Smuts character jug produced in England circa 1941. Field Marshal Jan Christian Smuts (1870 - 1950) was a South African statesman, military leader and philosopher. In addition to holding various military and cabinet posts, he served as prime minister of the Union of South Africa from 1919 to 1924 and 1939 to 1948. Smuts was an internationalist who played a key role in establishing and defining the League of Nations, United Nations and Commonwealth of Nations. He was a white supremacist who supported racial segregation and opposed democratic non-white rule, although at the end of his career his support of the Fagan Commission's recommendations marked him as a liberal segregationist by South African standards.