South Africa Act

South Africa Act
   An act of Parliament creating the Union of South Africa, a federal dominion within the British Empire, consisting of four provinces, the Cape Colony, Natal, the Transvaal, and the Orange Free State. The latter two were Afrikaner-dominated formerly independent states conquered during the South African or Boer war of 1899–1902. The Cape Colony and Natal were in general dominated by their Anglophone or British populations. All had a large majority of Africans who, with few exceptions, were disenfranchised. The South Africa Act was passed by the Liberal government of H. H. Asquith, many of whose supporters had opposed the conquest of the Boer republics and believed strongly in the principle of self-government. By the terms of the Peace of Vereeniging, which had concluded the South African War, however, the question of the African franchise was left to the white voters of the new Union of South Africa. Despite a brief Afrikaner rebellion in 1914, the Union of South Africa, under the premiership of the former Boer general Louis Botha, remained loyal to Britain in World War I, providing one of the most prominent imperial statesmen, Jan Christiaan Smuts.
   See also <>; <>.
    Wilson, Monica, and Leonard Thompson, eds. Oxford History of South Africa. 2 vols. Oxford: Clarendon, 1971.

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

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