Anglo-American Culture, Chapter Seven

Chapter Seven, Cecil Rhodes and Imperialism

 

 

Pre-reading vocabulary and phrases:

Fiefdom:

Mining Claim:

Conventional Wisdom

Stage a Coup:

 

“Why should we not form a secret society with but one object, the furtherance of the British Empire and the bringing of the whole world under British rule, for the recovery of the United States, for making the Anglo Saxon race but one Empire? What a dream, but yet it is probably, it is possible.”

 

Cecil Rhodes wrote this in his “Confession of Faith” when he was 23. While he was not able to take over the entire world, he did make the whole of Southern Africa into his personal fiefdom, filling it with Union Jacks (the British flag) and white, British settlers.

 

It was because of his vast wealth Rhodes was able to advance the British Empire so much. He got rich through diamond mining and entrepreneurship. Rhodes had taken over his brother Herbert’s three diamond mining claims in Kimberly when he was 17 years old. He was an outstanding businessman and in 1872, when other miners thought all the diamonds had run out, Rhodes purchased as many claims as he could in the Kimberly mines. Such bold decisions were to become his hallmark. He was not frightened to ignore conventional wisdom and gamble with the future. His gamble paid off.

 

Rhodes’ mines grew stronger and richer and more profitable and in 1888, through a combination of persuasion, bullying and good business sense, he combined with all the other surviving mines to create Rhodes De Beers Consolidated Mines. It was the leading diamond company in the world, owning all the South African mines and thus 90% of global diamond production. Rhodes also had major successes in gold mining in southern Africa.

 

Such wealth was the means to a glorious end for Rhodes. In 1881, he became a member of the Cape Parliament. Rhodes had stated “Africa is still lying ready for us. It is our duty to take it.” By 1890, he was Prime Minister of Cape Colony and his ambitions for the White English rule of southern Africa had moved towards Zambesia. Rhodes’ British South Africa Company successfully cheated a local African King, Lobengula, out of his land and got the rights to mines and farms in the rich Mashonaland area. Rhodes had finished crushing his opposition by 1896 and the newly conquered territory was renamed Rhodesia in his honor. Rhodes added that land to the British Empire.

 

Rhodes’ only remaining opposition, indeed the only thing standing in the way of his dream to claim all of Southern Africa for Britain, was from the Boer (mostly Dutch) Republic of Transvaal. The Boers had discovered the vast gold fields of the Witwatersrand in Transvaal and this made them increasingly wealthy and powerful. Rhodes’ answer to this problem was to stage a coup in which Rhodesian and Bechuanaland police would enter Transvaal and support an ongoing revolt in the South African city of Johannesburg. This coup, called the Jameson Raid, was a disaster. The Boers easily defeated the rebels and captured Rhodes’ secret agents. This humiliated Rhodes so much he was forced to withdraw from the public, although his botched war would set in motion events leading to the Boer War of 1899.

 

Rhodes’ death led to prolonged mourning. He was ruthless, amoral and greedy and yet he had also followed his plan “to make the world English.” He had added Northern and Southern Rhodesia to the English Empire and he was a truly useful person for expanding and protecting British influence in Southern Africa

 

 

 

 

 

1877:
Cecil Rhodes,
“Confession of Faith”

It often strikes a man to inquire what is the chief good in life; to one the thought comes that it is a happy marriage, to another great wealth, and as each seizes on his idea, for that he more or less works for the rest of his existence. To myself thinking over the same question the wish came to render myself useful to my country.

People often wonder what makes a good life. Some people decide it is a happy marriage, some decide it is wealth. Regardless, he will work the rest of his life to achieve this goal. I decided the best goal was to become useful to my country.

I then asked myself how could I and after reviewing the various methods I have felt that at the present day we are actually limiting our children and perhaps bringing into the world half the human beings we might owing to the lack of country for them to inhabit that if we had retained America there would at this moment be millions more of English living.

When I asked myself how I could be most useful to my country, I decided that we English did not have enough land, that we were not sufficiently numerous. If we had America, for example, there would be millions more Englishmen living.

I contend that we are the finest race in the world and that the more of the world we inhabit the better it is for the human race. Just fancy those parts that are at present inhabited by the most despicable specimens of human beings what an alteration there would be if they were brought under Anglo-Saxon influence, look again at the extra employment a new country added to our dominions gives.

I believe that white Englishmen are the finest race in the world. If more of the world was inhabited by white Englishmen, it would be far better for humans in general. Imagine how much better it would be if we took countries from lesser races and ruled them with white Englishmen. How much better will countries become when we control them?

