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Sunday, December 30, 2012

President Herbert Hoover, American Mining Engineer in the Kimberley and Witwatersrand Mines

US President Herbert Clark Hoover (1929–1933) wrote in his Memoirs:
It was the American universities that took engineering away from the rule-of-thumb surveyors, mechanics, and Cornish foremen and lifted it into the realm of applications of science, wider learning in the humanities with higher ethics of a profession ranking with law, medicine, and the clergy.vii

“American Mining Engineers in the Kimberley and Witwatersrand Mines
circa the turn of the 20th Century”
By Dr Morley Nkosi
Presented at the International Mining History Congress, 17-20 April 2012


The history of American mining, particularly in the shallow and deep lodes of the western United States, was in very many ways similar to that of South African mining, especially in Namaqualand, Griqualand West, and the Transvaal. Some of the illuminating American parallels were:

 the warring with indigenous Indian tribes, defeating them by force of superior arms and taking their lands and livestock;

 forming diggers’ committees which administered diggers’ justice and barred Indians and Mexicans, from whom the land had been taken, from staking any claims;

 the working of shallow claims with little capital and labour, rudimentary equipment and no skills until the beginning of deep-lode mining and formation of large mining companies, to which flocked many immigrant labourers, greater amounts of domestic and foreign capital (especially from Europe), large machinery and the indispensable skilled Cornish mining artisans; and

 the encouragement of Chinese labourers. These were initially welcomed as buyers of worked-out shallow claims and later tolerated on large deep-lode mines, only to be driven off, violently in some cases, by white labour and some state legislatures as potential competition for white American labour.i

Some of the major differences between the histories of western mining in the United States and mining in the Cape Colony and Transvaal were the times when the discoveries occurred and development of the mines took place, and the scale of operations. Placer mining started in California in 1848, two years before opencast copper mining began in Namaqualand. When deep-level mining began on the Comstock lode in Nevada around 1850, copper mining in Namaqualand had just started, diamonds had hardly been discovered, and Griqualand West
did not exist. When the silver–lead lodes of Coeur d’Alene in Idaho were discovered in 1885 and the Bunker Hill and Sullivan Mining and Concentrating Company was formed,ii the Struben brothers in the Transvaal had discovered the ‘Confidence Reef’ but knew nothing about the main reef series. American mining was advanced when South African mining was beginning, and British mining capital recognised and appreciated this fact.iii

Institutionalisation of Mining Engineering

The rapid advance in mining in the United States was helped by the institutionalisation of the teaching of engineering in some colleges and universities, such as the Lawrence Scientific School at Harvard, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Columbia College, and the University of California whose engineering curricula dated back to the 1860s.iv By 1876, the number of educational institutions in the United States teaching mining engineering had increased to fourteen, although nothing was published about the curricula of mining and metallurgy in these and other schools until 1886.v In the meantime, a few of the earlier graduates of these programmes had continued their studies abroad at several prominent European mining academies in Germany and France, particularly at the Konigliche Sachsische Bergakademie (the Royal Saxony Mining Academy). This institution was respected for its programme which emphasised both theory and practice, the former consisting of courses such as mining engineering, metallurgical engineering, mine surveying and metallurgy, and the latter covering actual mining and smelting during the spring and Combining the experience of respected foreign schools with domestic circumstances and needs, American mining schools developed to a point where US President Herbert Clark Hoover (1929–1933) wrote in his Memoirs:

It was the American universities that took engineering away from the rule-of-thumb surveyors, mechanics, and Cornish foremen and lifted it into the realm of applications of science, wider learning in the humanities with higher ethics of a profession ranking with law, medicine, and the clergy.vii

Another factor that facilitated the development of mining was the founding of the American Institute of Mining Engineers (AIME) around 1868, which was a powerful medium for disseminating information on mining and metallurgy.

As a result of learning the traditional Cornish artisanal mining skills, increasing the
introduction of technical education in colleges, and working in various mines both in the United States and abroad, American mining engineers emerged in the late 1880s as the most sought-after superintendents or mine managers, consulting engineers, and evaluators of mining properties and investments. British mining capital wanted them and was willing to pay handsomelyviii for their services in the United States,ix South America, Africa, Asia and Australasia. In 1886, Richard Rothwell, editor of the Engineering Mining Journal, wrote:

Every year brings a wider recognition of the fact that in mining and in practical metallurgy, our American engineers are the most successful and economical in the World, and their services are in request in nearly every country of the world. The difficult and unusual conditions under which they have been forced to carry on their work have developed an ingenuity and fertility of resources, that, guided as they now are by very thorough scientific training, have made the American mining engineer and metallurgist the most successful in the world.x

John H Curle, a British engineer-author and regular contributor to The Economist on issues affecting gold, called this period from around 1890 to 1914 ‘[t]he Elizabethan Age of gold mining ... short and brilliant, like its prototype in dramatic literature’.xi Herbert Hoover referred to it as the ‘Golden Age of American mining engineers in foreign countries ... during which their services were in demand at premium prices’.xii

American Mining Engineers Abroad

The expedient marriage between American mining engineers and British mining capital during this period seems to have begun with an invitation extended to Baron Edmond de Rothschild by Hamilton Smith, an American mining engineer who was president of the North Bloomfield hydraulic mine in California, to visit this operation late in the 1870s.xiii After this meeting Hamilton Smith became consulting engineer for the Rothschilds in Paris and London, where he was based. He recruited another American mining engineer, Edmund De Crano, and together they formed the London Exploration Company, which was backed by the Rothschilds.xiv It was on De Crano’s recommendations that the Rothschilds gave Cecil Rhodes the funds to purchase the last diamond mining firm holding out against amalgamation, and achieve complete control over the whole Kimberley mine. It was also through the London Exploration Company that Gardner F Williams was recruited from California, first for the Transvaal Gold Exploration and Land Company in the Lydenburg district, and then for the job of managing De Beers Consolidated Diamond Mines for Cecil Rhodes’s syndicate. Henry C Perkins was also recruited by Smith and De Crano and recommended by Lord Rothschild to Lord Randolph Churchill to accompany the latter on his visit to South Africa and Mashonaland in 1891, shortly after Cecil Rhodes’s British South Africa Company (BSA Co.) had expropriated all of Mashonaland.

