| The British
|The Reform Movement
| In the early years of the
nineteenth century, British merchants, mostly former employees of the British
East India Company, established companies in Cape Town to trade and export
agricultural and other products (more..)
Merchants became the driving force of a powerful and active
middle class that set about bringing British liberal 'reform' principles to
Cape Town society. These values found expression in the editorials of John
Fairbairn, the founder of the first newspaper (1824) - the 'South African
Commercial Advertiser'. The paper encouraged energetic support for the
emancipation of slaves, the liberalisation of trade, participation in sport,
development of infrastructure, health care, literacy, education, science, the
arts and self-government.
Merchants based at the Cape were supported by 'the Trading
Society' in London that lobbied the Imperial government on their behalf. The
vision was also shared by a new generation of government officials in the Cape
that built infrastructure and set about developing schools (more...)
In combination, government and the middle class developed a
vibrant civil society and a modern city at the Cape. Societies for leisure and
learning were established (more...)
Through trade the middle class grew in wealth and power and
developed the resources to establish important financial companies in the 1830s
The middle class aimed to re-develop the town and transform it
from a 'rural' Dutch town into a colonial capital. They argued for this on the
grounds of civic pride and public health. Particularly as commerce gathered
pace much of the old Dutch town was replaced with grand new buildings (more...).
The desire to 'modernise' Cape Town from its Dutch trappings
extended also to culture. Support was given to British missionary
organisations, and more denominations sprang up (more...). Scottish ministers were even
fed into the Dutch Reformed Church to give the church a more 'British' feel
(this back-fired, the Scots became fervent Afrikaners).
However, it was the movement to abolish slavery that was to
cause the biggest and most damaging break between the British and 'Afrikaner'
populations of the Cape.
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· Culture ·
In this period of Cape History:
A City Develops
The Rise of
The End of British Rule