Rhodes, Cecil John
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Rhodes, Cecil

Cecil Rhodes

Born: July 5, 1853
Bishop's Stortford, England
Died: March 26, 1902
Muizenberg, South Africa

English businessman and imperialist

The English businessman and financier Cecil Rhodes founded the modern diamond industry and controlled the British South Africa Company, which acquired Rhodesia and Zambia as British territories. He was also a noted philanthropist (working for charity) and founded the Rhodes scholarships.

Early life

Cecil John Rhodes was born on July 5, 1853, at Bishop's Stortford, England, one of nine sons of the parish vicar (priest). While his brothers were sent off to attend better schools, Cecil's poor health forced him to stay at home and attend the local grammar school. Instead of attending college, sixteen-year-old Cecil was sent to South Africa to work on a cotton farm. Arriving in October 1870, he grew cotton with his brother Herbert in Natal, South Africa, a harsh environment. Soon the brothers learned that growing cotton was no way to build a fortune and by 1871 "diamond fever" was sweeping the region with promises of fame and fortune. The two brothers soon left Natal for the newly developed diamond field at Kimberley, South Africa, an even less inviting environment.

In the 1870s Rhodes laid the foundation for his later massive fortune by working an open-pit mine where he personally supervised his workers and even sorted diamonds himself. The hard work would pay off as Rhodes developed a moderate fortune by investing in diamond claims, initiating mining techniques, and in 1880 forming the De Beers Mining Company.

In 1873 Rhodes returned to England to attend Oxford University. During his education, Rhodes split his time between South Africa and Oxford, where he did not fit in socially but finally earned a bachelor of arts degree in 1881.

Birth of an empire

During the mid-1870s, Rhodes spent six months alone, wandering the unsettled plains of Transvaal, South Africa. There, he developed his philosophies on British Imperialism, where the British Empire rules over its foreign colonies. These philosophies consisted of a "dream" where a brotherhood of elite Anglo-Saxons (whites) would occupy all of Africa, the Holy Land in the Middle East, and other parts of the world. After a serious heart attack in 1877, Rhodes revealed his ideas of British Imperialism when he made his first will. In it, Rhodes called for the settlement of his as-yetunearned fortune to found a secret society that would extend British rule throughout the world and colonize most parts of it with British settlers, leading to the "ultimate recovery of the United States of America" by the British Empire.

From 1880 to 1895 Rhodes's star rose steadily. Basic to this rise was his successful struggle to take control of the rival diamond interests of Barnie Barnato, with whom he partnered in 1888 to form De Beers Consolidated Mines, a company whose extraordinary powers led to acquiring lands for the purpose of extending the British Empire. With his brother Frank he also formed Goldfields of South Africa, with several large mines in the Transvaal.

Entering politics

During this same time Rhodes built a career in politics. He was elected to the Cape Parliament in 1880, the governing body of South Africa. In Parliament, Rhodes succeeded in focusing attention on the Transvaal and German expansion so as to secure British control of Bechuanaland by 1885. In 1888 Rhodes secured mining grants from Lobengula, King of the Ndebele, which by highly stretched interpretations gave Rhodes a claim to what became Rhodesia. In 1889 Rhodes persuaded the British government to grant a charter (authority from the British throne) to form the British South Africa Company, which in 1890 put white settlers into Lobengula's territories and founded Salisbury and other towns. This sparked conflict with the Ndebele, but they were crushed by British forces in the war of 1893.

By this time Rhodes controlled the politics of Britain's Cape Colony. In July 1890 he became premier of the Cape with the support of the English-speaking white and nonwhite voters and the Afrikaners (descendants of the Dutch settlers of South Africa). Rhodes won their support by creating a "Bond" where some twenty-five thousand shares of the British South Africa Company were distributed among them. His policy was to aim for the creation of a South African federation (union of states) under the British flag, and he gained the trust of the Afrikaners by restricting the Africans' educational and property qualifications in 1892 and setting up a new system of "native administration" in 1894.

Later career

At the end of 1895 Rhodes's fortunes took a disastrous turn. In poor health and anxious to hurry his dream of a South African federation, he organized a plot against the Boer government of the Transvaal, which was run by the Dutch settlers. Through his mining company, arms and ammunition were smuggled into Johannesburg, South Africa, to be used for a revolution by "outlanders," mainly British. A strip of land on the borders of the Transvaal was awarded to the chartered company by Joseph Chamberlain (18361914), the British colonial secretary. Leander Jameson, administrator of Rhodesia, was stationed there with company troops. The Johannesburg plotters did not rebel but Jameson, however, rode in on December 27, 1895, and was captured. As a result, Rhodes had to resign his premiership in January 1896. Thereafter he concentrated on developing Rhodesia and especially in extending the railway, which he dreamed would one day reach Cairo, Egypt.