London was the principal centre for organising and deploying vast sums of British mining capital, accompanied by highly ranked and experienced American mining engineers, to the many different mines of the world, including those in South Africa. The other method whereby American mining engineers went to South Africa was through the actions of those already managing various properties on the Witwatersrand, who wrote to friends, colleagues, and former professors in the United States inquiring about and requesting the dispatch of men with specific qualifications and skills.

American Mining Engineers in South Africa

American mining engineers who went to South Africa through the good offices of their colleagues in London, Kimberley and Johannesburg came from many different mines in and outside of the United States. The most important mines in the United States from which some of them graduated and gained valuable experience in managing mines and mills on a large scale were: the North Star in Grass Valley, California; the Standard Consolidated at Bodie, also in California, known for pioneering work in the use of the cyanide process and electrical transmission; Bunker Hill and Sullivan in Idaho, which produced John Hays Hammond, Victor M Clement, and Fred W Bradley; and the North Bloomfield in Nevada County, California, which turned out men like Hamilton Smith, Henry C Perkins and James Hennen Jennings.xv Outside the United States, the most pertinent mine was the El Callao gold mine in Venezuela whose superintendency had been under Henry C Perkins, Hennen Jennings, George E Webber and Barry Searls. Others who worked on or near the El Callao mine in other capacities were Thomas Mein, who was Perkins’s first mine-captain at El Callao before becoming a mine manager at the Nacupai mine nearby; Louis Seymour, who was Perkins’s assistant in mechanical engineering; Maurice Robeson, who was mechanical engineer at Nacupai and El Callao mines; EA Blanton, who was an expert on milling at the Union mine in the El Callao district; and Richard Bowen, John Walsh, J Klimke (former surveyor at El Callao) and FHP Cresswell of the Chile mine.xvi All these men went to occupy mine management and specialist positions in some of South Africa’s dominant mining groups.

The El Callao Mine in Venezuela features prominently as a bench mark American mining engineers applied in their work on the Witwatersrand gold mines. This mine was situated about 150 miles (241.395 kilometres) south of the Orinoco River, in a latitude of about 7 degrees north of the equator, without any railway communication, and with very bad roads, and in its early history was considered most unhealthy; so high wages had to be offered to induce skilled men to come to the mining site. This mine was pertinent in the way it prepared its American mining engineers, particularly mine managers for the South African mines. Hamilton Smith, consulting engineer for the El Callao, wrote in the 1884 report of the mine’s operations:

In 1884 a new regime was started, and high grade machinery with increased stamping power, and high grade men put to work, the Company giving them a free hand and every encouragement to do their best, and expenses were lowered in eight years from £6 2s. 3d. to £1 19s. 9d. per ton. The cardinal feature in this reduction was the improvement in machinery and mining methods, but another was the encouragement of negro labour obtained from the West Indian Islands. At first this class of labour was considered hopelessly incompetent, but by patient training and judicious graduation of wages in proportion to work done, it was finally possible to run the mine with 11 and a-half per cent of the white labour the mine originally required, and the blacks were better able to stand the climate. The Government of Venezuela, which was not in sympathy with the alien mining population, believed in high and onerous tariffs, monopolies and concessions, and did very little to foster the industry, in fact tried in every way to extort as much as possible out of it. The present unfortunate condition of the mining industry there is, I think, in no small measure due to the attitude of the Government.xvii The ruling rates of wages during the late years, when good work has been done are:

White, average per month 35 pounds (This does not include the

Blacks, per day 6 shillings and 6 pence

These conditions were quoted by Hennen Jennings in 1897 before the Transvaal Mining Industry Commission, which was inquiring into the grievances of the gold mining industry under the South African Republic regime. He found that the conditions prevailing in the South African Republic were similar to those he had encountered in Venezuela, and the experience of the United States in dealing with its black populace was instructive for the Republic to consider emulating. Jennings used the Venezuelan example to draw attention to the factors responsible for the high cost of mining which had led to the closing of mines, including the El Callao gold mine.

When Jennings left El Callao in Venezuela in 1889 he went to London where he was appointed by the firm of Jules Porges & Company – the predecessor to Wernher, Beit & Company, the parent firm of Hermann Eckstein & Company – and proceeded to the Witwatersrand.xviii Having developed close relations with Gardner F Williams in Kimberley, the Eckstein firm had solicited his advice in suggesting the ‘ablest’ American mining engineers for their Witwatersrand mining properties. Williams recommended that they contact Hamilton Smith and Edmund De Crano in London, who then wrote to Hennen Jennings and prevailed on him to take the Eckstein appointment.

Other leading American mining engineers recruited by the Eckstein group of mining companies for the Witwatersrand during the early years between 1887 and 1903 included Joseph S Curtis, 1887; Sidney J Jennings (Hennen Jenning’s brother), 1889; Charles Butters, 1890; Thomas Mein, 1891–1892; and George E Webber 1893–1894.xix Another American mining engineer, who was perhaps as instrumental as the Smith and De Crano firm in recruiting his peers for the Witwatersrand mining capitalists, was John Hays Hammond.xx He also first went to the Witwatersrand via London, where the firm of Barnato Brothers hired him in 1893 to manage their Witwatersrand mining properties. By 1894 he had joined the Consolidated Gold Fields of South Africa as chief consulting engineer, and through him numerous prominent American mining engineers went to the Witwatersrand.xxi His papers contain letters introducing American mining engineers visiting South Africa to other American colleagues who were managing numerous mines on the Witwatersrand;xxii and letters to friends engaged in mining in the United States, asking them to recommend the best mine managers, shaft sinkers, skilled miners and foremen, and offering to pay travel expenses, high salaries, bonuses and other incentives;xxiii and advice to Fraser & Chalmers on how to compete with British firms and win more orders for mining machinery, with an offer to help in the process. In a letter dated 18 October 1894 and written by Eben E Olcott, a New York City-based mining engineer, to Enoch Kenyon of Johannesburg, Olcott mentioned that a subordinate of Hammond had purchased electric hoists from General Electric, visited drum and shaft manufacturers in Akron (Ohio) and EP Allis Company of Milwaukee for electrical transmission equipment, and inspected the Anaconda works in Montana before returning to Johannesburg.xxiv The other mining groups also recruited their American experts, among whom were Thomas H Leggett, Fred Hellman and Dr George F Becker of the United States Geological Survey, who conducted a geological survey for the Neumann group of mining companies.xxv

