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The significance of Cecil Rhodes on the British Empire

It is true, Cecil Rhodes had an unquestionable impact on the British Empire and has become one of the most important figures in British Imperial history. The rapidity of his progress in South Africa is quite phenomenal; from the age of 37 he had become the Prime Minister of Cape Colony, and was part head of De Beers Consolidated, a diamond mining company which possessed a near monopoly of the global diamond market. However, this essay will claim that Rhodes as a businessman was not the main element in his imperial notoriety, prioritising NM Rothschild & Sons finance and subsequent corporate decisions over those made specifically by Rhodes. I will argue that Rhodes’ significance was mainly to the detriment of the British Empire, as his political blunders and capitalistic short-sightedness greatly tarnished public opinion towards Empire - nationally and internationally - and facilitated Britains losing independence in the Boer war of 1899. Rhodes’ methods were questionable to say the least, and his ability to strengthen Britain, whilst at the same time tarnish her long standing reputation as justified sovereign of her colonies was, impressive, to say the most. It has been said that Rhodes’ impeccable success as an imperialist can be greatly accredited to his success as a businessman. For it was his speculation in diamond and gold mining proper which facilitated his amass of wealth. Needless to say, the role of international financiers have been historically undermined, allowing Rhodes’ business acumen to be wholly exaggerated. John A. Hobson, writing in 1902 on the processes of imperialism, claimed that imperial enterprise was not carried on the shoulders of individual imperialists such as Rhodes, but rather international financiers such as the House of Rothschild. Hobson states:
Does anyone seriously suppose that a great war could be undertaken by any European State, or a great State loan subscribed, if the House of Rothschild and its connections set their face against it?... Every great political act involving the flow of capital… must receive the sanction and the practical aid of this little group of financial kings… they constitute… the gravest single factor in the economics of Imperialism… They have the largest definite stake in the business of Imperialism… Finance is the governor of the Imperial engine1

Hobson - writing at the peak of british imperialism - was to a great degree, correct. However it should be highlighted that Hobsons use of the term ‘financial kings’ did not denote the Rothschilds alone, but rather financing firms and financiers worldwide, J.P Morgan and John D. Rockerfeller in the United States being just a few of them. Then again Hobsons reference to the Rothschilds is an indictment to the family’s notoriety in world finance and politics, least of all in the intellectual sphere of economics. The relationship between Rhodes and Rothschild can be traced to a loan issued by Rothschild of £750,000 plus £250,000 in debentures in 1888, in order for De Beers to purchase several leading mining companies in the Kimberley mining district, at the time the richest area for diamond cultivation2. De Beers was seeking monopoly over diamond mining in the area; the only way to do this was through the acquisition of rival diamond mines, naturally this required capital. An extra £300,000 was forwarded by Rothschild to the company the same year, allowing De Beers to purchase shares in Kimberley Central, the only competing mining consolidate in Kimberley, and the main obstacle in the way of monopoly. In 1889 Kimberley Central - via the insistence of Rothschild to the managing
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John Atkinson Hobson, Imperialism, A Study (1902) Pg. 64 Gardner Frederick Williams, The Diamonds Mines of South Africa (1904)

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The significance of Cecil Rhodes on the British Empire