When the Anglo-Boer War broke out in October 1899, Rhodes hurried to Kimberley, which the Boers surrounded a few days later. It was not relieved until February 16, 1900, during which time Rhodes had been active in organizing defense and sanitation. His health was worsened by the takeover, and after traveling in Europe he returned to the Cape in February 1902, where he died at Muizenberg, South Africa, on March 26.

In death, Rhodes's fortune allowed him to leave behind a legacy that is still relevant today. Rhodes left six million pounds, most of which went to Oxford University to establish the Rhodes scholarships to provide places at Oxford for students from the United States, the British colonies, and Germany. Land was also left to eventually provide for a university in Rhodesia.

For More Information

Flint, John. Cecil Rhodes. Boston: Little, Brown, 1974.

Roberts, Brian. Cecil Rhodes: Flawed Colossus. New York: Norton, 1988.

Rotberg, Robert I. The Founder: Cecil Rhodes and the Pursuit of Power. New York: Oxford University Press, 1988.

Thomas, Antony. Rhodes: Race for Africa. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1997.

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Rhodes, Cecil

Rhodes, Cecil 1853-1902

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Cecil John Rhodes, a British immigrant to southern Africa, founded the De Beers diamond monopoly, served as prime minister of Britains Cape Colony, and colonized Southern and Northern Rhodesia (later Zimbabwe and Zambia). Rhodes was the embodiment of late nineteenth-century rapacious capitalism and imperialism. His activities did much to shape important objects of social scientific study with respect to southern Africa: monopoly capitalism, migrant labor, and colonialism.

Rhodes was born to an English parson of modest circumstances. At the age of seventeen, he emigrated to southern Africa. Rhodes arrived in 1870, three years after a diamond-mining rush had begun in an area soon to be annexed by Britain and incorporated into the Cape Colony. The following year, Rhodes left for the diamond fields, where the town of Kimberley emerged to support the mines. Diamonds quickly transformed the regions political economy, becoming the Cape Colonys largest export by 1875 and leading to calls for confederation of the regions colonies and settler states.

In 1880 Rhodes and Charles Dunnell Rudd (18441916) formed the De Beers Mining Company to pursue amalgamation of claims, by then considered essential to continued profitability of the mines. By the end of the decade, De Beers completely controlled the diamond mines; more than a century later, De Beers remains the worlds largest miner and seller of diamonds and controls the world market in these gems. Amalgamation was intended to remedy major problems of production and marketing. First, as the mines went deeper, enormous amounts of machinery and technical expertise were needed to shore up walls and to cart ore to the surface. Though operations were capital-intensive, they were also labor-intensive, requiring increasing numbers of African men who came to the mines as migrant workers. Second, the huge volume of diamonds being produced from the Kimberley mines meant that it was necessary to limit the numbers reaching the market in order for sales to be profitable. Amalgamation enabled De Beers to solve these problems through centrally organizing flows of capital and labor into the mines and the flow of diamonds out of them. Key innovations, introduced in 1882, were closed compounds to house African workers and legislation to control illicit diamond buying. Closed compounds enabled mining concerns to closely supervise workers, bringing about tighter labor discipline and providing a model for later mining enterprises in southern Africa.

In the late-1880s, prospectors discovered the worlds largest gold deposit on the Witwatersrand (Rand) in the Boer-ruled Transvaal. The city of Johannesburg grew up above the mines, becoming the subcontinents largest city. Kimberley capitalists invested heavily in the Rand, but Rhodes was late to do so, securing poor claims. As a result, his interest was drawn in two directions: toward politics and toward possible mineral discoveries in areas then beyond colonial control north of the Limpopo River.

