The peace negotiations between the governments of the South African Republic and the Orange Free State, and the representatives of the British government, which terminated in the peace concluded at Vereeniging on the 31st May, 1902
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The peace negotiations between the governments of the South African Republic and the Orange Free State, and the representatives of the British government, which terminated in the peace concluded at Vereeniging on the 31st May, 1902

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The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Peace Negotiations, by J. D. Kestell and D. E. van Velden This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.net Title: The Peace Negotiations Between the Governments of the South African Republic and the Orange Free State, etc.... Author: J. D. Kestell D. E. van Velden Translator: D. E. van Velden Release Date: December 14, 2008 [EBook #27529] Language: English Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1 *** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK THE PEACE NEGOTIATIONS *** Produced by Jonathan Ingram, Christine P. Travers and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.net Transcriber's note: Obvious printer's errors have been corrected, all other inconsistencies are as in the original. The author's spelling has been maintained. The Signatories to the Peace Treaty on behalf of the South African Republic. The Signatories to the Peace Treaty on behalf of the Orange Free State. Facsimile of the letter from Lord Kitchener upon which the Peace Negotiations were entered into. THE PEACE NEGOTIATIONS Between the Governments of the South African Republic and the Orange Free State, and the Representatives of the British Government, which terminated in the Peace concluded at Vereeniging on the 31st May, 1902 BY REV. J. D.

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The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Peace Negotiations, by
J. D. Kestell and D. E. van Velden
This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with
almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or
re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included
with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.net
Title: The Peace Negotiations
Between the Governments of the South African Republic and
the Orange Free State, etc....
Author: J. D. Kestell
D. E. van Velden
Translator: D. E. van Velden
Release Date: December 14, 2008 [EBook #27529]
Language: English
Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1
*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK THE PEACE NEGOTIATIONS ***
Produced by Jonathan Ingram, Christine P. Travers and the
Online Distributed Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.net
Transcriber's note: Obvious printer's errors have been corrected, all other
inconsistencies are as in the original. The author's spelling has been maintained.The Signatories to the Peace Treaty on behalf of the South African Republic.The Signatories to the Peace Treaty on behalf of the Orange Free State.Facsimile of the letter from Lord Kitchener upon which the Peace Negotiations were
entered into.
THE PEACE NEGOTIATIONS
Between the Governments of the South African Republic
and the Orange Free State, and the Representativesof the British Government, which terminated
in the Peace concluded at Vereeniging
on the 31st May, 1902
BY
REV. J. D. KESTELL
Secretary to the Orange Free State Government
AND
D. E. VAN VELDEN
Secretary to the Government of the South African Republic
TRANSLATED AND PUBLISHED BY
D. E. VAN VELDEN
WITH PHOTOS AND FACSIMILES OF ORIGINAL DOCUMENTS
LONDON
RICHARD CLAY & SONS, LTD., BRUNSWICK STREET, S.E.
1912
RICHARD CLAY AND SONS, LIMITED
BRUNSWICK ST., STAMFORD ST., S.E., AND
BUNGAY SUFFOLK
CONTENTS
PAGE
PREFACE ix
INTRODUCTION BY S. W. BURGER, M.L.A., ACTING STATE PRESIDENT OF THE LATE
SOUTH AFRICAN REPUBLIC xiii
TRANSLATOR'S NOTE xixCHAPTER I
PRELIMINARY CORRESPONDENCE 1
CHAPTER II
PROCEEDINGS AT KLERKSDORP 18
CHAPTER III
FIRST NEGOTIATIONS AT PRETORIA 33
CHAPTER IV
VEREENIGING 46
CHAPTER V
FURTHER NEGOTIATIONS AT PRETORIA 98
CHAPTER VI
VEREENIGING AND PEACE 138
APPENDIX—THE MIDDELBURG PROPOSALS 210
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
The Signatories to the Peace Treaty on behalf of the South African
Republic. Frontispiece
The Signatories to the Peace Treaty on behalf of the Orange Free StateF. rontispiece
Facsimile of the letter from Lord Kitchener upon which the Peace
Negotiations were entered into Facing Title page
Facing page
Facsimile of the copy of the reply from the Government of the South African
Republic to Lord Kitchener's letter dated 4th March, 1902 6
Facsimile of Safe Conduct granted by Lord Kitchener 44
Facsimile of the Oath subscribed to at Vereeniging by the Delegates of the
South African Republic 46
Facsimile of the Oath subscribed to at Vereeniging by the Delegates of the
Orange Free State 46Facsimile of a page of the Peace Proposals as submitted by the British
Representatives and amended by the Boer Representatives. The
alterations are in the handwriting of Generals Smuts and Hertzog 112
Facsimile of a page of the Peace Proposals as submitted by the British
Representatives and amended by the Boer Representatives. The
alterations are in the handwriting of General Smuts and Mr. Advocate N. J.
