Biography Of Paul Kruger

This is a biography of Paul Kruger, former president of South Africa.

He was called the "old lion of Transvaal". This can be attributed to his general appearance - a mane of grey hair and an impressive beard framing an impassive and stubborn looking face. He was also the president of the Republic of South Africa for many years.

He was born Stephanus Johannes Paul Kruger on 10 October 1825 - for many years until South Africa's democratic elections in 1994, the 10th of October was celebrated as a public holiday in honour of Paul Kruger. He was born on Bulhoek, his family's farm situated near the town of Craddock in the Eastern Province of South Africa. Paul Kruger's forefathers were Prussians who arrived in South Africa in 1713.

When Paul, as he was called, was ten years old, his family moved to the northern part of the Cape Province, across the Orange River. It was here that the Kruger family met with one of the leaders of the Great Trek (the Boers who moved away from the Cape in a huge convoy), Hendrik Potgieter. The Krugers joined up with Potgieter and followed them to Natal (now called Kwazulu-Natal) and eventually moved to the province of Transvaal (the area of Transvaal now comprises four provinces). They settled down in an area in the south east of Transvaal and established the town of Potchefstroom - today known as an university town.

Paul Kruger taught himself to read and write and at the tender age of sixteen, he owned his first farm, which he called Waterkloof, situated in the northern area of Transvaal near the town of Rustenburg. He married at the age of seventeen, but his wife Maria and their child died of Malaria in 1846. Paul Kruger was only twenty-one years old and remarried the year after. His second wife was Gezina du Plessis, his first wife's cousin. They had sixteen children. One of the suburbs in Pretoria, Gezina, was named after his second wife.

His family's involvement with the Great Trek leaders ensured that he would eventually participate in the world of politics. He was a natural for it and in 1854 was the commandant of Rustenburg. Six years later he was named the commandant-general of the Transvaal army. He was not even thirty years old.

Britain annexed Transvaal in 1877 and Paul Kruger, believing that peaceful talks would rectify the situation, went to London to talk to the British government. He pleaded with them that the annexation was morally wrong. His pleas fell on deaf ears and the disillusioned Kruger returned to South Africa.

In 1880, he joined forces with Piet Joubert and M. Pretorius and the three pledged to fight for independence. The Boers won the war an in 1883, Paul Kruger became the State President. The gold rush to the Transvaal started soon after and the state was forced to provide services such as railways, streets and proper accommodation to the burgeoning cities and towns. He was re-elected in 1888, but was not very popular - he tended to award commercial concessions only to the people that he personally liked and this caused the people to grumble.

With the election of 1893, Paul Kruger won by a narrow margin and many people believed that if he continued with his economic policies, he would lead Transvaal to ruin. He was a wily politician and managed to win over the people and in 1898, was re-elected for a fourth time with a large majority.

The Anglo-Boer War broke out and Paul Kruger guided the Boer forces and became an icon of inspiration to the battling Boers. In 1900, as the British forces advanced on Pretoria, Paul Kruger escaped and left his country, to settle down in Holland for the duration of the Anglo-Boer War. He never returned to his country, but died in Clarens, Switzerland on 14 July 1904.

His body was shipped back to Cape Town and was taken to the Transvaal via train. His body was buried on 16 December 1904 in Pretoria, in Heroes Acre.

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