At the end of the 1880s, Rhodess agents fraudulently secured from Ndebele king Lobengula (c. 18361894) a concession (the Rudd Concession) to exploit all the minerals in his domain. On the strength of this concession, Rhodes obtained a royal charter for his British South Africa Company (BSAC) and sold shares for an enterprise to settle and mine what became Northern and Southern Rhodesia. When the areas the BSAC first exploited failed to produce a second Rand, the BSAC provoked war with and swiftly defeated the Ndebele. The politics of the Cape, the Transvaal, and BSAC-occupied territories to the north now became deeply entwined. Rhodes, then the Capes prime minister, conspired with others to topple the Transvaal government in order to install a government more conducive to mining and British imperialism. An armed force under Rhodess aide, Leander Starr Jameson (18531917), launched a hapless invasion from the north in late 1895; its failure forced Rhodess resignation as prime minister. Tensions over the Jameson raid helped precipitate war between Britain and the Boer republics (the Transvaal and Orange Free State). The Boer War, later known as the South African War, led to uniting South Africa as a white settler state within the British Empire. Meanwhile, oppressive BSAC policies toward Africans in Rhodesia led to a widespread uprising in 1896 to 1897 that was put down at great cost in African lives.

As he gained wealth and power, Rhodes promoted a broad imperialist vision, summed up in his scheme for a transportation network that would span Africa from the Cape to Cairo and parodied in a contemporary political cartoon that showed Rhodes astride the African continent as the Colossus of Rhodes. As the Capes prime minister, in 1894 he secured passage of the Glen Grey Act, designed to limit African access to land, force Africans onto the labor market, and reduce African voting strength. His rhetoric and actions thus place him as one of a handful of white power brokers in late nineteenth-century southern Africa who shaped the regimes of alienation of land, exploitation of minerals, and racist regimentation of labor that were to define white-ruled southern Africa for most of the twentieth century. Not yet fifty when he died, Rhodess will founded the Rhodes Scholarship program for anglo-saxon men from settler societies to study at Oxford University, where he had taken a degree in 1881. He is buried on a hilltop in the Matopos hills of southwestern Zimbabwe, a site sacred to indigenous peoples. His grave thus is a continual reminder of colonial conquest and insensitivity, while its broad vistas give expression to imperial desires to be master of all one surveys.

SEE ALSO Diamond Industry

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Davenport, T. R. H., and Christopher Saunders. 2000. South Africa: A Modern History. 5th ed. Houndmills, U.K.: Macmillan.

Rotberg, Robert I., with Miles F. Shore. 1988. The Founder: Cecil Rhodes and the Pursuit of Power. New York: Oxford University Press.

Worger, William H. 1987. South Africas City of Diamonds: Mine Workers and Monopoly Capitalism in Kimberley, 18671895. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Thomas McClendon

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Cecil John Rhodes

Cecil John Rhodes

The English imperialist, financier, and mining magnate Cecil John Rhodes (1853-1902) founded and controlled the British South Africa Company, which acquired Rhodesia and Zambia as British territories. He founded the Rhodes scholarships.

Cecil Rhodes was born on July 5, 1853, at Bishop's Stortford, Hertfordshire, one of nine sons of the parish vicar. After attending the local grammar school, his health broke down, and at 16 he was sent to South Africa. Arriving in October 1870, he grew cotton in Natal with his brother Herbert but in 1871 left for the newly developed diamond field at Kimberley.

In the 1870s Rhodes laid the foundation for his later massive fortune by speculating in diamond claims, beginning pumping techniques, and in 1880 forming the De Beers Mining Company. During this time he attended Oxford off and on, starting in 1873, and finally acquired the degree of bachelor of arts in 1881. His extraordinary imperialist ideas were revealed early, after his serious heart attack in 1877, when he made his first will, disposing of his as yet unearned fortune to found a secret society that would extend British rule over the whole world and colonize most parts of it with British settlers, leading to the "ultimate recovery of the United States of America" by the British Empire!

From 1880 to 1895 Rhodes's star rose steadily. Basic to this rise was his successful struggle to take control of the rival diamond interests of Barnie Barnato, with whom he amalgamated in 1888 to form De Beers Consolidated Mines, a company whose trust deed gave extraordinary powers to acquire lands and rule them and extend the British Empire. With his brother Frank he also formed Goldfields of South Africa, with substantial mines in the Transvaal. At the same time Rhodes built a career in politics; elected to the Cape Parliament in 1880, he succeeded in focusing alarm at Transvaal and German expansion so as to secure British control of Bechuanaland by 1885. In 1888 Rhodes agents secured mining concessions from Lobengula, King of the Ndebele, which by highly stretched interpretations gave Rhodes a claim to what became Rhodesia. In 1889 Rhodes persuaded the British government to grant a charter to form the British South Africa Company, which in 1890 put white settlers into Lobengula's territories and founded Salisbury and other towns. This provoked Ndebele hostility, but they were crushed in the war of 1893.

