The Boer War



  • The Boers were Dutch settlers in South Africa, who lived in THe Orange Free State and The Transvaal. 
  • They had left the British Cape COlony in 1836 after the abolition of slavery in the British Empire. 
  • The foreign policy of the republics was conducted by Westminster, but after the defeat of the Zulus in 1879, the Boers became more independant. 
  • In the First Boer War (1880-81) the British were defeated and the discovery of gold in the republics made them even more valuable. 
  • In 1895 the Jameson Raid attempted to created a pro_british uprising, but was a failure. It lead to Kruger getting support from Kaiser Wilhelm II. 
  • War broke out in 1899, after a dozen years of unrest between the Boers and the gold-searching Uitlanders. 
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The War

  • The Boer War began in 1899, expected to get an early and easy victory. Army of 450m000 was recruited to deal with the Boer forces of about 50,000. 
  • In the first year the British suggered a series of heavy defeats. The British commander, Roberts, unable to deal with Boer tactics. 
  • The Boers were flexible and fast moving, and moved much more easier over vast distances. The only successes were the relief of Ladysmith and Mafeking. 
  • Thousands of men lost to relieve this sieges, series of victories won by the Boers. 
  • The tide began to turn at the end 0f 1900, string of British victories. 
  • Khaki election (1900) resulted in a Conservative victory. It appeared the war had been won.
  • The Boers now introduced guerrilla tactics.
  • Kitchener, the commander from November 1900, adopted different tactics, they used blockhouses to strangle the Boers and moved 10,000s into concentration camps, which was unpopular. 
  • Adopted a 'scorched-earth' policy to restrict Boer movements. 
  • The Boers surrendered in May 1902. 
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Problems raised by the War

  • British casualties were heavy (6%). Inadequacy of the army and the unhealthy state of many recruits, 37% failed medical tests. 
  • Financial cost was far greater than anticipated. 
  • National morale damaged. Britian had only just managed to defeat an army made up largely of farmers. Debate over National Efficiency. 
  • Conduct of the war was condemned in 1904 by the Committee of Imperial Defence. 
  • Tactics were criticised abroad and prompted changed in foreign policy (Anglo-Japanese Alliance of 1902 and the Entente Cordiale in 1904). 
  • The majority of soldiers were volunteers who enlisted for the duration. The experience of war convinced the government changed was crucial. Training and technology was essential. 
  • The Regular Army organised into a continentel Expeditionary Force. All other units united into a hom-defence Territorial Force. 
  • Regular Army would be a highly trained force capable of reacting quickly in emergency. 
  • A new Territorial Force of 14 infantry divisions, 14 cavalry brigades and a large number of support units, was created. 
  • Haig, Director of War Stuidies at the Wart Office, produced a completely new Training Manual.
  • In August 1914, Haldane's BEF halted the German advance at Mons. 
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The Press in Britain

  • At first, support for the War was widespread in Britain. It did not involve European entanglements. 
  • Boer war was imperial, defending British interests in a key area to the empire. 
  • Public support for the Empire was at its height, appeals for volunteers met rapid response. 
  • Support was enhanced by reports for Winston Churchill. In 1899, Churchill stood as conservative dandidate in the by-election (was defeated).
  • When war broke out in South Africa, Churchill was appointed as war correspondent for the 'Morning Chronicle' and sailed with the British Forces. 
  • He accompanied troops to the front-line, sent reports back to Britain. Strong imperialist. 
  • He was imprisoned as a POW but escaped, further emphasising his reports. 
  • Press reported the defences of Ladysmith and Mafeking, and there was a huge outburst of public support when they were relieved. Mafeking a popular term for mass rejoicing.  
  • Support began to wane after 1900 as the war dragged on. January 1901 criticisms began as Emily Hobhouse visited concentration camps in the Orange Free State. 
  • Lloyd George took up this issue and attacked the government. 
  • Government set up the Fawcett Commission to investigate and they spent august to december 1901 in Africa. All members were women. 
  • Report was highly critical and demanded better rations and medical treatment, 27,000 Boers died. 
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Support for and questioning Britain's imperial rol

  • Chamberlain saw the Empire as source of raw materials and market for domestic goods. 
  • Supported Rhodes attempts to control Central Africa and Milner's confrontational policy.
  • In 1903, proposed duties on many imports to counter competition from cheaper foreign goods. The Empire would have been given preferential treatment. 
  • Resigned in september 1903 to campaign for Imperial Preference. Split the Conservative Part and gave the Liberals a major advantage. 
  • Lloys Geord represented the pro-Boer wing of the Liberal Party, whcih opposed the extension of Empire. 
  • He attacked Chamberlain for the concentration camps (all 64) and the use of 'coolie labour' which was Chinese labourers brought to South Africa. 
  • There were disagreements with the Liberal Party over imperialism. 
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Liberal Imperialism

