Champion of Empire
Nobody ever loses the stampwhich the age of
youthful impressions has imposed on him.
—OTTO VON BISMARCK
In the twilight of the Victorian era, the British imperial government found itself engaged in a bloody struggle against insurgents in South Africa. In the Boer War, as the effort to put down the insurgency came to be known, settler farmers of German-Dutch ancestry battled British troops to a standoff, only to have the full force of the empire brought down on them in the spring of 1902. British forces did what was necessary to gain victory, including burning villages, herding people into concentration camps, and committing other forms of ruthlessness. The victory won the empire few admirers internationally, but one of those few was a boy in Middletown, Connecticut, Dean Gooderham Acheson, son of the localEpiscopalpriest. The boy had nothing but sympathy for the British and their empire, as he fondly recalled years later.
The nine-year-old Acheson's espousal of the British cause in the Boer War earned him the scorn of “erstwhile friends” in largely Irish Catholic Middletown. “Our appealing Tommies, Kipling's absent-minded beggars, ” Acheson recalled, were seen in pro-Boer Middletown as “bullies bent on crushing the sacred flame of liberty, as in Ireland, and starving women and children in `concentration' camps.” 1. This ill treatment at the hands of neighbors shattered Acheson's “innocent and eclectic enjoyment____________________