Summary Controls over trade and consumption of narcotic medicines emerged as both a concern and emblem of progressive governance around the turn of the twentieth century. This article traces political struggles over drugs regulation in the case of colonial South Africa. It focuses on two parallel streams of law-making by the British occupation regime in the Transvaal, following the Anglo-Boer war. Controversies over the availability of traditional ‘Dutch medicines’ to Boer farmers and prohibitions of certain patent medicines to African consumers were elements of, and contradictions within, the process of building a modern pharmaceutical economy. An influx to the region of new curatives coincided with the growth of vernacular newspapers as well as temperance campaigns. Working to nurture white national cohesion and support a mining industry premised on unskilled black labour, the South African state created race-based drugs controls. These developments proved significant to regulatory statecraft later in the century. patent medicines, opioids, drug regulation, colonialism, South Africa On 1 January 1910, Indian Opinion, the South African newspaper of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, published a notice to advertisers that in order to be consistent with our policy of the upliftment of mankind, we find it necessary in future to refuse advertisements of articles of a nature that will in our opinion injure our fellows, both morally and physically. Included amongst these are the following: intoxicating liquors, medicines, cigarettes, and advertisements of an indecent or gambling nature.1 Gandhi’s inclusion of ‘medicines’ in this list of vices is at first glance perplexing. Yet, he was referring to patent medicines—over-the-counter therapeutic preparations that frequently contained opium or other narcotic ingredients—and this announcement reflected his emerging politics of the body, which coalesced around ideals of abstinence and deprivation. Gandhi began his famous experiments with truth during his years in South Africa. Although treated with ‘medicines’ for ‘debility and rheumatic inflammation’ while in Durban, he claimed that his ‘dislike’ for them increased as he developed his philosophy and practice of Satyagraha.2 ‘Though I have had two serious illnesses in my life, I believe that man has little need to drug himself’, Gandhi later reflected. ‘He who … swallows all kinds of vegetable and mineral drugs, not only curtails his life, but by becoming the slave of his body instead of remaining its master, loses self-control, and ceases to be a man’.3 Scholars have elaborated on the relationship Gandhi crafted between embodied self-mastery and an ontology of political ‘fitness’, as well as on the moral weight his personal regimens lent to campaigns for public health.4 Yet, in this instance, Gandhi’s declaration that his newspaper no longer welcomed medicinal advertising had immediate, local significance. It signalled his support for controversial legislative controls over medicinal ‘poisons’ that the Transvaal government had been attempting to secure—against widespread public protest—from the end of the South African war. South African struggles over the trade and consumption of narcotic patent medicines arose directly out of local colonial realities but were situated within global trends. Around the turn of the twentieth century, drugs regulation emerged as a concern and emblem of modern, progressive governance in Anglophone societies. In Britain, pharmacy laws in 1868 and 1908 scheduled opiates domestically as controlled substances, their use and circulation managed by doctors and pharmacists.5 Meanwhile, from the 1880s, British Indian opium production for Chinese markets faced moral censure from anti-opium campaigners and international governments. The United States, in particular, pressed hard for trade controls when, following its victory in the Spanish-American war, it annexed opium-consuming territories around the Pacific. From 1906, American progressives like Hamilton Wright pursued federal policies to address non-medicinal opiate consumption, to benchmark standards for drug advertising and drug purity, and to contain a thriving ‘quack’ medicine industry.6 The Shanghai opium conference of 1909 set in place some initial international agreements. This article traces a key moment of political struggle over drugs regulation in the case of colonial South Africa. Between the end of the Anglo-Boer war in 1902 and the unification of four colonies into a self-ruling polity (and British imperial dominion) in 1910, progressive state-builders worked to engineer widespread reforms.7 I examine two parallel streams of law-making by the British occupation regime in the Transvaal during this period. Controversies over the availability of traditional ‘Dutch medicines’ to Boer farmers and prohibitions of certain patent medicines to African consumers reveal some of the significant elements and contradictions in the making of South Africa’s modern pharmaceutical economy. Narcotic Medicines in Context During the latter half of the nineteenth century, the territory now called South Africa was mapped as two British colonies, two Boer republics and residually independent African kingdoms and chiefdoms. It was a period of dramatic change. Imperial wars, as against the Zulu Kingdom (1879) and the Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek (1899–1902), transformed political, economic and social relations, as did commercial enterprises in sugar (from 1860), diamonds (1867) and gold (1886). Warfare, mineral discoveries and plantation agriculture brought new streams of transoceanic and continental migration, bringing diverse medicinal knowledges and intoxicant substances to a region characterised by plural healing practices.8 Histories that chronicle encounters between African, European and Asian therapeutic cultures in this context have demonstrated how ‘Western’ influence was contested and partial. Its power to subordinate indigenous African practice was constrained by the resilience of existing knowledge as well as by local dynamics of exchange, appropriation and admixture.9 Similarly, many ‘Dutch’ remedies, core to the healing repertoires of Boer households, incorporated indigenous medicaments of many kinds.10 Boer farming families also relied upon a huisapteek (medicine chest) stocked initially with imported Halle-medisyne from the Orphanage manufactory and dispensary in Germany.11 From the 1880s, the Cape-based pharmaceutical manufacturing firm, Lennon Limited (founded by an Irish immigrant) commercialised local recipes as a line of ‘Dutch Medicines’. Notwithstanding enduring local traditions, colonial government’s incorporation of English-speaking medical men around the turn of the century—with hundreds of physicians and pharmacists arriving from the United Kingdom and continental Europe after the South African war—awarded significant political power to biomedicine.12 Struggles over hazardous or habit-forming medicines (‘poisons’) intensified in the Transvaal during post-war reconstruction. Emulating the pharmacy laws in the Cape (1891, 1899) and in Natal (1891), imperial legislators passed a Medical, Dental and Pharmacy Act in 1904 for the conquest colonies of the Transvaal and Orange River. The law established Medical Councils and Pharmacy Boards. Their members lobbied to reform drug laws and to secure the authority of their expertise over civic health and worker fitness. Developments overseas, such as the US Drug and Food Purity Act of 1906 and Canada’s Proprietary and Patent Medicine Act of 1908, encouraged them in their professional aspirations and progressive vision. Key to the post-war story of drugs regulation was a dramatic transfer of Transvaal state power early in 1907, prompted by the election of the Boer Het Volk party. Presiding over a reconstituted parliament and cabinet, and with London’s imprimatur, this new government shifted state agendas towards national self-rule. With Union in 1910, representatives of the four colonial pharmacy boards sought to align distinct medicinal laws into a national regulatory order. Why a comprehensive pharmacy act failed to emerge until 1928, is a question that is not merely curious but also (as I will later show) significant for understanding the peculiar shape of South African national drug control. As in other Anglophone settler society contexts, official management of intoxicants in early twentieth-century South Africa upheld racial regimes.13 Historians have shown how alcohol in particular, but also opium, figured in techniques of control over migrant and labouring colonial subjects.14 Such realities meant that definitions of what constituted a medicine, intoxicant or ‘poison’—and for whom—were shaped by, and productive of, colonial identities. Medical professionals in the colony, like their metropolitan counterparts, engaged in debates about the meaning of drugs consumption. In 1895, for example, Dr Walter Harris, a surgeon working in Port Elizabeth, addressed the South African Medical Congress on the topic ‘Alcohol: A Poison, A Medicine, and a Luxury’.15 Published in the South African Medical Journal (SAMJ), Harris argued that alcohol’s three distinct properties required corresponding regulatory strategies. Its consumption as a ‘luxury’ must exclude alcoholics, children and ‘Natives’, the latter who, ‘not able to withstand its power and temporary seductions, should be prevented by those who rule from [its] use’.16 Wine and similar beverages should bear a poison label like any hazardous or habit-forming medicine. And adult male drinkers of the ruling race should set a daily maximum of two ounces, take an oath of membership to a ‘Rational Drinkers’ Bond’, and keep a written record, much as in a pharmacist’s poison book.17 Physicians were involved, too, in addressing consumption of widely available ‘habit-forming’ medicines. From 1890, Cape pharmacists noted trends of morphine use and ‘drug drinking’ (of bitters, methylated spirits and narcotic patent medicines) among settler populations.18 Journalist, poet and life-long morphine injector Eugéne Marais turned