Cecil Rhodes

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  • Topic: Cecil Rhodes, Zimbabwe, British Empire
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  • Published : March 7, 2005
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Cecil Rhodes

Cecil Rhodes was born on July 5th, 1853 to a Hertfordshire clergyman. He was one of six sons to the vicar. He was an unhealthy child, suffering from heart and breathing ailments. Cecil, unlike two of his brothers, was not sent to Eton or Winchester. Nor did he join the military. His poor constitution limited his career options, and left him with the choice of becoming a barrister or a clergyman. He was sent to study at a local grammar school. After his schooling, and due to his poor health, he was sent to join his eldest brother Herbert at a cotton plantation in Natal, South Africa in 1870. He had a great love of agriculture, so the farm suited him.

The plantation failed miserably, so Cecil and his brother moved to Kimberly (in Africa) one year later. It was in Kimberly where Cecil first came into contact with the valuable gemstones known as diamonds. In 1871 Cecil and his brother staked a claim in the freshly opened Kimberly diamond fields, where Cecil made most of his fortune. He persisted in the mining industry despite harsh conditions and his ailing health.

In 1873 he was sent to Oriel College in Oxford, England, but didn't receive his degree until 1881 due to his frequent trips to Africa. It was in 1875 that a trip through the rich territories of Transvaal and Bechuanaland helped inspire his dream of British rule all over South Africa. He was a zealous countryman and a firm believer in colonization. He spoke of British dominion from "Cape to Cairo" and to "paint the map red" as red was the color of Britain and her colonies. He even began construction of a railway from Cape Colony to Cairo, which remnants of are still in use today.

Before the age of 25, Rhodes was a millionaire. He had struck it rich from the Kimberly mine, and had set his sights on more wealth. In 1880 he formed the De Beers mining company, and in 1881 he entered the parliament of Cape Colony, a seat he would hold for the remainder of his life. In...
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