BOTHA, LOUIS

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BOTHA, LOUIS - South Africa’s First President Admonishes a Minister: “The state of affairs in regard to the Administration of the Railways… does not agree with what I understood from you”
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BOTHA, LOUIS - South Africa’s First President Admonishes a Minister: “The state of affairs in regard to the Administration of the Railways… does not agree with what I understood from you”

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BOTHA, LOUIS. (1862-1919). First prime minister of the Union of South Africa. TLS. (“Louis Botha”). 1p. Tall 4to. Cape Town, December 7, 1910. On black-bordered, blind-embossed stationery. To South African politician JACOBUS WILHELMUS SAUER (1850-1913) who was Minister of Railways and Harbors at the time of our letter.

 

Enclosed I am sending you a letter dated the 5th instant, which with the enclosures I have received from Col. Greene. The contents thereof considerably surprised me. The state of affairs in regard to the Administration of the Railways as it is stated to be in this correspondence does not agree with what I understood from you from time to time in Cabinet. I shall be very glad if you will let me have your views upon these matters as soon as possible…”

 

After fighting during the First and Second Boer Wars to keep the South African Republic (Transvaal Colony) and the Orange Free State independent of British rule, Botha helped negotiate peace with the British in 1902, after which he assisted in restructuring the Boer colonies and formed a Transvaal government in 1907, becoming prime minister. Botha eventually came to support the former Boer states remaining British colonies, and in May 1910, the four South African colonies were merged and dominion status was granted to the newly formed Union of South Africa with Botha chosen as its first prime minister.

 

Our letter was penned during the first year of Botha’s ministry and concerns the state of the railroads, which merged in 1910 under the aegis of South African Railways and Harbors (SAR&H); Sauer, our letter’s recipient, was minister of the department. The 1910 Act of Union which consolidated the former colonies, stipulated that “The Railways and Harbours of the Union shall be administered on business principles, due regard being paid to the agricultural and industrial development within the Union and the promotion, by means of cheap transport, of the settlement of an agricultural and industrial population in the inland portions of all provinces of the Union.” The monumental task involved merging the formerly competing railways of the four colonies and connecting disparate areas of the new country with “the only significant means of public transportation,” (The History of the Rail Transport Regulatory Environment in South Africa, Van Rensburg).

 

Sauer had served a long time in Cape Colony’s parliament as leader of the South Africa Party, where he opposed Cecil Rhodes, favoring a multiracial government that he unsuccessfully endeavored to enshrine in the Union of South Africa’s founding documents.  Sauer later served as the nation’s Minister of Justice.

 

Some wear at the edges with two small holes in the upper left margin far away from the text; otherwise fine.

 

 

Item #13920


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