‘To Enlighten South Africa’: The Creation of a Free Press at the Cape in the Early Nineteenth Century

  • John M. MacKenzie
Part of the Palgrave Studies in the History of the Media book series (PSHM)


The early nineteenth century has usually been interpreted as a period of autocratic rule in the colonies of the British Empire. The Napoleonic Wars produced systems designed for the exigencies of global conflict. A rapidly expanding empire had to be assimilated at a period before modern colonial bureaucracies — and their London headquarters — had been fully established. Moreover, governorships tended to be in the hands of military figures. After 1815, a continuing network of military governors, often connected with the Duke of Wellington and other key figures in the Peninsula campaigns, were sent to the colonies, not least to save them from the half-pay status of the unemployed officer.1 They were invariably conservative, generally Tory in sympathies, and all their experience and predilections led them to be anxious about the possibility of the spread of a seditious Jacobinism in the Empire. They were therefore disposed to maintain the tight clamps on associations and on publishing of all sorts, which had been imposed during the era of the wars with revolutionary and Napoleonic France.


Early Nineteenth Century Printing Press South African Journal East India Company Press Freedom 
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Copyright information

© John M. MacKenzie 2006

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  • John M. MacKenzie

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