A4 Macmillan in SA

Image: Harold Macmillan addressing Members of the South African Parliament, Cape Town, 3 February 1960. DO 35/10570, reproduced in vA4 Part One, p.vi

Download PDF: The Conservative Government and the End of Empire, 1957-1964, in two parts

Part One: High Policy, Political and Constitutional Change [6MB]

Part Two: Economics, International Relations, and the Commonwealth [433MB]

Volume Details: Series A, Volume 4. First published by The Stationary Office in 2000. Electronic version reproduced with permission of the editors under an Open Government Licence.

Editor Details: 

RONALD HYAM is Emeritus Reader in British Imperial History, University of Cambridge, and a Fellow and former President of Magdalene College. He is the Editor of the BDEEP general volume, The Labour Government and the End of Empire, 1945-1951 (1992) and the author of Britain’s Imperial Century, 1815-1914 (2nd edn, 1993).

Wm ROGER LOUIS is Kerr Professor of English History and Culture and Distinguished Teaching Professor, University of Texas at Austin, USA, and an Honorary Fellow of St Antony’s, Oxford. His books include Imperialism at Bay (1977) and The British Empire in the Middle East (1984). He is the Editor-in-Chief of the Oxford History of the British Empire (1998-1999), and in 2001 was President of the American Historical Association.

Selection from Introduction:

When Macmillan became prime minister in January 1957, he wanted the entire colonial position reassessed as one of the first acts of his administration. As Morgan comments dryly, ‘whether he would have felt so had he moved directly from the Foreign Office rather than the Treasury is an interesting matter for speculation’. What is beyond doubt, however, is the rebuff given to his initiative by officials. As a result, any hopes Macmillan might have had of speeding up transfers of power in the colonies – other than Cyprus – were put on the back-burner for the next two years. His position was then enormously strengthened by an unexpectedly solid election victory in October 1959, after which the colonial empire unravelled instantly and without remission. In part that process was facilitated by the way he had actively encouraged further preparatory policy studies. In this sense, the two intervening years were not wasted years.” (Part One, p.xxviii)