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The Union of South Africa ( nl, Unie van Zuid-Afrika; af, Unie van Suid-Afrika ) was the historical predecessor to the present-day
Republic of South Africa South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is the southernmost country in Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous continent, after Asia in both cases. At about 30.3 million km2 (11.7 milli ...

Republic of South Africa
. It came into existence on 31 May 1910 with the unification of the
Cape A cape is a sleeveless outer garment Outerwear is clothing File:KangaSiyu1.jpg, A kanga (African garment), kanga, worn throughout the African Great Lakes region Clothing (also known as clothes, apparel and attire) are items worn on the bo ...
, the
Natal NATAL or Natal may refer to: Places * Natal, Rio Grande do Norte, a city in Brazil * Natal, South Africa (disambiguation), a region in South Africa ** Natalia Republic, a former country (1839–1843) ** Colony of Natal, a former British colony (18 ...
, the
TransvaalTransvaal is a historical geographic term associated with land north of (''i.e.'', beyond) the Vaal River in South Africa. A number of states and administrative divisions have carried the name Transvaal. * South African Republic (1856–1902; af, Z ...
, and the
Orange River The Orange River (from Afrikaans File:WIKITONGUES- Alaric speaking Afrikaans.webm, Alaric speaking Afrikaans. Afrikaans (, ) is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language spoken in South Africa, Namibia and, to a lesser extent, B ...
colonies. It included the territories that were formerly a part of the
South African Republic The South African Republic ( nl, Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek; the ZAR; also known as the Transvaal Republic, af, Suid-Afrikaanse Republiek) was an independent republic A republic () is a form of government A government is t ...
and the
Orange Free State The Orange Free State ( nl, Oranje Vrijstaat, af, Oranje-Vrystaat, abbreviated as OVS) was an independent Boer Boers () ( af , Boere) refers to the descendants of the proto-Afrikaans-speaking colonist A settler is a person who ha ...
. Following
World War I World War I, often abbreviated as WWI or WW1, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war A world war is "a war engaged in by all or most of the principal nations of the world". The term is usually reserved for ...

World War I
, the Union of South Africa was a signatory of the
Treaty of Versailles The Treaty of Versailles (french: Traité de Versailles; german: Versailler Vertrag, ) was the most important of the peace treaties A peace treaty is an agreement between two or more hostile parties, usually countries or government ...
and became one of the founding members of the
League of Nations The League of Nations (french: Société des Nations ), was the first worldwide intergovernmental organisation An intergovernmental organization (IGO) is an organization composed primarily of sovereign states (referred to as ''member state ...
. It was conferred the administration of
South West Africa South West Africa ( af, Suidwes-Afrika; german: Südwestafrika; nl, Zuidwest-Afrika) was the name for modern-day Namibia Namibia (, ), officially the Republic of Namibia, is a country in Southern Africa Southern Africa is the south ...
(now known as
Namibia Namibia (, ), officially the Republic of Namibia, is a country in Southern Africa Southern Africa is the south South is one of the cardinal directions or compass points. South is the opposite of north and is perpendicular to the east a ...

Namibia
) as a
League of Nations mandate A League of Nations mandate was a legal status for certain territories transferred from the control of one country to another following World War I World War I or the First World War, often abbreviated as WWI or WW1, was a global ...
. It became treated in most respects as another province of the Union, but it never was formally annexed. Like
Canada Canada is a country in the northern part of North America North America is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, ...

Canada
and
Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a Sovereign state, sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australia (continent), Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous List of islands of Australia, sma ...

Australia
, the Union of South Africa was a
self-governing __NOTOC__ Self-governance, self-government, or self-rule is the ability of a person or group to exercise all necessary functions of regulation Regulation is the management of complex systems according to a set of rules and trends. In syste ...
dominion The word Dominion was used from 1907 to 1948 to refer to one of several self-governing colonies of the British Empire. "Dominion status" was formally accorded to Canada, Australia, Dominion of New Zealand, New Zealand, Dominion of Newfoundland ...

dominion
of the
British Empire The British Empire was composed of the dominions, Crown colony, colonies, protectorates, League of Nations mandate, mandates, and other Dependent territory, territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom and its predecessor states. ...

British Empire
. Its full sovereignty was confirmed with the Balfour Declaration 1926 and the
Statute of Westminster 1931 The Statute of Westminster 1931 is an act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom In the United Kingdom an Act of Parliament is primary legislation In parliamentary systems and presidential systems of government, primary legislation and ...
. It was governed under a form of
constitutional monarchy A constitutional monarchy, parliamentary monarchy, or democratic monarchy is a form of monarchy in which the monarch exercises his authority in accordance with a constitution and is not alone in deciding. Constitutional monarchies differ from ...
, with the Crown being represented by a governor-general. The Union came to an end with the enactment of the constitution of 1961, by which it became a
republic A republic () is a form of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a month ...

republic
and left the
Commonwealth A commonwealth is a traditional English term for a political community founded for the common good In philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, Metaphysics, existenc ...

Commonwealth
.


