Charles Leonard

Charles Leonard, South Africa’s Forgotten Revolutionary Leader




In 1895, Charles Leonard, a prominent and popular Johannesburg attorney, was elected Chairman of the Transvaal National Union, a cosmopolitan group of activists who initially petitioned President Paul Kruger and his Boer government for reforms, but then plotted to overthrow the regime in an armed insurrection.

In this, they had the secret but full support of Cecil John Rhodes, then Prime Minister of the Cape, and leading members of his British South Africa Company, as well as the tacit support of the British Secretary of State for the Colonies, Joseph Chamberlain. Then, at the eleventh hour, disaster struck. In the ensuing pandemonium and international diplomatic crisis, Charles Leonard managed to escape, leading most historians to label him a coward. This book critically examines the facts and challenges their verdict.