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  • 1795

    16 september 1795 was when the British first occupied the Cape. Why did they do it? Did they just want to be in control of the lucrative sea-route? I had always thought they just wanted a finger in the Kimberley pie, but now I saw that diamonds did not come along until a couple of years later.
    Do any of you guys know?

  • #2
    True.Remember that the cape colony was a British colony back then.The freestate and transvaal boer republics.Only after diamonds and gold was discovered did they show an interest.The searoute was of importance because of the trading done in India.

    The British took the Cape from the Netherlands.

    Basically to cut the story short.Before 1900, SA was 3 countries.

    (British)Cape and Natal
    Orange Freestaters

    Funny to think the Orange freestate and Transvaal was two different countries uh?


    • #3
      How the British got the Cape


      Here's an answer to your question, taken from my copy of A History of South Africa, by Leonard Thompson (Yale University Press, 1990).

      During the European turmoil sparked off by the French Revolution, Great Britain became the dominant sea power and occupied the Cape peninsula to prevent it from falling into the hands of the French. A British expedition easily forced the capitulation of Dutch officials in 1795, and although the Dutch -- then constituted as the Batavian Republic -- regained the Cape under the terms of the Treaty of Amiens in 1803, they were ousted again in January 1806. British sovereignty over the colony was confirmed in the eyes of Europe, but, of course, without any consultation with black or white South Africans, in the peace settlement of 1814.

      In the British perspective of that era, South Africa was still significant for the single reason that had previously concerned the Dutch. The Cape peninsula was a stepping-stone to Asia, where the English East India Company was conducting a highly profitable trade, primarily in India. Like the Dutch before them, the British had no vital material interest in South Africa beyond the peninsula. But appended to that strategic prize was a complex, violent, and largely anarchic society scattered over a vast hinterland.
      (The typos are my own addition because my touch typing skills are somewhat in decline these days.)

      There are two things worth noting here. Firstly, the Dutch did not value the colony that much or they would've put more of a force there to defend the colony. Really, for the purposes of the Dutch East India Company (which I believe was bankrupt at the time that the British took over the Cape), it didn't matter who staffed the Cape, so long as there was an outpost for fresh water and vegetables.

      Secondly, the Dutch style of administration -- not only were they thinly staffed for defence, they were also thinly staffed for bureaucracy. The colony was "largely anarchic". When the British came, they weren't going to make either of the Dutch's two "mistakes". This contributed to the mood that give rise to the Great Trek: The boers in the Eastern Cape had effectively been living beyond the control of the Dutch, but the English were moving in to control them. That was the first blow.

      The second blow was that the British were moving in to control them in a manner that negatively impacted them: they were told they had to pay their slaves. Instead, they said "ons sal eerder vat ons goed en trek."

      Of course, the apartheid government didn't tell us how the British came to occupy the Cape because they would've had to admit to the embarassing truth of the matter: the British showed up one day and said "Shove over old chap, there's a good lad. Yes, that's right, this place is ours now." To which the Dutch replied "ag fok man."

      (Sorry, it's late and I need some sleep. Good night and I hope that the actual quote helped some.)

      Under the British regime, the autonomy that the farmers had enjoyed under the Dutch East India Company was ending. Whereas the company's colonial state had been extremely weak beyond the vicinity of Cape Town and Stellenbosch, the British gradually asserted control over the entire colony, and in so doing emphasized British culture and institutions. From 1811 on, judges of the colonial court went annually on circuit to the various district headquarters to hear criminal as well as civil cases. The pace of administrative change quickened after the arrival of the 1820 Settlers, who pressed for anglicization. Previously, the British had preserved the Dutch system of district administration, under landdrosts appointed by the central government and heemraden and veldkornets drawn from the farming population. By 1834, the powers of the veldkornets had been curtailed, and the landdrosts and heemraden had been replaced by magistrates without local affiliations. In place of the amateur (and sometimes corrupt) bench of Dutch officials, moreover, the government appointed qualified lawyers from Britain to the Court of Justice and introduced British legal procedures.

      There were also cultural changes. The government continued to support the Dutch Reformed church but asserted supervision over it. Moreover, although English was a foreigh language for the Afrikaner population, by the 1830s it alone was authorized for use in government offices, law courts and public schools.

      It was in this changing institutional and cultural environment that Afrikaners experienced the dislocations that were inevitable short-term sconsequences of emancipation. Initially, many newly emancipated Khoikhoi and slaves left the fams, hoping to enjoy their freedom. Some crowded into the mission stations, others squatted on Crown lands or moved into the towns and villages, and for a time, many roamed the countryside, trying to live by pilfering. As a result, white farmers were not only short of labor but also the victims of social unrest; hence their demand for a law against vagrancy and their disgust when the British government disallowed it.

      Afrikaners experienced further setbacks. Many who lived near the Xhosa frontier lost livestock and other property during the invasion of December 1834 and were outraged in 1836, when London reversed the postwar plans of the governor to annex more land from the Africans and make it available for white settlement. Many former slave owners were disappointed financially when they learned that the British government was providing as compensation only about one-third of the assessed value of their slaves. Moreover, claims had to be proved in London, with the result that agents purchased the claims at a reduced rate and the owners eventually received no more than one-fifth of their slaves' assessed value.
      Many of these changes affected farmers in the western as well as the eastern districts. Indeed, far more slaves were held in the west than the east. evertheless, although eastern farmers had used far more Khoikhoi than slave laborers, most of them had possessed at least one slave, and they rather than the westerners were most deeply affected by the other events. The west was a more stable region. Its white population was more sedentary and more substantialy townsmen and wine and grain farmers became involved in the social life emanating from government house, whereas eastern Afrikaners of all classes were alienated from the British regime and regarded it as responsible for all their misfortunes. As a result, nearly all the Afrikaner inhabitants tof the eastern districts took part in the remarkable exodus that historians call the Great Trek.

      Piet Retief, one of the emigrant leaders, informed the Grahamstown Journal that they were leaving because of "the turbulent and dishonest conduct of vagrants," because of the losses they had sustained through the emancipation fo their slaves, and because of "the plunder which we have endusred from the Caffres and other coloured classes." Hed added a complaint of the sort that would recur again and again, down to the late twentieth century: "We complain of the unjustifiable oduim which has been cast upon us by interested and dishonest persons, under the cloak of religion [that is, the missionaries], whose testimoney is believed in England, to the exclusion fo all evidence in our favour; and we can foresee, as a result of this prejudice, nothing but the total ruin of our country."


      • #4
        to which the Dutch replied: "ag fok man"

        Thanks guys, it did help.


        • #5
          There was two boer republics;Swellendam and Graaff-Reinet in the same period..?