directors of the company3 - liquidated and was naturally swallowed up by De Beers, hence concluding the amalgamation process. It should be made clear that the capital issued by Rothschild to Rhodes and De Beers was of an informal, unsecured nature; in that loans issued by Rothschild were not secured by the assets of De Beers company or Rhodes. Therefore no official primary documentation exists concerning the loan(s) mentioned above, partly a result the of the nature of the loan and partly because Lord Rothschild, in his will wished all his personal papers be destroyed4, hence any primary material which may have officiated the loan(s) did not survive. However the loan(s) was unquestionably forwarded by Rothschild, historically this is a matter-of-fact, as it has been corroborated by many historians. The monetary significance of these loans is mirrored by the increase in dividends paid out by De Beers; dividends paid in 1889 were of a trivial £188,329, whereas the amounts paid in 1901 rose substantially to an impressive £1,579,5825. Rothschild’s role as a facilitator of the successful Kimberley amalgamation process is clearly evident. ‘Amalgamation’, as a favourable economic endeavour can be accredited to Rothschild too. An agent of Rothschild, Alber Gansl wrote to him in 1882 on the prospects of diamond mining in Kimberley, claiming that ‘amalgamation’ or consolidation was the best way to ensure investment would be of a profitable enterprise6. Rothschild’s importance was not that of a mere fiscal nature; it should not be forgotten that Rothschild was head of one of the most successful financing firms in the world, and having invested over a million pounds in Rhodes’ company, Rothschild would not have been hesitant to push forward financial advice in order to ensure corporate success. It can easily be said that without the financial assistance of Rothschild, the amalgamation process would in all likelihood not have occurred; or if it had, Kimberley Central would have become the company with a monopolistic stronghold on diamond mining in the area, leaving Rhodes out of the picture. However Rothschild business with Rhodes did not end at consolidation of mines in Kimberley. A promising article by Hamilton Smith of the Exploration Company7 (initially a Rothschild founded and funded company)8 outlined the prevalence of gold in the Witwatersrand area. Having already set up business with Rhodes and gold mining in the Witwatersrand, Rothschild issued the South African Republic a £2.5 million government bond for the construction of ‘Railways… and other Public Works within the state’9. However the loan was primarily for the construction of railways, specifically the Delagoa-Railway ‘as a means to facilitate deep-level mining in the Transvaal’10. Rhodes was no stranger to the loan and was indeed in support of it, affirming his expansionist intentions to Rothschild in 1889:
If we leave matters now quietly to work, with the development of gold in Transvaal,

Colin Newbury, Technology, Capital and Consolidation (1987) Pg. 37 As affirmed by John Cavernelis-Frost, head archivist at the Rothschild Archives in London 5 Hedley A. Chilvers, The Story of De Beers (1939) Pg. 322 Extracted from official company papers dated 1889-1901 6 Letter from Albert Gansl to Rothschild, dated 1882, Rothschild Archive London, XI/38/261-65 7 Hamilton Smith, The Witwatersrand Gold-fields, The Times, Tuesday, January 17, 1893 8 http://www.rothschild.com/our_history/1880-1914/ 9 South African Republic Government Bond 1892, Rothschild Archives London, Contract box 000/73 (119-122) RFAM FD/5/96-7 10 Edward M. Kerby, Financing the Foe (2012) Pg. 27
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The significance of Cecil Rhodes on the British Empire

we shall gradually get a united S. Africa under the English flag11.

The loan in the eyes of Rhodes and Rothschild seemed like a profitable short-term investment, and it was. However, during the Anglo-Boer war of 1889, the railways (which were now owned by the South African Republic) proved advantageous to the Boer war effort providing a crucial military footing against the British12. The loan was significant as it vicariously became one of the prime causes surrounding the loss of independence for the British at the end of the war in 1902. Rothschild’s financial backing in both Rhodes’ De Beers company and his interests in the gold fields of the Transvaal were tantamount to his financial success as an imperialist. However it was not Cecil Rhodes who was portrayed as the ‘English Octopus’ in William H. Harveys 1894 pamphlet, but rather ‘Rothschild’, depicted as a menacing octopus with his tenticular clutches tightly grasping the Americas, Russia, Asia and most prominently South Africa, exclaiming ‘It feeds on nothing but Gold!’ 13 . Rhodes may have been an ardent believer in ‘Britain’ and ‘Britishness’, he may also have been an ardent imperialist, however his support for the British Empire was never expressed monetarily. In that, all the income Rhodes received, be it through De Beers or gold mining in general, was invested in himself and his company. What Rhodes did was subscribe to what can be termed ‘quasi-formal imperialism’, imperialism which constituted national flags and dotted lines in maps, respectively in the name of the Queen; but rarely any economic contribution to the land in which she resides. Rhodes contribution was of an ideological nature, a fervorous claim to British cultural superiority coupled with the belief that the white race is ‘the finest race in the world and that the more of the world [whites] inhabit the better it is for the human race’14. Rhodes was a highly respected man, Phillip Jourdan writes; ‘He was admired and respected by the whole of the British Empire, and enjoyed a reputation such as no other Colonial statesman had ever earned’15. Rhodes’ private secretary would have been with Rhodes constantly, therefore he would have witnessed first hand the impression Rhodes had on the people he met, making this source highly credible. However we should also be careful not to fully subscribe to Jourdan’s analysis of Rhodes as he was very fond of him and had worked with the man for a long time. The positive impact Cecil Rhodes had on the British public, stayed to a significant extent unscathed even after the fiasco that was the Jameson Raid; essentially a botched attempt at inciting an insurrection within the Uitlander settlers of the Transvaal. Rhodes partly planned and financially backed the raid. Rhodes recalls: ‘When I arrived in London, and saw the busmen and cabbies and other working men touch their hats to me in a friendly way, I knew I was all right and that the man in the street had forgiven me.’16 This goes to show the identification Britons had with popular imperialists of the time, most of all Rhodes. Bernard Porter may have been wrong when he claimed that ‘[The] British Empire… was not a ‘peoples’ empire’ and that ‘there is no evidence to support that the great majority of Britons supported the empire.’17
Letter from Rhodes to Rothschild, dated 1889, Rothschild Archives London, Contract box 000/73 (119-122) RFAM FD/5/96-7 12 Edward M. Kerby, Financing the Foe (2012) 13 William Hope Harvey, Coin’s Financial School (1894) Pg. 124 (See Appendix 1) 14 Cecil Rhodes, Confessions of Faith (1887) 15 Philip Jourdan, Cecil Rhodes His Private Life By His Private Secretary (1911) Pg. 29 16 Ibid Pg. 53 17 Bernard Porter, The Absent-Minded Imperialists (2004) Pg. 115
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The significance of Cecil Rhodes on the British Empire