Constitution


Main features

The Union of South Africa was a
unitary state A unitary state is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper ...
, rather than a
federation A federation (also known as a federal state) is a political entity A polity is an identifiable political Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with Decision-making, making decisions in Social group, groups, ...

federation
like Canada and Australia, with each colony's parliaments being abolished and replaced with provincial councils. A
bicameral Bicameralism is the practice of having a legislature A legislature is an assembly Assembly may refer to: Organisations and meetings * Deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kind of collective) ...
parliament In modern politics and history, a parliament is a legislative A legislature is an assembly Assembly may refer to: Organisations and meetings * Deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kind of ...

parliament
was created, consisting of the
House of Assembly House of Assembly is a name given to the legislature A legislature is an assembly Assembly may refer to: Organisations and meetings * Deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kind of collective) who ...
and
Senate The Curia Julia in the Roman Forum ">Roman_Forum.html" ;"title="Curia Julia in the Roman Forum">Curia Julia in the Roman Forum A senate is a deliberative assembly, often the upper house or Debating chamber, chamber of a bicameral legislatu ...
, with members of the parliament being elected mostly by the country's white minority. During the course of the Union, the franchise changed on several occasions always to suit the needs of the government of the day. Parliamentary supremacy was a convention of the constitution, inherited from the United Kingdom; save for procedural safeguards in respect of the entrenched sections of franchise and language, the courts were unable to intervene in Parliament's decisions.


Capitals

Owing to disagreements over where the Union's
capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals (or more formally ''majuscule'') and smaller lowercase (or more formally ''minusc ...
should be, a compromise was reached in which every province would be dealt a share of the benefits of the capital: the administration would be seated in
Pretoria Pretoria is one of South Africa’s three Capital city, capital cities, serving as the seat of the executive branch of government, and as the host to all foreign embassies to South Africa. Cape Town is the legislature, legislative capital wher ...

Pretoria
(Transvaal), the
Parliament In modern politics and history, a parliament is a legislative A legislature is an assembly Assembly may refer to: Organisations and meetings * Deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kind of ...
would be in
Cape Town Cape Town (Afrikaans: Kaapstad ; Xhosa language, Xhosa: ''iKapa;'') is the second-most populous city in South Africa, after Johannesburg, and also the legislative Capital city, capital of South Africa. Colloquially named the Mother City, it is ...

Cape Town
(Cape Province), the Appellate Division would be in
Bloemfontein Bloemfontein, ( ; , "fountain of flowers") also known as Bloem, is the capital city of the Free State (South African province), Free State Province of South Africa; and, as the judicial capital of the nation, one of South Africa's three natio ...

Bloemfontein
(Orange Free State), while archives would be in
Pietermaritzburg Pietermaritzburg (; Zulu Zulu may refer to: Zulu people * Zulu Kingdom or Zulu Empire, a former monarchy in what is now South Africa * Zulu language, a Bantu language spoken in southern Africa * Zulu people, an ethnic group of southern Africa ...

Pietermaritzburg
(Natal). Bloemfontein and Pietermaritzburg were given financial compensation. Since
South West Africa South West Africa ( af, Suidwes-Afrika; german: Südwestafrika; nl, Zuidwest-Afrika) was the name for modern-day Namibia Namibia (, ), officially the Republic of Namibia, is a country in Southern Africa Southern Africa is the south ...
was never officially annexed as a fifth province, its capital,
Windhoek Windhoek (, , ) is the capital and largest city of Namibia Namibia (, ), officially the Republic of Namibia, is a country in Southern Africa Southern Africa is the south South is one of the cardinal directions or compass points. S ...

Windhoek
, was never officially recognized as the country's fifth capital.


Relationship to the Crown

The Union initially remained under the
British Crown The Crown is the state (polity), state in all its aspects within the jurisprudence of the Commonwealth realms and their subdivisions (such as the Crown Dependencies, British Overseas Territories, overseas territories, Provinces and territorie ...
as a self-governing
dominion The word Dominion was used from 1907 to 1948 to refer to one of several self-governing colonies of the British Empire. "Dominion status" was formally accorded to Canada, Australia, Dominion of New Zealand, New Zealand, Dominion of Newfoundland ...

dominion
of the
British Empire The British Empire was composed of the dominions, Crown colony, colonies, protectorates, League of Nations mandate, mandates, and other Dependent territory, territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom and its predecessor states. ...

British Empire
. With the passage of the Statute of Westminster in 1931, the Union and other dominions became equal in status to the United Kingdom, and the Parliament of the United Kingdom could no longer legislate on behalf of them. This had the effect of making the Union and the other dominions ''de jure'' sovereign nations. The Status of the Union Act, passed by the South African Parliament in 1934, incorporated the applicable portions of the Statute of Westminster into South African law, underscoring its status as a sovereign nation. It removed what remaining authority Whitehall had to legislate for South Africa, as well as any nominal role that the Crown had in granting Royal Assent. The Governor-General was now required to sign or veto bills passed by Parliament, without the option of seeking advice from London. The Monarch was represented in South Africa by a Governor-General, while effective power was exercised by the Executive Council, headed by the
Prime Minister A prime minister or a premier is the head of the cabinet Cabinet or The Cabinet may refer to: Furniture * Cabinetry, a box-shaped piece of furniture with doors and/or drawers * Display cabinet, a piece of furniture with one or more transpa ...
.
Louis Botha Louis Botha (; 27 September 1862 – 27 August 1919) was a politician who was the first of the —the forerunner of the modern South African state. A war hero during the , he eventually fought to have South Africa become a British . Early l ...