to doctors when access to his drug became difficult: they helped avert withdrawal and tried, through ‘tapering’, to overcome his addiction.19 English language newspapers began publishing stories of opioid dependency and overdose deaths among white citizens. As elsewhere, the normative use of chlorodyne for various ‘women’s complaints’ rendered women from respectable families particularly vulnerable to habitual use.20 During the war, for example, Britain recruited female school-teachers to ‘Anglicise’ Boer children held in the concentration camps. ‘Ladies’ were instructed to bring with them ‘basic drugs including quinine, phenacetin and chlorodyne’.21 When, in June 1901, the Steytlerville district surgeon requested that the Cape Colonial Office restrict sales of ‘opium in the guise of Chlorodyne and other patent medicines to persons addicted to the drug’, he was informed that, so long as a medicine required no prescription, no legal restriction on sales was possible.22 In this same period, colonial officials recorded opiate addiction and over-dose deaths among indentured Chinese workers, and also calculated the health effects of alcohol consumption by African miners. Outside of industrial spaces, however, the archive is opaque about narcotic medicine consumption among colonial subjects. Yet patent preparations were also increasingly embraced among African consumers, spread through frontier relations by missionaries and traders. Medicine companies cultivated local representatives and ‘native’ agents and, with increasing rates of literacy, directed product advertising to Africans through tracts and vernacular newspapers. The hazards of addiction were well-noted. In 1876, for example, a Xhosa-language mission newspaper Isigidimi Sama-Xosa reported a death by alleged overdose of the American opiate nostrum, Perry Davis’ Pain Killer—a brand that (as we shall see) enjoyed popularity across the region’s diverse social terrain.23 South Africa’s professional medical men tracked trends in Britain and the United States, such as the medicalisation of inebriety and addiction and the view that drugs required state governance.24 With advisory powers in the colonial government, they pressed for custodianship over public safety and a monopoly of medicinal expertise and sales. The ‘Farmercide’ Laws On 15 June 1909, reporting on proceedings in the Transvaal Legislative Council, a journalist for the Rand Daily Mail quipped, ‘The shade of De Quincy might have hovered over the head of the member for Boksburg West, while the subject of his “Just, Mighty, and Subtle Opium’ was discussed’.25 On the table was an amendment to the controversial Opium Trade Regulation Act (25 of 1906), which had established medical provision of opium to Chinese migrants indentured for work in the Witwatersrand gold mines.26 Anticipating the repatriation of remaining bonded workers, this new legislation was poised to re-criminalise ‘gum opium’ and ‘extract of opium’, two forms commonly sold and prepared for smoking. Boksburg Mayor and Council member, Benjamin Owen Jones, a chemist and president of the Pharmacy Board, proposed that the new law also restrict sales of patent medicines containing opium and its alkaloids.27 It was, therefore, not the spirit of De Quincy but of progressivism that Mr Jones and his lobby were attempting to raise. Jones had ready support from J. C. McNeillie, a medical doctor and founder of the recently established Boksburg-Benoni Hospital, who asserted that a prohibition of smokable opium was ‘merely touching on the fringe of this great question’.28 Of more importance was another drug used almost entirely by white people and he was very sorry to say, mostly by women. [This was] the great sale of Chlorodyne, containing as it did a large percentage of morphia. … A person requiring it could go to any general dealer’s shop and instead of obtaining one bottle could obtain six. (‘Shame!’)29 Opium was a ‘drug’, McNeillie cautioned, ‘which although a good servant in some cases, was a relentless master’ and there were ‘about 50 kinds’ of opioid preparations freely available.30 He proceeded to ‘draw lurid pictures of the effects, particularly on women, of the free sale of Chlorodyne and drugs of a similar nature’.31 Appeals to racial and gender respectability failed to move the champion of the Opium Trade Regulation Amendment Bill, Jan Christiaan Smuts, famed Boer General, now Het Volk Colonial Secretary. This might have appeared surprising, given Smuts’s record as a staunch progressive. In 1896, as Secretary of State of Paul Kruger’s Boer republic, he had presided over liquor prohibitions for Africans, a measure sought by an anti-Kruger faction of mine owners and their imperial and American allies. For the 1909 Bill now at hand, in order to hasten South Africa’s alignment with anti-opium agreements drafted in Shanghai earlier that year, Smuts had solicited intelligence meant to alarm white publics about alleged race-mixing in opium dens.32 Yet now Smuts showed little patience, both with claims that narcotic patent addiction represented a crisis and with the proposed regulations. He adamantly and repeatedly rejected the ‘really very contentious’ provisions his medical colleagues were apparently ‘very anxious to import into that innocent looking [Amendment] Bill’. To appease them, Smuts made a promise—one that would be lampooned in the Rand Daily Mail as ‘Oom [Uncle] Jannie’s Soothing Syrup’—that the question of medicinal poisons would be addressed ‘very soon’ in separate legislation. For now they must proceed with restraint. Smuts declared that he did not know the case about chlorodyne, but there was no doubt that a number of patent medicines which were being sold in this country contained poisonous ingredients, and one never knew when one introduced a little amendment into the law how it would work out. It might set the whole countryside aflame.33 This warning was well-understood by all present. Initiatives to restrict narcotic medicines had indeed become a point of extreme political sensitivity. Smuts was cautioning that it could reawaken war-time tensions between Boer and Briton. Druppels, dips and other poisons of the people Five years earlier, in 1904, under arch-imperialist Lord Alfred Milner, the Transvaal Legislative Council passed Ordinance 29, a Medical Dental and Pharmacy Act, instituting a Medical Council and a Pharmacy Board with advisory powers. Sections 50 and 51 of the Act ruled that only qualified doctors, dentists, pharmacists and veterinarians could dispense therapeutic remedies and preparations that, because potentially harmful, were classified in the English idiom as ‘poisons’. Storekeepers operating with a general dealers’ licence, who had for decades sold human and animal medicines, were now officially forbidden to retail certain products. Uncertainties over which products were covered by the law provoked an uproar. Early in the following year, letters to the Law Department began arriving from resident magistrates around the Transvaal complaining that ‘[v]ery considerable inconvenience’ was being ‘experienced in small country towns which have no chemist shop’.34 In particular, it was a ‘great hardship for farmers’, who had ‘always been in the habit of purchasing from the local storekeepers and cannot in many cases obtain [medicines] elsewhere without great expense of time and money’.35 To comply with the law, rural residents were obliged to travel vast distances to obtain familiar household remedies, such as Dr Collis Brown’s Chlorodyne, Croton Oil, Bland Pill, Arsenic Tablets, and Hoffman’s Druppels, as well as ‘many other common Dutch and English Medicines’.36 Major Walter Guy Bentinck, resident magistrate of Wakkerstroom between 1901 and 1907, was among several civil servants who wrote repeatedly with concerns. Bentinck, a titled Baron with ancestry both in the Netherlands and Hampshire, had served with distinction as a British officer in the war, deployed and wounded in combat in several sites around Natal, and had remained in South Africa on special service to the Peace Conference of 1902.37 He reported outrage among boere (Dutch speaking farmers) at the expectation that they must journey 18 miles to Volksrust, where a licensed chemist and druggist resided. That journey was 30 miles from Amersfoort, 80 miles from Piet Retief and 200 miles ‘from the furthest point in the district’.38 From their remote farms, he explained, rural-dwelling people travelled to town only monthly, to take part in ‘Nachtmaal’ (Nagmaal), the Christian Holy Communion, as well as to engage in town business. They now found that access to trusted products at the core of their health regime had been curtailed by the new state. A very large number of farmers have been in here during the past week for Nachtmaal and naturally enough they use the opportunity to lay in a supply of stores to last to next Nachtmaal. … The same will happen at Nachtmaal the next time. Needless to say the feeling re these restrictions is strong—very strong—as the people have been able from time immemorial to buy these simple remedies …39 The situation was ‘causing very grave dissatisfaction to [Boer] farmers’. If it was the Pharmacy Board’s intention to ‘drive every farmer to the chemist and druggist’ they should start pharmacies in every town—ensuring, he insisted, that the medicines be sold ‘at government and not at monopolists’ prices’.40 Additional points were raised by other magistrates. There was confusion as to which patent medicines were considered harmful. Although the law required ‘poisonous’ products to be so-labelled, this was not enforced and products did not disclose ingredients. A shopkeeper from Rustenburg confessed himself ‘absolutely ignorant’ as to which products he was allowed to sell; a businessman in Zeerust wondered about the legality of an array of homeopathic remedies.41 And what was to be done about existing stock and orders purchased in good faith, prior to the law’s promulgation?42 Around the Transvaal, general dealers continued to sell the full array of patent medicines to customers. In March of 1905, the Pharmacy Board complained that ‘frequent