At home Cecil Rhodes was praised, though not for his deeds; but for the idea of British superiority which he radiated. Internationally, however, such sympathies were not indulged. Stephen R. Tobin criticised the British appraisal of Rhodes after his death.18 Similarly a French newspaper titled L’Assiette au Beurre, depicted Cecil Rhodes’ legacy as a pile of bones19. Then again, L’Assiette au Beurre was an Anti-British Imperialist newspaper which possessed some anarchist tendencies. Regardless, the ironic cartoons produced by Jean Veber in 1901 for the newspaper rightly encapsulated the unruly treatment of the Boers during the second Anglo-Boer war of 1899. One cartoon depicted a British soldier forcefully kicking a Boer woman, the caption affirms: ‘I must gratefully and approvingly emphasize the proverbial chivalry of the English soldier… It is moving to witness the consideration and solicitude with which the Boer women are treated’20. Critics of the war attributed its causes to Rhodes and his lofty insistence on imperial expansion, and as a result Britain as an empire within and of itself suffered because of it. Negative opinions towards empire pervaded the minds of individuals within and without Britain. The Boer war was detrimental to the imperial public image, mostly on the account of Cecil Rhodes. Rhodes significance on the British Empire is exclusive to his blunders as an imperialist, the Jameson Raid and subsequent war with the Boers being some of the most revealing instances. In conclusion Cecil Rhodes short term significance did not lay in his contribution (or lack thereof) to the economics of Empire, for it should be remembered that the decisions taken by De Beers - and hence their subsequent success - were ‘corporate decisions, and not the sole responsibility of Cecil Rhodes’21 coupled with this, Rothschild finance was crucial to the company’s success, for without it amalgamation would not have occurred, and De Beers would not have turned out to be the success it was and still is today. In this sense Rhodes’ significance towards the Empire is scarce; his dealings with De Beers and ownership of gold mines in the Transvaal even more so, as they were privately owned companies working for their own financial interest and not for the interests of the British government. Rhodes was significant, but mainly to the detriment of the Empire. Rhodes’ support of Rothschild’s South Africa loan is an indictment to free-market matter-of-course insistence on short-term gain and inevitable long term loss. Rhodes became one of the primary instigators of the war of 1899 as well as one of the primary reasons for its loss. Cecil Rhodes’ ideas at the time were considered ‘visionary’22 however his ‘sagacity’ was of an archaic temperament even, I contend, for his time; proving to be profitable for him whilst at the same time quite unprofitable for his country, of which he loved so dear. Mark Twain put it best when he said:
I admire him, I frankly confess it; and when his time comes I shall buy a piece of the rope for a keepsake.23

