Mr. Adee to Mr. Bayard.

No. 437.]

Sir: With a dispatch, numbered 56, of May 29, 1894, the consul of the United States at Cape Town has acquainted the Department with what at that time threatened to become a serious warfare between [Page 253] the South African Republic and the Kaffre tribes on its northeast boundaries. It is represented that the Transvaal Government threatened to proclaim martial law, and had actually begun to draft or impress its citizens for the scene of hostilities, stated to be hundreds of miles from the center of population at Johannisburg.

Mr. Benedict inclosed with his dispatch a clipping from the Cape Times of May 29 last, which, he states, contains a clear and accurate account of the situation at that date. This published statement asserts that the commandeer-law—by which every male inhabitant of the State between given ages was to be pressed into the country’s service for the suppression of the war—was to be rigorously enforced. At that date, however, its operations had been confined to three districts. Naturally this harsh and arbitrary measure was objected to on the part of those not citizens of the Transvaal Republic, and it is understood that protests have been made on the part of British subjects in that quarter. As a last resource, a direct appeal is reported to have been made to the foreign office at London, and “according to recent cable messages the matter is now under the consideration of Her Majesty’s Government.” Meanwhile, the discontented at Johannisburg and Pretoria are preaching defiance of the law as announced by the President of the South African Republic.

There are several thousand Americans in the Transvaal, mostly in and about Johannisburg. As at present advised, no attack has been made against the State, nor have the lives and property of our citizens been threatened. The Government of the United States would be glad to know what decision, if any, has been reached by Her Majesty’s Government in the case of the “direct appeal” referred to in the clipping from the Cape Times.

I shall reply to the consul’s dispatch, and, in answer to his request for instructions as to his guidance in the premises, recite the general conclusions of this Government in such contingency. It may be well, however, for his additional information, to give him copy of your dispatch to the Department, or pertinent extracts therefrom, upon receipt of definite intelligence from the British foreign office. I make this suggestion with a view to place him in possession of this information at the earliest practicable date, confiding in your prudence and judgment.

I am, etc.

Alvey A. Adee,
Acting Secretary.