Finding Number (Click this to view full catalogue structure)JCLAdd/637-645
TitleLetters to and from Joseph Chamberlain relating to alcohol and the sale of liquor in Africa
Extent9 items
DescriptionAdditional deposit comprising:

/637: Letter from Joseph Chamberlain to Mr Bellows [John Thomas, 1831-1902, Polymath, Printer and Lexicographer] and addressed from 40 Prince's Gardens [London]. Concerns Chamberlain stopping licences to sell liquor in Botswana. Chamberlain states that 'it may please you to know that in the final arrangements there will be no licences to sell liquor either to whites or to blacks in Khama’s country. There is one existing licence in Bathoen’s reserve, but that will be extinguished. White men residing in the country, and desiring alcoholic liquors, will have to apply for and obtain a permit to import sufficient for their personal use, but if they abuse this privilege, or part with any liquor so obtained to natives, the permit will at once be taken away'. Dated 23 November 1895.

/638: Letter from Joseph Chamberlain to Mr Bellows [John Thomas, 1831-1902, Polymath, Printer and Lexicographer] and addressed from Highbury, Moor Green, Birmingham. Chamberlain regrets that he missed him 'at the Colonial Office yesterday. I return to London on Monday but expect to have every minute of my time engaged, and owing to the holding of Cabinet Councils I find it difficult to make any appointment with certainty of being able to keep it. I hope, however, that you and Mr Pease will think it unnecessary to do more than forward to me the minute of the Society. Since I have been in office I think I have given proof that I am determined as far as in me lies to prevent the native races of Africa over whom we have any influence from being destroyed body and soul by strong drink. I thoroughly approve of Khama’s policy in this respect, and in any arrangement to which may be made as to the future every security will be taken that this good work shall not be destroyed'. Dated 2 November 1895.

/639-645: Accompanying letters to and from Bellows on the subject discussed in /638, the first from H. T. Wilson stating that 'Mr Chamberlain desires me to thank you... and to say... that if you and your colleagues will kindly look at the terms of the settlement between the Bechuana Chief and the Chartered Company which will very shortly be announced in the newspapers, he thinks you will find that the object of your proposed interests are sufficiently obtained...', 9 November 1895; two from Bellows to Chamberlain, one signed, the other a copy, concerning this 'arrangement with the Bechuana Chiefs published in today’s Times, is so admirable in its balance of the wide and varied claims that are involved in it, that it is only the feeling of the importance of one peril still left open, which has led us to ask for the interview that was kindly offered to accord to the delegates of the Society of Friends. Khama’s appeal to the Colonial Office for the maintenance of his territorial rights, has met with full and just recognition and he has also appealed, with thy own full sympathy, to be upheld in the remarkable steps he has taken for the raising of his people to civilization and prosperity, especially as regards his keeping strong drink out of his territory; as Bishop Knight Bruce has put it ‘almost at the point of the bayonet’. This appeal made, not only to the Cabinet, but to the masses of the English people, through the platform and the press has evoked what is practically a unanimous response from the whole country...' continuing at length about Khama’s government of his people and then saying that 'There are however two words in the letter which, while not intended to operate against the spirit of the provision, will certainly do so. ie that White man’s strong drink shall not be brought ‘for sale’ into the territory. If these words are embodied in the permanent document they cannot fail to act like a scratch across the tip of a dam, which begins a self-increasing leak', 11 November 1895; the next from Wilson again arranging for the requested meeting, Colonial Office headed paper, 13 November 1895; the next a typescript letter signed from Rev Ralph Wardlaw Thompson [1842-1916, Foreight Secretary of the London Missionary Society] to Bellows, thanking him for the interest the Society of Friends has taken in the matter and saying that 'there can be no doubt that in some parts of South Africa where the prohibitive law with reference to the sale of intoxicating liquors for natives is enforced, a good deal of mischief is done by licences to sell drink the the white men... In the territory of the three Chiefs the evil has been known only in a very modified degree. Bathoen has complained of a licence given to a store keeper at Kanye. Sebele and many of his tribesmen have I fear yielded to temptation... In Khama’s country no licences of any kind have been issued... Mr Chamberlain in the settlement made with the Chiefs last week has gone much further in the direction of restriction that has been attempted by his predecessors... the Government can scarcely go furher than this in the direction of prohibition' and suggesting that there isn’t a lot of point in them meeting with the Colonial Secretary, London Missionary Society headed paper, 13 November 1895; the final two are from Bellows, stating that 'the Chiefs might like to have a copy of the minute which the Society of Friends presented to the Secretary for the Colonies... it will at least assure them that they have the sympathy of many in England... A firm Imperial Government and a Queen whom we love, are blessings from heaven, yet they cannot guard against any contingency, or stave off some of the harm that comes along with the good in such changes as the opening up of African lands to our countrymen', 22 November 1895; and finally he thanks Chamberlain for his letter as will 'everyone who has felt an interest in the Bechuana Chiefs, for the care and judgement with which thou has brought their matter to a settlement', 25 November 1895.
Access StatusOpen
Administrative HistoryKhama’s Country was in Botswana. San (Bushmen) were the aboriginal inhabitants but they constitute only a small portion of the population today. The Tswana supplanted the San, who remained as subjects. Beginning in the 1820s, the region was disrupted by the expansion of the Zulu and their offshoot, the Ndebele. However, Khama II, chief of the Ngwato (the largest Tswana nation), curbed the depredations of the Ndebele and established a fairly unified state. A new threat arose in the late 19th cent. with the incursion of Boers (Afrikaners) from neighboring Transvaal. After gold was discovered in the region in 1867, the Transvaal government sought to annex parts of Botswana. Although the British forbade annexation, the Boers continued to encroach on native lands during the 1870s and 80s. German colonial expansion in South West Africa (Namibia) caused the British to reexamine their policies, and, urged on by Khama III, they established (1884–85) a protectorate called Bechuanaland. Britain provided for the eventual transfer of Bechuanaland to the Union of South Africa.

From the 1895 general election the Liberal Unionists were in coalition with the Conservative Party, under Chamberlain's former opponent Lord Salisbury. In that government Chamberlain served as Secretary of State for the Colonies, promoting a variety of schemes to build up the Empire in Asia, Africa, and the West Indies. He had major responsibility for causing the Second Boer War (1899–1902) in South Africa and was the government minister most responsible for the war effort.


    Some of our most significant collections