There was also a sizable contingent of British mining engineers and geologists and a few experts from Europe who were on the Witwatersrand for the express purpose of evaluating its gold mines, including the industry’s prospects. They included Professor L de Lauray of the Ecole de Mines in Paris and Bergrath Schmeiser, a German government engineer. Nevertheless, the Americans were dominant. This fact was referred to in frustration and anger by some Britishers as ‘the Americanisation of British mines’.xxvi

Notable contributions by American mining engineers
Some of the notable contributions American mining engineers made to the Witwatersrand gold mining industry in its formative years were:

 the introduction of one or two large inclined shafts by Hennen Jennings toward the end of 1889;xxvii

 the significant advances in the speed with which larger shafts were sunk, especially by

Leslie Simpson and his crews at the Robinson Deep Mine, where they set world records;xxviii

 the introduction of the ‘direct treatment method’ by Hennen Jennings, in which all the pulp from the battery was passed through spitzluten (hydraulic classifiers) where the slimes were eliminated and the rest of the pulp run directly into the leaching tank to be treated with cyanide;xxix

 the introduction by Charles Butters of the bottom discharge in the treatment of large accumulations of tailings by the MacArthur-Forrest cyanide process;xxx

 the introduction of electric power, which replaced steam power in hoisting operations, by Maurice Robeson;

 the adoption of a uniform mapping scale that used either feet or metres, and had proportions such as 1:500 or 1:1000 instead of 1 inch to 40 feet;xxxi and

 the founding of a number of professional and technical associations (and companion journals) such as the South African Association of Engineers and Architects in 1891, the Association of Mine Managers in 1892, the Chemical and Metallurgical Society of South Africa in 1894, and the South African School of Mines and Technology in 1896.

In addition to these contributions, the scientific, technical and organisational experience of American mining engineers in managing large-scale operations were critical factors in the development of the Witwatersrand gold mining industry from 1890 into the period 1902–1910. For those like Hennen Jennings and others who came directly from the El Callao Gold mine in Venezuela, the South African Republic’s underdevelopment, the adversarial relationship between its regime and mining capital, the difficulties and exorbitant transportation costs incurred in bringing in mining machinery and equipment, the importation of black labourers to the gold mines, and the frequent reduction of black wages in order to maintain profitability were all very familiar problems and methods. And for both former employees of El Callao and those mining engineers who came directly from the United States, the hierarchical division of labour based firstly on race, secondly on skills, and thirdly on increased differentiation of tasks, particularly in deep-level mining, were also recognisable features. At an earlier period, western alluvial and hard-rock mines of the United States had used skilled and unskilled white and Chinese labour, and a greater division of labour, during the opening up and development of deep-lode mines.

The Mine Managers’ Association of the Witwatersrand, pioneered by American mining engineers in 1892, was characterised as being an intermediary between capital and labour and of providing important services, such as:

... an interchange of experiences upon such subjects as

(1) the relative advantage of employment of white or kafir labour in the
various departments of mining work,

(2) the introduction of the contract [tribute] system [white skilled miners
commanding gangs of African labourers performing piece-work],

(3) the efficiency and economy of hand as opposed to machine drilling [by

(4) the numerous problems presented in mill management ...xxxii

Apart from the obvious racial attitudes mine managers exhibited they were also very anti-trade unions, even when the latter were exclusively white. Again, some of these mining engineers had achieved notoriety in the United States as being totally and actively opposed to combinations by labourers, and in some cases played leading roles in breaking up strikes, before they went to the Witwatersrand.xxxiii These attributes, functions and experiences of American mining engineers, and their contributions to the state of the art in gold mining, all helped in some ways to shape the labour structure that evolved on the Witwatersrand gold mines between 1890 and 1899.

Some Revealing Observations

“Johannesburg, in the Transvaal is like an American city, and is the center of the mining industry.”
The Engineering and Mining Journal December 3, 1887

“... many of the leading men in Johannesburg are Americans; indeed, the mining industry is chiefly under the guidance of American mining engineers.”

The National Geographic Magazine November, 1896

“The place (Witwatersrand) has an attraction for the American. It has size in its favour; its plant is designed on a large scale – on an American scale.”

The South African Mining Journal April, 1907

The first quote is from a brief news piece written by Richard P Rothwell and Rossiter W Raymond, two of America’s distinguished mining engineering writers who were co-editors of The Engineering and Mining Journal (E&MJ) which was based in New York City. Rothwell and Raymond were informing their readership in general terms how the diamond mines of Griqualand West (especially Kimberley) and the goldxxxiv mines of the Transvaal (the Witwatersrand in particular) had attracted capital and labour from nearly every part of the world as well as how both mining industries were “developing at a wonderful rate.” The E&MJ was established in March 1866 and was the major medium through which American mining engineers communicated with one another their knowledge, experiences and opinions concerning mines in which they had worked throughout the world.

The second quotation is from a paper titled “The Witwatersrand and the revolt of the Uitlanders” authored and read by Dr George F Becker before the National Geographic Society on October 16, 1896.xxxv Dr Becker’s paper dealt essentially with the geology of the main gold-bearing rock strata, estimates of its gold content made by experts from England, Germany and France, the history of the Afrikaners, particularly why and how they came to settle across the Vaal river (Transvaal) and founded the South African Republic (S.A.R.) in which promising gold deposits were discovered.xxxvi Becker was employed by the United States Geological Survey Office based in Washington, D.C. as a representative of the western states’ mining industry. He was the first of many eminent American mining and European geologists to visit the Witwatersrand gold fields where, early in 1896, he conducted a geological survey for the S Neumann group of mining companies.xxxvii One of the primary investigations was to search for the westward continuation of the main reef series which were discovered in 1884 and were similar in importance to the mother lode in California. After several months of work, he established the existence of an extensive fault, a sudden break in the rock structure in which the gold veins were embedded, beyond which the main series was lost.xxxviii He constructed a model to illustrate his findings which were subsequently proved correct and useful in determining how to persue the lost veins. Dr Becker later became an honourary member of the mine-owners’ organisation, the Witwatersrand Chamber of Mines which was formed in 1887.

