The Fall of Kruger's Republic

By J. S. Marais | Go to book overview

CHAPTER. 1
GOLD AND GOVERNMENT IN THE TRANSVAAL

I

THE historian of the fall of the South African Republic must take as his starting-point the great gold discoveries of the 1880's in that state. They took place first at Barberton and then along the Witwatersrand--a line of bleak ridges, cool and salubrious, constituting almost the highest portion of the South African highveld. The apparently inexhaustible Witwatersrand soon eclipsed Barberton, and people came in their thousands to swell the population of Johannesburg, its metropolis, and the smaller towns that grew up along the line of the ridges and beyond them as the mines extended eastwards. In July 1896, ten years after the foundation of Johannesburg, its sanitary board took a census of the inhabitants living within a three-mile radius of the centre of the town--the only proper census taken in the Transvaal during republican times.2 It gave a White population of 50,907, of whom 6,205 were Transvaalers and the rest aliens. Of the latter the great bulk came from the neighbouring South African states and the United Kingdom, the United Kingdom contributing 16,265, the Cape Colony 15,162, and Natal 1,242. The remainder of the Uitlander population consisted of 3,335 Russian Jews,3 2,262 Germans, 992 Australasians, 819 Netherlanders, 754 Americans, 402 Frenchmen, and some others. The rest of the population comprised 42,533 Natives (Bantu), 4,807 Asiatics (mainly Indians), 952 Cape Malays, and 2,879 persons of mixed race (mainly Cape Coloured).

In the absence of reliable data it was impossible to state the number of Boers (including Boer immigrants from the Orange Free State)

____________________
1
Topics dealt with in this and subsequent chapters are also discussed in J. P. Fitzpatrick's book The Transvaal from Within. Fitzpatrick had been a resident in Johannesburg since 1892, but his book is inaccurate and written in a partisan spirit.
2
President Kruger gave a biblical reason for his objection to 'numbering the people'. He probably had reasons of state too. See Kotze, ii. 126 and below, p. 8.
3
In June, 1899 the chief rabbi put the number of Russian Jews in Johannesburg at some 7,000. African (South), 600, p. 204.

-1-

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