Cape Republic

From Roses, Tulips, & Liberty
Cape Republic
Kaapse Republiek
Location of Cape Republic
CapitalKaapstadt (Cape Town)
  • Dutch (Afrikaans)

The Cape Republic, officially: The Republic of the Cape, (Afrikaans: Kaapse Republiek), is a country located in southern Africa with territory extending from the southern point of Africa up to the Oranje River in the northwest, Umzimbuyu river in the southeast, and the Val river in the north.

The country's official language is the Afrikaans dialect of Dutch, though several native languages are recognized locally (the two largest languages by the number of speakers are Sesotho and Xhosa).

The Cape Republic is notable as an African nation with a majority ethnically European and half European population. The nation is known for its large open spaces in the interior and its hills and mountains on the coastal areas; additionally, it is one of the largest agricultural exporters in Africa and has one of the largest & innovative economies in Africa.


Early European Settlement

The Dutch East India Company settlement began in March 1647 with the shipwreck of the Dutch ship Nieuwe Haarlem. The shipwreck victims built a small fort called the "Sand Fort of the Cape of Good Hope." They stayed for nearly one year until they were rescued by a fleet of 12 ships under the command of W. G. de Jong.

After returning to Holland, some shipwrecked crew members tried to persuade the Dutch East India Company to open a trading center at the Cape.

A Dutch East India Company expedition of ninety Calvinist settlers, under the command of Jan van Riebeeck, founded the first permanent settlement near the Cape of Good Hope in 1652. Jan van Riebeeck was on one of the rescue ships that had come to rescue the shipwrecked sailors, and upon seeing the land, he decided to return. They arrived in the harbor of modern-day Kaapstadt on 6 April 1652 with five ships: Reijer, Oliphant, Goede Hoop, Walvisch, Dromedaris.

The settlers initially built a clay and timber fort, which was replaced between 1666 and 1679 by the Castle of Good Hope, now the oldest building in South Africa. The colony expanded in 1671 with the first purchase of land from the Khoikhoi (called "Hottentots" by the settlers) beyond the original limits of the fort built by van Riebeeck.

A long-term policy of the VOC was to limit the colony's growth to a small, clearly defined area. Initially, the VOC had hoped to employ a small number of servants and employees to produce food close to the fortress while obtaining cattle from the local Khoikhoi. However, repeated crop failures convinced company officials to release nine servants to become semi-independent burghers to run free-hold farms. Land grants were limited until the colony's new commander, Simon van der Stel, in 1679.

Inspired by the Nieuw Netherland colony, Van der Stel pursued an expansionist agricultural policy that his son William continued, increasing the number of farms by two hundred by 1705. The number of free-hold farms almost doubled by the 1730s to four hundred. Plots of land were given out to families willing to develop it, bringing more settlers from northern Europe. This land grant system built based on local territory development provided Kaapstad with an ample supply of resources to support VOC ships while exporting produce to locals, starting a complicated yet vital trade network.

While the earliest colonists were, for the most part, from the lower, working-class and displayed an indifferent attitude towards developing the colony, but after a commissioner that was sent out in 1685 to attract more settlers, a more dedicated group of immigrants began to arrive. French refugees began to arrive in the Cape after leaving their country after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes. This small body of immigrants had a marked influence on the character of the Dutch settlers. Owing to the policy instituted in 1701 of the Dutch East India Company, which dictated that schools should teach exclusively in Dutch and strict laws of assembly, the Huguenots ceased by the middle of the 18th century to maintain a distinct identity knowledge of French disappeared.

Augustine Wars and British Occupation Period (1796-1814)

After the French revolution and the consolidation of power in France by the French dictator Augustine Spiga, the French Republic invaded the Dutch Republic in 1795. It was replaced with a client state, the Batavian Republic. The Dutch stadtholder, Prince of Orange, who had fled to England, refused to recognize the Batavian Republic and ordered all Dutch colonial governors to surrender to and temporarily accept British authority for safekeeping. While some argued not to accept the orders, the majority of Cape colonists (as well as the vast majority of local leaders) were loyal to the house of Oranje, and two months after receiving the orders, the Cape Colony surrendered control to the British (with the explicit promise that the colony to be returned to the House of Oranje eventually).

