Paul Kruger (Stephanus
Johannes Paulus Kruger) was born on 10 October 1825
at Bulhoek, his grandfather's farm near
what is now the
spent his early childhood on the Vaalbank farm near
Cape). His school was the veld, having just three
months formal education.
The Great Trek
In 1836, at the age of ten, his family set out
as part of the Great Trek into the interior, firstly
with Piet Retief on his trek to Natal, and then with Hendrik Potgieter into the Transvaal.
Kruger witnessed his first battle in 1836 at
Vegkop (fight hill), where Mzilikazi�s Matabele
impis suffered the first of their defeats against
The Boer trekkers crossed the Vaal River in 1838 and
at first stayed in the area that is known today as
- the first capital of what would later become the
South African Republic. Kruger's father, Casper
Kruger, later decided to
settle in the district now known as Rustenburg.
the age of 16, Paul Kruger was allowed to choose a
farm for himself at the foot of the Magaliesberg
where he settled in 1841.
The following year he married Maria du Plessis
and the young couple accompanied Casper Kruger to
live in the Eastern Transvaal for a while.
family returned to Rustenburg, Kruger's wife and
infant son died, probably from malaria. He then
married Gezina du Plessis, and had seven
daughters and nine sons, some dying in infancy.
South African Republic 1852
Over time Kruger emerged as a leader of the
Boers. He started
as a veldkornet (field cornet) in the commandos.
He was present at the Sand River Convention in 1852
when the Transvaal South African Republic was
granted its independence.
Three years later he was appointed member of a commission of the Volksraad
(Republican Parliament) that drew up the
constitution for the new republic whilst serving as
Commandant-General of the Transvaal.
People began to take notice of
the young man and he played a prominent part in
ending the quarrel between the Transvaal leader, Stephanus Schoeman, and Marthinus Pretorius. The
latter was to become the first President of the
South African Republic and founder of
which he named after his father, Andries Pretorius.
In 1873 Kruger resigned as Commandant-General
and, for a time, held no office but retired to his
Boekenhoutfontein farm. In 1874, however, he was
elected to the Executive Council and shortly after
that became Vice-President of the Transvaal.
1st War of Independence 1880
In 1877, when the British annexed the Transvaal, Kruger became the leader of the
movement to regain and keep their independence. During the same year, he visited England
for the first time as leader of a deputation. In
1878 he was part of a second deputation.
These first two visits to England, and his
negotiations with the government of Benjamin
Disraeli, proved fruitless, as was his campaign of
passive resistance back home. However, these
attempts established him as a patriotic Afrikaner
leader and a skilled politician. During his second
visit to Europe he was able to fly over Paris in a hot air balloon.
In 1880 the Transvaaler's, under the
leadership of Paul Kruger, Marthinus
Pretorius and Piet Joubert, led the first
War of Independence against the British
authorities in the Cape. The invading British forces
were defeated by Joubert�s burghers at
Laing�s Nek, Ingogo, and most famously at Majuba Hill in
again, Paul Kruger played an important role
in the negotiations with the British, which
led to the restoration of the Transvaal's
independence under British sovereignty.
President Kruger 1883
In 1883, at the age of 57, Kruger was
elected president of the South African
Republic. He again left for England in 1883.
Empowered to negotiate with Lord Derby, he
proceeded to agree complete independence
from Britain at the London Convention of
Kruger and his delegation
also visited other European countries
including Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands,
France and Spain. In Germany, he attended an
imperial banquet at which he was presented
to the Emperor, Wilhelm I, speaking at
length with the renowned Bismarck.
home Kruger had an arch-enemy in the form of
and his Cape political associates. Rhodes
regarded the western parts of the Transvaal
as the Imperial way across the Limpopo and
into the northern interior. Kruger had, in
violation of the terms of the London Convention, proclaimed these northern
territories a Transvaal protectorate, and
had to withdraw. Later this land became the
British protectorate of Bechuanaland.
Gold and the Uitlander problem
In 1886 the discovery of gold in the
Witwatersrand resulted in a flood of
foreigners ( �uitlanders�) to the area. This
was a threat to the new political
the Boer republic
and the Afrikaner identity. Although Kruger�s
government needed the revenue from the mines
and didn�t have any legitimate reason to
remove these 'uitlanders', to grant them
full political rights would negate
everything the Boers had fought for.
Rhodes, the uitlanders, and their
Johannesburg representatives in the Reform
Movement, increased the pressure on Kruger
for equal rights but with little success.
The Jameson Raid 1895/6
In late December 1895
the Uitlander frustrations culminated in a raid into the Republic
- a raid that was led
Starr Jameson, but which was secretly
instigated by Cecil
The raid failed and in early
1896 Jameson was forced to surrender. He was
Pretoria and then handed over to stand
trial in London for this illegal act.
Barnato is said to have negotiated with
Oom Paul ("Uncle Paul" as he was
fondly known by many of his followers) for
trial to be under British jurisdiction.
In 1898 Kruger was elected President for
the fourth and last time, and although he
did make some concessions to the British,
the High Commissioner (Alfred Milner), made
increasingly difficult demands. Britain was
determined to create a unified South Africa
and negotiations were no longer about the
rights of uitlanders.
The Anglo-Boer War 1899-1902
On 11 October 1899, the Anglo-Boer War
broke out. Kruger, now 74, remained in
Pretoria because of
poor health until 1900. On 7 May, Kruger attended the last session of
the Volksraad and on 29 May he left
Pretoria as Lord Roberts advanced on the
For many weeks Kruger stayed either in a house
at Waterval-Onder, or in his railway carriage
at Machadodorp in the Eastern Transvaal (now
Finally, on 21 October, Kruger boarded the Dutch
warship De Gelderland, sent by Queen
Wilhelmina of the Netherlands, at Lorenzo
Marques, and left for Europe. His wife was much too sick to
accompany him and Gezina died on 20 July
Kruger landed in Marseilles to an
overwhelming ovation. He travelled through
Europe to Holland where he stayed for the
remainder of the war, his last home being
Oranjelust in Utrecht. Here he received the
news that the treaty (the Peace of
Vereeniging) had been signed. The Boer
generals - Botha, De Wet and De la Rey -
also paid him a visit when they were in
Europe in 1902 after the war.
The President moved to Clarens in
Switzerland where he stayed for the last six
months of his life.
He died on 14 July 1904
and his remains were temporarily interred at
the Hague and were brought to Cape Town in the Dutch ship De Batavier VI.
His body was then taken to
Pretoria by train and he was buried on
16 December 1904 in the Church Street