Louis Botha
, formerly a
Boer Boers () ( af , Boere) refers to the descendants of the proto-Afrikaans-speaking colonist A settler is a person who has migrated to an area and established a permanent residence there, often to colonize Colonization, or colonisation ...

Boer
general, was appointed first Prime Minister of the Union, heading a coalition representing the white
Afrikaner Afrikaners () are an ethnic group in Southern Africa descended from Free Burghers, predominantly Dutch settlers first arriving at the Cape of Good Hope in the 17th and 18th centuries.Entry: Cape Colony. ''Encyclopædia Britannica Volume 4 Par ...

Afrikaner
and English-speaking
British diaspora The British diaspora consists of people of British ancestry (and their descendants) who emigrated from the British Isles The British Isles are a group of islands in the North Atlantic off the north-western coast of continental Europe ...
communities. Prosecutions before courts were instituted in the name of the Crown (cited in the format ''Rex v Accused'') and government officials served in the name of the Crown.


Languages

An
entrenched clause An entrenched clause or entrenchment clause of a basic law In countries with uncodified constitutions, basic law is the denomination of a law providing constitutional powers. In Germany ''basic law'' ("Grundgesetz") is the name given to the codifie ...
in the Constitution mentioned
Dutch Dutch commonly refers to: * Something of, from, or related to the Netherlands * Dutch people () * Dutch language () *Dutch language , spoken in Belgium (also referred as ''flemish'') Dutch may also refer to:" Castle * Dutch Castle Places * ...
and English as
official language An official language is a language given a special status in a particular country, state, or other jurisdiction. Typically the term "official language" does not refer to the language used by a people or country, but by its government (e.g. judiciar ...

official language
s of the Union, but the meaning of Dutch was changed by the Official Languages of the Union Act, 1925 to include both Dutch and Afrikaans.


Final days of the South Africa Act and legacy

Most English-speaking whites in South Africa supported the
United PartyUnited Party is a term used various political parties: *United Party (Gambia) *United Party (Kenya) *United Party (Papua New Guinea) *United Party for National Development, Zambia *United Party of Canada Defunct parties of the name include: *Un ...
of
Jan Smuts Field Marshal Field marshal (or field-marshal, abbreviated as FM) is the most senior military rank, ordinarily senior to the general officer ranks. Usually it is the highest rank in an army and as such few persons are appointed to it. It ...
, which favoured close relations with the United Kingdom and the
Commonwealth A commonwealth is a traditional English term for a political community founded for the common good In philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, Metaphysics, existenc ...

Commonwealth
, unlike the Afrikaans-speaking National Party, which had held anti-British sentiments and was opposed to South Africa's intervention in the
Second World War World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
. Some Nationalist organisations, like the '' Ossewa Brandwag'', were openly supportive of
Nazi Germany Nazi Germany, (lit. "National Socialist State"), ' (lit. "Nazi State") for short; also ' (lit. "National Socialist Germany") officially known as the German Reich from 1933 until 1943, and the Greater German Reich from 1943 to 1945, was ...

Nazi Germany
during the
Second World War World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
. Most English-speaking South Africans were opposed to the creation of a
republic A republic () is a form of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a month ...

republic
, many of them voting "no" in the 5 October 1960
referendum A referendum (plural: referendums or less commonly referenda) is a direct Direct may refer to: Mathematics * Directed set In mathematics Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity (number th ...
. But due to the much larger number of Afrikaans-speaking voters, the referendum passed, leading to the establishment of a republic in 1961. The government led by the National Party consequently withdrew South Africa from the Commonwealth. Following the results of the referendum, some whites in Natal, which had an English-speaking majority, called for secession from the Union. Five years earlier, some 33,000 Natalians had signed the Natal Covenant in opposition to the plans for a republic. Subsequently, the National Party government had passed a
Constitution A constitution is an aggregate of fundamental principles A principle is a proposition or value that is a guide for behavior or evaluation. In law, it is a rule Rule or ruling may refer to: Human activity * The exercise of political ...

Constitution
that repealed the South Africa Act. The features of the Union were carried over with very little change to the newly formed Republic. The decision to transform from a Union to Republic was narrowly decided in the referendum. The decision together with the South African Government's insistence on adhering to its policy of
apartheid Apartheid (South African English South African English (SAfrE, SAfrEng, SAE, en-ZA) is the set of English language dialects native to South Africans. History British British may refer to: Peoples, culture, and language * B ...

apartheid
resulted in South Africa's ''de facto'' expulsion from the
Commonwealth of Nations The Commonwealth of Nations, generally known simply as the Commonwealth, is a political association of 54 member states, almost all of which are former territories A territory is an administrative division, usually an area that is under the ...

