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The Expansion of the Trek Boers

From the beginning of the 18th century the Cape settlers expanded their territory towards the north and the east. These settling movements were led by the Trek Boers, white farmers who penetrated the hinterland looking for grazing land for their cattle.

The Trek Boers preferred the free and unrestricted life on their ox wagons and in tents to the more protected existence within the realms of town administration. The price they had to pay for their lifestyle was constant armed conflict with native peoples. First the Khoikhoi successfully resisted the conquest of their residential and grazing land.
And from the turn of the century it was the people of the Xhosa, living to the east, who stood up against the Trek Boers. Frequent skirmishes occurred, particularly in the Zuurveld in the east of the colony, to the boundary of the Great Fish River. In 1779, the first of the ferocious Xhosa wars broke out.

In the town communities the danger of a confrontation was also growing. Here the opposing parties were on one hand the citizens, aspiring to political autonomy, and on the other hand a weak, corrupt and almost bankrupt colonial administration. The townspeople demanded their independence from the colonial administration. In Swellendam and Graaff-Reinet, the first Republics were proclaimed, although they only existed for a short time.

The power struggle between citizens and administration ended with the landing of British ships at the Cape and the annexing of the colony to the United Kingdom in 1795.

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