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Botha, Louis

BOTHA, LOUIS (1862- ), Boer general and statesman, was the son of one of the "Voortrekkers," and was born on the 27th of September 1862 at Greytown (Natal). He saw active service in savage warfare, and in 1887 served as a field-cornet. Subsequently he settled in the Vryheid district, which he represented in the Volksraad of 1897. In the war of 1899 he served at first under Lucas Meyer in northern Natal, but soon rose to higher commands. He was in command of the Boers at the battles of Colenso and Spion Kop, and these victories earned him so great a reputation that on the death of P.J. Joubert, Botha was made commander-in-chief of the Transvaal Boers. His capacity was again demonstrated in the action of Belfast-Dalmanutha (August 23-28, 1900), and after the fall of Pretoria he reorganized the Boer resistance with a view to prolonged guerrilla warfare. In this task, and in the subsequent operations of the war, he was aided by his able lieutenants de la Rey and de Wet. The success of his measures was seen in the steady resistance offered by the Boers to the very close of the three years' war. He was the chief representative of his countrymen in the peace negotiations of 1902, after which, with de Wet and de la Rey, he visited Europe in order to raise funds to enable the Boers to resume their former avocations. In the period of reconstruction under British rule, General Botha, who was still looked upon as the leader of the Boer people, took a prominent part in politics, advocating always measures which he considered as tending to the maintenance of peace and good order and the re-establishment of prosperity in the Transvaal. After the grant of self-government to the Transvaal in 1907, General Botha was called upon by Lord Selborne to form a government, and in the spring of the same year he took part in the conference of colonial premiers held in London. During his visit to England on this occasion General Botha declared the whole-hearted adhesion of the Transvaal to the British empire, and his intention to work for the welfare of the country regardless of racial differences. (See Transvaal: History.)

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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