de Wet 117
Facsimile of the original proposal by Commandant H. P. J. Pretorius,
seconded by General Chris. Botha, to accept the British Peace Proposals 202
Facsimile of the document on which the voting on the proposal by
Commandant H. P. J. Pretorius, seconded by General Chris. Botha, to
accept the British Peace Proposals was recorded 206
PREFACE
The want has been repeatedly expressed of an official publication of the Minutes of the
Negotiations which led to the Peace concluded at Vereeniging on May 31, 1902, events
which have hitherto been a closed page in the history of the Boer War. As the Republics
had ceased to exist, the question arose: Who could publish such Minutes? It is true that
some very incomplete Minutes appeared in General de Wet's book, but although they
were in all probability reliable, yet they had not the seal of an official document.
The only way in which the want could be met appeared to be for the Secretaries, who
had been appointed by the two Republican Governments to minute the Negotiations, to
publish those Minutes after they had been read and approved of as authentic by persons
competent to do so.
This is what has been done by this publication, which places the reader in possession
of all the correspondence leading up to the Negotiations, exact reports of what was said
and done, not only at Vereeniging, but also previously at Klerksdorp, and, finally, all the
Negotiations which took place at Pretoria between the two Republican Governments and
the British Government, represented by Lord Kitchener and Lord Milner.
We, however, were not satisfied to publish this record, which we had most carefully
taken down, merely on our own authority. We felt that, if only this and nothing more were
done, the world would after all have only our word to rely upon, and that, although the
record thus published would always serve as a highly reliable book of reference, it would
lack the authority of a document properly authenticated by a body competent to do so.
In order, therefore, to obtain this desirable seal of authenticity to our record, we
submitted our manuscript to President Steyn, Acting President Burger, the Chairman of
the Meeting of Representatives of the People at Vereeniging (General C. F. Beyers),
Generals Botha and Smuts for the South African Republic, and Generals de Wet and
Hertzog for the Orange Free State, with the result that they all found our record to be a
true and correct account of the Peace Negotiations.
So this book sees the light with their imprimatur, and we therefore publish it with the
greatest confidence.The Reader's attention is drawn to the following particulars:—
IN RESPECT OF THE SPEECHES MADE BY THE MEMBERS OF THE REPUBLICAN GOVERNMENTS AT
KLERKSDORP, AND THE SPEECHES DELIVERED LATER ATV EREENIGING BY THEM AND BY THE
DELEGATES FROM THE VARIOUSC OMMANDOS, THE REPORTS ARE ALMOSTv erbatim. THE
ADDRESSES OF THE PRESIDENTS AND PRINCIPAL GENERALS ESPECIALLY WERE TRANSCRIBEDfr om
the stenographic notes of D. E. van Velden, and revised by J. D. Kestell.
THIS COMPLETENESS DOES NOT EXTEND TO WHAT IS PUBLISHED OF THEF irst CONFERENCE
BETWEEN THE TWO REPUBLICAN GOVERNMENTS AND LORD KITCHENER AND LORD MILNER,
BECAUSE NO SECRETARIES WERE ADMITTED TO THAT CONFERENCE. LORD KITCHENER HAD
EXPRESSED THE DESIRE THAT NO OFFICIAL NOTES SHOULD BE TAKEN, AS THE PARTIEW S O ULD FIRST
CONFER INFORMALLY. WHAT WAS DISCUSSED, HOWEVER, HASN OT BEEN LOST, FOR AN ACCOUNT OF
WHAT TOOK PLACE AT THISC ONFERENCE WAS TAKEN DOWN BY J. D. KESTELL FROM THE DICTATION
O F GENERAL HERTZOG IMMEDIATELY AFTER THE CONFERENCE WAS OVER, ANRDE VISED BY
PRESIDENT STEYN AND MR. W. J. C. BREBNER (ACTING OVERNMENT SECRETARY, ORANGE FREE
State), and appears in this book.
