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Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe

On-line version ISSN 2224-7912
Print version ISSN 0041-4751

Abstract

SCHUTTE, Gerrit. Behind the scenes. Hendrik Swellengrebel and the Cape Patriot Movement. Tydskr. geesteswet. [online]. 2019, vol.59, n.4, pp.562-586. ISSN 2224-7912.  http://dx.doi.org/10.17159/2224-7912/2019/v59n4a7.

Hendrik Swellengrebel, Cape-born Utrecht gentleman, farmer and administrator and visitor at the Cape (1776-1777), functioned as informal informant, mediator and critic of both the Cape Patriot Movement (1778 onwards) and the VOC officials, at the Cape and in Amsterdam, using his extensive network of correspondents, both at the Cape and in the Dutch Republic. In essence, he agreed with the Patriots' complaints about the lack of personal rights and freedom of trade, but he also tried to convince the Representatives of the Patriots Movement (1779) to give up the counter-productive personal invectives against high Company officials. Simultanously Swellengrebel tried to restrain the reactions of the Company administrators. The top officials of the Company were conservatives, afraid of any burgher rights, and too busy with politics in the Dutch Republic and international relations (War with England in 1780-1784). Therefore decisions on the Patriot Requests and even moderate changes were delayed (and therefore creating more burgher actions). Even Swellengrebel's offer to be nominated as Governor and then to reorganise the Cape was opposed, and declined by the Opperbewindhebber Stadholder William V himself. This article describes decades of discussion and policies around the Cape and the Cape Patriots, behind the scenes of the VOC.

Keywords : Cape Colony; VOC; Cape Patriot Movement; Lords XVII; Representatives; vryburgher; civil rights; free trade; party politics; international relations; Anglo-French rivalry; Hendrik Swellengrebel; B.J. Artoys; F.W. Boers; W.C. Boers; J.A. van Plettenberg; Hendrik Cloete.

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