Commonwealth of Nations
.


Segregation

The South Africa Act dealt with race in two specific provisions. First it entrenched the liberal (by South African standards)
Cape Qualified Franchise The Cape Qualified Franchise was the system of non-racial franchise that was adhered to in the Cape Colony The Cape Colony ( nl, Kaapkolonie), also known as the Cape of Good Hope, was a British Empire, British colony in present-day South Af ...
system of the
Cape Colony The Cape Colony ( nl, Kaapkolonie), also known as the Cape of Good Hope, was a British British may refer to: Peoples, culture, and language * British people, nationals or natives of the United Kingdom, British Overseas Territories, and Cro ...
which operated free of any racial considerations (although due to socio-economic restrictions no real political expression of non-whites was possible). The Cape
Prime Minister A prime minister or a premier is the head of the cabinet Cabinet or The Cabinet may refer to: Furniture * Cabinetry, a box-shaped piece of furniture with doors and/or drawers * Display cabinet, a piece of furniture with one or more transpa ...
at the time, John X. Merriman, fought hard, but ultimately unsuccessfully, to extend this system of multi-racial franchise to the rest of South Africa. Second it made "native affairs" a matter for the national government. The practice therefore was to establish a Minister of Native Affairs. According to Stephen Howe, colonialism in some cases—most obviously among white minorities in South Africa—meant mainly that these violent settlers wanted to maintain more racial inequalities than the colonial empire found just.


Previous attempts at unification

Several previous unsuccessful attempts to unite the colonies were made, with proposed political models ranging from
unitary Unitary may refer to: * Unitary construction, in automotive design a common term for unibody (unitary body/chassis) construction * Lethal Unitary Chemical Agents and Munitions (Unitary), as chemical weapons opposite of Binary * Unitarianism, in Chr ...
, to loosely
federal Federal or foederal (archaic) may refer to: Politics General *Federal monarchy, a federation of monarchies *Federation, or ''Federal state'' (federal system), a type of government characterized by both a central (federal) government and states or ...
.


Early unification attempt under Sir George Grey (1850s)

Sir
George Grey Sir George Grey, KCB (14 April 1812 – 19 September 1898) was a British soldier, explorer, colonial administrator and writer. He served in a succession of governing positions: Governor of South Australia The Governor of South Australia i ...
, the
Governor of Cape Colony The Cape Colony ( nl, Kaapkolonie), also known as the Cape of Good Hope, was a British colony In political science, a colony is a territory subject to a form of foreign rule. Though dominated by the foreign colonizers, colonies remain ...
from 1854 to 1861, decided that unifying the states of southern Africa would be mutually beneficial. The stated reasons were that he believed that political divisions between the white-controlled states "weakened them against the natives", threatened an ethnic divide between British and Boer, and left the Cape vulnerable to interference from other European powers. He believed that a united "South African Federation", under British control, would resolve all three of these concerns. His idea was greeted with cautious optimism in southern Africa; the
Orange Free State The Orange Free State ( nl, Oranje Vrijstaat, af, Oranje-Vrystaat, abbreviated as OVS) was an independent Boer Boers () ( af , Boere) refers to the descendants of the proto-Afrikaans-speaking colonist A settler is a person who ha ...
agreed to the idea in principle and the
TransvaalTransvaal is a historical geographic term associated with land north of (''i.e.'', beyond) the Vaal River in South Africa. A number of states and administrative divisions have carried the name Transvaal. * South African Republic (1856–1902; af, Z ...
may also eventually have agreed. However, he was overruled by the
British Colonial Office The Colonial Office was a government department Ministry or department, also less commonly used secretariat, office, or directorate are designations used by a first-level Executive (government), executive bodies in the Machinery of government ...
which ordered him to desist from his plans. His refusal to abandon the idea eventually led to him being recalled.


The imposition of confederation (1870s)