infringements’ of the Act were taking place: ‘[S]torekeepers, both European and Asiatic, are, in most of the towns of the Transvaal, exposing for sale Medicines and Medical preparations containing poisons.’43 The towns of Standerton, Heidelberg and Potchefstroom were among the notable offenders. The Board requested that the law again be advertised in newspapers and in the Government Gazette, and that the police be compelled to enforce it. They declared themselves ‘sympathetic’ with the dilemmas of rural citizens but could only suggest an informal compromise: that prosecution be lenient in cases where a general dealer was located further than six miles from the business of a registered chemist.44 Preparing to take action on the Pharmacy Board’s request, the Law Department sent Board members a list of preparations and classes of products under the headings of ‘Dutch Medicines’ and ‘Patent Medicines’, requesting that controlled ingredients be identified. Pharmacy Board president, J. H. Dinwoodie, complied as much as he was able but confessed himself ‘unacquainted with the ingredients of many medicines on the list’. Dinwoodie placed a question mark beside each entry mysterious to him, such as Corn Cure, Gout Pills, St. Jacob’s Oil, Headache Powders, and Cough Mixtures. Of 72 Dutch medicines, Dinwoodie identified 15 products that contained some form of ‘poison’. The catalogue of 35 patent medicines included whole classes of industrial products (disinfectants, creosote, turpentine) as well as agricultural preparations for treating livestock (sheep dips) and for killing ‘vermin’ and ‘wild animals’. Of these, twelve were identified as poisonous.45 The attorney general and colonial secretary recommended exempting medicines for farm animals from the poisons list.46 Thus, only the names of poisons intended for human consumption were included in a circular sent by the Law Department to all Transvaal magistrates, with instructions to both prohibit their sale by general dealers but show leniency in towns where no registered chemist and druggist held a business.47 Wakkerstroom’s Major Bentinck was frustrated by what he saw as crass avoidance of the issue at hand: ‘Your circular deals with [free provision of] dips and vermin killers but what I want to draw your most serious attention to is [the availability of] medicines for human beings.’48 By May, simmering dissatisfaction was declared a public crisis. The Dutch/Afrikaans-language newspaper, Land en Volk, reported that the Pretoria Chamber of Commerce was now investigating why ‘country store-keepers could no longer sell Dutch medicines to Farmers [Boeren]’.49 It was a ‘great hardship’ since ‘[t]he people of this country had been accustomed to those medicines for the last 200 years and it was urgent that as formerly they should be procurable from country store-keepers’. Editors assured readers that the offending law would soon be amended, and meanwhile would not be enforced. ‘Alle buiten-winkeliers hebben dus het recht Hollandsche medezijnen zooals vroeger aan Boeren te verkoopen.’50 Critics of the Pharmacy Act dubbed it the ‘Farmercide’ law, a pun that attributed dark motives to the imperial government’s apparent medicinal deprivation to country-dwelling boere. Suspicion that these restrictions constituted a new war-related assault on Boer life and health were deeply felt. Notably, districts where magistrates reported agitations coincided with those proximate to concentration camp sites, where many Boer women and children had perished of disease and had been without sufficient medicines.51 Suspicion was evident, for example, in a letter to the editors of Land en Volk, written by a Lichtenburg resident signing as ‘Peperwortel [Horseradish]’. This writer doubted the newspaper’s assurance that government would not enforce the existing law. He believed such declaration to be a ruse by the state, intended to lead ‘innocent store-keepers’ into police entrapment, leaving the ‘innocent Boer … without needed medicine’.52 Yet, Land en Volk editors stood by their intelligence, pledging that the newspaper itself would pay any fines resulting from prosecution. Amendment to the 1904 pharmacy law was indeed under discussion, but fraught with disagreement. The Commissioner of Lands insisted that the new Act ‘permit importers and general dealers to sell poisons for Agricultural purposes’ and award powers to the Agricultural Ministry to sell or distribute poisons through magistrates.53 Citing public safety, the Medical Council countered that the sale of ‘poisons and all preparations containing poisons within the meaning of the Ordinance’ should be entirely restricted to chemists and druggists. The Pharmacy Board proposed that non-poisonous medicines might be sold by storekeepers situated outside of a six mile radius.54 It wryly suggested that traders wishing to deal in patent medicines could simply subject themselves to the examinations that licenced chemists were obliged to pass. Medical Officer of Health for the Colony, Dr George Turner, rejected his peers’ rationale of public safety, producing statistics suggesting the dangers were being exaggerated.55 The amended Pharmacy Act, No. 18 of 1905, passed in September. Under Section 7, shopkeepers required a certificate from their district magistrate to dispense certain specified medicines. When, on 5 January 1906, as Government Notice No 14, a list of controlled medicines, was finally circulated, it contained a fateful ambiguity. It proclaimed that the named products—a list containing both innocuous and poisonous preparations—could be legally sold only by shopkeepers who had acquired certification from their magistrate. Items marked with an asterisk, those containing hazardous or habit-forming ingredients, required special protocols of recordkeeping. Nowhere did it state that certification was required only for asterisked products. In a confidential notice (No 15 of 1906) to all magistrates, the Law Department instructed that they were ‘not to grant such certificates to anybody if there is a sufficient number of chemists established in business at convenient centres to satisfy local requirements’.56 The new law and the two circulars dispelled neither confusion nor tensions. In awarding certificates, the discretion of magistrates varied from town to town. The Rustenburg magistrate readily certified every storekeeper who applied.57 Other magistrates were similarly liberal. When the Pharmacy Board pursued a case in Lichtenburg, where certificates had been granted to three shopkeepers (despite the presence of a pharmacist), the magistrate explained the importance of observing deep-seated, local customs: ‘The chemist only accepted cash and did not receive payment in kind, which is the general way the farmer transacts his business’.58 Discretion in awarding certificates allowed for differential treatment. For example, the Potchefstroom magistrate himself saw no reason to discriminate against Indian store keepers since ‘[t]hese people do an extensive trade with the Boer population and I see no reason for … making an invidious distinction’.59 Yet he wanted to know if there was ‘any desire on the part of Government to confine this business to European traders’. The Colonial Secretary’s Office confirmed that there was: ‘The Indian Bazaar in Potchefstroom is quite close to the town and its requirements in the way of medicines can easily be met by the [European-owned] Stores in the town.’60 The Pharmacy Board itself capitalized on the competitive, anti-Indian sentiments of British-born shopkeepers, railing against ‘illegal sales of medicines by Coolie Storekeepers’.61 The most important reason the amended 1905 Pharmacy law failed to resolve confusions was that it had, in fact, technically undercut the selling-power of traders well beyond the original 1904 Act. Through its ambiguous wording, it rendered as an offence unlicensed dealing in any patent or Dutch medicine, whether poisonous or not. In 1908, with the Het Volk party of the Boer generals now in control of a newly constituted parliament, the sweeping scope of the 1905 regulations came to abrupt—though accidental—notice. The new appointee to the Law Department, Jacobus De Villiers Roos, sent a routine reminder to all magistrates of the pharmacy provisions of the earlier government. He openly conveyed the previously confidential directive to award exclusive sales to chemist shops in towns where they were established. Since the law’s passing, however, greater numbers of chemists and druggists had established themselves in small Transvaal towns. Upon receiving Roos’ directive, several magistrates now scrambled to address discrepancies between law and existing practice. The Klerksdorp magistrate, for example, publicly announced that ‘no General Dealer … would be allowed to sell Patent Medicines from the end of the year’.62 Similarly, in Volksrust, the magistrate proclaimed that general dealers’ certificates to dispense medicines ‘named in the Government Notice No 14 of 1906’ were to be revoked.63 These developments generated fresh public outcry. In a letter to the Transvaal Leader, under the heading ‘Sale of Medicines / Government’s Drastic Move / Widespread Effects’ spokesman for the Klerksdorp Chamber of Commerce, M. Cruickshank, reminded readers what was at stake. He quoted a letter, signed by one ‘Ruralist’, who warned that: the Government should be careful of any proposal, however innocent looking, which emanates from the Transvaal Medical Council [ … as it] has from time to time suggested legislation which would have proved a grievous burden to the rural population. Instance the monstrous legislation in connection with the family simples, prohibiting the sale of little household remedies, upon which the rural population absolutely depends.64 Medical lobbies, Cruickshank explained, had wanted to prohibit the sale of even non-poisonous medicines but ‘as a result of the agitation raised throughout the whole country as a result of this outrageous proposal, the government had inserted a clause granting General Dealers, by means of certificates, to sell medicines. Now, however, the Law Department had apparently ruled