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Cecil John Rhodes Passes Away

Today in Masonic History Cecil John Rhodes passes away in 1902.

Cecil John Rhodes a British businessman and politician.

Rhodes was born July 5th, 1853 in Bishop's Stortford, England. He attended the Bishop's Stortford Grammar School starting at the age of 9. At the age of 16 he was removed from the school. Rhodes was a sickly child who was asthmatic and there was some believe that he had tuberculous. After his father schooled him for a time at home, Rhodes was sent to live with his brother in South Africa. It was his fathers hope that the sea voyage and warmer climate would help Rhodes health, this was a common practice at the time.

When first in South Africa, Rhodes lived on money lent by his aunt. He also developed an interest in agriculture and would join his brother on his brother's cotton plantation. Unfortunately the land was not well suited for cotton and the plantation failed.

In 1871, Rhodes and his brother headed to the diamond fields of Kimberly. He would be financed by N.M. Rothschild & sons and over the next 17 years would buy up all of the smaller diamond mine operations in Kimberly. In 1890 he would hold a monopoly on the World's diamonds when he would make a deal with the London based Diamond Syndicate.

In 1873, Rhodes would return to England to attend Oriel University, Oxford. He would only stay for one term in 1873. In 1876 he would return to complete his second term. It was at Oxford that John Ruskin's inaugural lecture caught Rhodes attention. This reinforced Rhodes belief in British Imperialism.

While in Oxford, Rhodes continued to maintain contact with his holdings in Kimberly. In 1888, along with his partner C.D. Rudd they would form the De Beers Consolidated Mines. The company was named after the previous Dutch owners of the land.

In 1880, Rhodes would enter local politics in the Cape Colony. He would be elected into the Cape House of Assembly and the Cape Parliament. He would eventually be elected as Prime Minister of the Cape Colony. As Prime Minister he would begin passing laws that benefited land and mine owners while displacing smaller land owners. Rhodes did not have any power over the Boer Republic of the Transvaal which was to the North of Cape Colony. The Transvaal government was, in the opinion of Rhodes, not supportive of the mine owners. This led to several confrontations between Rhodes and the Transvaal government. A raid on Transvaal approved by the Secretary of State of Cape Colony would lead to the resignation of Rhodes and the Second Boer War.

Rhodes would use his wealth and the wealth of his business partners to negotiate to for mineral rights in Africa. In 1889 Rhodes convinced the Colonial office to let him create the British South Africa Company (BSAC). The BSAC had it's own police force, although it could be argued that it was a private military force that was used to control areas held by BSAC. The vast area that was controlled by the BSAC would be named Rhodesia in 1894. Eventually the area would be broken into separate pieces and would become modern day Zimbabwe and Zambia among others.

Rhodes believed that the Anglo-Saxon race was the superior race on the planet. He stated in his will that he believed that regions controlled by the British Empire were the better for it and he dreamed of a day that all of the World would fall under British rule. Also in his will Rhodes established a scholarship that was open to any citizen of the British Empire, Germany and the United States. He included the United States because he hoped that the United States would breed philosopher-kings that would one day convince the United States to rejoin the British Empire. He included Germany because he believed that one day Germany, the United States and the British Empire would be the peace keepers of the World.

In 1902, Rhodes would pass away from heart failure.

Rhodes became a member of Apollo University Lodge. Initially he did not approve of the organization, although he would remain a mason his entire life. Freemasonry also influenced him to envisage a secret society whose goal was to bring all of the World under British rule.