Pretorius, Martinus Wessel (märtēˈnəs vĕsˈəl prātôrˈēəs) [key], 1818?–1901, Boer (Afrikaner) statesman; son of Andries Pretorius. In 1857 he was elected the first president of the South African Republic (the Transvaal), and in 1859, while holding this position, he became the third president of the adjoining Orange Free State Republic (see Free State). In 1863, after failing to effect a union of the two republics, he resigned the presidency of the Orange Free State in order to maintain his position in the Transvaal. As a result of public dissatisfaction at British encroachments Pretorius was forced (1871) from the presidency of the Transvaal. After Great Britain annexed the Transvaal in 1877, he served with Paul Kruger and Petrus Joubert in a government opposed to British rule.
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