Smuts, Jan Christiaan

Smuts, Jan Christiaan
   Prime minister of South Africa, a British imperial statesman, and a Boer general during the Boer War of 1899–1902, Jan Smuts went on to become a British field marshal and an advocate of Commonwealth unity. Smuts was the son of a prosperous South African farmer, and was educated at the University of the Cape of Good Hope and at Cambridge. He was an outstanding student and was trained as a lawyer in England. He entered cape politics as a supporter of the Afrikaner Bond in 1895, and, in a theme that persisted throughout his career, called for the two white races of South Africa to unite against black “barbarians.” Following the Jameson Raid, however, he became an ardent opponent of British imperialism, and joined Paul Kruger’s Transvaal government. He led ultimately unsuccessful efforts to negotiate a solution to the issue that led to the South African War, the franchise for British immigrants to the Transvaal.
   In that war, he placed his hopes for victory on international intervention. Originally a civilian, he became a a guerilla commander, remaining in the field after the British occupation of Pretoria. In the discussions that led to the peace of Vereeniging , he insisted that the question of the native franchise be left to a self- governing South Africa, a decision with fateful consequences. After the war, he became a leading Afrikaner politician, consistently opposed to political rights for Africans. In 1914, he supported the Union of South Africa’s entry into the war on the British side, suppressing a rebellion by some of his former Afrikaner nationalist comrades. He commanded South African forces in their invasion of southwest Africa, and then took command of British forces in east Africa, with the rank of lieutenant general in the British army. Representing South Africa in London in 1917, he was made a member of the war cabinet and became influential with David Lloyd George.
   In contrast to his rigid opposition to black rights at home, and his vision of a settler-dominated Africa, he was in extra-African affairs a keen liberal internationalist. He produced a pamphlet urging a League of Nations, resisted the vindictive aspects of the Treaty of Versailles, and, in the aftermath of the World War II, he drafted the preamble of the United Nations Charter. The latter was quoted back at him, and at subsequent South African leaders, by human rights advocates. In commonwealth affairs, he was an advocate of dominion autonomy. Nevertheless, in domestic South African politics, he lost Afrikaner support and found himself in alliance with the English population and mining interests; the latter identification was reinforced by violent action against strikers both black and white. He led a sorely divided South Africa into World War II, becoming again a key figure in imperial politics, and a trusted confidant of Churchill. But he was defeated by the pro-apartheid and anti-imperial National Party in 1948. An intellectually ambitious man, Smuts attempted to reconcile religion and evolution and ecology through his philosophy of “holism.” Smuts died in 1950, lauded with honors internationally but increasingly irrelevant in South African affairs.
   See also <>; <>.
    Danziger, Christopher. Jan Smuts. Cape Town: Macdonald South Africa, 1978;
    Geyser, O. Jan Smuts and His International Contemporaries. Johannesburg: Covos Day, 2001;
    Hancock, W. K. Smuts. 2 vols. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1968.

Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.

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  • SMUTS, JAN CHRISTIAAN° — (1870–1950), South African statesman, soldier, and philosopher. In the first half of the 20th century Smuts was a dominant figure in South African public life, both in war and peace; he occupied a place in world history for his part in the two… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Smuts,Jan Christiaan — Smuts (smŭts, smœts), Jan Christiaan. 1870 1950. South African soldier and politician. He was a Boer commander in the South African War (1899 1902) and prime minister of the Union of South Africa (1919 1924 and 1939 1948). * * * …   Universalium

  • Smuts, Jan (Christiaan) — (24 may. 1870, Bovenplaats, cerca de Riebeeck West, Colonia de El Cabo–1 sep. 1950, Irene, cerca de Pretoria, Sudáfrica). Estadista, militar y primer ministro sudafricano (1919–24, 1939–48). De origen afrikáner, estudió leyes en la Universidad de …   Enciclopedia Universal

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  • Smuts, Jan — ▪ South African statesman Introduction Christian also spelled  Christiaan   born May 24, 1870, Bovenplaats, near Riebeeck West, Cape Colony [now in South Africa] died Sept. 11, 1950, Irene, near Pretoria, S.Af.  South African statesman, soldier,… …   Universalium

  • Smuts, Prime Minister Jan Christiaan — 1870–1950    A South African soldier of the old school, Smuts had been a member of the British War Cabinet during World War I and had been present at the signing of the Peace Treaty at Versailles in 1919. In the decade before the outbreak of… …   Who’s Who in World War Two

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  • Jan — m. Adaptación del nombre «khan», defendida como la más conforme a la pronunciación de esta palabra en su lengua original. ⇒ Can, kan, Khan. * * * jan. m. Cuba. Vara de madera dura, rematada en una punta de hierro, que se emplea para ahoyar en la… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Smuts — [smuts] Jan Christiaan [yän′ kris′tē ȧn] 1870 1950; South African general: prime minister (1919 24; 1939 48) …   English World dictionary

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