Date of Award
Campus Access Thesis
Master of Arts (MA)
Spencer Di Scala
The subject of my work is the relationship between Winston S. Churchill, South Africa, and the origins of apartheid. My current thesis is, "As Undersecretary at the Colonial Office, Churchill influenced the basis for a racially exclusive manhood suffrage under apartheid via his promotion of a revised constitution and Responsible Government in the Transvaal." The purpose of my paper is to assess the extent of Churchill's and the British Government's impact on apartheid. This thesis opposes the popular notion that apartheid began with Daniel Malan's nationalist and racist government in 1948. In order to prove my thesis, I have analyzed many primary sources not in the secondary literature including Colonial Office documents and the Transvaal Constitution.
My research is significant to South African history, British Imperial history, and Churchill's political legacy. Of all of these areas, Churchill's political legacy will change the most, which has been mostly positive and possessed a glorious luster. Aside from his part in bringing the Anglo-Irish Conflict to a conclusion with the partition of Ireland and readying the Admiralty for the Great War, the majority of Churchill's political fame has been attributed to his anti-appeasement stance leading up to the Second World War and his role as the leader who guided Great Britain through the war. However, not too much has been discussed regarding Churchill's political failures including his part in apartheid.
I demonstrate that the British Government was partly responsible for apartheid and that because it was responsible for apartheid, Churchill was just as responsible as a member of the Government. His section of the Government, the Colonial Office, was responsible for the beginnings of apartheid. It withheld the vote from native Africans and gave South Africa the tools for apartheid when it granted Responsible Government to the Transvaal. Apartheid has not been associated with Churchill because historians do not want to slander a great man. My research associating him with apartheid does not diminish Churchill's political legacy, but rather adds depth to it. The association with apartheid merely humanizes an otherwise accomplished and noble figure in British history.
Beckvold, Christopher H., "The Transvaal Constitution and Responsible Government: How Churchill influenced Apartheid" (2014). Graduate Masters Theses. 260.