J. A. van Blerk "Met President Reitz
Translated by NATALIE ALICE VAN BLERK
Edited by MARTIN STAPLES SHOCKLEY and A. RAY STEPHENS*
SN APRIL 6, 1652, CAPTAIN JAN VAN RIEBEECK LANDED AT PRESENT-
day Cape Town to establish the first European settlement in
what is now the Republic of South Africa. An officer of the Dutch
East India Company, his mission was to establish a supply station for
company ships rounding the Cape of Good Hope. For a century and
a half the colony served its purpose; Cape Town still calls itself "the
Tavern of the Seas."
When the French invaded Holland in 1795, the British, with Dutch
permission, occupied Cape Town, but in 1802 restored it to the Dutch
by the Treaty of Amiens. When the Napoleonic Wars threatened Brit-
ish trade routes, Britain again occupied the Cape, and had her posses-
sion ratified in 1815 by the Congress of Vienna. She has been there
ever since. The most important wave of British migration came in
1820, and South African English who trace their ancestry to 1820o are
referred to as Old Settlers.
As the British occupied the coastal areas, the Dutch became increas-
ingly restive, and during the 1830o's began their celebrated trek to the
north. Across the Orange River they established the government
which became the Orange Free State, and, moving on across the Vaal,
established the Transvaal. Both governments were recognized by the
British, who by terms of the Bloemfontein Convention of 1854 with-
drew south of the Orange River.
Gradually the Dutch became Afrikaaners, preserving and creating
language, institutions, and religion, all derived from, but yet signifi-
*J. A. van Blerk's "Met President Reitz deur Texas," a chapter from the author's
book op die Bermudas Beland, is published with the permission of his son, Dr. N. van
Blerk, who also provided information about his father, the book, and President Reitz.
Dr. van Blerk resides in Stellenbosch, and is editing a forthcoming dictionary of the
Africaans language. The present translation was made by Dr. van Blerk's wife Natalie
Alice van Blerk. Martin Staples Shockley, professor of English at North Texas State Uni-
versity, discovered this account while serving as Fulbright Professor of American Liter-
ature at the University of Cape Town, and prepared the headnote. A. Ray Stephens,
professor of history at North Texas State University, provided the footnotes.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 74, July 1970 - April, 1971. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101200/. Accessed March 28, 2015.