  • Went against the pro-Boer Lloyd George. 
  • The pro-Boers and the Liberal Imperialists were roughly even in size (around 60).
  • Limps saw themselves as the new order of the Liberal Party, discarding the thought that war and imperialism were morally wrong. 
  • Saw imperialism as a unifying cry but also as an economic and social necessity. 
  • The two factions eventually fought through the press (pro-Boer Dailoy News and the Limp Daily Chronicle).
  • Initially the pro-Boers held the sway because concentration camps were reported. 
  • Limps hit back in the end of 1901. 
  • The end of the war in 1902 joined the two sides together again. 
  • Imperialism was submerged and Asquith, Haldane and Grey all joined the newly elected gvt.
  • Rosebery left to regret errors that made Liberal Imperialism irrelevant.
  • Liberals adopted a policy of moderate devolution in India, allowing the Indians a role in government for the first time. 
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National Efficiency

  • Showed poor health of recruits. 37% of recruits refused entry to the army on fitness. 
  • Some city centres the number who failed the medical reached 90%. Results kept during war.
  • 1906: Education Act, local authorities could provide free school meals for children. 
  • Despite lack of funds, by 1914, provided more than 14 million school meals for 158,000 children. Included holidays and saturdays. 
  • 1907:Education Act, provided an annual inspection for all elementary school children in an effort to counteract diseases (TB).
  • Medical department established in the Board of Education. 
  • 1908: Children and Young Persons acat, borstals and juvenile courts introduced, buying of alcohol and tobacco by childrren banned and parents became legally responsible for children's welfare for the first time.
  • Medical inspections-Working class children were as much as 8cm shorter than middle class. 
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Significance of New Liberalism

  • Booth and Rowntree showed that main cause of poverty was low pay and profligacy. Poor could not help themselves (1/3 of urban population).
  • Poor Law was main form of help. In 1900 140,000 people receiving poor relief in workhouses and 840,000 receiving outdoor relief.
  • Publication of the Royal Commission on the Poor Law in 1909 meant that the issue of poverty was high profile. 
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Social Reforms (1908-1914)

  • 1908: Old Age Pensions (first paid 1909): 25p per week to single people over 70 and 37.5p to married couples. Income could not exceed £31, and those earning between £21 and £31 were on a decreasing sliding scale. 
  • 1908: 8.5 hour working day for minders. 
  • 1909: Trade Boards, set up minimum pay levels in occupations where there was no trade union. Further set up in 1913.
  • 1910: Labour Exchanges set up to assist unemployed to find about job vacancies. 410 Labour Exchanes set up. At first they were greeted with enthusiasms, but there were excessive queues and bureaucracy. 
  • 1911: National Insurance Act (1), provided 50p a week to a person who was off work due to illness. This was for 26 weeks. There were free medicines and medical treatment for the insured person. 
  • This was for all workers earning up to £160 per year and was funded by payments from the worker-4d, employer-3d, and the state, 2d.
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Social Reforms (1908-1914) Continued

  • 1912: National Insurance Act (2), was for those in industries with high risk of unemployment e.g. shipbuilding, construction and engineering. 
  • Covered 2.5 million workers, unemployed workers allowed 35p per week for 15 weeks. 
  • 1911: Shops Act, granted shop workers half a day's holiday per week. 
  • 1912 Miner's Minimum Wage Act, on a strict basis. 
  • 1912: School clinics set up to provide treatment after medical inspections. 
  • 1913: Trade Unon Act, rade unions could make political contribution from members subscription unless the members refused permission. 
  • Only way that Labour MPs could be provided with a salary before the Parliament Act of 1911. 
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Revolutionary or not?

  • Government accepted responsibility for the well-being of the people of Britain. 
  • Issues such as poverty, unemployment, the old, the sick and the young had been tackled. Driving force of Llyod George and Churchill had moved Liberalism forward. 
  • Many now regard these social reforms as the beginnings of what became the welfare. 
  • Health insurance legislation covered 13 million by 1914.
  • By 1914, 1 million claiming the old age pension, the cost was £12 million. 
  • However, Old Age Pensions only paid at the age of 70, life expectancy was 47.
  • Only lowest paid workers were covered by National Insurance, and it only included men. 
  • Benefits provided to sick workers higher than those who were unemployed. 
  • Ministry of Health only set up in 1919. Medical treatment offered only covered the worker and NOT his family. Hospital treatment was only provided for TB, the most dangerous disease at the time. The Poor Law and the workhouses were not abolished. When benefits ended in 26 weeks or 15 weeks, the worker had to go to the workhouse. The Poor Law remained until 1929. 
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