that no certificates would be granted to storekeepers in towns with a druggist and chemist. Cruickshank drew attention to the wording of Government Notice No. 14, which indeed controlled purvey of all listed medicines, whether innocuous or poisonous, except under licence. It technically criminalized general sales of such items as eucalyptus oil, glycerine and cucumber, Vaseline, menthol, camphor, liquorice powder and certain kinds of soap.65 Only a few medicines contained hazardous or habit forming ingredients: if the genuine aim of the law was to protect public safety, why prevent general dealers from selling non-poisonous products used for human healing? The farmer … wants the simple household remedies, 80 per cent of which contain no poison. What is the object then of the Government interfering with the liberty of the subject in this way? We would suggest they go a little further and prohibit the sale of tea, coffee and tobacco as these in themselves are more injurious than many of the articles on the list of Patent and Dutch Medicines.66 The agenda of the previous (imperial) government had been redolent with such restrictions, the writer scorned. ‘I need hardly say that the law of 1905 was not passed by a Het Volk Government, and they should see that the obnoxious provisions are abolished. They will certainly have protests from all parts of the country. Considerable feeling has already been displayed here by the farming population …’67 And, wrote Cruickshank, there was the danger of monopoly: a single chemist in town with no competition was bound to increase prices. In the context of economic depression, chemists were among the few whose trade was still remunerative, the more so because instead of restricting themselves to their own line of business, chemists notoriously poach on other trades and sell amongst other lines: Garden seeds, Flower seeds, Postcards, Stationary, Chocolates, Bon Bons, Sweets, Ink, Petrol, Purses, Soaps, Combs, Brushes, etc.68 In response to ‘considerable unrest’, De Villiers Roos sent a private communiqué to all magistrates suggesting that some of them had ‘misinterpreted the scope’ of his previous circular.69 It was, he believed, only for medicines ‘containing poisons in such quantities as were dangerous to human life or health’ that permission was required. An article refuting Cruickshank’s claims was published in the Leader and in Rand Daily Mail. In it, W. A. J. Cameron, Secretary of the Medical Council and Pharmacy Board, admitted that Section 7 of the Amended Pharmacy Ordinance was ‘ambiguous’. He now wished to clarify that, in the case of non-poisonous substances, ‘no special permission is required, and any general dealer may sell them without obtaining a certificate from the Magistrate, this certificate being only required to cover the sale of poisonous substances’.70 Legal discrepancies and competing interpretations of Notice 14 were laid bare in meetings that took place behind the scenes in June 1909, even as Smuts was leading the Transvaal Legislative Assembly in discussion of the Opium Trade Amendment Bill. It was against this background of public tension that Smuts manoeuvred against restrictions on opioid medicines, warning that it ‘might set the whole country aflame’. His promise to the pharmacy lobby, that their concerns would be dealt with in separate legislation, anticipated a new proclamation. That proclamation followed in February of 1910: a much-shortened list of controlled medicines whose sale by general retailers required special licences.71 Unsatisfied, the pharmacy profession continued to monitor the situation. They took up against a Mr Hannah, a general dealer operating in Wakkerstroom with a Natal—but not Transvaal—licence: he was convicted in August.72 Meanwhile, in 1908, in the Cape Colony where British control remained firm but in need of funds, governor John X Merriman imposed a stamp tax on patent medicines in a bid to draw state revenue from a rapidly growing market and to discourage ‘drug drinking’, which appeared to be on the rise.73 Pharmacists denounced the initiative, arguing that the tax disadvantaged the licensed druggist relative to other venders. The stamp tax was also unpopular with Dutch-speaking farmers across the Cape and their parliamentary representatives argued that Dutch medicines, or ‘huisvriende [house-friends]’, be exempted.74 Merriman, to make his case, quoted liberally from a copy of Secret Remedies, a British Medical Association publication created to expose the fraudulent claims of ‘quack’ curative preparations. Many patent medicines, he declared, ‘were more properly called a huisvijand [house-enemy]’ as they were ‘largely composed of alcohol’ and commonly ‘appeared on women’s dressing tables and were given to children’.75 Characterising Boer households as credulous and scientifically backward, Merriman nonetheless consented to exempting Dutch medicines from the stamp tax, a tax that was, in any case, largely ignored.76 Medicines politics, divisive in the post-war climate—a period in which Boer and British relations were being reframed through race nationalism—helps to explain failures to generate a national Pharmacy Act following political unification in 1910. The delay of almost two decades has been attributed to battles between respective Pharmacy Boards over varying professional qualification requirements and other such differences.77 These elements, however, must be seen within a much larger political story. National regulation deferred: Politics of traditional medicine Union presented a fresh opportunity to pursue medicines controls. The Pharmacy Boards of the four colonies—the Transvaal, Orange River, Natal and the Cape—gathered in Bloemfontein in 1910 to rationalise their respective pharmacy laws. Delegates discussed and agreed to terms for aligning policy and practice. They submitted records of their resolutions, along with a draft of their proposed Pharmacy Bill to Smuts and to Secretary of Interior Gorges. Gorges, significantly, had served both as acting Transvaal Pharmacy Board Secretary, as well as Assistant Colonial Secretary, during the ‘Farmercide’ controversies, signatory to its critical governmental correspondence. Like Smuts himself, he was acutely aware of the Bill’s divisive significance. Both politicians expressed congratulations and satisfaction that ‘the delegates of the four provinces have arrived at a unanimous finding’, but secretly sent the document for assessment by a recognised hostile party.78 This hostile party was A. John Gregory, Medical Officer of Health for the Cape Colony. The Cape Pharmacy Board had not attended the Bloemfontein conference on grounds of ‘short notice’.79 Yet Gregory’s confidential reply to Smuts and Gorges, comprising 40 typed pages, suggests other reasons. Gregory tore the proposed draft Bill apart section by section, concealing neither his disdain nor his advocacy for a Cape-centric agenda. A committed imperialist, as well as an officious and abrasive personality generally unpopular with the medical fraternity,80 Gregory excelled in building a surgically logical case from principles he believed to be at stake.81 He proclaimed the draft Pharmacy Bill a muddled and self-serving document, displaying contradictions and grand schemes that violated public interest. Yet of special interest to Union statesmen were subsections 19 (‘Restrictions on the sale of Medicines and Drugs’) and 20 (‘Sale of Poisons’). Here Gregory warned of a united push by all participating delegates for what he warned was a ‘trade monopoly’. The Bill proposed that ‘no one but a registered druggist or chemist could sell any “drug or medicine” even if not of a poisonous nature’.82 Contravention of such would be punished severely: a fine of £100 or six months imprisonment with hard labour. Moreover, a window was opened for asserting control over new and otherwise exempted patent and Dutch medicines. Gregory explained that, as in the Transvaal, Cape initiatives to regulate such medicines had been resisted and that tempers in the parliamentary proceedings had run high indeed. ‘If the drafters of the Bill think that the Farmer will submit to be docked of his Patent and Dutch Medicines in this manner, they are mistaken.’83 Although Gorges informed Medical Councils and Pharmacy Boards that the Bill would be ‘carefully considered’ by Smuts and handed over to the Parliamentary draftsmen in Pretoria, there were further stalemates. No national law was forthcoming and medicines controls defaulted to provincial (colonial-era) governance. When a national Medical, Dental and Pharmacy Act was passed 18 years later (as No. 13 of 1928), it continued to exempt patent and Dutch medicines, including narcotic products, from its provisions.84 From 1907, the Het Volk government sought to unify Boer and Briton under a banner of racial self-rule. It quashed the strident imperial progressivism of organised pharmacy to ensure that customary remedies and trusted brands remained available to its electorate, a citizenry legislators referred to as ‘ordinary white patients’.85 In this same period, populations subordinated as colonial subjects and as labouring bodies were targets of a different regulatory governance. Relief for Native Pain: Patent Medicines between Promotion and Prohibition Gandhi’s announcement in 1910, that his newspaper Indian Opinion would no longer advertise patent medicines, indicated his support for pharmacy regulations. It also drew attention to the significance of narcotic curatives and populist therapies in generating advertising revenue for newspapers. Gandhi was not the only publisher rejecting this source of funding. Late in 1911, a pamphlet advertising the miraculous virtues of Madam Merlain’s Breast Enhancement Treatment arrived by post at a Kimberley household. The addressee was seven-year-old Olive Plaatje, youngest daughter of newspaperman and prominent African political and literary intellectual, Solomon Thekisho Plaatje, who in the following year would help found the South African Native National Congress (precursor to the African National Congress). In an article for the Tsala ea Becoana entitled ‘The Quack