By Richard B. Spence, Ph.D., University of Idaho
Most secret societies have unknown goals, with rituals and gatherings only to have fun. Wealthy men gather in highly selective circles to interact with like-minded people. Among elite secret societies, there is one that achieved big goals like ousting a government or raging a war. A wealthy man called Cecil Rhodes had a central role in this.
Cecil Rhodes’ Dreams and Ambitions
Cecil Rhodes was a Victorian English businessman and fanatical imperialist, who thought he was chosen. He briefly flirted with Freemasons but soon lost his interest in ordinary Masons. He believed their rites were meaningless and absurd, with no purpose, and merely a waste of time. He had high aspirations, so in 1877 when he was 24, he made a will. In that will, he devoted his life and wealth to, “establishment, promotion, and development of a Secret Society, the true aim and object of which shall be the extension of British rule throughout the world.”
His dream was to spread British control over Africa and South America, Malaya, the Seacoasts of China and Japan, the Pacific Island, and the Holy Land. His obsession was “the ultimate recovery of the United States of America as an integral part of the British Empire.”
Believing in Britons as the “first race of the world,” he wanted to bring the whole world under British hegemony. He accumulated huge wealth through diamonds and gold. Partnering with Alfred Beit, he established the De Beers Mining Corp. and the British South Africa Company that governed the Cape Colony, which included the Transvaal and Orange Republics. In 1890, Rhodes was appointed the governor of the Cape Colony, aspiring to use the gold found in Transvaal in 1884 for the empire.
This is a transcript from the video series The Real History of Secret Societies. Watch it now, on Wondrium.
The Society of the Elect is Born
At the same time, Rhodes was working on establishing his secret society, devoting vast amounts of money to the order in five successive wills. After recruiting men like Alfred Beit, Nathaniel Rothschild, William Stead, and Alfred Milner, he formally inaugurated the Society of the Elect in 1891.
Rhodes was the head of the society, followed by Stead, Milner, and Viscount Esher, making the Junta of Three.
The elites from the realms of politics and business were carefully chosen to form the Elect, the class below the Junta. An Association of Helpers was the next class. They were not as influential but had bright futures in the system.
Learn more about secret societies: the never-ending story.
The Gold Rush in Transvaal
At the same time, the gold rush had begun in Transvaal goldfields, with thousands of miners and businessmen coming to the fields. Most of these people were British subjects who were called by Dutch-speaking Boers and rulers of the Transvaal Uitlanders, or Outlanders. Although they had permission to work, they did not have any political rights. It led to resentment among outlanders, which created a great opportunity for Rhodes’ enemies.
Frank Rhodes, Cecil’s Brother, formed a Reform Committee in the Transvaal Capital of Johannesburg. While he was planning a rebellion among Outlanders, Alfred Beit financed the Reform Committee and a large group of 600 men under the leadership of Helper Leander Jameson. In December 1895, after invading Transvaal, Jameson’s army went to Johannesburg, which was supposed to be under the control of the Reform Committee. The British government did not recognize these efforts all made by Rhodes society.
After the Reform Committee refused to proceed, Jameson’s men gave in to the Boers. Eventually, Cecil Rhodes had to resign as a governor of the Cape Colony. However, this resignation did not affect Rhodes’ wealth, influence, and secret society.
In 1899, the Boer republics declared war owing to new provocations. This time, the British Empire came with full force and defeated them in 1902. It was Rhodes’ ultimate desire, but he died in 1902 at the age of 49, so he couldn’t enjoy the victory.
Rhodes had two primary goals: establishing an imperial federation and taking control of the US. The Commonwealth realized his first goal. But the US did not go back to the empire, although they formed a special relationship after the two world wars.
Learn more about secret societies: the underworld of history.
Common Questions about Cecil Rhodes and the Society of the Elect
Cecil Rhodes was a Victorian English businessman and fanatical imperialist, who thought he was chosen. He founded the Society of the Elect and recruited many prominent politicians and businessmen to achieve his big dreams for the British Empire.
Cecil Rhodes accumulated immense wealth through diamonds and gold. Partnering with Alfred Beit, he established the De Beers Mining Corp. He was the governor of the Cape Colony, which had many gold mines.
Cecil Rhodes had high aspirations, so in 1877 when he was 24, he made a will. In that will, he devoted his life and wealth to, “establishment, promotion, and development of a Secret Society, the true aim and object of which shall be the extension of British rule throughout the world.”
The Society of the Elect was a secret society founded by Cecil Rhodes. It consisted of three classes, Junta of Three, the Elect, and the Helpers. The elites from the realm of politics and business were carefully chosen as members of this society.