which would settle future economic relationships and political rights, and provide for the arbitration of disputes, equal language rights, and a mutual amnesty. Kitchener agreed to relay their offer to London, knowing that the British Government would not contemplate such a basis for talks. He insisted that the annexation was a fait accompli. They retorted that they had no authority to sign away their independence. But Kitchener allowed them facilities for convening a representative assembly of the people with plenipotentiary powers. The two Boer governments accordingly met again on 15 May at Vereeniging, in company with thirty delegates representing the commandos of each republic. These reported on the situation in their districts, which in many cases was critical. Those who still had cattle, grain and horses were generally prepared to fight on, and De Wet in particular, keeping faith with his diehard president, brushed aside obstacles in a rousing speech. But it was Botha and De la Rey who best represented the majority view, as they weighed logistic possibilities, and concluded that to continue a hopeless fight might well weaken their bargaining position in the long run.


Proportional Representation Responsible Government Executive Council National Convention Legislative Council 
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Bibliographical Notes

9.1 The Treaty of Vereeniging, 31 May 1902

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Copyright information

© T. R. H. Davenport and Christopher Saunders 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • T. R. H. Davenport
    • 1
  • Christopher Saunders
    • 2
  1. 1.Rhodes UniversityGrahamstownSouth Africa
  2. 2.University of Cape TownSouth Africa

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