Paul Kruger

Kruger, Paul (Stephanas Johannes Paulus)krōˈgər, Afrikaans stāfäˈnəs yōhäˈnəs pouˈləs krüˈgər, 1825–1904, South African Transvaal statesman, known as Oom Paul. As a child he accompanied (1836) his family northward from the Cape Colony in the Great Trek that was eventually to cross the Vaal River and establish the Dutch-speaking republic of Transvaal (1852). Kruger's life was closely tied to the development of the country; he was a pioneer, soldier, farmer, and politician. The Transvaal was annexed by Great Britain in 1877. Kruger at first cooperated with the British but shortly thereafter was dismissed because of his demands for retrocession. He was one of the triumvirate (with Piet Joubert and Martinius Pretorius) who negotiated the Pretoria agreement with the British (1881) granting the Boers (Afrikaners) independence. Kruger was elected president in 1883 and reelected in 1888, 1893, and 1898. His policy was one of continual resistance to the British, who came to be personified in South Africa by Cecil Rhodes. Colonization of Rhodesia N of the Transvaal and the increasing importance of gold mining merely brought much greater resistance on Kruger's part to Rhodes's dream of a unified South Africa. In the 1890s, Kruger adopted a stringent policy against the enfranchisement of the Uitlanders who were settling in the Transvaal. The Jameson Raid (see Jameson, Sir Leander Starr) into the Transvaal (Dec., 1895), undertaken with Rhodes's knowledge, created an international crisis. The Kaiser congratulated Kruger (in the "Kruger telegram") for the successful repulsion of the British, with the implication that Germany had a right to interfere in the Transvaal. The message caused great indignation in England. Kruger fought in the early stages of the South African War, but in 1900 he went to Europe on a Dutch cruiser in a vain effort to enlist aid for his country. He died an exile in Switzerland.

See his memoirs (tr. 1902, repr. 1969); biography by M. Nathan (1941); studies by J. S. Marais (1962), D. M. Schreuder (1969), and C. T. Gordan (1970).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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