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Category: The Leaders

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Boer Leaders in the 2nd Boer War
KRUGER, Stephanus Johannes Paulus (1825-1904) Last President of the South African Republic, and generally recognised as the greatest figure Afrikanerdom produced.

Of German origin, his family came from the Uckermark, north of Berlin, where the name is not uncommon. He himself wrote it with the umlaut (Krüger) after the German fashion.

Research by Professor C.J. Uys of the University of the then Orange Free State shows that he was born not at Steynsburg, Eastern Cape Province, but on the farm Zoutpansdrift, near Venterstad. 

His birth date may also be incorrect. His father, Kasper Jan Hendrik Kruger, and his mother, Elsie Fransina Steyn, joined the Great Trek and Paul experienced all the hardships of the time. At 15 he was recognised as a burgher. He married at 17 and settled on his farm, Waterkloof, near Rustenburg in the Transvaal. 

One of his early hunting experiences was of having to amputate his own thumb after an injury. He became a strong protagonist of the Dopper sect in whose churches he remained a lay preacher to the end of his life. He participated in several native wars, and in 1854 showed outstanding bravery in rescuing the body of Commandant Potgeiter from the besieged mountain stronghold of Chief Makapan.
Unsuccessfully he worked for the unification of the Transvaal with the Orange Free State. 

During the ensuing Civil War he backed van Rensburg and seized the town of Potchefstroom. After the failure of President Burger's over-ambitious program, he became one of the mainstays of the national resistance to the British annexation policy. After Shepstone had hoisted the British flag in 1877, he joined the protesting deputation to London, impressing many with his innate skill as a negotiator. 

Failing, he concentrated on anti-British propaganda amongst his own people in the Transvaal, and as Vice-President of the South African Republic, accompanied another fruitless deputation to London and the Continent in 1878. From then on he built up resistance to British administration, and when the real revolt began in 1880 he became a member of the Triumvirate. He attended peace negotiations and, as Vice-President, summoned the extraordinary session of the Volksraad that confirmed the Convention of Pretoria.

In 1883 he was first elected President of the Z.A.R. and became its dominating personality. Following the Barberton and Witwatersrand gold discoveries, the enormous increase of foreigners confronted him with his life's problem, that of reconciling the supremacy of the Boers with justice to the immigrants. He failed to obtain a sea-coast near St. Lucia Bay and had continued frontier skirmishes in Swaziland and in the area adjoining Bechuanaland, where British sovereignty clashed with the power of the Transvaal. Moreover, he had to restrain his burghers from crossing the Limpopo in order to prevent friction with Cecil Rhodes. In 1888, elected President for the second time, he came into even stronger conflict with Rhodes. 

Certain Uitlanders were friendly, while others were extremely hostile. To counter-balance British influence, he introduced many Dutch officials, headed by the State Secretary Dr. W.J. Leyds, and favoured the construction of a railway line to Lourenço Marques before the completion of any through British territory. In this he was unsuccessful. In Europe, however, he evoked sympathy and admiration for his diplomatic skill, and particularly impressed Prince Bismarck.

In the Transvaal, amid overwhelming difficulties, he was charged with deliberately obstructing the development of the Rand, with nepotism, with corruption and many other offences. On the other hand his own people venerated him increasingly. Efforts to ease the situation between the Uitlanders and the Government were nullified by the occurrence of the Jameson Raid at the end of 1895. The leaders of the British cause, notably Cecil John Rhodes, Joseph Chamberlain and Lord Milner, were insistent that the Uitlanders be given the franchise, but Kruger refused more than a token concession, because they outnumbered his burghers. 

The Kruger sixpence bracelet.

  • This bracelet was made from 5 coins each of sixpence value, each bearing the likeness of Paul Kruger.
  • The coins were dated 1895 and 1897

By the time he was ready to compromise, the South African War had become inevitable. Although very moderate in his treatment of the Jameson Raiders, whom he handed over for trial to the British, and in that of the Reformers, whose sentences he commuted to fines and banishment, he was unable to cope with the position any longer. He was re-elected by a large majority in 1898 and war broke out in October 1899. Though over 74, in bad health and unable to stand the campaigning, he paid several visits to the commandos in the field and remained in Pretoria until May 29, 1900, he boarded the warship Gelderland sent out by Queen Wilhelmina to Lourenço Marques. 

He proceeded first to France and then to Holland, where he remained until the end of the war, doing his utmost to rally assistance for the Boer republics, and where he began dictating his memoirs. He moved to Switzerland and died there. He was buried in the Old Cemetery in Pretoria. text from

BOTHA, Louis  (General), 18621919, South African soldier and statesman. A Boer (Afrikaner), he participated in the founding (1884) of the New Republic, which joined (1888) the Transvaal. Although Botha had little previous military experience, he brilliantly commanded Boer troops in the South African War. He besieged the British at Ladysmith and defeated their forces at Colenso. In 1900 he succeeded General Joubert as commander of the Transvaal army and led its remnants in guerrilla fighting. After the war (1902) he favored cooperation with the British. Botha was (1907–10) premier of the Transvaal. As the leader of the United South African, or Unionist, party he was Prime Minister of the Union of South Africa from its organization (1910) until his death, and he was ably assisted by Jan Christiaan Smuts. In World War I, Botha declared South Africa a belligerent on the side of the Allies. He suppressed a Boer revolt and in 1915 led the forces that conquered the German colony of South West Africa.
Christiaan Rudolf de Wet
b. Oct. 7, 1854, Smithfield District, Orange Free State [now in South Africa] d. Feb. 3, 1922, Dewetsdorp district, South Africa

Boer soldier and statesman, regarded by Afrikaner nationalists as one of their greatest heroes. 

He won renown as Commander in Chief of the Orange Free State forces in the South African War (1899-1902) and was a leader in the Afrikaner rebellion of 1914.

As a young man de Wet saw action in the Sotho wars of the 1860s and again with the Transvaal Boers in their struggle for independence (1880-81). 

In peacetime, de Wet, though a reluctant politician, served in the Volksraad (parliament) of the Transvaal and later in that of the Orange Free State.

At the beginning of the South African War, he headed a militia unit, and his military ingenuity and daring soon led to his appointment as commander in chief of the Orange Free State forces. With British troops in possession of much of his country, de Wet switched to hit-and-run guerrilla tactics. His military feats and miraculous escapes became legendary. It was with considerable reluctance that he surrendered, and, as acting president of the Orange Free State for one day, he signed the Peace of Vereeniging (May 1902).

From 1907 to 1910 de Wet served as minister of agriculture in the Orange Free State and participated in the convention (1908-09) that framed the constitution of the Union of South Africa. After the split between Prime Minister Louis Botha and J.B.M. Hertzog, de Wet joined Hertzog in founding the National Party (1914). The breach was widened with the outbreak of World War I, when de Wet opposed Botha's decision to conquer German South West Africa (now Namibia). De Wet's efforts to organize a rebellion led to his capture (December 1914) and a sentence of six years in prison for treason. 

After serving a year, however, he was released and allowed to live quietly on his farm. 

From "Wet, Christiaan Rudolf de" Encyclopædia Britannica Online


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