Stephen R. Tobin, The Legacy of Cecil Rhodes (1902) L’Assiette au Beurre, June 28, 1902 (See Appendix 2) 20 L’Assiette au Beurre, 1901, Cartoons by Jean Veber (1868-1928) (See Appendix 3) 21 Colin Newbury, Technology, Capital and Consolidation (1987) Pg. 38 22 Lord Rosebery, as recalled by William Basil, Cecil Rhodes by William Basil (1921) Pg. 34 23 Mark Twain, Following the Equator (1897) Pg. 710
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Bibliography ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● William Basil, Cecil Rhodes - 1911 Catherine Radziwill, Cecil Rhodes: Man and Empire-Maker - 1918 Philip Jourdan, Cecil Rhodes, His Private Life, By His Private Secretary - 1910 Paul Kruger, The Memoirs of Paul Kruger - 1902 Niall Ferguson, The House of Rothschild, Volume II: The World's Banker - 2000 Colin Newbury, Technology, Capital and Consolidation - 1987 Hedley A. Chilvers, The Story of De Beers - 1939 John A. Hobson, Imperialism: A Study - 1902 Cecil Rhodes, Confessions of Faith - 1887 Letter from Albert Gansl to Rothschild, dated 1882, Rothschild Archive London, XI/38/261-65 South African Republic Government Bond 1892, Rothschild Archives London, Contract box 000/73 (119-122) RFAM FD/5/96-7 Letter from Rhodes to Rothschild, dated 1889, Rothschild Archives London, Contract box 000/73 (119-122) RFAM FD/5/96-7 Mark Twain, Following the Equator - 1897 L’Assiette au Beurre - June 28, 1902 L’Assiette au Beurre 1901, Imperialism Issue Edward M. Kerby, Financing the Foe - 2012 Stephen R. Tobin, The Legacy of Cecil Rhodes - 1902 William Hope Harvey, Coin’s Financial School - 1894 http://www.rothschild.com/our_history/1880-1914/ Hamilton Smith, The Witwatersrand Gold-fields - The Times, January 17, 1893 Gardner F. Williams, The Diamond Mines of South Africa - 1904

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...day. Being faced with our own mortality or that of a loved one, is a subject that’s very emotional, and some very difficult decisions will have to be made. But who should be making those decisions? The patient, families, the doctors? Should someone, who just received devastating news and is on an emotional roller coaster, make end of life decisions? How about the family members, who are so grief stricken and praying for a medical miracle, are wanting everything done no matter how bleak the outcome. What about the hospitals and doctors who know the cost associated with end of life care and realize that there is no real impact on curing or changing the outcome. They feel that resources should be spent on patients with better prognosis. In helping with some of these hard decisions the law makers in the state of Texas came up with the Texas Advance Directive Act. But the law has come under heavy criticism in recent years involving a few cases that received national attention. The Advance Directive Act passed into law in 1999 by then Gov. George W. Bush. With the passing of the act, Texas became the second state to pass regulation regarding end of life treatment.1 The law addresses and provides information on three different advance directives, the Directive to the Physician (living will), Medical Power of Attorney, and Out of Hospital DNR. A Directive to the Physician (living will), allows the patient to make their own wishes known about future medical treatments.......

Words: 1717 - Pages: 7

Free Essay

The End

...1. Write the numbers to be added in two horizontal lines, below each other, aligning the decimal points. If the number is a whole number (ie. no decimal), add a decimal point to the end of the number. Add zeroes to empty spaces on the right to line up the columns. Ads by Google Math Worksheets  Free Math Worksheets K-8 Math Practice www.thegreatmartinicompany.com 2. 2 Starting on the right, add the numbers in that column and put the answer directly under the column. If the answer is greater than 10, place the last number under the column and any remaining numbers above the column directly to the left (commonly referred to as "carry over"). 3. 3 Add all columns in the same manner as step 2, being careful to remember any numbers that carried over from the previous column. 4. 4 Place a decimal point in the answer directly below the decimal point in the numbers above. Counting from the decimal point to the left, put a comma after every third digit. Adding by Regrouping One of the wonderful things about addition is that the order doesn't matter --- assuming you're adding only positive numbers, of course! This flexibility allows you to rearrange your addition problems to suit yourself. Some examples: 27 + 19 can become (27 + 3) + 16 which then becomes 30 + 16 for a final answer of 46 54 + 38 can become (50 + 30) + (4 + 8) which then becomes 80 + 12 for a final answer of 92 125 + 16 can become 125 + 5 + 11 or possibly 125 + 10 + 6, for a total of......

Words: 283 - Pages: 2

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