Dr Becker’s paper focused on the conflict that developed with the growing influx of “uitlanders” (outlanders or foreigners) who came from many parts of the world to search for and mine gold or trade on the mining fields within the republic, especially on the Witwatersrand (White waters ridge) where they were concentrated. These outlanders comprised mining capitalists, mining engineers, miners, petty capitalists and other fortune seekers. The mining capitalists and mining engineers in particular had organised themselves into what they called a Reform Committee which consisted of eighty armed men, seven of them Americans.xxxix This Committee was an important detachment of Cecil Rhodes’ and Dr Leander Starr Jameson’s abortive attempt around late 1895 and early 1896 to seize the Witwatersrand and overthrow the Afrikaner republic. Of the seven Americans on the Committee, five were very well-known mining engineers. These were John Hammond Hays, a leader in the Committee, Thomas Mein, Charles Butters, Vincent M Clement and Joseph Curtis Story.

John Hammond Hays was the consulting engineer for Cecil Rhodes’ Consolidated Gold Fields of South Africa, a position he retained as he operated out of London from late 1896 until 1900 when he returned to the United States where he continued to be a mining eonsultant for large mines financed by British capitalists. In 1903 he became general manager, consulting engineer, and a director of the Guggenheim Exploration Company which was then the largest mining corporation in the world. When he severed his relations with this firm in1907, he was “the highest salaried man in the world.”xl At the Republican Party Convention of the summer of 1908, he was the leading Vice-Presidential candidate from the state of Massachusetts but dropped out at the last minute when word arrived that any but a New York Vice-Presidential candidate would jeopardise the election of William H Taft.

The two remaining Americans who were in the Reform Committee were Richard A Parker who had helped smuggle guns, and Gardner F Williams who was also Cecil Rhodes’ General Manager of De Beers Consolidated Mines Limited and American Consular Agent in Kimberley. Gardner F Williams was one of the earliest graduates of the University of California and the first in the long line of American mining engineers who constituted the technical backbone of South Africa’s minerals industry during its formative years.xli He operated from Kimberley where he supervised the packing of guns into Standard Oil drums with false bottoms and assigned these to John Hammond Hays in Johannesburg who had them stored on different mining properties under his charge. It is therefore evident that Dr. Becker’s article on the revolt of the foreigner, who included Americans, against the South African Republican regime and the Rothwell-Raymond piece on the growth and Sdevelopment of the diamond and gold mining industries reveal respectively the earlier connections between the United States mining engineers and the South African mining industries as well as the growing interest in these industries in the United States especially among mining engineers, mining geologists and prospective investors.

The third quote was by WR Grace, one of the two sons of William Russell Grace, the “Pirate of Peru,” founder of W R Grace & Company, the first Catholic Mayor of New York City (1881 – 2, 1885 -6), and a major stockholder of Ingersoll-Sergeant Drill Company whose mining drills were used extensively on the Witwatersrand but was also in fierce competition with another American drill manufactured by the Rand Drill Company. This competition was eliminated in 1905 when both firms merged into what was called Ingersoll-Rand under the laws of the state of New Jersey. The younger W R Grace was the first vice president of Ingersoll-Rand and a director of W R Grace & Company. He had gone to South Africa to visit his company’s operations which had started in 1904 under the name Ingersoll-Sergeant as well as gather intelligence on business opportunities in that country. In the interview which was reported in The South African Mining Journal (S.A.M) of April 27, 1907 Grace was asked a number of questions including the following: his impressions of Johannesburg, how the Witwatersrand compared with American mining fields, whether the Witwatersrand was likely to attract American capital, and whether the Transvaal (British) colony had an agricultural future.xlii His replies to these questions were that the Witwatersrand was the most “Yankeelike” and “hustling” place he had seen outside the United States; the Witwatersrand mining fields compared “very well indeed” to those of the United States;xliii there was “no reason why our investors should not follow our engineers in the exploitation of the (Witwatersrand) Rand, but many that they should;” the Transvaal most decidedly had an agricultural future.

An analysis of Grace’s interview shows a few interesting aspects of how the Witwatersrand was Americanised. Plant design in the Rand gold mines (and on the Kimberley De Beers Consolidated Mines Limited) was on a large scale like the large mines in the western mining districts of the United States such as the Bunker Hill & Sullivan Mining and Concentrating Company in Idaho, the North Bloomfied in California and the Standard Consolidated at Bodie, also in California. These mines were operated on the principle of specialisation in the execution of numerous and differentiated tasks involved in mine exploration and development in particular. Efficiency in the mining the ore, transporting, crushing and treating it in large quantities at minimum cost per ton was the most desirable objective pursued by every mine manager. Large-scale plant layouts, both on the surface and underground, and the efficient as well as cost effective processes were brought to the Rand (and Kimberley) by American consulting mining engineers who had acquired the requisite technical knowledge and experience in managing large and deep level mines primarily in the United States. Surface mining equipment on the Rand gold mines was modern and as good as that which was found anywhere else. Some of this equipment was imported from the United States especially from Chicago and New York – New Jersey areas. Firms such as Babcock & Wilcox, Fraser & Chalmers, General Electric and Ingersoll-Sergeant were house-hold names on both the diamond and gold mines of the Cape (British) colony and the Transvaal respectivelly long before the Union of South Africa came into existence in 1910. Evidently, early United States-South Africa connections went beyond technically skilled and very highly paid American engineers who worked on the diamond and gold mines of South Africa.

