Administration at the Cape
|From the 1820s onwards British
Government in Cape Town became more assertive and implemented the developments
occurring in Britain.
Under the VOC Cape Town's population, and the rural farmers far
more so, had been insulated from European debates. There were no newspapers or
libraries, and the church, which also provided education, was controlled by the
VOC and had little strength.
Now Cape Town was part of an Empire at the height of its powers
and British officials, imbued with new ideas and strong convictions, were
arriving at the Cape. The Westminster parliament was putting reform into
practise, and these legal measures were soon applied to colonies. By the 1820s
new ideas and laws were arriving at the Cape, by consequence of its attachment
to the British Empire, that deeply challenged the status quo.
As the British empire was inspired by a crusading moral and
mercantile mission, fired by the urging of evangelicals and the ambitious
businessmen of Manchester, so vigorous officials arrived in the Cape,
determined to leave their mark. When John Montagu, for instance, arrived to
become colonial secretary in 1843 he 'set to work without delay, defining
departmental responsibilities, remedying existing evils and supplying necessary
services' (quoted, Worden et al, pg 162).
| An strong education movement had
taken hold in Britain and teachers were sent to the Cape. British systems and
text books were adopted in mission, private and government schools. The South
African College opened in 1829 to prepare students 'for academic study in
Holland or England'. The University of Cape Town later emerged from this
| British government in the Cape
became fired with vision for development of the colony - in sharp contrast to
the spendthrift VOC. Although instructed to keep costs low, governors like Sir
Lowry Cole engaged in ambitious road building projects to open up the coast to
Shipping routes were also developed along the coastline to
reach the outlying areas settled by the trekboers. A regular postal service to
Britain was established using steam ships. Within Cape Town, buses were
licensed to run between Wynberg and Cape Town.
Another determined government leader was Governor Sir George
Grey who engaged in far reaching social education programmes, and tackled the
daunting challenge, that had defied the VOC, of building a harbour. It was
officially opened by Queen Victoria's son, Albert, in 1870.
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