I contend that every acre added to our territory means in the future birth to some more of the English race who otherwise would not be brought into existence. Added to this the absorption of the greater portion of the world under our rule simply means the end of all wars, at this moment had we not lost America I believe we could have stopped the Russian-Turkish war by merely refusing money and supplies.

Every acre of land we control means we have space for more white Englishmen. Further, if white Englishmen control the entire world, it would be the end of all war. For example, if we had not lost America, I believe we could have stopped the Russian-Turkish war by merely refusing money and supplies.

Having these ideas what scheme could we think of to forward this object. I look into history and I read the story of the Jesuits I see what they were able to do in a bad cause and I might say under bad leaders.

We could have so much power if we organized. Even the Jesuits (a catholic sect) were able to control large areas with their organization – and they had bad leadership.

At the present day I become a member of the Masonic order I see the wealth and power they possess the influence they hold and I think over their ceremonies and I wonder that a large body of men can devote themselves to what at times appear the most ridiculous and absurd rites without an object and without an end.

I look at a group like the Masons (a secret social club) and I see their wealth and power. They could accomplish so much if only they had a singular goal.

The idea gleaming and dancing before ones eyes like a will-of-the-wisp at last frames itself into a plan. Why should we not form a secret society with but one object the furtherance of the British Empire and the bringing of the whole uncivilised world under British rule for the recovery of the United States for the making the Anglo-Saxon race but one Empire. What a dream, but yet it is probable, it is possible.

Here’s my great idea, why don’t we make a secret society that does nothing but expand the British Empire? Why don’t we try to bring the whole uncivilized world under the control of Britain and re-conquer America?

I once heard it argued by a fellow in my own college, I am sorry to own it by an Englishman, that it was good thing for us that we have lost the United States. There are some subjects on which there can be no arguments, and to an Englishman this is one of them, but even from an American’s point of view, just picture what they have lost, look at their government, are not the frauds that yearly come before the public view a disgrace to any country and especially their’s which is the finest in the world. Would they have occurred had they remained under English rule great as they have become how infinitely greater they would have been with the softening and elevating influences of English rule, think of those countless 000’s of Englishmen that during the last 100 years would have crossed the Atlantic and settled and populated the United States.

Imagine how much better American would be if they had the civilizing influence of Britain. How much stronger their country would be if there had been more Englishmen taming their savage impulses and populating their country.

Would they have not made without any prejudice a finer country of it than the low class Irish and German emigrants?

Wouldn’t the Americans be healthier and stronger without the inferior Irish and German immigrants polluting their nation with the blood of lesser races?

All this we have lost and that country loses owing to whom? Owing to two or three ignorant pig-headed statesmen of the last century, at their door lies the blame. Do you ever feel mad? do you ever feel murderous. I think I do with those men.

It is just because of one or two stupid politicians that America is not currently a part of Britain. Doesn’t this make you mad? Don’t you want to just kill somebody? I do when I think of these stupid politicians.

I bring facts to prove my assertion. Does an English father when his sons wish to emigrate ever think of suggesting emigration to a country under another flag, never—it would seem a disgrace to suggest such a thing I think that we all think that poverty is better under our own flag than wealth under a foreign one.

No good English father would ever want his son to emigrate to a country not controlled by Britain. That would be horrible, it is better to be poor under the British flag than rich under a foreign flag.

Put your mind into another train of thought. Fancy Australia discovered and colonized under the French flag, what would it mean merely several millions of English unborn that at present exist we learn from the past and to form our future. We learn from having lost to cling to what we possess. We know the size of the world we know the total extent.

Think of Australia (at that time an English colony). If the French had colonized Australia, there would be several million fewer white Englishmen in the world, and those people are our future.

Africa is still lying ready for us it is our duty to take it. It is our duty to seize every opportunity of acquiring more territory and we should keep this one idea steadily before our eyes that more territory simply means more of the Anglo-Saxon race more of the best the most human, most honorable race the world possesses.

Africa is still empty, though. It is open for us to take. It is not just an opportunity, it is our duty to take every piece of land that we can take because that means we can have more white Englishmen. Since white Englishmen are the best race in the world, having more of them means the entire world becomes more human and more honorable.

Study Questions:

How does Rhodes’ imperialism differ from Japanese imperialism in WW2? How is it the same?

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What is the finest race in the world? Would the world be better if more people from this race existed?

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How should rich countries like Britain treat poor countries like Afghanistan or Vietnam?

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What problems do you think Rhodes caused?

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Who was Rhodes most similar to, the Romans, William Penn, William the Conqueror or Andrew Jackson? Why?

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Is it better for you to be poor in Korea or rich in a foreign country? Explain your reasoning.

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