WITH REFERENCE TO THSE econd CONFERENCE, HOWEVER, WE WERE PRESENT, AND WHAT IS
given is a verbatim account of the discussion.
Of some official documents in our possession, reproductions or facsimiles are given in
the hope that the reader will find them of interest.
J. D. K.
D. E. v. V.
Pretoria,
October, 1908.[Back to Contents]
INTRODUCTION
DEAR READER,
In connection with the publication, by the Rev. J. D. Kestell and Mr. D. E. van Velden,
of the official minutes of the Peace Negotiations (together with the official
correspondence relating thereto) between the British Government and the Governments
of the Orange Free State and the South African Republic, which terminated in the Peace
concluded at Vereeniging on May 31, 1902, I do not wish in this introduction to enter into
details, but merely to confine my remarks to the great responsibility which rested upon us
and to the question, "Was it necessary to conclude Peace?"
If it was a task of supreme importance to decide to enter upon the struggle which had
been waged, if it was an arduous and difficult duty to carry on the struggle, it was much
harder and more difficult to foresee what the result of that struggle would be, and still
harder and more difficult to decide to give it up. With how much hope, fear, and anxiety
was not the end looked forward to! And when the end came, what did it not cost us to
persuade the head to do what the heart refused to perform? What was realised of that
hope for which there had been such a struggle, for which so much had been suffered, so
much endured, so much sacrificed—the Reader will find in this book. He will also find in it
the correspondence which led up to, and was carried on during, the Peace Negotiations;
the proceedings at our meetings at Klerksdorp, Pretoria, and Vereeniging; the opinions,
views, and grounds upon which the leaders of the people acted, in so far as those wereexpressed. You will not, however, find here the struggle that took place at Vereeniging
within every Delegate between the heart and the head; the intense effort which it cost us
to bring ourselves to acknowledge to our powerful enemy that we had been overpowered,
exhausted, and were unable to continue the struggle any longer; to acknowledge to
ourselves and posterity that our sacrifices, the blood and tears that had been shed, the
indescribable anxiety for wife and children, the suffering and death of the thousands of
innocent women and children, the awful evils which had fallen to the lot of the rebels, had
been all in vain; that we were about to lose all for which we had suffered and sacrificed.
All this, I say, you do not find recorded here, but you may read it in the grey hairs of the
Delegates to Vereeniging and of our people, in the deep wrinkles on their faces, and in
the expression on the countenance of every Boer—that expression which cannot conceal
what the soul had to endure. We had already sacrificed much, yet, in spite of all, the hope
had inseparably clung to us that no sacrifice, no privation, no loss would be in vain. There
at Vereeniging, however, we had to surrender what was dearest to us, we had to stand at
the open grave of the two Republics, and we had to say with bowed heads: "We had not
hoped, expected, willed for this, but—Thy will be done!"
We are asked: "Why did you make peace? Why did you not persevere? Was there no
hope? Had the last resources been exhausted, and was all your strength spent?" To
these questions I must emphatically reply "Yes"; there was no means that had not been
resorted to, no strength, no reasonable hope left. As rational beings we could see no
grounds upon which to continue the struggle with any hope of success. It was, however,
not the arms of the enemy which directly compelled us to surrender, but another sword
which they had stretched out over us—namely, the sword of hunger and nakedness, and,
what weighed most heavily of all, the awful mortality amongst our women and children in
the Concentration Camps. I, as Acting State President, upon whom great responsibility
rested, was convinced that it was time for us to conclude peace, not for the sake of
ourselves, the leaders, but for the sake of the People, who were so faithful, in order to
preserve the root that still remained, and in order not to allow our nation to be entirely
exterminated; out of the ruins of our country to endeavour later on to develop a South
African nationality, to build up the nation again, and to preserve the unity of the People. It
was our conviction that the further prosecution of the war would mean the destruction of
our national existence. Whether that conviction was correct or not, we confidently leave to
the judgment of posterity.
