What were the causes of the Second Boer War?

Last updated: 15/11/2023
Contributor: Andreas Dimitriou
What were the causes of the Second Boer War?
Main Subject
Key stage
Industry and Empire c. 1750-1900: British Empire
Resource type
Concepts and methods
Cause and consequence

This resource is suitable for GCSE or A-level students and is likely to take more than one lesson. It focuses on the Second Boer War but also examines the background to the First Boer War so students understand the context.

Students study a map of of the Dutch Empire and British Empire in the 19th century, read information about the Great Trek and the First Boer War, and then complete a timeline of the key events leading up to the Second Boer War.

They write summaries of the roles played by Cecil Rhodes, Paul Kruger, Joseph Chamberlain and Robert Cecil and answer comprehension questions about the Drift Crisis, the Reform Movement and the Jameson Raid.

Finally, students correct a summary of the main causes of the Second Boer War and sort them into political, economic and social, and causes due to the influence of individuals.

An extract from the resource:

Causes of the Second Boer War

Below, a number of the causes of the Second Boer War are explained in more detail. At the end, you will be asked the following questions. Look out for the answers as you read.

  • What were the aims and ambitions of Cecil Rhodes?
  • What were the concerns of Joseph Chamberlain?
  • What was the Jameson Raid of 1895?

The discovery of gold changed everything

Gold was discovered on the Witwatersrand, in present-day Johannesburg. This began a gold rush every bit as wild as those in California, Alaska and New Zealand. In poured miners from all over the world, especially Britain. By the end of the century, one quarter of the world's gold was being dug in the Johannesburg reefs.

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