The author of this book joined the British South Africa Company immediately after it was formed in 1889 and from 1891 to 1893 was private secretary to Dr Jameson in Rhodesia. He was thus brought into close contact with some of those who were to play a prominent part in the subject of this book. In his introduction he makes the point that any attempt to judge the behaviour of those who took part in the Jameson Raid must be unprofitable without an understanding of their psychology what motivated them. The principal actors in this drama he says were not ordinary men not a few of them were personal friends. Dr. Leander Starr Jameson (1853-1917) a medical man (MRCS MD) came to South Africa from Britain in 1878 after a breakdown in health. He took up practice in Kimberley where he first came into contact with Cecil Rhodes. He joined the BSA Company and when Rhodes opened up Mashonaland (today’s Zimbabwe) Jameson gave up his practice and joined the pioneering expedition to the new territory. In 1891 he became administrator of Rhodesia and on 31st December 1895 with a force of 600 men led a raid into the Transvaal Boer republic from Mafeking in support of a planned rising in Johannesburg by anti-Boer ‘Uitlanders’ - mainly of English extraction organised or at least connived at by Rhodes. The rising fialed to occur and without it the raid was doomed from the outset. Only a week later Jameson’s force was compelled to surrender at Doornkop. Jameson and his officers were handed over to the British by the Boer President Kruger. Jameson got 15 months’ jail of which he served a year before being released on grounds of ill-health he returned to Rhodesia. Despoite this inauspicious start his political career was just beginning. ‘Dr Jim’ eventually became prime minister of Cape Colony in Rhodes’ footsteps and was a leading figure in the creation of the Union Of South Africa in 1909. He was made a KCMG and a baronet in 1911. An ill wind certinly blew him some good!
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