By this time Rhodes controlled the politics of Cape Colony; in July 1890 he became premier of the Cape with the support of the English-speaking white and non-white voters and the Afrikaners of the "Bond" (among whom 25,000 shares in the British South Africa Company had been distributed). His policy was to aim for the creation of a South African federation under the British flag, and he conciliated the Afrikaners by restricting the Africans' franchise with educational and property qualifications (1892) and setting up a new system of "native administration" (1894).

Later Career

At the end of 1895 Rhodes's fortunes took a disastrous turn. In poor health and anxious to hurry his dream of South African federation, he organized a conspiracy against the Boer government of the Transvaal. Through his mining company, arms and ammunition were smuggled into Johannesburg to be used for a revolution by "outlanders," mainly British. A strip of land on the borders of the Transvaal was ceded to the chartered company by Joseph Chamberlain, British colonial secretary; and Leander Jameson, administrator of Rhodesia, was stationed there with company troops. The Johannesburg conspirators did not rebel; Jameson, however, rode in on Dec. 27, 1895, and was ignominiously captured. As a result, Rhodes had to resign his premiership in January 1896. Thereafter he concentrated on developing Rhodesia and especially in extending the railway, which he dreamed would one day reach Cairo.

When the Anglo-Boer War broke out in October 1899, Rhodes hurried to Kimberley, which the Boers surrounded a few days later. It was not relieved until Feb. 16, 1900, during which time Rhodes had been active in organizing defense and sanitation. His health was worsened by the siege, and after traveling in Europe he returned to the Cape in February 1902, where he died at Muizenberg on March 26.

Rhodes left £6 million, most of which went to Oxford University to establish the Rhodes scholarships to provide places at Oxford for students from the United States, the British colonies, and Germany. Land was also left to provide eventually for a university in Rhodesia.

Further Reading

Rhodes's letters and papers have not yet been edited and published, but Vindex (pseudonym for Rev. F. Verschoyle) published Cecil Rhodes: His Political Life and Speeches, 1881-1900 (1900). There are a number of biographies: Sir Lewis Michell, The Life of the Rt. Hon. Cecil John Rhodes, 1853-1902 (2 vols., 1910), comprehensive but eulogistic; Basil Williams, Cecil Rhodes (1921), which is still useful; Sarah Gertrude Millin, Cecil Rhodes (1933); and Felix Gross, Rhodes of Africa (1957), faulty in research, sometimes hostile, but suggesting interesting if often farfetched interpretations. J. G. Lockhart and C. M. Woodhouse, Cecil Rhodes: The Colossus of Southern Africa (1963), used the Rhodes papers and much new material, but the definitive biography remains to be written. A recent account of Rhodes's relationship to the Princess Radziwell and of the Jameson raid is Brian Roberts, Cecil Rhodes and the Princess (1969), an exciting piece of historical reconstruction.

Additional Sources

Baker, Herbert, Sir, Cecil Rhodes: the man and his dream, Bulawayo: Books of Rhodesia, 1977.

Davidson, A. B. (Apollon Borisovich), Cecil Rhodes and his time, Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1988.

Flint, John E., Cecil Rhodes, London: Hutchinson, 1976.

Gale, W. D. (William Daniel), One man's vision: the story of Rhodesia, Bulawayo: Books of Rhodesia, 1976.

Keppel-Jones, Arthur., Rhodes and Rhodesia: the white conquest of Zimbabwe, 1884-1902, Kingston Ont.: McGill-Queen's University Press, 1987.

Michell, Lewis, Sir, The life and times of the Right Honourable Cecil John Rhodes, 1853-1902, New York: Arno Press, 1977 c1910.

Roberts, Brian, Cecil Rhodes: flawed colossus, New York: Norton, 1988, 1987.

Rotberg, Robert I., The founder: Cecil Rhodes and the pursuit of power, New York: Oxford University Press, 1988. □

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Rhodes, Cecil John

Cecil John Rhodes (sĕs´Ĭl, rōdz), 1853–1902, British imperialist and business magnate.

Business Career

The son of a Hertfordshire clergyman, he first went to South Africa in 1870, joining his oldest brother, Herbert, on a cotton plantation in Natal. In 1871 the brothers staked a claim in the newly opened Kimberley diamond fields, where Cecil was to make most of his fortune. He returned to England in 1873 and entered Oxford, but his studies were repeatedly interrupted by visits to South Africa and he did not receive his degree until 1881. His power in the diamond-mining industry developed until, in 1880, he formed the De Beers Mining Company, which was second only to that organized by Barney Barnato.