W R Grace’s remark concerning American capital following American mining engineers into the Witwatersrand mines was realised a decade later in 1917 when the Anglo-American Corporation was formed with British and American capital.xliv The latter was put up by J P Morgan & Company and Newmont Mining Company following the advice of yet another prominent American consulting mining engineer W L Honnold who had served as a consulting engineer to the Consolidated Mines Selection Limited on the Rand where he later became a director. Honnold cooperating with another leading American mining engineer, Herbert Clark Hoover, who had also been employed by British mining capital, facilitated Morgan’s and Newmont Mining’s willingness to invest in Ernest Oppenheimer’s (Harry Oppenheimer’s father) mine holdings on the Witwatersrand.xlv Herbert C Hoover later became the thirty-first President of the United States from 1929 to 1933. Apparently, British and American capitals at different stages in the history of mining in many parts of the world, relied heavily on American consulting engineers for advice, technical evaluation of mining properties and mine management. Consequently, their services were in great demand especially in regions where mining was underdeveloped when compared to the United States. South Africa was one such place.


i. Mark Wyman, Hard Rock Epic (Berkeley, California: University of California Press, 1979), pp. 39, 41–2.

ii. Thomas A Rickard, The Bunker Hill Enterprise (San Francisco: Mining and Scientific Press, 1921), p. 15.

iii. JB Taylor, A Pioneer Looks Back (London: Hutchinson, 1939), pp. 133, 135–6.

iv. RH Richards, ‘American Mining Schools’, Transactions of the American Institute of Mining Engineers, No. 15, 1886/1887, p. 320.

v. Ibid.

vi. Clark C Spence, Mining Engineers and The American West (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1970), p. 30.

vii. Herbert Hoover, The Memoirs of Herbert Hoover (New York: Macmillan, 1951), Vol. I, p. 131.

viii. Ibid., p. 116.

ix. Paul H Douglas, Real Wages in the United States, 1890–1926 (Boston, 1930), pp. 137, 140, 143.

x. Richard Rothwell, ‘Editorial’, Engineering and Mining Journal, Vol. 41 (2 January, 1886).

xi. Quoted in Spence, p. 278

xii. Hoover, Vol I, p. 116.

xiii. Thomas A. Rickard, Interviews with Mining Engineers. (San Francisco: Mining and Scientific Press, 1922) p. 414.

xiv. Ibid.

xv. Spence, p. 143.

xvi. Rickard, Interviews. . ., pp. 229–30.

xvii. El Callao Gold Mining Company Limited, Reports of the Directors and Superintendent of the Mine presented to the Ordinary General Meeting of the Shareholders at the Company’s Office in Cuidad Bolivar, on the 15th of March, 1887 at 12 o’clock noon (unpublished report in the collection of the Engineering Societies Library, New York City).

xviii. Rickard, Interviews. . ., p. 130.

xix. Ibid., p. 244. Others recruited include Joe Richard, 1890; John Walsh, 1890; OH Hahn and WW Mein, 1891–1892; Henry G Perkins, EA Blanton, GB Poore and Richard E Bowen, 1893–1894; WH Hall, Eugene Hoefer, Palmer Carter and Lane Carter, 1895; and Louis Irving Seymour, JS Price, W Bradford, HS Stark, RG Warriner and Maurice Robeson, 1896

xx. John Hays Hammond, ‘Resume’, MSS Collection, Box 3, Sterling Library, Yale University.

xxi. Namely, Victor M Clement, Pope Yeatman, George Starr, EM Garthwarte, Hal Tilgham and Robert Catlin, SB Connor [John Hays Hammond, Autobiography, (New York: Farrar, 1935), Vol. I, p. 210], as well as HC Behr and Harry H Webb [Rickard, Interviews. . ., p. 244].
xxii. John Hays Hammond, ‘Letter of Introduction for F.H.P. Cresswell, Nov. 2, 1894’, MSS Collection, Letter Book 1, Sterling Library, Yale University, p. 353.

xxiii. John Hays Hammond, ‘Letter to Richard A. Parker, May 29, 1895’, MSS Collection, Box 3, Sterling Library, Yale University, pp. 93–4.

xxiv. Eben Erskine Olcott, ‘Letter to Enoch Kenyon, Oct. 18, 1894’, MSS Collection, Letter Book 22, New York–Historical Society, p. 1.

xxv. Rickard, Interviews. . ., pp. 244–5.

xxvi. Spence, pp. 305–6.

xxvii. Webb, p. 27.

xxviii. Spence, p. 310.

xxix. Hatch and Chalmers, p. 221.

xxx. Rickard, Interviews. . ., p. 143.

xxxi. Spence, p. 310.

xxxii. South African Mining Journal, Vol. II, No. 1 (1 October 1892), pp. 1–2.

xxxiii. Spence, p. 310.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Durban conference on anti-apartheid movements: 13 October 2004 (Speech Sietse Bosgra)

                         Johnny Makatini, ANC NEC, delegated by ANC President OR Tambo to      
                         establish "a white invisible support group for armed struggle",Okhela.
                                                       (Explanatory note and photo: Berend Schuitema)


                   Contribution of Sietse Bosgra, Netherlands Institute for Southern Africa

I’m at this conference as a representative of the Netherlands Institute for Southern Africa, the organization that originated from a merger of the different Dutch solidarity organizations. But I will speak here on the basis of my own experiences. I was part of the history of the Dutch solidarity organizations with Southern Africa for more than 40 years.

Like in some other countries the solidarity movement for South Africa in the Netherlands started after the Sharpeville massacre in 1960. On the board of the South Africa Committee each political party had one representative, but as a consequence of the cold war the left wing parties were excluded. 

I was part of a broader movement, most of them students, in Amsterdam. We were critical of the role of our country in the world, the Dutch policy towards its former colony Indonesia, the Vietnam war, the freedom struggle of the Algerian people against French colonization. We did not feel at home in on the South Africa Committee, which excluded the left wing parties, and sent polite petitions to the South African embassy in the expectation that this would contribute to ending apartheid. Moreover, as left wingers, we were not welcome at the South Africa Committee.

