The conditions laid down in the Convention did not satisfy the Delegates, although they formally assented to them. Their disappointment began to be strongly manifested. They had stoutly denied that slavery existed in their country. This denial was challenged by the Secretary of the Aborigines Protection Society, who brought forward some very awkward testimonies and facts of recent date. It was suggested that President Kruger should for ever silence the calumniators by demanding a Commission of enquiry on this subject which would take evidence within and round the Transvaal as they might see fit. The Delegates took good care not to accept this challenge. The firmness of the British Government at that moment was fully justified by the actual facts of the case which came so strikingly before them, and their attitude was supported by public opinion, so far as this public opinion in England then existed. It was the Transvaal deputation itself which had most effectually developed it when they first arrived in London, though it was known they had many friends, and that numbers of the public were generally quite willing to consider their claims. They sat for three months in conference with members of Her Majesty’s Government before coming to any decision. That decision was known as the London Convention of 1884.
The displeasure of the Boer Delegates matured after their return to the Transvaal, and was expressed in a message sent by the Volksraad to our Government not many months after the signing of the Convention in London.
In this document the Boers seem to regard themselves as a victorious people making terms with those they had conquered. It is interesting to note the articles of the Convention to which they particularly object. In the telegram which was sent to “His Excellency, W.E. Gladstone,” the Volksraad stated that the London Convention was not acceptable to them. They declared that “modifications were desirable, and that certain articles must be altered.” They attached importance to the Native question, declaring that “the Suzerain (Great Britain) has not the right to interfere with their Legislature, and that they cannot agree to article 3, which gives the Suzerain a voice concerning Native affairs, nor to article 13, by virtue of which Natives are to be allowed to acquire land, nor to that part of Article 26, by which it is provided that white men of a foreign race living in the Transvaal shall not be taxed in excess of the taxes imposed on Transvaal citizens.”
It should be observed here that this reference to unequal and excessive taxation of foreigners in the Transvaal, pointing to a tendency on the part of the Boers to load foreigners with unjust taxation, was made before the development of the goldfields and the great influx of Uitlanders.
The Message of the Volksraad was finally summed up in the following words: “we object to the following articles, 15, 16, 26, and 27, because to insist on them is hurtful to our sense of honour.” (sic.)