The influence of British Traders on Early Potchefstroom, 1852-1877
Van den Bergh, Gert Nicholas
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Fear of annexation by Britain resulted in strained economic relations between Transvaal Voortrekkers and the British colonies. At first only indispensable trade was tolerated. Andries Pretorius, however, favoured broader trade with the colonial harbours. The Sand River Convention of 1852, whereby relations between the ZAR and the colonies were normalised, facilitated this. This resulted in an immediate and extensive settlement of foreign, especially British, merchants with their families and staff in Potchefstroom. Trade boomed overnight to the advantage of all concerned, but centred on British initiative. As money was scarce in a state with no coinage of its own, much of the trade was conducted by means of bartering. The recession of the 1860s and 1870s, which could have had a disastrous effect on trade, was held in check by resourceful new entrepreneurship. Accustomed to municipal government in the Eastern Province, from where most of the new merchants came, they were instrumental in establishing a similar system in Potchefstroom from where it spread to the rest of the Transvaal. A number of the new residents were elected to the Volksraad in time. The foreign residents were also instrumental in establishing a variety of formal cultural movements, in which the Afrikaner community shared and which was emulated by them.
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