John Philip | Free Online Biblical Library

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John Philip

1775-1851. Scottish missionary to South Africa. Born at Kirkcaldy, he was a Congregational minister in Aberdeen (1804-19) before beginning his thirty years' work as resident director of the London Missionary Society in South Africa. He exercised strong personal control of all LMS work, making frequent tours and conducting a voluminous correspondence. He aimed to silence critics by improving the quality of missionary work. Eager for expansion, he assisted the Rhenish, Paris, and American Board missions to enter the field.

Philip played a controversial role in colonial politics. His vigorous campaign on behalf of the Hottentots prepared the ground for Ordinance 50 of 1828 which extended civil rights to colored people. He criticized the commando system on the Eastern Frontier, blamed the colonists for the Sixth Frontier War (1834- 35), and vigorously opposed the proposed expulsion of the Xhosa from the Ciskei. His influence upon British philanthropists was sufficient to upset this policy, but he would have preferred the extension of British rule, without confiscation of land, to the unsatisfactory Treaty System which emerged. He likewise favored British protection for the Griqua, but obtained only treaties of friendship. He is often condemned as an ignorant negrophile. His information and judgments were sometimes faulty, but few men were better informed. His aggressive and intolerant manner did him harm, as did his unwillingness to admit mistakes and his unsympathetic attitude toward colonists. But these faults are outweighed by his passionate concern for justice and his acute understanding of the colony's true interests.