Paul Kruger.

The memoirs of Paul Kruger, four times president of the South African republic online

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*Ebe Century Co.


Copyright, 1902, by
The Century Co.

Published November, 1902.



Mr. Kruger dictated these Memoirs to Mr. H. C.
Bredell, his private secretary, and to Mr. Piet Gro-
bler, the former Under Secretary of State of the
South African Republic. These gentlemen handed
their notes to an editor, the Rev. Dr. A. Schowalter,
who spent several weeks at Utrecht in constant col-
loquy with Mr. Kruger, elucidating various points
with the aid of the President's replies to a list of some
hundred and fifty to two hundred questions which
Dr. Schowalter had drawn up.

The English and American edition has been trans-
lated by Mr. A. Teixeira de Mattos from Dr. Scho-
walter's revised German text, collated line for line
with Mr. Kruger's original Dutch; with this differ-
ence that, in this edition, Mr. Kruger speaks in
the first person throughout, whereas, in the Conti-
nental editions, the narrative is allowed to change
into the third person from the point at which he be-
gins to attain a prominent position in the affairs
of his country. This latter arrangement, which ap-
peared on reconsideration to be an artificial one, has

been altered in this translation, and it has also been
decided that, after Mr. Kruger's death, all subsequent
Continental editions shall be printed in the first per-
son throughout.

In the Appendix have been collected several docu-
ments in the shape of speeches, proclamations and
circular dispatches, including the famous three hours'
speech delivered by Mr. Kruger, after his inaugu-
ration as President for the fourth time, on the 12th of
May 1898.


Early Days and Private Life


Homeless — In the new home — Hunting adventures —
Kruger kills his first lion — The dead lion roars — Fur-
ther lion-hunts — Panther and rhinoceros hunting —
Under a rhinoceros — Buffalo hunting — A fight with a
buffalo-cow — Elephant hunting — Race between Kruger
and an elephant — Canine fidelity — Kruger amputates
his own thumb 1


Commencement of Public Activity

Journey to the Sand River in 1852 — The Sand River
Convention — Punitive expedition against the Kaffir
Chief Secheli — Kruger's life in danger — Vindictive
raid on the Kaffir chiefs Makapaan and Mapela —
Kruger alone in the cave among the besieged Kaffirs —
He recovers Potgieter's body — Expedition against
Montsioa — Kruger charges a band of Kaffirs single-
handed 35


In a Position of Command

The first Basuto War — Kruger assists the Orange Free
State against the Basutos and negotiates the peace with
Moshesh — Kruger as general in the field against the
Kaffir chief Gasibone 53


The Civil War: 1861-1864


Kruger's protest against the violation of the constitution
by Commandant General Schoeman — Assembly of the
people at Pretoria — Kruger's declaration of war — At-
tempts at a settlement and their frustration by Schoe-
man — Kruger is nominated a voting member of the
Reformed Church, in order that he may be qualified to
hold office in the State without opposition — Fresh nego-
tiations — Military preparations on both sides — The
political contest develops into a religious war — Battle
of Potchefstroom — Schoeman's flight — Renewed nego-
tiations — The arbitration award of the Supreme Court
rejected — Kruger insulted — Battle of Zwartkopje —
Fresh negotiations — Mutual amnesty — The new elec-
tions — Kruger again Commandant General .... 67


Native Wars

The Transvaalers again come to the Orange Free State's
assistance against the Basutos, under Moshesh, but
break up in discord — Kruger's accident in 1866 —
Fighting in the Zoutpansberg — Lack of ammunition
and support — Kruger alone among the Kaffirs ... 93


President Burgers

Dispute about Kimberley — Kruger's protest against the
court of arbitration to which President Pretorius has
yielded — Pretorius resigns the Presidency — T. F. Bur-
gers elected by a large majority, notwithstanding Kru-
ger's agitation — Explanation between Kruger and Bur-




gers — Burgers's policy — War with Secucuni — Dispute
about the arbitrary war-tax imposed by the President —
Sir Theophilus Shepstone, the British Governor of
Natal, arrives with his plans for annexation — Confer-
ences with Shepstone — Burgers's difference with Kru-
ger and the Volksraad — Kruger elected Vice-president
— The annexation of the Transvaal — Protest of the
Executive Raad against the annexation 103