Then, in Angola, on the fourth of February 1961 the armed liberation struggle started. The Portuguese dictatorship, part of the so-called free world, used the arms it received as a member of the NATO alliance to suppress the revolt. Two months later the Angola Comite in Amsterdam was founded. We had learned from our activities for Algeria that it takes years to get the support of public opinion and of the politicians, so we felt we better start immediately. The Angola Committee became the support group of the liberation movements in all Portuguese colonies. For us this seemed the best way to contribute to the liberation of South Africa
Exactly ten year later we could prove we had that support when we started our first boycott campaign. The Netherlands imported more coffee from Angola than all other European countries taken together, with the exception of Portugal. Schools, universities, churches, city councils, all decided to boycott Angola coffee. Unrest among the soldiers in the Dutch army forced the minister of defence to promise them that they would in future drink Angola-free coffee. After six weeks all the coffee roasters gave in.

            During all these years there was little reaction from the Angolan liberation movement MPLA. But the relations with the Mozambican movement Frelimo were frequent and excellent. They were the ones who taught us what our tasks were. During the first years of its existence, the activities of the committee were mainly activities and battles on the streets. Many of us were wounded by the police when we disrupted with     hundreds of young people a Portuguese military band playing at the NATO tattoo in the Amsterdam Olympic stadium. The same happened when we occupied the Portuguese consulate to celebrate 40 years of Salazar dictatorship in Portugal.

But Frelimo totally changed our approach. They told us: “We are doing the fighting in Africa, that is none of your business. But there is a second front, in Europe, and that is your battlefront. Your task is to isolate the enemy and to organize in your country political and material support for the liberation movements.” They instructed us to build up contacts with the large political parties in parliament. At the start we were reluctant, as these parties had all supported the colonial war against Indonesia, but finally we agreed. We were to follow that line for 40 years.

Frelimo also had a practical task for us. In the Scandinavian countries they received government funds for their humanitarian work, and they thought the same should happen in the Netherlands. As the Angola Committee was at that time in a bitter fight with the government about the NATO arms deliveries to Portugal, it was decided to set up a separate organization to work for this demand, the Eduardo Mondlane Foundation. We succeeded in one year: Frelimo was the first liberation movement ever to receive Dutch government funds.

When we discuss the liberation of South Africa we should not forget that it was Frelimo that put the liberation struggle in Southern Africa on the agenda in a period that most attention went to the Vietnam war. That was not only the case in the Netherlands but if I’m right also in other European countries. Many young people saw in Mozambique a new part of the world liberated from capitalism, a second Cuba, and after the liberation hundreds of them went to Mozambique to help build up the new free society.

During all these years there was in the Netherlands little activity concerning South Africa and in support of ANC. The South Africa Committee of the 1960’s could not keep up with the emerging radical course in Third World activism and was ineffective. However, in the early seventies a young South African, the Afrikaner Berend Schuitema, was able, with his friends, to take over the organization and reshape it into the Dutch Anti-Apartheid Movement. But they also focused their activities more on the liberation struggle in Rhodesia/Zimbabwe than on South Africa. These were the years of good cooperation between the both organizations. Many local groups were formed, and at the annual Southern Africa conferences there were up to 800 participants from all parts of the country.

After the liberation of the Portuguese colonies a rearrangement in the solidarity movement took place. The Angola Committee concluded that the enemy was no longer in Lisbon, but in Pretoria. At international conferences and during visits to Africa the members of the Angola Committee had often been in contact with ANC, Swapo, ZAPU/ZANU, who asked them to send part of the material support to them. During 1975 all our energy was put into supporting MPLA in its fight against South African aggression. But much of the goods that were sent to Angola were given to ANC and Swapo, who had now moved into Angola. The name of the organization was changed into Komitee Zuidelijk Afrika. But as the liberation movements used to speak about the “Holland Committee”, the English name became Holland Committee on Southern Africa”. The Mondlane Foundation, who had been responsible for the material aid to the liberation movements in the Portuguese colonies, would in future be responsible for the Dutch support for these new states.

Discussions were started between the Holland Committee and the Anti Apartheid Movement (AAM) about cooperation or forming one new organization. Just in that period an important development took place in the AAM that ended the good relations. Together with Breyten Breytenbach, Berend Schuitema, the founder and leader of the AAM, had secretly founded a white liberation movement of South Africa, named Okhela, apparently with the support of Oliver Tambo. But for others in the London office of ANC this was unacceptable. With the support of London Schuitema was expelled from the AAM. He and other expelled board members in the AAM came to the Holland Committee wanting to join our organization, but we had to decline, although they were full of energy and had enormous capacities. We did not want to become part of the conflict. (Italics, bold by Berend Schuitema).

When the dust had settled, the talks between both organizations were started again. The reborn AAM was oriented towards the Dutch Communist Party, a small isolated party with little political influence. This was conflicted with our policy to build up contacts with the larger political parties. Their message was that we should not campaign against Dutch firms to stop their collaboration with South Africa, as the ANC feared that the workers would be alienated from the freedom struggle. Instead we should campaign for ‘total sanctions’. And we should not campaign for Dutch government support for the ANC, as such support would only be an excuse for the continuation of collaboration with the apartheid regime. Our position was that it was for the ANC to decide if they wanted Dutch government support.

The strange situation developed that both the Holland Committee and the Dutch AAM were support organizations of the ANC, but that each had its own contacts in the ANC office in London. For many in the ANC the Anti-Apartheid Movement were the comrades, we accepted that we were just friends. More painful was that during a visit to Luanda we were invited by Joe Slovo for a meeting. For us it was a kind of tribunal. In the presence of some twenty ANC cadres we had to answer questions full of distrust. We were seen as Labour Party people, and indeed we had succeeded in involving the party in supporting the liberation struggle in Southern Africa, as Frelimo had asked us. For instance the party would send letters to all its 100.000 members to ask for donations to the liberation movements in Southern Africa through our Liberation Fund.

The result was that the Netherlands had two large support organizations for the same liberation movements in Southern Africa. At the same time other smaller solidarity organizations were founded, Kairos, originally a support organization of Beyers Naudé’s Christian Institute, was focused on the churches and their followers. The South African Esau du Plessis founded Boycott Outspan Action. These four organizations had their own activities, but worked together during the big campaigns. Three of them had a common monthly publication “Amandla”, together with the North of Belgium where also Dutch is spoken. Also the Dutch Anti-Apartheid Movement was invited to join but they continued to publish their own periodical.