In the 1870s, the London Colonial Office, under Secretary for the Colonies Lord Carnarvon, decided to apply a system of
Confederation A confederation (also known as a confederacy or league) is a union of sovereign groups or states united for purposes of common action. Usually created by a treaty, confederations of states tend to be established for dealing with critical issu ...
onto southern Africa. On this occasion however, it was largely rejected by southern Africans, primarily due to its very bad timing. The various component states of
southern Africa Southern Africa is the south South is one of the cardinal directions or compass points. South is the opposite of north and is perpendicular to the east and west. Etymology The word ''south'' comes from Old English ''sūþ'', from earlier Pr ...
were still simmering after the last bout of British expansion, and inter-state tensions were high. The
Orange Free State The Orange Free State ( nl, Oranje Vrijstaat, af, Oranje-Vrystaat, abbreviated as OVS) was an independent Boer Boers () ( af , Boere) refers to the descendants of the proto-Afrikaans-speaking colonist A settler is a person who ha ...
this time refused to even discuss the idea, and Prime Minister
John Molteno Sir John Charles Molteno (5 June 1814 – 1 September 1886) was a soldier, businessman, champion of responsible government and the first Prime Minister of the British Cape Colony, Cape Colony. Early life Born in London into a large Anglo-Ital ...
of the
Cape Colony The Cape Colony ( nl, Kaapkolonie), also known as the Cape of Good Hope, was a British British may refer to: Peoples, culture, and language * British people, nationals or natives of the United Kingdom, British Overseas Territories, and Cro ...
called the idea badly informed and irresponsible. In addition, many local leaders resented the way it was imposed from outside without understanding of local issues. The
Confederation A confederation (also known as a confederacy or league) is a union of sovereign groups or states united for purposes of common action. Usually created by a treaty, confederations of states tend to be established for dealing with critical issu ...
model was also correctly seen as unsuitable for the disparate entities of
southern Africa Southern Africa is the south South is one of the cardinal directions or compass points. South is the opposite of north and is perpendicular to the east and west. Etymology The word ''south'' comes from Old English ''sūþ'', from earlier Pr ...
, with their wildly different sizes, economies and political systems. The Molteno Unification Plan (1877), put forward by the Cape government as a more feasible
unitary Unitary may refer to: * Unitary construction, in automotive design a common term for unibody (unitary body/chassis) construction * Lethal Unitary Chemical Agents and Munitions (Unitary), as chemical weapons opposite of Binary * Unitarianism, in Chr ...
alternative to
confederation A confederation (also known as a confederacy or league) is a union of sovereign groups or states united for purposes of common action. Usually created by a treaty, confederations of states tend to be established for dealing with critical issu ...
, largely anticipated the final act of Union in 1909. A crucial difference was that the Cape's liberal constitution and multiracial franchise were to be extended to the other states of the union. These smaller states would gradually accede to the much larger
Cape Colony The Cape Colony ( nl, Kaapkolonie), also known as the Cape of Good Hope, was a British British may refer to: Peoples, culture, and language * British people, nationals or natives of the United Kingdom, British Overseas Territories, and Cro ...
through a system of treaties, whilst simultaneously gaining elected seats in the
Cape parliament The Parliament of the Cape of Good Hope functioned as the legislature of the Cape Colony The Cape Colony ( nl, Kaapkolonie), also known as the Cape of Good Hope, was a British Empire, British colony in present-day South Africa named after ...
. The entire process would be locally driven, with Britain's role restricted to policing any set-backs. While subsequently acknowledged to be more viable, this model was rejected at the time by London. At the other extreme, another powerful Cape politician at the time,
Saul Solomon Saul Solomon (25 May 1817 – 16 October 1892) was an influential liberal politician of the Cape Colony The Cape Colony ( nl, Kaapkolonie), also known as the Cape of Good Hope, was a British British may refer to: Peoples, culture, and ...
, proposed an extremely loose system of federation, with the component states preserving their very different constitutions and systems of franchise. Lord Carnarvon rejected the (more informed) local plans for unification, as he wished to have the process brought to a conclusion before the end of his tenure and, having little experience of southern Africa, he preferred to enforce the more familiar model of confederation used in Canada. He pushed ahead with his Confederation plan, which unravelled as predicted, leaving a string of destructive wars across southern Africa. These conflicts eventually fed into the first and second
Anglo-Boer War The Second Boer War ( af, Tweede Vryheidsoorlog, lit. "Second Freedom War", 11 October 189931 May 1902), also known as the Boer War, the Anglo–Boer War, or the South African War, was a conflict fought between the British Empire The Br ...
s, with far-reaching consequences for the subcontinent.


Second Boer War (1899–1902)

After the discovery of gold in the 1880s, thousands of British men flocked to the gold mines of the
South African Republic The South African Republic ( nl, Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek; the ZAR; also known as the Transvaal Republic, af, Suid-Afrikaanse Republiek) was an independent republic A republic () is a form of government A government is t ...
(Transvaal) and the
Orange Free State The Orange Free State ( nl, Oranje Vrijstaat, af, Oranje-Vrystaat, abbreviated as OVS) was an independent Boer Boers () ( af , Boere) refers to the descendants of the proto-Afrikaans-speaking colonist A settler is a person who ha ...
. The newly arrived miners, though needed for the mines, were distrusted by the politically dominant Afrikaners, who called them "
uitlander Uitlander, Afrikaans File:WIKITONGUES- Alaric speaking Afrikaans.webm, Alaric speaking Afrikaans. Afrikaans (, ) is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language spoken in South Africa, Namibia and, to a lesser extent, Botswana, Zambia an ...
s", imposed heavy taxes on them and granted them very limited civil rights, with no right to vote. The United Kingdom, wanting the gold and diamond mines and highly protective of its own citizens, demanded reforms, which the Afrikaners rejected. A small-scale private British effort to overthrow Transvaal's President
Paul Kruger Stephanus Johannes Paulus Kruger (; 10 October 1825 – 14 July 1904) was a South African politician. He was one of the dominant political and military figures in 19th-century South Africa South Africa, officially the Republic of ...