Allow me also a reply to the question: "Why did we not conclude peace sooner?" A
question which by some is even put reproachfully. My answer is that, as we fought for the
retention of our Fatherland and our National honour, we, as men, could not give up the
struggle before we had convincing proof that we had persevered and resisted to the
uttermost. That proof was thrust upon us at Vereeniging, and now every one who
defended his Fatherland to the last can bear his fate with an easy conscience, and the
world is convinced with us that we fought to the bitter end. With all our disappointments
we had further to experience that Great Britain, in addition to the tremendous forces with
which her mighty Empire supplied, also availed herself of natives and other unjustifiable
means. I wish merely to mention this.
At Vereeniging we began by looking up prayerfully to God, Who decides the destinies
of men and nations, and became convinced that it was the right time to make peace, and
that we were on the right road by concluding the Treaty of Vereeniging. My closing words
at Vereeniging were: "Comrades, we stand beside the grave of both Republics, but not at
the grave of our People. We have laid down our arms and concluded the struggle which
has brought death, misery, and destruction. But now we have to enter upon another
struggle, much greater and much nobler. It will be our duty to labour with vigour and
sacrifice at the rebuilding of our nation. Therein lies a great work before us. Although our
former functions have now lapsed, our calling and duty still remain. The People who have
looked up to us and remained so faithful to the end will continue to look up to us, and
rightly expect assistance and advice under the altered circumstances. Let it always beour aim to serve our People."
Have subsequent events not proved that our view was correct?
Peace! How was it received?
I think the answer must be: "With deep disappointment." The victors did not exult. Was
it perhaps because they involuntarily felt that from the time when they, principally upon
distorted representations, unjustifiably interfered with the affairs of the South African
Republic, up to the Conference at Vereeniging, they had achieved no honour? Our
People, especially the women and daughters in the Concentration Camps, were deeply
dismayed. I have never seen a more impressive and sadder scene than the sight of the
4,000 women and children in the Merebank Concentration Camp, Natal, when I informed
them that we had concluded peace, by which we had had to sacrifice our country. The
question: "Is it for this that I sacrificed my husband, my son, my child?"—which resounded
in my ears from the lips of the weeping women made the discharge of this, my last duty,
also the most painful one. The deep conviction was there wrought in me that it was only
their faith in God that enabled these women and children to endure what they had had to
endure. May their patience, their courage, their faith, be transmitted to their descendants!
I would further like to say that it was hard for us all, especially for me, to be deprived,
during the Negotiations at Vereeniging, of the advice and support of President Steyn,
who was forced by illness to leave us during the early days of the negotiations. The
absence of his strong shoulder made our task so much harder.
S. W. BURGER.
Pretoria,
October, 1907.[Back to Contents]
TRANSLATOR'S NOTE
In response to wishes very generally expressed, an English translation of "De
Vredesonderhandelingen tusschen Boer en Brit in Zuid Afrika" (The Peace Negotiations
between Boer and Briton in South Africa) is now placed before the Public.
Though the greatest care has been taken to ensure that the translation conveys to the
reader exactly what the Dutch original contains, the latter remains the official record, from
the Boer side, of the Peace Negotiations. The translator accepts all responsibility for the
English translation.
In anticipation of any critical remarks that may be made, it is only due to state that the
addition to the English translation of a few facsimiles of original documents and the few
verbal improvements are by no means due to a desire to differentiate between the
publications in the two languages, but are merely the improvements which, as every
author knows, suggests themselves and are rendered possible by the publication of a
later edition.
The Reader will not always find the translation of the speeches in idiomatic English,
but it may be pointed out that in most cases that defect is due to the translator having
aimed at preserving, as far as possible the stamp of originality as it exists in the original.
Pretoria,
September, 1911.[Back to Contents]