He had decidedly imperialistic views, namely to extend the British Empire from Cape to Cairo, and claimed land north of the Transvaal (Rhodesia) for Britain. In so doing he encountered the opposition of both Olive Schreiner and later Jan Smuts. As Prime Minister of the Cape Colony, his political downfall was finally brought about by his determination to seize the newly discovered goldfields of the Transvaal for Britain, through an illegal raid into that territory. Known as the Jameson Raid this was to lead to the Anglo Boer War.
At the time of his death he was considered to be one of the richest men in the world He left his vast wealth in trust to fund Rhodes Scholarships which still provide promising young adults, from largely English speaking countries around the world, with an Oxford University education.