All four organizations received most of their funding for salaries and campaigning activities from the Dutch government, like the other Dutch third world organizations. In this the Netherlands is probably a unique case. When we produced banners against the government policy or painted slogans on the walls, the costs were paid by the government. As our salaries were very modest, in all about 30 full-time people could work for the four anti-apartheid  organizations.

In the practical work, the Holland Committee and the earlier Dutch AAM had different fields of activities. The AAM was active on the issue of the arms trade and nuclear collaboration with apartheid. The main focus of the later AAM through the years was however building up bonds of friendship with the ANC. The AAM did a great deal in the cultural field, linking the campaign for a cultural boycott of white South Africa with a plea for an ‘alternative Cultural Treaty’ with the resistance. Major AAM-organized festivals and conferences in Amsterdam included ‘The Cultural Voice of the Resistance’ in 1982 and ‘Culture in Another South Africa’ (or CASA) in 1987. Such events became important meeting-places for South African artists not only with their foreign colleagues, but with their exiled compatriots too. As worded by the ANC’s Barbara Masekela at the 1987 CASA conference, during the years of apartheid Amsterdam had become “the cultural capital of South Africa” for South Africans. In this field of soft sanctions the government was willing to take certain steps. Subsidizing emigration to South Africa was stopped, the cultural treaty was suspended and years later terminated, sports contacts were reduced. Among the other AAM-supported campaigns were those for the ANC’s Radio Freedom, for SOMAFCO,  for the release of political prisoners, and those in the fields of women’s rights – with the major ‘Malibongwe’ conference in Amsterdam in 1990 – and, later on, for the support of South African gay and lesbian organizations. Hidden from the public eye the AAM chairwoman, Conny Braam, was also involved in the ANC Operation Vula, on which she published a revealing book in 1992.

One of the most important activities of the Holland Committee was material aid for the ANC. When in 1975 the Dutch government stopped its support for MPLA, Frelimo and PAIGC, it started to extend the support to Swapo and ZAPU/ZANU. ANC was the last one and followed in 1976. The government support was in the form of goods to be sent to Africa. But a government bureaucracy is not equipped for buying rather small quantities of the many different products and shipping them to various places in Africa. At the request of all the liberation movements the government money was handed over to the Holland Committee. This made it possible to react immediately to requests by the liberation movements, and offer them unconditional support. At the end of the year the bills for humanitarian goods were sent to the government, whereas for instance nightglasses and communication equipment for the liberation armies were paid for by funds from the public. At the Committee six persons were working full-time in its department for material aid.

During these years the European Union was under great public pressure to institute sanctions against South Africa. Under this pressure the Union in 1986 started a ‘special program for the victims of apartheid’. It would become the Union’s largest aid programme of any kind in history, and with its annual budget of nearly 100 million dollars it was also one of the largest support program for the organizations inside South Africa working for change. The money was channeled through European NGO’s. In South Africa there were four organizations to transfer the money: the Council of Churches, the Bishop Conference, the trade unions and the Kagiso Trust. As the Holland Committee already received the Dutch government funds for the liberation movements, it was the only European anti-apartheid organization accepted by the EU to be involved in the project. And as the ANC-oriented organizations in South Africa often preferred to work with a solidarity organization, the committee became one of the largest participants in the project.

Our biggest contribution to the liberation of South Africa was probably that, together with Beyers Naudé on the South African side, we were able to exclude Inkatha from these massive funds. Buthelezi had at that time a lot of support in the west. He was a personal friend of people like Thatcher, Reagan, the German chancellor Kohl. They hoped that after apartheid power would not be transferred to the communists, the ANC, but to Buthelezi. This would most probably mean a civil war in South Africa. The Holland Committee first set up a coordinating body for the European NGO’s involved in the program, called SANAM, with the secretariat in the hands of Holland committee. The next step was to develop, with Beyers, a ten-point Code of Conduct for the EU program. No money to activities that were normally funded by the South African government, no money to homeland institutions, no money to tribal organizations. Beyers convinced the four South African partners: they would stop their cooperation with the EU if they would not accept this Code of Conduct. Finally Beyers went to Brussels, where he told the European Union that he would organize a press conference in Brussels to announce the end of the program if the demands were not met. Although this is one of the most important contributions of Beyers Naudé to the liberation of South Africa, few people are aware of these facts.

Finally, I would like to say something about the economic sanction activities of the Holland Committee. One of our first victories was in 1985, when we forced the banks to stop selling the Krugerrand. It was rather symbolic, and probably that was the reason that the European Union shortly after our victory banned the sale of Krugerrands in all EU member states. With the support of the local groups and the trade unions we were in 1986 able to force all the Dutch shopping chains to stop selling any South African product till the end of apartheid.

But our biggest campaign was, together with Kairos, to force Shell to end fuelling apartheid. There were about 80 so-called anti-apartheid cities in the Netherlands, but the government prohibited them to boycott Shell. This campaign continued for more than ten years, without Shell giving in to our demands. Some of the activists became impatient. More and more petrol station of Shell were attacked, the country house of an oil trader who was heavily involved in embargo busting was burned down, the Makro hypermarket was reduced to ashes. This brought us in a difficult position, we did not want to let these activists down as their aim was the same as ours, but on the other hand our strength was public sympathy for the cause, and we were afraid to loose it as a consequence of these violent activities. The ANC openly condemned these violent acts.

It seems that after an internal struggle the ANC gave up its initial resistance against the oil campaign of Kairos and the Holland Committee. An “oil unit” was formed under president Tambo in London. In close consultation with the ANC and the UN Centre against Apartheid, both Dutch organizations set up a new body with a neutral name: the Shipping Research Bureau and with a secret address in Amsterdam. For almost fifteen years three full-time researchers monitored the world-wide secret oil deliveries to South Africa. All the Arab states had promised to stop selling oil to South Africa, but the trade continued. Each time SRB discovered a secret delivery, both the UN Committee against Apartheid and ANC would approach the government of the country where the oil originated. The international oil embargo placed a enormous burden on the apartheid economy. The South African president P.W. Botha in the mid-eighties boasted that his government had already spent 22 billion rands to make sure the country got is oil. He did not realize that he was saying that the apartheid regime had wasted 22 million rands to meet the impact of the oil embargo.

