The Boer War was a shock to the pride of the British Empire. It had expected a short police action on the far-fringes of its world wide empire. Instead Britain found itself embroiled in a long and expensive war that lasted three years, almost as long as World War 1 would approximately three years later. In order to win, Britain had to mobilize a large army of its own and call on its colonies and dominions for help. The British public was generally behind the war effort. Thanks to skilful propaganda on the home front and a unified voice from political leaders throughout the Empire, few British subjects questioned whether the Boer was morally justified.
In France and the United States, however, public opinion was however largely against the British. Newspapers routinely published satirical cartoons depicting Britain as a bumbling, arrogant, cowardly and oppressive imperial power, while the plucky Boers were depicted as brave freedom fighters. Other illustrations commented on the geopolitical situation, and how this war might affect the balance of power in the world.
These drawings and cartoons shine a light on how people outside of the combat area, in Britain and the United States, viewed the Boer War. photos shine a light on a forgotten conflict and allow us to see the human beings behind the pages of history. These are the Boer volunteers who fought in defense of their homelands, against overwhelming odds. Their bravery, audacity, and innovative commando tactics allowed them to bloody the British Empire in many battles.
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This French satirical cartoon depicts the recently deceased British Monarch trying to escape Hell and its minions while the saintly and also recently deceased wife of the Boer President, tries to encourage the Queen to reach the safety of Heaven. The message is that the warmongering Queen Victoria has earned a place in the underworld, while Mrs. Botha, and by extension the other innocent victims of British aggression, are innocent and saintly.