Birthday: October 10, 1825
Nationality: South African
Died At Age: 78
Sun Sign: Libra
Also Known As: Stephanus Johannes Paulus 'Paul' Kruger
Born Country: South Africa
Born in: Whittlesea, South Africa
Famous as: President of South Africa
Spouse/Ex-: Anna Maria Etresia du Plessis (m. 1842–1846), Gezina Susanna Fredrika Wilhelmina du Plessis (m. 1847–1901)
father: Caspar Jan Hendrick Kruger
mother: Elsie Francina Steyn
siblings: Gert Kruger, Theuns Kruger
children: Alieda Berendiena Kruger, Anna Johanna Mariia Aletta Kruger, Baba Kruger, Casper Jan Hendrik Kruger, Catharina Helena Kruger, Dauw Gerdbrant Kruger, Elsje Francina Kruger, Gesina Susanna Frederika Willemina Kruger, Jan Adriaan Kruger, Maria M. Kruger, Niecolaas Jakobus Kruger, Pieter Kruger, Stevanus Johannes Paulus Kruger, Tjaart Andries Petrus Kruger, Zoveja Margrieta Kruger
Died on: July 14, 1904
place of death: Clarens
U.S. State: Wisconsin
Cause of Death: Pneumonia
Who was Paul Kruger?
Paul Kruger was a political leader from South Africa, who also happens to be one of the founders of the Afrikaner nation. As President of the South African Republic for four tenures, from 1883 to 1900, he played a crucial role in the Boer resistance against the British and the negotiations that followed during the wars. Having seen his fair share of struggles which began around his teenage years, Paul Kruger developed a fearless demeanor and an observant mind, which in turn shaped his firm leadership attributes. His talent of expressing himself clearly despite his lack of formative education helped him immensely in many of his political strategies. His never say die attitude and sheer grit defined his character, which consequently made him an extraordinary figure in Boer history. Having faced many near-death situations during wars and hunting expeditions, his tenacity coupled with his faith in God is what kept him going. Being the deeply religious man that he was, he experienced a phase in life that compelled him to move away from politics and towards a spiritual connection, which ultimately resulted in the formation of the ‘Dopper Church’.
Childhood & Early Life
Paulu Kruger was born on 10 October 1825, at Bulhoek, in South Africa’s Cape Colony town of Steynsburg. His father, Casper Jan Hendrik Kruger, was a farmer and his mother’s name was Elsje.
His mother passed away when he was just eight years old, and his father remarried soon after.
Inspired by the Voortrekker leader, Hendrik Potgieter, in early 1836, Casper Jan Hendrik Kruger, along with his family took part in the Great Trek - a mass movement of the Dutch-speaking population into the interiors of South Africa to escape the British administration.
Constantly surrounded by a war-like situation, he learned to hunt, ride and fight from a young age.
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On 16th October 1836, at the age of 11, Paul Kruger was part of the Battle of Vegkop between the Zulu Kingdom and the Voortrekkers.
In 1845, he accompanied Potgieter to negotiate the border between the Portuguese and the Boer lands, settling Lebombo Mountains as the frontier.
During that period, he was introduced to the great Pretorius and developed a camaraderie with him; an association that shaped his future political views, the desire for an independent state being one of them.
Promoted to field cornet in 1852, he fought against the Batswana tribes in the Battle of Dimawe, narrowly escaping death in the battle.
With the death of Pretorius in 1853, his eldest son Marthinus, became the Commandant-General. Paul Kruger became acCommandant and played an important part in the Makapan and Mapela campaigns the following year.
He was part of an eight-member team who drafted the constitution and with its formalization, Marthinus Pretorius was sworn in as the very first President of the South African Republic on January 6, 1857.
Over the next few years, Paul Kruger proved his loyalty towards Marthinus’ authority through his adept handling of civic disturbances and political disputes between the Basotho and the Free State.
After Thomas Burgers was elected president, Paul Kruger took a leave of absence in 1873. He returned to active politics the following year and was elected Vice-President in March 1877.
Paul Kruger’s struggle for an independent Transvaal began after the 1877 British annexation. While he was initially unsuccessful, he nevertheless managed to play a key role in the success of the First Boer War in 1880.
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Following an end to the British rule, he successfully guided the newly independent nation past the threat of bankruptcy. He stabilized the economy through introduction of tax reforms and by granting industrial monopolies. As a result, he won the 1883 Presidential elections by a landslide.
Further problems surfaced for his government with the gold rush attracting more foreigners into the Transvaal. He moved a deputation to London to counter the problem and while it wasn’t fully resolved, he managed to get the London Convention signed on 27th February 1884 to reduce his country’s debt and restore the name to that of the South African Republic.
Over the next decade, Paul Kruger was re-elected President twice, and the country saw several reforms including the opening of the Delagoa Bay ‘national railway’ in 1895, ending the monopoly of the Cape railway.
His humane handling of the conspirators of the Jameson Raid, made him popular amongst the Afrikaners and he became the President for the fourth time in May 1898.
As pressures from the British government became untenable, he declared the Second Boer War on 11 October 1899.
Initially in his favor, the war took a drastic turn for the worse owing to lack of troops and low morale. He left for Europe in the 1900s as he refused to stay in a British occupied South Africa.
Paul Kruger’s communication and negotiations with the British played a key role during the First Boer war in the 1880. As a result, the British agreed to restore the South African Republic within six-months. Further concessions followed with signing of the treaties on 23rd March and later at the Pretoria Convention on 3rd August 1881.
Awards & Achievements
South Africa’s first national park was formed in 1926 and was named as Kruger National Park.
Several biographical films have been made and books written on his life including his autobiography ‘The Memoirs of Paul Kruger’ in 1902.
Family & Personal Life
In 1842, 16-year-old Paul Kruger married 14-year-old Maria du Plessis; the marriage took place at his farm in Waterkloof. The couple had a son, but unfortunately both mother and son passed away in January 1846 after contracting fever.
A year later Paul got married to Maria’s cousin Gezina du Plessis, and had nine sons and seven daughters with her.
In 1901, Gezina and five of their grandchildren’s death left Paul heart-broken and he retreated to Utrecht where he lived with his daughter Elsje Eloff’s family on the Oranjelust villa.
Paul Kruger passed away on 14 July 1904, succumbing to pneumonia. Initially buried in The Hague, he was moved to Church Street Cemetery in South Africa, which became his final resting place.