Paul Kruger
, the
Jameson Raid The Jameson Raid (29 December 1895 – 2 January 1896) was a botched Raid (military), raid against the South African Republic (commonly known as the Transvaal) carried out by British colonial administrator Leander Starr Jameson and his company ...
of 1895, proved a fiasco, and presaged full-scale conflict as diplomatic efforts all failed. The Second Boer War started on 11 October 1899 and ended on 31 May 1902. The United Kingdom gained the support of its Cape Colony, of its Colony of Natal and of some African allies. Volunteers from across the British Empire further supplemented the British war-effort. All other nations remained neutral, but public opinion in them was largely hostile to Britain. Inside Britain and its Empire there was also significant opposition to the Second Boer War because of the atrocities and military failures. The British were overconfident and under-prepared. Prime Minister
Salisbury Salisbury ( ) is a cathedral city City status in the United Kingdom is granted by the monarch of the United Kingdom The monarchy of the United Kingdom, commonly referred to as the British monarchy, is the constitutional monarchy of t ...

Salisbury
and his top officials, especially Colonial Secretary
Joseph Chamberlain Joseph Chamberlain (8 July 1836 – 2 July 1914) was a British statesman who was first a radical Liberal Liberal or liberalism may refer to: Politics *a supporter of liberalism, a political and moral philosophy **Liberalism by country *an a ...

Joseph Chamberlain
, ignored the repeated warnings of military advisors that the Boers were well prepared, well armed, and fighting for their homes in a very difficult terrain. The Boers struck first, besieging Ladysmith, Kimberley, and Mafeking in early 1900, and winning important battles at Colenso (15 December 1899), Magersfontein and Stormberg (10 December 1899). Staggered, the British fought back, relieved the besieged cities, and prepared to invade first the Orange Free State, and then Transvaal in late 1900. The Boers refused to surrender or negotiate, and reverted to
guerrilla warfare Guerrilla warfare is a form of irregular warfare Irregular warfare (IW) is defined in United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a country Contiguous United States ...
. After two years of hard fighting, Britain, using over 400,000 soldiers, systematically destroyed Boer resistance, raising worldwide complaints about brutality. The Boers fought for their homes and families, which provided them with food and hiding places. The British responded by forcefully relocating all the Boer civilians into heavily guarded
concentration camps Internment is the imprisonment of people, commonly in large groups, without charges or Indictment, intent to file charges. The term is especially used for the confinement "of enemy citizens in wartime or of terrorism suspects". Thus, while it ...
, where about 28,000 died of disease, while British military forces systematically blocked off and tracked down the highly mobile Boer combat units. The battles were small operations; most of the dead succumbed to disease. The war ended in victory for the British and the annexation of both Boer republics, which became the
Transvaal Colony The Transvaal Colony () was the name used to refer to the Transvaal region during the period of direct British rule and military occupation between the end of the Second Boer War The Second Boer War ( af, Tweede Vryheidsoorlog, lit. "Se ...
and the
Orange River Colony The Orange River Colony was the British colony Within the British Empire, a Crown colony or royal colony was a colony In political science, a colony is a territory subject to a form of foreign rule. Though dominated by the foreign co ...
.


History of the Union of South Africa


National Convention

The
National Convention The National Convention (french: link=no, Convention nationale) was a parliament In modern politics and history, a parliament is a legislative A legislature is an assembly Assembly may refer to: Organisations and meetings * Del ...
was a constitutional convention held between 1908 and 1909 in
Durban Durban ( ) ( zu, eThekwini, from meaning 'the port'), nicknamed ''Durbs'',Ishani ChettyCity nicknames in SA and across the worldArticle on ''news24.com'' from 25 October 2017. Retrieved 2021-03-05.
(12 October to 5 November 1908),
Cape Town Cape Town (Afrikaans: Kaapstad ; Xhosa language, Xhosa: ''iKapa;'') is the second-most populous city in South Africa, after Johannesburg, and also the legislative Capital city, capital of South Africa. Colloquially named the Mother City, it is ...

Cape Town
(23 November to 18 December 1908, 11 January to 3 February 1909) and
Bloemfontein Bloemfontein, ( ; , "fountain of flowers") also known as Bloem, is the capital city of the Free State (South African province), Free State Province of South Africa; and, as the judicial capital of the nation, one of South Africa's three natio ...

Bloemfontein
(3 to 11 May 1909). This convention led to the
British Parliament The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the supreme legislative body A legislature is an assembly Assembly may refer to: Organisations and meetings * Deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kin ...
's adoption of the South Africa Act, which ratified the Union. The four colonies that would become South Africa were represented, along with a delegation from
Rhodesia Rhodesia (, ), officially from 1970 the Republic of Rhodesia, was an unrecognised state in Southern Africa Southern Africa is the south South is one of the cardinal directions or compass points. South is the opposite of north and is p ...
. The 33 delegates assembled behind closed doors, in the fear that a public affair would lead delegates to refuse compromising on contentious areas. The delegates drew up a constitution that would, subject to some amendments by the British government, become the South Africa Act, which was South Africa's constitution between 1910 and 1961, when the country became a
republic A republic () is a form of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a month ...

republic
under the Constitution of 1961.