Of course the oil embargo campaign of the Holland Committee and Kairos was also focused on the Dutch government. Holland does not produce oil itself, but the Rotterdam port is the major international centre for the oil trade, and South Africa got a sizeable part of its crude oil imports through Rotterdam. We wanted a ban on all oil exports to South Africa. In line with what Frelimo had learned us we needed now good contacts in the large Christian Democratic Party. Their parliamentary spokesman for foreign affairs, Jan Nico Scholten, became a personal friend. His baptism of fire was a dangerous visit to the liberated areas of Guinea-Bissau together with his Labour Party colleague. Since then every year I visited him in parliament to assist in preparing his speech for the debates on foreign affairs. He was able to organize majority support in parliament for a one-sided Dutch oil embargo against South Africa, after all other West European states had refused to join the Netherlands. However, the oil embargo debate ended in a disaster for him. The Dutch government refused to give in. If parliament insisted it would step down. An enormous pressure was thus put on the Christian Democratic parliamentarians by their CD government. Finally, in the middle of the night, Jan Nico Scholten lost his majority. The next step of the party was to deprive him as spokesman of foreign affairs. Jan Nico left the party and parliament, and devoted his energy to the struggle against apartheid through the organization he had founded, AWEPA, the Association of West European Parliamentarians against Apartheid. More than a thousand parliamentarians from all over Europe became member of his organization.

Finally, there came an end to apartheid. The Dutch AAM, the Holland Committee and the Mondlane Foundation formed a new organization, the Netherlands Institute for Southern Africa. It is a large organization, about 50 people are working there, and not on the low salaries we received during the anti-apartheid years but on pay conforming to the market sector. Also now the funds come from the Dutch government, the European Union, etc. By far most people working there have no connection with the times of the liberation struggle. I have a room in the office, but together with some other old friends of Holland Committee and Kairos we now work for the Palestinian people. My only task connected with Southern Africa is trying to realise a project with the University of Amsterdam and the International Institute of 
Social History to record the history of the Dutch contribution to the liberation of South Africa

Sietse Bosgra

 Henri Curiel, a major figure in the solidarity movement for the Algerian National Liberation Movement, requested by ANC leaders to do training and logistical support for clandestine work by the Okhela group in South African operations, under supervision of Johnny Makatini.. Curiel was assassinated in May, 1978. 

(Explanatory note and photo: Berend Schuitema)

Saturday, December 1, 2012

From Jan van Riebeeck to solidarity with the struggle: The Netherlands, South Africa and apartheid {Bosgra, 2008)

                   Taken recently in Klerksdorp where the Founder of the AABN grew up

2.4 The Anti-Apartheid Beweging Nederland: 1971–1975

The ‘motivated and fanatical newcomers’ who failed in their attempts to invigorate
the CZA were students from the two universities in Amsterdam. The initiator and
key person was Berend Schuitema, a white South African student in exile, who had
been in contact with CZA since spring of 1970. One of the most important points of
discussion between the new activists and the old guard was the need for ‘hard
action’. Finally, on the 13 November 1971, the AABN replaced the CZA. ‘Schuitema
founded the AABN and Schuitema was the AABN’, say the people who worked with
him during that period.27

The formation of the AABN implied a total rupture with the old CZA, where all
political currents except the communists were represented on the board.
Apartheid, according to the AABN, was an integral part of the capitalist system,
and this system should be fought against, both in the Netherlands and in the Third
World. ‘The AABN has to be reconstructed with the support of those organisations
that participate in the class struggle of the workers movement, that means who
strive after a socialist society.’28 The AABN declared it's solidarity with the ANC, the
South African Congress of Trade Unions (SACTU), and with SWAPO, ZANU and
ZAPU. At it's first meeting with the ANC, in Amsterdam on 21 December 1972, the
ANC representative in London, Reg September, was present and it was agreed that
regular meetings would be held twice a year in the future. At this meeting
Schuitema remarked that he was astonished at the close ties that many on the
AABN board had with the Dutch communist party CPN: ‘These ties with the CPN
are somewhat strange: the party shows little interest in Southern Africa.’ The AABN
was also disappointed that it's newspaper De Waarheid hardly paid any attention to
Southern Africa and more to Vietnam’.29

Since AABN aimed at the total boycott of South Africa, it started listing and
investigating those companies that retained links with apartheid South Africa. In
1972 it started a campaign against Philips because this Dutch firm had been
implicated in breaking the arms embargo. Two years later the focus was on
Estel/Hoogovens because the company had plans to participate in a steel project
in South Africa. The campaign was successful: Hoogovens dropped it's plans
following a local protest meeting in which 1 000 participants, among them many
workers of Hoogovens, took part. At the request of the ANC office in London the
AABN and DAFN organised another art auction in September 1975 to raise funds
for political prisoners in South Africa. On this occasion, ANC president Oliver Tambo
met the Dutch government for the first time, and also addressed an audience of
1.000 people.

During this period the AABN’s energy was directed at the liberation struggle in
Zimbabwe rather than South Africa. It was successful in proving that the Dutch
tobacco industry imported one third of it's tobacco from Rhodesia in defiance of
the mandatory UN trade embargo against that country. Berend Schuitema was
totally dedicated to the cause; so much so that he went at night to search the
dustbins of the trading firms in order to find this evidence and was injured when
waiting guards attacked him.

The AABN also supported SWAPO. A visit to the Netherlands by SWAPO’s secretary
of labour, Solomon Mifima, led to a wide publicity and a fundraising campaign for
SWAPO by the NVV Industrial Union (Industriebond NVV). At it's 1975 congress the
trade union symbolically handed over an amount of €100.000 to Mifima.

26 Edelenbosch, In Goed Vertrouwen, 30.
27 De Anti-Apartheidskrant, 2 (Sept/Oct. 1990) 24-5.
28 The AABN magazine ‘Zuidelijk Afrika Nieuws’, no. 97.

                   Berend Schuitema working with committee for Mine Veterans, 2011