Dr. H. A. Wolff lectured last night in Sanders Theatre on "The Transvaal and the Present Crisis." Dr. Wolff began by referring briefly to his own work as a physician in South Africa, and then gave a short account of the early history of the country.
After the settlement of the Cape by the Dutch East India Company, affairs rapidly went from bad to worse. A harsh rule, combined with slavery and forced labor, soon drove out many of the Dutch inhabitants, who worked northward and finally settled down in the Transvaal. A large French Huguenot element had come in at this time, and as a result nearly two thirds of the Boers today are of French descent.
England soon realized the possibilities in the Cape and purchased it from the East India Company. Slavery was abolished, and affairs took on a better aspect. Meanwhile, the Boers who had gone to the Transvaal were oppressing the natives cruelly, and frequent complaints began to be heard. The Boers, however, soon formed an independent government and refused all allegiance to any outside power. A claim on the Orange Free State, made in 1857 by the Boers, was followed by years of internal strife and native revolts. In 1877 the government was deeply in debt and wholly without resources, and in this condition the country was annexed by Great Britain.
The Dutch inhabitants, however, refused to discontinue their policy of land grabbing. More trouble with the natives ensued, and a commission was sent from England to investigate. The trouble was staved off for a time, and in 1883 Kruger even obtained some concessions from the home government. It was in 1885, when gold was discovered in the Transvaal, that serious trouble began. The Uitlanders at this time numbered 150,000; there were less than half that number of Boers. The foreign element possessed all the mining and much of the property interests, and were taxed most unreasonably by the officials in power. Taxation, then, was one of the most serious complaints.
The franchise question caused much trouble, as twelve years were required for any rights of citizenship by foreigners. The free sale of spirits to the natives destroyed their efficiency in the mines; and on all sides the political corruption became so unbearable that the Uitlanders finally determined to revolt.
Careful plans were laid, and for months arms were smuggled into the Transvaal. Everything seemed prosperous and Cecil Rhodes had agreed to time his raid so as to help out the rebels. He was too hasty, however, the plot was discovered, and the whole scheme ended in failure. The leaders were captured, but were released later on payment of a large ransom.