Louis Botha

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Botha, Louis

(bō`tə), 1862–1919, South African soldier and statesman. A Boer (Afrikaner), he participated in the founding (1884) of the New Republic, which joined (1888) the Transvaal. Although Botha had little previous military experience, he brilliantly commanded Boer troops in the South African War. He besieged the British at Ladysmith and defeated their forces at Colenso. In 1900 he succeeded General Joubert as commander of the Transvaal army and led its remnants in guerrilla fighting. After the war (1902) he favored cooperation with the British. Botha was (1907–10) premier of the Transvaal. As the leader of the United South African, or Unionist, party he was prime minister of the Union of South Africa from its organization (1910) until his death, and he was ably assisted by Jan Christiaan SmutsSmuts, Jan Christiaan
, 1870–1950, South African statesman and soldier, b. Cape Colony.

Of Boer (Afrikaner) stock but a British subject by birth, he was educated at Victoria College (at Stellenbosch) and at Cambridge, where he won highest honors in law.
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. In World War I, Botha declared South Africa a belligerent on the side of the Allies. He suppressed a Boer revolt and in 1915 led the forces that conquered the German colony of South West Africa.


See biography by E. Buxton (1924); B. Williams, Botha, Smuts, and South Africa (1946); N. G. Garson, Louis Botha or John X. Merriman (1969).

Botha, Louis


Born Sept. 27, 1862, in Greytown, Natal; died Aug. 28, 1919, in Pretoria. Statesman of the Boer Transvaal Republic and subsequently of the Union of South Africa; general.

During the Boer War of 1899–1902, Botha served as commander in chief of the Transvaal forces from 1900. After the war he began cooperating with the British colonizers. In 1907 he became head of the government of the Transvaal colony, and from 1910 to 1919 he was premier of the Union of South Africa. The Botha government put through a number of laws directed at the oppression of and discrimination against the indigenous African population. In 1914, Botha actively promoted the entry of the Union of South Africa into World War I on the side of the Triple Entente. The government put down the uprising of Boer nationalists headed by C. De Wet and supported by Germany. In 1915 the forces of the Union of South Africa, led by Botha, occupied South West Africa.


Tsetlin, M. Voina burov za nezavisimost’ (1899–1902). Moscow, 1940.
Engelenburg, F. V. General Louis Botha. London, 1929.
Williams, B. Botha, Smuts, and South Africa. London, [1948].