Cure Parasite’, Sol Plaatje joked that his daughter was ‘flattered’ at the idea ‘that she has a bust which needs developing’, before making his serious point that ‘the rate at which patent medicines are multiplying is making their literature a perfect nuisance’.86 Plaatje was scathing about increasing sales of ‘quack’ commodities but, clearly referencing wider public debates, demonstrated his support for rural medicinal access. It was not his intention to cast any aspersions on genuine cures which are serviceable, especially in out of the way districts, where, in the absence of medical practitioners and certified chemists they become useful as temporary makeshifts in cases of emergency; but even chemists must admit that the rate at which ‘cures’ are multiplying is perfectly baffling, for if even half of the virtues claimed for them by the literature scattered among the Natives in the territories and through the columns of a large section of the Native press were true, then chemists would all put up the shutters and doctors would find new situations.87 Plaatje worried about the degrading effects of vulgar advertisements directed to ‘a credulous Native who believes that everything printed is as good as the Bible’. He resented the many column inches taken up by testimonials (masquerading, he noted, as actual news), as well as the financial dependency of Native-run periodicals on them.88 Narcotic patent medicines, noted Plaatje, countered messages of temperance, class respectability and political upliftment promoted in the editorials of these same newspapers. The Christian African literati held varied views on liquor prohibitions for Africans. Zulu-language newspaper writer, Magema Fuze, disapproved of unchecked alcohol consumption but defended beer drinking and brewing as ‘not a sin’ but rather a legitimate cultural and historical practice.89 As Hlonipha Mokoena shows, Fuze’s rejection of liquor laws was levelled at the political discrimination it revealed, where educated African converts who had successfully applied for ‘exemption’ from native (customary) law were yet subjected to this particular race-based legislation.90 Meanwhile, Christian missionaries in South Africa demonstrated concern about circulating narcotic preparations. In December 2010, the Christian Express printed an address to the Lovedale Literary Society entitled ‘Advertised Medicines’ by Dr Niel MacVicar, a Scottish Presbyterian Missionary and superintendent of the Victoria Hospital in the Eastern Cape. MacVicar cautioned his audiences not to fall prey to tricks. He emphasised the hazards and inefficacies of many products in circulation and detailed the predatory tactics and mercenary motives of their purveyors.91 He warned that the high proportions of alcohol ‘may induce the drink habit among respectable people without their being aware of it’ and also ‘drug habits which are even worse than drink habit’. Credulity could ruin livelihoods. Purchasers of such medicines were often poor. Yet, desperate sufferers of terminal illnesses such as ‘advanced consumption, cancer or others’ might ‘sell their cattle and almost everything they have to secure a treatment which promises to save them from approaching death’. Testimonials praising a given therapy, he explained, came from ‘the most ignorant people in the country’, uneducated people paid in cash or ‘free photographs’ for their endorsements. Colonial state administrators, for different reasons, also indicated alarm about a flood of patent medicines adverts addressed to Africans. In May 1905, the Natal under secretary of native affairs, S. O. Samuelsson, complained to the attorney general about a testimonial for Doan’s Backache and Kidney Pills. He sent along a specimen of the offending ‘almanac’, which manufacturers had requested he forward to its actual addressee—‘a Native Chief’.92 Indeed, 872 copies had already been distributed to amakhosi (chiefs) in the area. The attorney general ‘did not approve’ but could not see how to avert the influx of medicinal tracts. Samuelsson was distressed: ‘In my mind’, he explained, ‘the circulation of such things amongst the Native population is in no way calculated to increase the respect of the Natives to the White race, and I feel strongly that something should be done to stop the circulation of such materials amongst the Natives.’93 Aggressive targeting of Africans for patent medicines evoked official anxieties about the security of colonial hierarchies and its civilizing imperatives. In 1909, John H. Williams, a London Chemist of Savory and Moore’s sought to acquire a vendor’s licence for Mr Joseph Mgobhozi ‘a native holding a Native Medicine Licence’. As a vendor, Mgobhozi—an employee of the Oriental Drug Store in the Indian quarter of Durban—would be authorised to sell Williams’ medicinal preparations in the Native Locations.94 The Natal Law Department was unclear of the legality of the proposal.95 The Natal Pharmacy Board suggested that Mr Williams be asked to provide a list of the medicines, and their ingredients, he wished to market. But it thought it ‘undesirable’ that ‘European medicines’ should be ‘hawked by Natives’: ‘it was never the intention of the Pharmacy Act for such a thing to be done’.96 While diverse voices represented African consumption of patent medicines as a peculiar ‘evil’, a popular culture that indulged in somatic experimentation and pursuits of vitality (or alterity) was emerging, traversing racial and geographical spaces. Gandhi himself exemplified this trend. In his quest for ‘fitness’ he denounced dependency on the ‘incubus’ of laxatives, but publicly praised the relief he found through Albert Just’s ‘water and earth treatment’. He immediately began experiments in earth treatment, and with wonderful results. The treatment consisted in applying to the abdomen a bandage of clean earth moistened with cold water and spread like a poultice on fine linen. This I applied at bedtime, removing it during the night or in the morning, whenever I happened to wake up. It proved a radical cure. Since then I have tried the treatment on myself and my friends and never had reason to regret it. … Even today I give myself the earth treatment to a certain extent and recommend it to my co-workers, whenever the occasion arises.97 The medium of print was crucial to South Africa’s emerging modern therapeutic economy, and to popular vitality experiments. Advertised treatments and testimonies addressed (and helped to construct) a range of ailments, pains and nervous conditions concomitant with social conditions of uncertainty, post-war losses, urbanisation and industrial alienation. Experimentation with healing derived authority from medical discourses, also circulated through professional journals. South African physicians participated in this culture, their scientific aspirations evident in (often ethically hair-raising) ad hoc clinical ‘trials’, published locally and abroad. The aforementioned Dr Walter Harris helps to dramatise this dynamic. In 1895 his article ‘Poisoned by Strychnine: A Personal Experience’ appeared in the SAMJ. Harris described the personal context of his encounter: In January, 1893, it happened that I had for a few weeks been in the habit of taking an occasional dose of one of our stock dispensary mixtures—a tonic containing, among other things, a fair dose of strychnine. The weather was very sultry, the work very onerous, as it always is the first few weeks of the year, when Government statistics have to be prepared, and I was hourly expecting a cablegram from Home, to announce a bereavement which can only occur once in a lifetime. … It was therefore not because of any real illness, but only from being anxious and below par, that on the morning of Tuesday, January the 10th, coming from my residence to the hospital … I went into the dispensary before the dispenser had arrived to take a dose of the tonic.98 Harris ‘somewhat carelessly’ poured out ‘sufficient to make an ounce and a half, and filling up the measure glass with water, drank it off’. Soon, however, he began to recognise symptoms of strychnine poisoning. As the hospital’s mortified pharmacist realised he had mistakenly measured strychnine in ounces rather than drachms, another of Harris’s colleagues arrived, and advised Harris to take ‘50 grains of chloral’ and ‘go to the ophthalmic room, and smoke hard’.99 Although accidental, Harris published this mishap as a medical experiment with self. Notwithstanding his credentials as a medical doctor, Harris’s chemical tinkering and publication of his somatic experience, were shared features of a broader medicinal economy. Criminalising Consumption In 1908, a query to the Law Department Secretary from the Pretoria Chamber of Commerce requested clarity on the legality of sales ‘to Natives’ of a particular patent medicine, the American product Perry Davis’ Pain Killer. The reply was that if it contained more than 2 per cent alcohol, such a sale would contravene Section 3 of the ‘Liquor Act’, Ordinance No 32 of 1902, which had renewed pre-war prohibition of distilled alcohol to Africans.100 Samples of the nostrum, sent for testing to the Transvaal Government Analyst, confirmed it to be well above that percentile, at 70 per cent volume of alcohol.101 ‘Pain Killer’ (the abbreviated brand name was formally trademarked) comprised a liquid formula of vegetable extracts, camphor, ethyl alcohol and opium, whose exact recipe remained undisclosed. It was first marketed in Rhode Island and Massachusetts in 1843.102 Samuel Clemens, writing as Mark Twain, represented its populist appeal through the figure of Tom Sawyer’s Aunt Polly, an ‘inveterate experimenter’ with ‘new-fangled’ curatives: Now she heard of Pain-Killer. She ordered a lot at once. She tasted it and was filled with gratitude. It was simply fire in liquid form. She dropped the water treatment and everything else, and fixed her faith to Pain-Killer.103 Jacob de Villiers Roos of the Transvaal Law Department decided that, like Eau de Cologne had been in 1903, this product should be ‘proclaimed as an intoxicating liquor under [the 1902 Liquor Ordinance]’. There was ‘much evidence’ that Perry