Union of South Africa and Southern Rhodesia

In 1922 the colony of
Southern Rhodesia The Colony of Southern Rhodesia was a landlocked self-governing colony, self-governing British Crown colony in southern Africa, established in 1923 and consisting of British South Africa Company (BSAC) territories lying south of the Zambezi R ...
had a chance (but ultimately rejected) to join the Union through a
referendum A referendum (plural: referendums or less commonly referenda) is a direct Direct may refer to: Mathematics * Directed set In mathematics Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity (number th ...
. The referendum resulted from the fact that by 1920
British South Africa Company The British South Africa Company (BSAC or BSACo) was charteredChartered may refer to: * Charter, a legal document conferring rights or privileges ** University charter ** Chartered company * Chartered (professional), a professional credential * ...
rule in Southern Rhodesia was no longer practical with many favouring some form of '
responsible government Responsible government is a conception of a system of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ' ...
'. Some favoured responsible government within Southern Rhodesia while others (especially in
Matabeleland Matabeleland is a region located in southwestern Zimbabwe Zimbabwe (), officially the Republic of Zimbabwe, is a landlocked country A landlocked country is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or pol ...

Matabeleland
) favoured membership in the Union of South Africa. Politician Sir Charles Coghlan claimed that such membership with the Union would make Southern Rhodesia the "
Ulster Ulster (; ga, Ulaidh or ''Cúige Uladh'' ; sco, label=Ulster Scots dialects, Ulster Scots, Ulstèr or ''Ulster'') is one of the four traditional Irish provinces of Ireland, provinces, in the north of Ireland. It is made up of nine Counties ...

Ulster
of South Africa". Prior to the referendum, representatives of Southern Rhodesia visited Cape Town where the Prime Minister of South Africa,
Jan Smuts Field Marshal Field marshal (or field-marshal, abbreviated as FM) is the most senior military rank, ordinarily senior to the general officer ranks. Usually it is the highest rank in an army and as such few persons are appointed to it. It ...
, eventually offered terms he considered reasonable and which the United Kingdom government found acceptable. Although opinion among the United Kingdom government, the South African government and the British South Africa Company favoured the union option (and none tried to interfere in the referendum), when the referendum was held the results saw 59.4% in favour of responsible government for a separate colony and 40.6% in favour of joining the Union of South Africa.


Union of South Africa and South West Africa


Background

The inhospitable coast of what is now the
Republic of Namibia Namibia (, ), officially the Republic of Namibia, is a country in Southern Africa Southern Africa is the southernmost region of the African continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identified by conve ...
remained uncolonised up until the end of the 19th century. From 1874, the leaders of several indigenous peoples, notably
Maharero
Maharero
of the
Herero Herero may refer to: * Herero people, a people belonging to the Bantu group, with about 240,000 members alive today * Herero language, a language of the Bantu family (Niger-Congo group) * Herero chat, a species of bird in the family Muscicapidae * ...
nation, approached the
Cape Parliament The Parliament of the Cape of Good Hope functioned as the legislature of the Cape Colony The Cape Colony ( nl, Kaapkolonie), also known as the Cape of Good Hope, was a British Empire, British colony in present-day South Africa named after ...
to the south. Anticipating invasion by a European power and already suffering Portuguese encroachment from the north and Afrikaner encroachment from the south, these leaders approached the
Cape Colony The Cape Colony ( nl, Kaapkolonie), also known as the Cape of Good Hope, was a British British may refer to: Peoples, culture, and language * British people, nationals or natives of the United Kingdom, British Overseas Territories, and Cro ...
government to discuss the possibility of accession and the political representation it would entail. Accession to the Cape Colony, a self-governing state with a system of multi-racial franchise and legal protection for traditional land rights, was at the time considered marginally preferable to annexation by either the
Kingdom of Portugal The Kingdom of Portugal ( la, Regnum Portugalliae, pt, Reino de Portugal) was a monarchy A monarchy is a form of government in which a person, the monarch A monarch is a head of stateWebster's II New College DictionarMonarch Hou ...
or the
German Empire The German Empire or the Imperial State of Germany,, officially '.Herbert Tuttle Herbert Tuttle (1846–1894) was an American historian. Biography Herbert Tuttle was born in Bennington, Vermont Bennington is a New England town, town ...
. In response, the
Cape Parliament The Parliament of the Cape of Good Hope functioned as the legislature of the Cape Colony The Cape Colony ( nl, Kaapkolonie), also known as the Cape of Good Hope, was a British Empire, British colony in present-day South Africa named after ...
appointed a special Commission under William Palgrave, to travel to the territory between the
Orange Orange most often refers to: *Orange (colour), occurs between red and yellow in the visible spectrum *Orange (fruit), the fruit of the tree species '' Citrus'' × ''sinensis'' ** Orange blossom, its fragrant flower *Some other citrus or citrus-li ...
and Cunene rivers and to confer with these leaders regarding accession to the Cape. In the negotiations with the Palgrave Commission, some indigenous nations such as the Damara (people), Damara and the Herero responded positively (October 1876), other reactions were mixed. Discussions regarding the magisterial structure for the area's political integration into the Cape dragged on until, from 1876, it was blocked by Britain. Britain relented, insofar as allowing the Cape to incorporate Walvis Bay as an exclave, which was brought under the magisterial district of
Cape Town Cape Town (Afrikaans: Kaapstad ; Xhosa language, Xhosa: ''iKapa;'') is the second-most populous city in South Africa, after Johannesburg, and also the legislative Capital city, capital of South Africa. Colloquially named the Mother City, it is ...

