The Boer War: Propaganda

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How propaganda was used to glorify the Empire

Role of the press:

  • During the Boer War, by the end of the 19th century, there had been a press revolution
  • As technology increased, the costs of production of newspapers reduced while real wages were rising - newspapers became much more affordable
  • Improved technology also meant that news from South Africa got to Britain much faster, particularly the development of telegraphy, which meant much faster news
  • The mid 19th century saw the expansion of press, and the development of the 'penny daily'. By 1900, there were already 150 daily papers in Britain
  • Most of the press coverage of the Boer war was very patriotic and spported the empire enthusiastically. There was no pro-Boer newspaper in London until 1901
  • This meant that, as the press expanded, more people were being exposed to and influenced by the imperialistic views and so this acted as pro-Empire propaganda.
  • New technology may also have influenced people's views - the development of the camera meant that photos could be taken to show the army fighting effectively for the Empire, raising patriotism
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How propaganda was used to glorify the Empire

The Times:

  • steadily supported the Boer war and imperialism
  • Had 20 war corresondents in South Africa at one point
  • Editor Angus Hamilton was sacked for being too sympathetic towards the Boers
  • Dismissed reports of civilian deaths

The Daily Mail:

  • Launched in 1896 by Alfred Harmsworth
  • Fiercely imperialist - overwhelmingly in favour of Boer conflict
  • Sold at halfpenny while other papers were a penny
  • Very popular newspaper - circulation of 534,000 in 1899, and reached 1m - a world record
  • Huge political influence over British public - acted as very pro-Empire propaganda

Khaki Fever

  • other forms of propaganda were also used to glorify Empire: Jingoistic songs acted as propaganda e.g. Kipling's Absent Minded Begger put to music made over £25,000 for soldiers' families. 
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How propaganda was used to oppose the Empire

Role of the Press:

  • Although the press seems to have mostly been dominated by imperialistic newspapers during the time, there were still a number of Liberal papers, acting as propaganda to oppose the idea of Empire
  • When was broke out there were at least 7 different Liberal newspapers in London
  • These included the Daily Chronical, the Daily News, the Morning Leader, the Star, the Echo etc 
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How propaganda was used to oppose the Empire

Manchester Guardian:

  • Launched in 1821 - existed for years before the Boer War
  • An example of the strong regional press that existed outside London
  • Its most famous editor, C.P.Scott, from 1872, made the newspaper newly recognised - under Scott the paper strongly opposed the Second Boer War

Daily News:

  • This was brought out in 1901 by George Cadbury who was a quaker. As a pacifist, Cadbury opposed the Boer War, and the Daily News reflected this
  • When it was brought out in a coup organised by Liberal Lloyd George, it became very anti-war and anti-Empire
  • This paper was claimed to be 'the recognised organ of the Liberal Party' by press directories
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How propaganda was used to oppose the Empire

Daily Telegraph:

  • The Daily Telegraph, before the appearance of the Daily Mail had the largest circulation in Brtiain
  • It had a broader and more popular appeal than older papers, so had very many readers
  • During the Boer War, the paper often criticised the War Office, exposed stupid generals and talked about the burning of Boer farms and concentration camps as much as possible

Liberal Leaders:

  • David Lloyd George had become the most famous pro-Boer Liberal - he had a very successful anti-war meeting in Bristol, 1902
  • Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman talked about the 'methods of barbarism' used in the Boer War in one of his speeches
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Other Media:

  • Stories and poems of soldiers and non-combatants during the Boer War acted as anti-war propaganda
  • Sense of unease in soldiers - the Boers embodied religious and moral ideas and values to which many subscribed. They did not wish to destroy their way of life
  • Pro-Boer media presented Empire as very negative
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How propaganda was used to glorify the Empire

Winston Churchill:

  • Churchill was sent out to South Affrica at the age of 24 as a war correspondent for the Morning Post
  • As an ardent supporter of British military action against the Boers and the British Empire overall, his reports reflected this, acting as propaganda promoting the imperialist case of the war 
  • Churchill's writings showed the strength of the Boer enemy, whih effectively boosted the public perception of the British soldiers - although their enemy was strong, the British Army would still triumph as the British was a mighty empire
  • His reports were always pro-empire and implied that Britain would continue to have an imperial role for years to come, as the future of the Empire remained strong 
  • As his reports appealed very much to the public, by creating a story of war, encouraging readers to become emmersed in the action, they acted as a very effective propagandic tool to glorify the Empire.
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