Davis’ Pain Killer ‘was much sought after by the native population of this country’.104 Retailers appeared to be complicit in a burgeoning trade. A case in point was Mr Weinbrenn, a Johannesburg chemist, who had stocked ‘24 dozen of the pain killer’ with another ‘seven gross ordered from the United States’.105 In February of 1909, Proclamation No. 15 appeared in the Government Gazette and the Rand Daily Mail warning all general dealers and chemists that a liquor licence was now required to sell this medicine to ‘Europeans’, and that sale was prohibited to ‘coloured persons’.106 High rates of sale, of course, did not explain why, or for what purposes, this preparation proved so popular. The point was soon raised by the law firm Steytler, Grimmer and Murray, representing Davis and Lawrence, Co. of New York, proprietors of Perry Davis’ Pain Killer. It was unlikely that the preparation was purchased for its intoxicating properties, argued the attorneys, for several reasons, including: (a) that Perry Davis’ Painkiller [sic] has been sold all over the world continuously for more than seventy years as a simple, safe and harmless family medicine for many of the lesser ailments to which the flesh is heir, (b) that it is a medicine pure and simple, and cannot possibly be classified as a beverage … (d) that on account of its component drugs being positively nauseous and also on account of its expense, no person could possibly be tempted to drink it for pleasure or for any stimulating effect it might produce if taken in excessive doses.107 If the government had evidence that Pain Killer was being used for intoxicant effect, it should be required to produce it.108 The lawyers wanted proof that, prior to the Proclamation, the product had been documented as ‘a cause of increased drunkenness amongst the native population, or was being bought for any purpose which the liquor law was meant to check’. To this, the Chamber could only protest that ‘a quantity’ of the medicine was being purchased by Africans and that, on chemical analysis, it was proved to contain a high proportion of alcohol. Such logic was rejected: the ‘mere fact that Perry Davis’ Painkiller [sic] (undiluted) contains a large percentage of alcohol and was being bought by natives’ was insufficient to establish that ‘drunkenness amongst the natives was materially increased by the free sale of such preparation’.109 The matter escalated in October when the American Consul contacted the Johannesburg Police commissioner, demanding to know why Perry Davis’ Pain Killer alone had been singled out, amongst a range of similar medicinal preparations, as an intoxicating liquor.110 With international diplomacy at stake, state officials now colluded to cover their tracks. The secretary of the interior proposed that they formulate a carefully worded response to the Americans, to be replicated by all departments, apropos ‘that it was found that the Painkiller [sic] in particular was bought in very large quantities by natives for its intoxicating and not for its medicinal properties’.111 In 1911, the Pain Killer law was tested in court in the case of Rex v Vermooten, a chemist with a shop in Belfast (Transvaal). The defendant, accused of selling this product without a liquor licence, argued that his custom had been to ‘Europeans’. He was not convicted. A new proclamation (No. 42 of 1912) gazetted in January, declared that no liquor licence would henceforth be required to sell the medicine to Europeans, but it remained ‘forbidden to sell to coloured persons’. What meanings and sensibilities did African consumers of Perry Davis’ Pain Killer vest in this particular product? Controls over this product were directed at men residing in urbanising spaces of the Witwatersrand, migrant workers from around southern Africa who converged in the mining compounds. In such a context and in a climate of prohibition, it is easy enough to speculate how the narcotic properties of patent medicines would be awarded intoxicant value, aiding sociability or insensibility. ‘Drug drinking’ was not confined to white settler populations. But a physically brutalising workplace, rife with pulmonary diseases of miner’s phthisis (silicosis) and tuberculosis also points to the product’s medicinal value in relieving chronic pain and occupational illness. It raises, too, the ubiquitous colonial perception of black bodies as less sensible to pain than white bodies. Yet, despite the name emblazoned on every bottle sold, there is no suggestion in the documents that officials attributed a medicinal purpose to the consumption of Pain Killer by African mine workers. For whatever reasons it was sought, the evidence indicates that purchase of this product was not a haphazard choice but rather motivated by brand recognition. Perry Davis’ Pain Killer, introduced by missionaries, was widely available in country trading stores. It was long a staple of the Boer huisapteek, mixed with other concoctions to produce new ‘traditional’ remedies.112 Advertisements directed to English-speaking settlers appeared in the Natal Witness from the 1860s. Pain Killer was also a trusted household name among Africans in the region. In 1880, when Dr William Girdwood published ‘Notes on cases from Fingoland Dispensary’ in the Christian Express, Perry Davis’ Pain Killer, was popular with Christian converts and ‘red heathens’ in the eastern Cape.113 Girdwood’s reports on his medical consultations, written as parables of conversion and faith during a scourge of what he identified as phthisis, indicate that Pain Killer was widely purchased and consumed. A ‘girl who was a Christian [and] had borne all her sufferings with patience’ had been supplied with ‘various drugs from trading shops’ including ‘repeated bottles of “Pain-killer”, but all with no effect’.114 A traditional ‘headman’ had ‘used a good many bottles of “Pain-killer” and other kinds of medicines he could obtain from parties all round’ before seeking Girdwood’s medical intervention. Girdwood’s narrative reads as a testimonial, yet he did not claim that Christian faith succeeded where, as he put it, ‘pain killer fails’. The faith of the Christian girl did not save her life: ‘I could only give her some alleviating mixture to sooth her cough, and commend her to the care of the Great Physician of souls.’115 Pain Killer, along with a local popular narcotic medicine—‘Clock Tower’ Brand ‘Nerve Pain Specific’—produced in Adelaide (Cape), appeared in African-language newspapers, along with Doan’s Pills, Dr Williams Pink Pills and a range of products to alleviate fatigue. The pages of Zulu language Ilanga Lase Natal and Xhosa Imvo Zabantsundu base Afrika indicated their widespread availability in general stores, chemist shops and through postal order. Such newspapers also published hints for incorporating these products in home health care. In 1907, Perry Davis’ Pain Killer appeared in Imvo Zabantsundu as part of a treatment for cough: one teaspoon of ‘Pain Killer’ was mixed with five of Golden Syrup, with a castor oil poultice bound to the sufferer’s chest.116 These sources show that Pain Killer was a recognised brand for medical self-treatment amongst African reading publics, but with a reputation also among non-literate country dwellers. It is possible that to men who journeyed to the alien spaces of the gold mines, its familiar label might have, itself, represented a domestic comfort. Pain Killer’s medicinal value did not preclude its utility as an intoxicant. But the brand popularity that drew official notice—with sales reported by the gross—can surely be explained in terms that demonstrate as similar, rather than as distinctive, the sensibilities, discernment and aspirations for vitality of both African and Boer medicinal consumers in this period. Conclusion This article has traced a key moment in the making of a modern pharmaceutical economy and regulatory order in colonial South Africa. In the first decade of the twentieth century progressive laws created medicine and drug controls in Anglophone settler societies internationally. Following the South African war, imperial state officials aligned with professionalising medicine and pharmacy to advance a similar agenda. Struggles over regulatory law-making in this context were shaped by local, colonial relationships, specifically the exigencies and ideologies of white racial rule—in a post-war and politically dynamic region. This is demonstrated in the controversies surrounding two parallel tracks of legislation: the first that sought to establish controls over pharmaceutical sales and authority; the second to prohibit black consumption of a specific narcotic product. Tracking racist law in South African history risks reproducing the common misconception that legislation effected the social divisions it sought. It also risks replicating, through historiographical interpretation, the segregationist orderings of the colonial archive. The story told here shows how colonial law department officials, seeking to classify and control narcotic medicines through colonial constructions of identity, strove against some formidable realities. One was an influx of new therapeutic and narcotic commodities, a rapid expansion in medicinal advertising and markets and an emerging popular culture of experimentation that traversed racial and geographical terrain. The growth of literacy and of vernacular newspapers helped expand the regional patent medicine market. Except where surveillance techniques were actively developed, as in the mining compound and settler towns, custom, disobedience or ignorance of the law limited meaningful control. Additionally the politics of Union sought to galvanise white national identity out of distinctive ethnic populations—Boer and Briton—opposing sides in a recent and ruinous war. Dutch-speaking people in the Transvaal countryside rejected drug controls, linking medicinal restrictions to wartime strategies of annihilation by an occupying power. From this position of suspicion, they leveraged their right to vitality and healing through the language of cultural tradition. These sensitivities, and the assertion of ethnic over racial solidarity, gained greater political standing in the colony after 1907, with a more responsive Het Volk cabinet in power, a reality exemplified in the statecraft of Smuts. Battles over the availability of ‘traditional medicines’ to Boer farmers and prohibition of Perry Davis’ Pain Killer to African consumers were, thus, different elements of, and contradictions within, the process of building a modern pharmaceutical economy. The nascent state could not enforce the controls they sought. In the 1920s, however, in what appears as a ghostly revisitation of familiar concerns and debates, the state again worked towards drug regulation, again looking to international developments, and again deploying race as an organising principle. Smuts, now Prime Minister, was at the forefront of these efforts. Here, pre-Union law-making offered a formative basis on which to graft its differential regulations—medical and penal—that would shore up a South African politics of race into the twentieth century. Thembisa Waetjen is an Associate Professor of History at the University of Johannesburg. Her research focus is twentieth century South African political and social histories of citizenship, migration and gender. Changing practices of drug consumption, regulation and addiction treatment are recent interests, with articles on opioid politics published in the Journal of African History, Journal of Southern African Studies and South African Historical Journal. Footnotes 1 Indian Opinion, 1 January 1910. 