The New International Encyclopædia/Kruger, Stephanus Johannes Paulus

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The New International Encyclopædia
Kruger, Stephanus Johannes Paulus
Edition of 1905. See also Paul Kruger on Wikipedia, and the disclaimer.

KRUGER, krōō'gẽr, Stephanus Johannes Paulus (1825-1904). President of the South African Republic (1883-1900). He was born in Colesberg, Cape Colony, October 10, 1825. His ancestor, Jacob Kruger, went from Berlin in the Dutch East India Company's service in 1713, at the time when the foundations of many of the leading Boer families were being laid by immigration. In 1836 young Paul shared with his family the hardships of the great trek, when the blunders of the British colonial administration made enemies of the leading Boers of Cape Colony and drove them to a self-imposed exile which resulted in the founding of the new South African Republic beyond the Vaal. (See Boer.) Paul's mother, who was a Steyn, died in his early youth and his father in 1852. The young man grew to manhood amid the hardships which attended the winning of the country from the savage natives. He was distinguished for strength and personal prowess, as well as for deep religious convictions. After the Sand River Convention (1852), when the conflict arose between two parties among the Boers themselves. Kruger cast his lot with the nationalist and orthodox party of Pretorius, and in the collision of the Pretorius party with the Orange Free State in 1857 he was one of the negotiators on the part of the former of the treaty which averted hostilities. He then held the rank of commandant in the Rustenburg district. In the rivalry between the Dutch Reformed and Separatist Reformed churches he was a strong supporter of the latter as the more orthodox. He headed the movement to overthrow Schoeman, who misused his powers as Acting President in 1860. Elected commandant-general of the reorganized Republic in 1863, Kruger put down the civil strife which had been the curse of the Boers from the time they obtained their independence, arranged peace with the Zulus and defeated the Basutos. He was Vice-President of the Republic under President Burgers. In 1877, when the failure of the Burgers policy and the skillful diplomacy of Sir Theophilus Shepstone had brought the Republic to the point of a grudging reception of annexation, Kruger became the head of the protesting Nationalist Party, although he held office for eight months under the annexation Government. He was the principal member of the deputations which protested against annexation both to the Cape and to the English Government. Events rapidly moved toward armed resistance to the British authority, as the promises made in 1877 were not kept, and in 1880 the National Committee reorganized the Government, with Kruger in his old position of Vice-president. He was an active participant in the war which followed, and bore a prominent part in the peace negotiations. The people, having won back their independence, though under a reserved British suzerainty, elected Kruger President in 1883 over Joubert by 3431 votes to 1171. He was reëlected in 1888, 1893, and 1898. In the South African Republic after he became President Kruger was more and more a power, his influence over his own people being almost boundless. Friction with the British Government increased through the development of the gold-mines, the unmeasured ambitions of the Pritish South Africa Company, and the discontent of the Uitlanders, who had become an important factor in the Transvaal population. When the Jameson raid, at the close of 1895, produced a crisis, President Kruger showed his moderation and diplomacy in the management of the difficult details of that case. Through his influence Dr. Jameson and his associates were turned over to the English Government for trial in the English courts against the wishes of the more hot-headed Boers. The evident intention of the British Colonial Office to force the Republic to submission, and the refusal, determined or obstinate, as one may look at it, of President Kruger to yield anything to British suzerainty, brought on in 1899 the war of which Kruger had said that the submission of his people would be purchased at “a price that would stagger humanity.” In preparation for the struggle which he had long regarded as inevitable, Kruger had put the Transvaal into an excellent defensive state by the purchase of large quantities of arms and ammunition, being ably assisted in his preparation by the commandant-general of the forces, ‘Slim Piet’ Joubert (q.v.). During the first period of the war President Kruger remained in Pretoria, where he maintained order by the sheer force of his personality. After the fall of Pretoria (June 5, 1900), President Kruger fled into Portuguese territory, and on October 19th sailed from Lourenco Marques for Europe in the hope of securing foreign aid or intervention. He was received with enthusiasm in France, but failed to obtain an audience with the German Emperor and took up his residence in the Netherlands, making his home in Utrecht and The Hague. His efforts to secure foreign intervention failed, but he continued to exhort the Boers to stand fast to the last. Kruger first married a Miss Du Plessis, whose family is a branch of that to which Cardinal Richelieu belonged. His second wife was a niece of the first Mrs. Kruger. They had several children. The most ambitious biography is Van Dordt, Paul Kruger und die Entstehung der Südafrikanischen Republik, translated into German by Kohlschmidt (2 vols., Basel, 1900), written from a very friendly standpoint. In English the biography by Statham, Paul Kruger and His Times (London, 1898), is too one-sided to be reliable, though it throws much light on South African history from the Boer side. On the other side, the following two works are mere political contributions to the material for the history of the period: Glückstein, Queen or President? An Indictment of Paul Kruger (London, 1900); Seohle and Abercrombie, The Rise and Fall of Krugerism (New York, 1900). See Transvaal; South African War.