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The South Africa Act 1909 was an Act of the British Parliamentmarker which created the Union of South Africa from the British Colonies of the Cape of Good Hope, Natal, Orange River Colony, and the Transvaalmarker.

Historical Background

In the aftermath of the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902), Britain annexed the South African Republic and the Orange Free Statemarker, two hitherto independent Afrikaner republics. These new territories, renamed the Transvaal and the Orange River Colony respectively, were added to Britain's existing South African territories, the Cape Colony and Natal. It was British government policy to encourage these four colonies to come together in closer union; after the grant of responsible government to the Transvaal and Orange River Colony in 1907, this aspiration was one that was also increasingly held by the Afrikaner population.

These political forces resulted in the 1908 National Convention, which met on 12 October 1908 and completed its work on 11 May 1909. This Convention settled on the terms and constitution of a governmental, legislative, and economic Union. These proposals were transmitted to the British government, which duly prepared a Bill to give effect to these wishes. The Bill was passed by Parliament on 20 September 1909 and on 20 September 1909 King Edward VII proclaimed that the Union of South Africa would be established on 31 May 1910. This Act, which essentially brought into being the South African state as it is known today, served as the South African constitution until 1961, when South Africa became a republic and left the Commonwealth. The basic structure of the 1909 Act continued to live on in its replacement, the Republic of South Africa Constitution Act 32 of 1961. However, the last vestiges of the 1909 Act finally disappeared in 1983 when the apartheid-era government enacted a new constitution, the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa Act 110 of 1983.

Bibliography

  • Brand, Hon. RH - The Union of South Africa, (1910), Clarendon Press


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