2 Mohandas K. Gandhi, An Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments with Truth. ‘Experiments in Earth and Water Treatment’. http://www.columbia.edu/itc/mealac/pritchett/00litlinks/gandhi/part4/407chapter.html. Accessed 8 February 2018. 3 Ibid. 4 Adam McKeown, Melancholy Order: Asian Migration and the Globalization of Borders (New York: Columbia University Press, 2008), 187−94; Joseph Alter, ‘Gandhi’s Body, Gandhi’s Truth: Nonviolence and the Biomoral Imperative of Public Health’, The Journal of Asian Studies, 1996, 55, 301−22; David M. Fahey and Padma Manian, ‘Poverty and Purification: The Politics of Gandhi’s Campaign for Prohibition’, The Historian, 2005, 67, 489−506. 5 Virginia Berridge, ‘Drugs and Social Policy: The Establishment of Drug Control in Britain, 1900−30’, British Journal of Addiction, 1984, 79, 18. 6 David Courtwright, Dark Paradise: A History of Opium Addiction in America (Cambridge and London: Harvard University Press, 1982, 2001), 60, 80, 110; J. H. Young, The Medical Messiahs: A Social History of Health Quackery in Twentieth Century America (Princeton University Press, 1967), 41−65. 7 Shula Marks and Stanley Trapido, ‘Lord Milner and the South African State’, History Workshop Journal, 1979, 8, 50−80. 8 Anne Digby, ‘Self-Medication and the Trade in Medicine within a Multi-Ethnic Context: A Case Study of South Africa from the Mid-Nineteenth to Mid-Twentieth Centuries’ Social History of Medicine, 2005, 18, 439−457. 9 Catherine Burns, ‘Louisa Mvemve: A Woman’s Advice to the Public on the Cure of Various Diseases’, Kronos, 1996, 23, 108−34; Karen Flint, Healing Traditions: African Medicine, Cultural Exchange and Competition in South Africa, 1820−1848 (Athens: Ohio University Press, 2008); Julie Parle, States of Mind: Searching for Mental Health in Natal and Zululand, 1868−1918 (Scottsville: University of Kwazulu Natal Press, 2007); Felicity Wood, The Extraordinary Khotso: Millionaire Medicine Man from Lusikisiki (Auckland Park, Jacana Media, 2007). 10 For an account of the creolised remedies of Dutch-speaking farming families and their multicultural origins, see Suid-Afrikanse Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns (SAAWK), Volksgeneeskuns in Suid-Afrika: ‘n Kultuurhistoriese oorsig, benewens ‘n uitgebreide Boererate (Pretoria, Protea Books, 2010 ); Elizabeth van Heyningen, The Concentration Camps of the Anglo-Boer War: A Social History (Auckland Park: Jacana, 2013), 208−11; Edmund Burrows, A History of Medicine in South Africa (Cape Town: Balkema, 1958), 190−4; also the Memoirs of Dr Henry Taylor edited by Peter Hadley, Doctor to Basuto, Boer and Briton, 1877−1906 (Cape Town: David Philip, 1972), 130−5. 11 SAAWK, Volksgeneeskuns, 53−5. ‘Halische’ medicines became ‘Dutch Medicines’ through the influence of English settlers and, in the nineteenth century, the patent medicines used by Boer families were called (by users themselves) ‘Hollandsche/se’ medicines. On the Halle Orphanage, see Renate Wilson, ‘Pietist Universal Reform and the Care of the Sick and Poor: The Medical Institutions of the Francke Foundations and their Social Context’ in Norbert Finzsch and Robert Jütte, eds, Institutions of Confinement: Hospitals, Asylums, and Prisons in Western Europe and North America, 1500−1950 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), 133−54. 12 Howard Phillips, ‘Home Taught for Abroad: The Training of the Cape Doctor, 1807−1910’, in Harriet Deacon et al., eds, The Cape Doctor in the Nineteenth Century: A Social History (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2004); Harriet Deacon,’Racism and Medical Science in South Africa's Cape Colony in the Mid-to-Late Nineteenth Century’, Osiris, 2000, 15, 190−206; Premesh Lalu, ‘Medical Anthropology, Subaltern Traces, and the Making and Meaning of Western Medicine in South Africa, 1895–1899’, History in Africa, 1998, 25, 133−59; Elizabeth van Heyningen, ‘Agents of Empire: the Medical Profession in the Cape Colony, 1880−1910’, Medical History, 1989, 33, 450−71. 13 For a comparison with other settler colonies, see Desmond Manderson, ‘Symbolism and Racism in Drug History and Policy’, Drug and Alcohol Review, 1999, 18, 179 − 86; Neil Boyd, ‘The Origins of Canadian Narcotics Legislation: The Process of Criminalization in Historical Context’, Dalhousie Law Journal, 1984, 8, 102 − 36, esp. 114 − 18; David Courtwright, Dark Paradise: A History of Opiate Addiction in America (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2001), 77 − 81; Timothy Hickman, ‘Drugs and Race in American Culture: Orientalism in the Turn-of-the-Century Discourse of Narcotic Addiction’, American Studies, 2000, 41, 71 − 91. 14 See for example David Gordon, ‘From Rituals of Rapture to Dependence: The Political Economy of Khoi-Khoi Narcotic Consumption, c. 1487−1870’, South African Historical Journal, 1996, 35, 62−88; Paul La Hausse, ‘The Struggle for the City: Alcohol, the Ematsheni and Popular Culture in Durban, 1902−1936’, in Paul Maylam and Iain Edwards, eds, The People’s City: African Life in Twentieth-Century Durban (Pietermaritzburg: University of Natal Press, 1996), 33−66; Charles van Onselen, New Babylon, New Nineveh: Everyday Life on the Witwatersrand, 1886-1914 (Johannesburg, Jonathan Ball, 1982); Thembisa Waetjen, ‘Poppies and Gold: Opium and Law-Making on the Witwatersrand, 1904−1910’, The Journal of African History, 2016, 57, 391−416. 15 Walter Harris, ‘Alcohol: A Poison, a Medicine, a Luxury’, South African Medical Journal, 1895), 184−91. 16 Ibid., 190. These views reflected the contemporary discourses of imperial paternalism and economic rationale being promoted around the British Empire. For example, C. F. Hartford, ‘The Drinking Habits of Uncivilized and Semi-Civilized Races’, British Journal of Inebriety, 1905, 2, 92−103; C. D. Leslie, ‘The Alcohol Problem among the Natives of South Africa’, British Journal of Inebriety, 1908, 6, 104−8; C. W. Saleeby, ‘Alcoholism and Eugenics’, British Journal of Inebriety, 1909, 7, 7−20. 17 Harris advocated Francis Edmond Antsie’s prescribed maximum. Ibid., 191. 18 Ryan, Organised Pharmacy, 77; ‘Sale of Dutch Medicines: How to Evade the Liquor Laws’, Rand Daily Mail, 4 August 1908. 19 Leon Rousseau, The Dark Stream: The Story of Eugéne N Marais (Johannesburg: Jonathan Ball Publishers, 1982), 225, 286, 361, 271−372, 423, 459. 20 David Courtwright, ‘The Hidden Epidemic: Opiate Addiction and Cocaine Use in the South, 1860−1920’, The Journal of Southern History, 1983, 49, 57−72. 21 Van Heyningen, Concentration Camps, 159. 22 Cape Archival Repository (KAB) CO 7743 2/153/01/D Magistrate of Steytlerville to Under Colonial Secretary. 23 ‘Obulewe Lizela’ (‘Killed by Medicine’), Isigidimi Sama-Xosa, Lovedale, 6 January 1876. 24 For example, A. H. Watkins ‘Inebriety or Narcomania’, South African Medical Journal, 1896, 53−6. Terry M. Parssinen and Karen Kerner, ‘Development of the Disease Model of Drug Addiction in Britain, 1870−1926’, Medical History, 1980, 24, 275−9; Timothy Hickman, ‘“Mania Americana”: Narcotic Addiction and Modernity in the United States, 1870−1920’, Journal of American History, 2004, 901269−94. 25 ‘The Doctors’ Day’, Rand Daily Mail, 15 June 1909, 3. 26 Waetjen, ‘Poppies and Gold’, 403−11. 27 Jones had pharmacies in Boksburg, Van Rhyn, Springs, Benoni, Brakpan and Standerton, and a manufacturing plant in Standerton. Ryan, History of Organised Pharmacy, 52. 28 Debates of the Transvaal Legislative Council, 11 June 1909, 248. 29 Ibid. 30 Ibid. 31 ‘The Doctors’ Day’, Rand Daily Mail, 15 June 1909, 3. 32 Thembisa Waetjen, ‘The Rise and Fall of the Opium Trade in the Transvaal, 1904−1910’, Journal of Southern African Studies, 2017, 43, 733−51. 33 ‘Debates of the Transvaal Legislative Council’, 14 June 1909, 274. My emphasis. 34 National Archives of South African, Pretoria, hereafter (SAB), JUS 397 3/301/25 Resident Magistrate (RM), Wakkerstroom to Secretary of the Law Department, 30 January 1905. See also Colonial Secretary (CS) to LD, (re queries of RM Pietersberg), 7 April 1905; RM, Rustenburg, 15 April 1905; RM Ermelo, 5 May 1905. 35 SAB JUS 397 3/301/25 CS to LD, quoting RM, Pietersburg, 7 April 1905. 36 SAB JUS 397 3/301/25 RM, Wakkerstroom to LD, 22 March 1905. 37 https://www.angloboerwar.com/name-search Search ‘Walter Guy Bentinck’. Accessed 8 February 2018. 38 Ibid. 39 SAB JUS 397 3/301/25 RM, Wakkerstroom to LD, 3 April 1905. 40 Ibid. Emphasis original. 41 The Rustenberg data can be found at SAB JUS 397 3/301/25 Messrs Hirshowitz & Romm to RM, Rustenburg, 10 April 1905; the Zeerust data at SAB JUS 397 3/301/25 M.O. Reia to RM, Zeerust 13 April 1905. 42 SAB JUS 397 3/301/25 RM, Rustenburg to Secretary of the Law Department, 7 October 1905. 