Cape Town
, but when the Germans established a protectorate over the area in 1884, South West Africa was predominantly autonomous. Thereafter,
South West Africa South West Africa ( af, Suidwes-Afrika; german: Südwestafrika; nl, Zuidwest-Afrika) was the name for modern-day Namibia Namibia (, ), officially the Republic of Namibia, is a country in Southern Africa Southern Africa is the south ...
became a German colonial empire, German colony, except for Walvis Bay and the Penguin Islands, Offshore Islands which remained part of the Cape, outside of German control.


South African occupation

Following the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, the Union of South Africa occupied and annexed the German colony of German South West Africa. With the establishment of the
League of Nations The League of Nations (french: Société des Nations ), was the first worldwide intergovernmental organisation An intergovernmental organization (IGO) is an organization composed primarily of sovereign states (referred to as ''member state ...
and cessation of the war, South Africa obtained a Class C mandate, Class C Mandate to administer South West Africa "under the laws of the mandatory (South Africa) as integral portions of its territory". Subsequently, the Union of South Africa generally regarded South West Africa as a fifth province, although this was never an official status. With the creation of the United Nations, the Union applied for the incorporation of South West Africa, but its application was rejected by the U.N., which invited South Africa to prepare a Trusteeship (United Nations), Trusteeship agreement instead. This invitation was in turn rejected by the Union, which subsequently did not modify the administration of South West Africa and continued to adhere to the original mandate. This caused a complex set of legal wranglings that were not finalised when the Union was replaced with the Republic of South Africa. In 1949, the Union passed a law bringing South West Africa into closer association with it including giving South West Africa representation in the South African parliament. Walvis Bay, which is now in
Namibia Namibia (, ), officially the Republic of Namibia, is a country in Southern Africa Southern Africa is the south South is one of the cardinal directions or compass points. South is the opposite of north and is perpendicular to the east a ...

Namibia
, was originally a part of the Union of South Africa as an Enclave and exclave, exclave as it was a part of the Cape Colony at the time of Unification. In 1921 Walvis Bay was integrated with the Class C Mandate over South West Africa for the rest of the Union's duration and for part of the republican era.


Statute of Westminster

The Statute of Westminster 1931, Statute of Westminster passed by the British Parliament in December 1931, which repealed the Colonial Laws Validity Act and implemented the Balfour Declaration 1926, had a profound impact on the constitutional structure and status of the Union. The most notable effect was that the South African Parliament was released from many restrictions concerning the handling of the so-called "native question". However, the repeal was not sufficient to enable the South African Parliament to ignore the entrenched clauses of its constitution (the South Africa Act) which led to the coloured-vote constitutional crisis of the 1950s wherein the right of coloureds to vote in the main South African Parliament was removed and replaced with a separate, segregated, and largely powerless assembly.


Military

The military of the Union of South Africa was the Union Defence Force (South Africa), Union Defence Force (UDF) until 1957, when it became the South African Defence Force.


Flag/Coat of arms

Red Ensign of South Africa (1910–1912).svg, Flag (1910–1912) Red Ensign of South Africa (1912–1951).svg, Flag (1912–1928) Flag of South Africa (1928–1994).svg, Flag (1928–1994) Coat of arms of South Africa (1910–1930).svg, Coat of arms (1910–1930) Coat of arms of South Africa (1930–1932).svg, Coat of arms (1930–1932) Coat of arms of South Africa (1932–2000).svg, Coat of arms (1932–2000)


See also

*Governor-General of the Union of South Africa *Swaziland, kingdom which resisted British attempts at incorporation into the Union of South Africa. * Lesotho, a kingdom lying entirely within the borders of the Union of South Africa that likewise to Swaziland, resisted similar such attempts.


Notes


References


Bibliography

* Beck, Roger B. ''The History of South Africa'' (Greenwood, 2000). * Davenport, Thomas, and Christopher Saunders. ''South Africa: A modern history'' (Springer, 2000). * Eze, M. ''Intellectual history in contemporary South Africa'' (Springer, 2016). * * Ross, Robert. ''A Concise History of South Africa'' (2009) * Thompson, Leonard, and Lynn Berat. ''A History of South Africa'' (4th ed. 2014) * Thompson, Leonard. ''The Unification of South Africa 1902 – 1910'' (Oxford UP, 1960). * Welsh, Frank. ''A History of South Africa'' (2000).


External links

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