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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:The Origins and Aftermath of the Cape Colony's 'Hottentot Code' of 1809
Author:Dooling, WayneISNI
Periodical:Kronos: Journal of Cape History
Geographic terms:South Africa
The Cape
forced labour
Law, Human Rights and Violence
History and Exploration
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Ethnic and Race Relations
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/41056535
Abstract:On 1 November 1809, the Earl of Caledon, the first civilian governor of the Cape Colony since its occupation by Britain in 1806, passed one of South Africa's most infamous pieces of legislation: the 'Caledon Code'. This code became enshrined in the minds of early-19th century humanitarians as the final seal in a long process of the 'enslavement' of the Colony's indigenous population, the Khoikhoi. This paper shows that the Caledon Code was not the result of enlightened metropolitan thinking, nor was it the making of reactionary trekboers in search of 'serf' labour. It was a very particular colonial project. It grew out of the particular form of colonial rule that was bred in the Cape Colony at the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th centuries. This was rule through local collaborators - on the one hand the reluctance and inability of British imperialism to fully stamp its authority on this colonial outpost, and, on the other hand, the adaptability of local elites to a new form of imperialism. And last, but not least, the 'Hottentot Code' was the outcome of the long 18th-century struggle between masters and servants in the countryside, a struggle that culminated in the rebellion of 1799-1803. The colonial State did put much effort into ensuring that the Code was implemented. A new Circuit Court was ordered to ensure the 'proper treatment' of 'Hottentots' as detailed in the Caledon Code. Although none of the settlers charged with murder of slaves were so convicted, the Circuit effectively put on trial the entire social system that had emerged on the frontier. Notes, ref. [ASC Leiden abstract]