In 1888 he tricked Lobengula, the Ndebele (Matabele) ruler, into an agreement by which Rhodes secured mining concessions in Matabeleland and Mashonaland. He exploited these through the British South Africa Company (organized 1889), which soon established complete control of the territory. In 1888, Rhodes had also secured a monopoly of the Kimberley diamond production by the creation (with Barnato) of the De Beers Consolidated Mines, which reputedly had the largest capital in the world.

Rhodes left nearly all his fortune of £6 million to public service. One of his chief benefactions was the Rhodes Scholarships to Oxford, administered by the Rhodes Trust. More than 90 scholarships are now awarded each year to students from the (now former) British colonies, the United States, and Germany.

Political Career

A trip in 1875 through the rich territories of Transvaal and Bechuanaland apparently helped to inspire Rhodes with the dream of British rule over all southern Africa; later he spoke of British dominion "from the Cape to Cairo." In 1881, Rhodes entered the Parliament of Cape Colony, in which he held a seat for the remainder of his life. In Parliament he stressed the policy of containing the northward expansion of the Transvaal Republic, and in 1885, largely at his persuasion, Great Britain established a protectorate over Bechuanaland.

Rhodes became the prime minister, and virtual dictator, of Cape Colony in 1890. He was responsible for educational reforms and for restricting the franchise to literate persons (thereby reducing the African vote). His personal and business sympathies with the Uitlanders [Afrik.,=foreigners] in the Transvaal, who were mostly British and the victims of discrimination, brought him to conspire for the overthrow of the government of Paul Kruger. The result was the Jameson Raid (1895; see Jameson, Sir Leander Starr). Although Rhodes did not approve the timing of the raid, he was so clearly implicated that he was forced to resign as prime minister in 1896.

In 1897 a committee of the British House of Commons pronounced him guilty of grave breaches of duty as prime minister and as administrator of the British South Africa Company. Thereafter he devoted himself primarily to the development of the country that was called Rhodesia (since 1980, Zimbabwe) in his honor. In the South African War he commanded troops at Kimberley and was besieged there for a time. He died in South Africa and is buried in Zimbabwe.

Bibliography

See biographies by J. G. Lockhart and C. M. Woodhouse (1963), J. Marlowe (1974), and R. Rotberg (1988).

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Rhodes, Cecil

Rhodes, Cecil (1853–1902). Imperialist and capitalist, probably in that order. In 1870 Rhodes went to Natal to help his brother grow cotton, but amassed a huge fortune in diamonds and gold. The early appearance of the heart and lung ailments that were eventually to kill him prompted him to make a series of wills from his 25th year onwards, devoting his money to expanding the British empire, so that eventually it would even reabsorb the USA. On a more practical level he became prime minister of the Cape in 1890; opened up the country north of the Limpopo, modestly naming it Rhodesia; and was involved in the Jameson Raid. When he died, his final will provided for a series of scholarships to Oxford open to young colonials, Germans (because of the racial affinity), and Americans (in preparation for re-entry).

Bernard Porter

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JOHN CANNON. "Rhodes, Cecil." The Oxford Companion to British History. 2002. Encyclopedia.com. 29 May. 2016 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

JOHN CANNON. "Rhodes, Cecil." The Oxford Companion to British History. 2002. Encyclopedia.com. (May 29, 2016). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O110-RhodesCecil.html

JOHN CANNON. "Rhodes, Cecil." The Oxford Companion to British History. 2002. Retrieved May 29, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O110-RhodesCecil.html

Rhodes, Cecil John

Rhodes, Cecil John (1853–1902) South African statesman, b. Britain. Rhodes emigrated to Natal in 1870, and made a fortune in the Kimberley diamond mines. He dreamed of building a British Empire that stretched from the Cape to Cairo. In 1880, he founded the De Beers Mining Company. In 1885, he persuaded the British government to establish a protectorate over Bechuanaland. Rhodes founded (1889) the British South Africa Company, which occupied Mashonaland and Matabeleland, thus forming Rhodesia (now Zambia and Zimbabwe). Rhodes was prime minister (1890–96) of Cape Colony. The discovery of his role in Leander Jameson's attempt to overthrow Paul Kruger in the Transvaal led to his resignation.

http://www.cecilrhodes.net/biography.html

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