After the revolts against British rule in British-occupied New Netherland became successful in 1796, the British authorities fearing such revolts would spread to other British-occupied Dutch colonies. In response to this fear, Britain declared to local authorities in Kaapstadt that the British crown would under no circumstances annex the Cape colony if British ships were allowed free access to Kaapstad, this agreement is known as the Van Nimwegen declaration (named after the local colonial leader who negotiated the agreement).

Early 19th century expansion

A new era started when the Dutch (Kingdom of the Netherlands) returned to power and governance over the Cape Colony. As Europe was devastated by war, the Cape Colony experienced a rapid influx of new settlers, many of whom were urbanites. A newly chartered company called the Royal Cape Company (Dutch: Koninklijke Kaapkolonie, KK) oversaw the development and management of the colony.

By this time, most of the settlements were found south of the Table Mountains and were already starting to feel the effects of overcrowdedness.

This began to change in 1819 when Governor-General Henk Koenis pushed for the organized settlement of land beyond the Table Mountains. Between 1820 and 1850, a tremendous consolidated effort was carried out to settle the land up to the Oranje River. It saw tens of thousands leave towards towns founded by scouting parties that were eventually connected by railroads. These towns would form the commercial and political center of land with over two hundred families and farms. This settlement policy proved relatively successful as the towns began to grow in size and importance, with raids by the natives being easily deterred by the effective implementation of a Kommando system fostering a strong militia culture on the frontier. During this period, the Dutch started to import Malay indentured servants from the Dutch East Indies to work on the critical ports of Kaapstadt.

In order to further Dutch claims to the eastern Cape and to create a buffer between the Xhosa in the east, the Cape colony government gave land grants to 4,500 German settlers (mainly from the lower Rhine, Luxembourg, and the Saarland) between 1819 and 1829. Many of these colonists settled along Algoa bay. It was also during this time that the important port town of Fredrickstadt was founded. Eventually, after years of border skirmishes between colonists and the Xhosa, tensions over the land surrounding the Groot Visch River led to the great Xhosa war (1829 to 1834). After five years of bloodshed and atrocities on both sides, the Xhosa surrendered to the Dutch with the single condition that Xhosa people not be taken as slaves. In 1834 the Dutch annexed Xhosaland as a colonial protectorate. Between 1835 and 1855, the Dutch government sent missions to Xhosaland to Christianize and "civilize" the newly conquered nation, and while Christianity and Dutch farming practices spread rapidly throughout the Xhosa, the Dutch language did not, and the Xhosa language remained the primary mother tongue of the region.

War of Independence

Leading up to the Wars of Dutch Humiliation (1850-1857), tensions between the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the British Empire spilled over into the Cape colony with the Dutch fearing encroachment from the east by the Natal colony. In 1850 after the start of the Canton War, the Dutch revoked the British right to use the Kaapstadt port and attempted to invade the Natal colony from the Cape. Local Cape colony authorities were wary of provoking the British and after the Spanish and French also declared war against the Dutch, believed that the Dutch could not win this war. They feared that a defeated Dutch Empire would be forced to relinquish the Cape Colony to the British; this along with increased taxes on the Cape citizenry and merchants to fund the war effort led to the 1852 Kaapstadt revolt where Dutch authorities were driven from the city and many local troops deserted the Dutch military and joined Republican militias. Only 3 months later the Dutch took back the city but by that time the Cape republican movement was well underway with republican militias and revolts happening all over the colony.

The Cape Republicans, in 1853 knowing that they would need allies in their fight against the Dutch Empire secretly met with officials from the British empire who agreed to support Cape independence financially in return for the Van Nimwegen agreement to be reinstated. Within months, hundreds of guns were being smuggled into the Cape colony from the British Natal and after a failed offensive against the Dutch position in Kaapstadt, the Cape Republicans were in control on nearly 60% of the colony.

In 1854 the Cape Republicans negotiated with the Dutch protectorates of Xhosaland, Temboland and Pondoland to join their rebellion in exchange for becoming autonomous federal subjects of an eventual Cape Republican state and in 1855 the rebels with naval support from the British were able to take back Kaapstadt and push the remaining Dutch forces out of the nation. On November 1855 the 1st Cape Republic was declared in Kaapstadt as a federal state.