43 SAB JUS 397 3/301/25 PB to CS, 7 March 1905. 44 Other colonies in South Africa, like some provinces in Australia and Canada, operated with a mileage clause. 45 SAB JUS 397 3/301/25 Transvaal Pharmacy Board to Acting Secretary to the Law Department, 3 March 1905. 46 SAB JUS 397 3/301/25. Under Colonial Secretary to Law Department; 20 March 1905; to Commissioner of Police, Magistrates and public prosecutors from Acting Sec of LD, 28 March 1905. 47 SAB JUS 397 3/301/25 Department Circular No. 16 of 1905. 48 SAB JUS 397 3/301/25 Resident magistrate, Wakkerstroom to LD, 3 April 1905. Emphasis original. 49 ‘Hollandsche Medecijnen’, Land en Volk, 5 May 1905. In a translation held by the LD, Boeren is translated ‘Farmers’, yet capitalised it suggests reference to peoplehood rather than merely occupation. 50 ‘All country store-keepers therefore have the right as formerly to sell Dutch medicines to Farmers/Boers.’ 51 Namely, Heidelberg, Klerksdorp, Krugersdorp, Pietersburg, Potchefstroom, Standerton and Volksrust. Mortality of Boer non-combatants in camps around South Africa was catastrophic, 4,177 women, 22,074 children under age 16 and 1,676 men. On illness and medical interventions in Boer camps, see Van Heyningen, Concentration Camps, 208−33, and her detailed database at http://www2.lib.uct.ac.za/mss/bccd/ Accessed 22 February 2018. 52 ‘Hollandsche Medecijnen,’Land en Volk, 19 May 1905. Letter dated 10 May. 53 Sales for agricultural purposes were specifically for the ‘destruction of wild animals’, vermin and locusts; for the treatment of scab and other diseases in animals; dipping of cattle and sheep; and for spraying or otherwise treating diseases of plants. On the powers awarded to the Agricultural Ministry to sell or distribute poisons through magistrates, see SAB JUS 397 3/301/25 Department of Agriculture to Sec of LD, 8 June 1905. 54 SAB JUS 397 3/301/25 Acting Secretary to the PB to Assistant CS, 19 May 1905. 55 SAB JUS 397 3/301/25 Medical Officer of Health to Assistant CS, 5 May 1905. According to Turner’s data, poisonings accounted for 14 accidental deaths and 16 (out of 71) suicides in the colony between July 1903 and June 1904, with ‘no case of homicidal poisoning recorded’. 56 SAB JUS 397 3/301/25 to RM from Secretary to LD, 19 April 06. 57 SAB JUS 397 3/301/25 Enclosed letter, Mr Gauldie to RA Oramond, 30 November 1906. 58 SAB JUS 397 3/301/25 Pharmacy Board to CS, 30 Sept 1907; Resident Magistrate, Lichtenberg to Sec of the LD, 21 October 1907. 59 SAB JUS 397 3/301/25 RM, Potchefstroom to Secretary of Law Department, 19 April 1906. 60 SAB JUS 397 3/301/25 RM, Potchefstroom to Secretary of the Law Department, 4 July 1906. 61 SAB JUS 397 3/301/25 PB to Ass CS, 6 July 1908; Standerton chemists to AG, 23 June 1908. 62 SAB JUS 397 3/301/25 Acting RM, Klerksdorp to Sec of LD, 14 December 1908. 63 SAB JUS 397 3/301/25 Acting RM, Volksrust, ‘Notice to General Dealer in the Volksrust Municipality’, undated copy. 64 ‘Sale of Medicines, Government’s Drastic Moves, Widespread Effects’, Transvaal Leader, 8 February 1909. Cruickshank’s letter appeared also in the Rand Daily Mail, under the title ‘Grandmotherly Legislation’, 8 February 1909, p. 2. 65 Ibid. 66 Ibid. 67 Ibid. 68 SAB JUS 397 3/301/25 P. Thomson, Chairman, Chamber of Commerce, Volksrust to the Transvaal Attorney General, 22 February 1909. 69 On the unrest, see SAB JUS 397 3/301/25 Leask & Co, Klerksdorp to Attorney General, 12 February 1909. 70 ‘Medicines’, Transvaal Leader, 18 February 1909. 71 List of poison medicines specified by Proclamation in February 1910 as requiring certification in the Transvaal—‘Patent’ or Proprietary Medicines: Chlorodyne, Fellow’s Syrup (compound syrup of hypophosphites), Easton’s Syrup (syrup of phosphates of iron, quinine and strychnine), Kay’s Compound Essence of Linseed, Winslow’s Soothing Syrup, Atkinson’s Infant Preservative; Dutch Medicines: Bloedstillende Drops, Benauwdheid Drops, Endress Drops, Kramp Drops, Kraam Drops, Oog Drops, Pijnstillende Drops, Stuip Drops, Tandpijn Drops, Grauwe Vomitief, Witte Vomitief, Helmonts Kruiden, Paregoric Wonder Essens. The significance for Boer families of some of these preparations is detailed in the compendium, SAAWK, Volksgeneeskuns in Suid-Afrika. 72 ‘A “doctor’s” Appeal’, Rand Daily Mail, 23 August 1910. 73 Ryan, Organised Pharmacy, 77. 74 ‘Secret Remedies in South Africa’, British Medical Journal, 18 December 1909, 2, 1766−7. 75 Ibid. 76 For Merriman’s consent, see ibid.; on the fact that the tax was ignored, see Ryan, Organised Pharmacy, 78. Pharmacists were angered that patent medicines, approved in Britain and ‘equivalent to Dutch medicines, failed to secure exemption’. 77 Ryan, Organised Pharmacy, 65−74. 78 Cape Town Archival Repository, hereafter KAB, Medical Officer of Health (MOH) 396 U51 R.C. Streeter, Secretary to Medical and Pharmacy Council, Orange River Colony, to Colonial Medical Council, Cape, 27 September 2010, including lengthy quotation of a letter from Gorges, sent 6 July 2010. 79 Ryan, History of Organised Pharmacy, 65. Ryan’s source is an article appearing in The Friend, 14 May 1910. 80 Burrows, A History of Medicine, 334. 81 Thembisa Waetjen, ‘Drug Dealing Doctors and Unstable Subjects: Opium, Medicine and Authority in the Cape Colony, 1907−1910’, South African Historical Journal, 2016, 68, 342−65. 82 KAB MOH 396 U51 Draft Medical Bill proposed by the Conference of Medical Councils and Pharmacy Boards: directed to the Minister of the Interior, written by John Gregory MOH. 21 October 1910. 83 Ibid. 84 Ryan, History of Organised Pharmacy, 69. 85 Debates of the Transvaal Legislative Assembly, 25 July 1906, 884. 86 S. Plaatjie, ‘The Quack Cure Parasite’, 4 November 1911, Tsala ea Becoana. 87 Ibid. 88 Abantu-Batho, the paper founded by the Native National Congress in 1912—and a critical voice of protest against swathes of governmental legislation undermining African civic equality—was in fact purchased by a patent medicines firm, as it floundered economically in the 1930s. Edward Roux, Time Longer than Rope: A History of the Black Man’s Struggle for Freedom in South Africa (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1964), 350. 89 Hlonipha Mokoena, Magema Fuze: The Making of a Kholwa Intellectual (Scottsville: University of KwaZulu-Natal Press, 2011), 249. 90 Ibid., 247−9. 91 Niel MacVicar, ‘Advertised Medicines’, 1 December 1910, Christian Express, 199−201. 92 NAB SNA I/1/320 1905/1059 Minute Paper, Circulation of Patent Medicine Pamphlets, etc, among Natives, Under Secretary of Native Affairs, 4 May 1905. 93 NAB SNA I/1/320 1905/1059 Minute paper, Under Secretary for Native Affairs, 15 May 1905. 94 NAB CSO 1879 John H. Williams to Licensing Officer, Pietermaritzburg, 22 October 1909. 95 NAB CSO 1879 Minute Paper 6108/1909, Secretary of the Law Department to AU Secretary, 2 November 1909. 96 NAB CSO 1879 Minute Paper 6108/1909, Secretary of the Natal Pharmacy Board to AU Secretary, 11 November 1909. 97 Mohandas K. Gandhi, An Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments with Truth. ‘Experiments in Earth and Water Treatment’. http://www.columbia.edu/itc/mealac/pritchett/00litlinks/gandhi/part4/407chapter.html. Accessed 8 February 2018. 98 Walter Harris, ‘Poisoned by Strychnine: A Personal Experience’, South African Medical Journal, 1895, 341−4, 341. 99 Ibid., 342. 100 South African National Repository (SAB) JUS 397 3/301/25 Chamber of Commerce to Secretary of the LD, 5 November 1908; Secretary of Law Dept to Chamber of Commerce, 12 November 1908. 101 SAB JUS 397 3/301/25 Government Analyst JC McCrae, of Government Laboratories, to Deputy Commissioner CID Johannesburg Police, 28 December 1908. As other patent preparations of this period, ingredients varied from bottle to bottle: the three samples ranged from 68.94 per cent to 71.62 per cent volume of alcohol. 102 Adverts for Perry Davis’ Pain Killer appear in the Natal Witness from the 1860s. 103 Mark Twain, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (Avenel: Random House, 1989), 78−9. 104 SAB JUS 397 3/301/25 N. Weinbrenn to Chief Magistrate, Johannesburg; 1909 March 4, J DV Roos to Acting Chief Magistrate, 25 February 1909. 105 Ibid. 106 SAB JUS 397 3/301/25 Rand Daily Mail 20 February 1909, ‘A Painkiller Proclamation’, p. 9; and 23 March 1909, ‘A warning’, Germiston police want to let those selling innocently to know that this produce contains more than 3 per cent alcohol’, p. 9. 107 SAB JUS 397 3/301/25 Steytler, Grimmer and Murray (Hereafter S, G and M) to Attorney General, 18 January 1910. 108 SAB JUS 397 3/301/25 S, G and M to Sec of LD, 19 April 1910. 109 SAB JUS 397 3/301/25 S, G and M to Sec of LD, 19 May 1910. 110 The origins of the initial query remain obscure, but one might also speculate that local pharmaceutical manufacturers, noting the lucrative popularity of a foreign product, had privately lobbied the Chamber of Commerce to have its sales circumscribed by means of the liquor ordinance. 111 SAB JUS 397 3/301/25 Sec of the Interior to Sec of Justice, 17 October 1910. 112 See SAAWK, Voksgeneeskuns, 576. Pain Killer features in 36 submissions by Afrikaans-speaking informants as examples of folk remedy mixtures. 113 W.G. ‘Notes of cases from Fingoland Dispensary’, The Christian Express, 1 April 1880, 5−6. The author ‘W.G.’ of the Christian Express is surely William Girdwood (See Alastair Roger, ‘The Early History of Blythswood Missionary Institution’, unpublished BA thesis, Rhodes University, 1977, 6), who ‘ran a dispensary and Nquamakwe for a number of years as a ‘licenced but unqualified’ doctor. E. van Heyningen, ‘Medical Practice in the Eastern Cape’, in Deacon et al., The Cape Doctor, 184. 114 Ibid., 5. 115 Ibid., 6. 116 Imvo Zabantsundu Base Afrika, 28 May 1907. © The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for the Social History of Medicine. This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model (https://academic.oup.com/journals/pages/open_access/funder_policies/chorus/standard_publication_model)
Social History of Medicine – Oxford University Press
Published: Aug 1, 2019
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