The Interregnum under the British Flag

Kruger's first visit to London with the deputation sent to
procure the repeal of the annexation — Popular meet-
ings and popular voting in the Transvaal — The second
visit to London — The Kaffir chief Secucuni puts the
English doctrine into practice — The British Governor
seeks Kruger's assistance against Cetewayo, the Zulu
king — Further assemblies of the people and protests
against the annexation — Kruger pacifies the masses —
The High Commissioners, Sir Bartle Frere and Sir
Garnet Wolseley, interfere — The other Afrikanders ask
for the freedom of their Transvaal brothers — Kruger
suspected of treachery — The delegates of the burgher
meetings arrested for high treason — Kruger once more
allays the storm — Plans for confederation opposed by
Kruger — Sir Bartle Frere tries to treat privately with
Kruger — Kruger refuses on the grounds of Frere's
double-dealing — Kruger and Joubert have recourse to
Gladstone by letter — All hopes of a peaceful solution
abandoned 123


The War of Independence: 1880—1881

The seizure of Bezuidenhout's wagon — Meeting of the
burghers at Potchefstroom — The " Irreconcilables " at



Paader Kraal elect a triumvirate, consisting of Kruger,
Joubert and Pretorius, to carry on the government —
The first shot — Battle of Bronkhorstspruit — Majuba
Hill — Paul Kruger during the war — His negotiations
with the Kaffir chief Magato, whom England was trying
to gain as an ally — Armistice and peace negotiations —
Protests in the Volksraad — " Transvaal " or " South
African Republic " ? 147


Paul Kruger's First Presidency

The election — The war with the Kaffirs in the Lydenburg
district — Kaffir disturbances on the south-western fron-
tiers of the Republic — Boer volunteers, in spite of the
President's proclamation, enlist under the Chiefs Mo-
shette and Mankoroane, for their war against other
Kaffir chiefs, and found the Republics of Stellaland
and Goshenland on the territory awarded them for their
services — The Chiefs Montsioa and Moshette place
themselves under the protection of the Transvaal —
England protests against this arrangement — Nego-
tiations regarding the western borders between Kruger,
Sir Charles Warren and Cecil Rhodes — Kruger's third
visit to London — Sir Hercules Robinson — Repeal of
the suzerainty by the London Convention of 1884 —
Visits to the European Governments — Dr. Leyds
— Internal situation of the Republic in 1885 — The
Delagoa Bay Railway — Unsatisfactory condition of the
finances — Disturbances on the western frontiers — Dis-
covery of the gold-fields — The population of the gold-
fields : the " Uitlanders " — Negotiations with the Free
State for a closer alliance — Incorporation of the " New
Republic" I6i



Paul Kruger's Second Presidency: 1888-1893


Dr. Leyds appointed State Secretary — Cecil Rhodes
causes trouble on the northern frontiers of the Repub-
lic: the Chartered Company; Lobengula; Khama —
Treaty of alliance between the Orange Free State and
the South African Republic — Arrangements in favor
of the Uitlanders: the Law Courts at Johannesburg;
the Second Volksraad — Paul Kruger's " hatred of the
Uitlanders " — The Swaziland Agreement — British per-
fidy — the Adendorff trek — Religious differences — Kru-
ger the " autocrat " — The educational question — New
elections 187


Paul Kruger's Third Presidency: 1893—1898

The Transvaal National Union — The second Swaziland
Agreement — Difficulties with the Kaffir tribes in the
Blue Mountains — The English immigrants refuse to
perform military service — Sir Henry Loch at Pretoria
— The President insulted — Annexation of Sambaan-
land and Umbigesaland by England — Solemn opening
of the Delagoa Bay Railway and tariff war with Cape
Colony — The Jameson Raid — Mr. Chamberlain's pol-
icy of provocation — The report of the Mining Com-
mission — The struggle between the Government and
the Supreme Court — Sir Alfred Milner — New elec-
tions — The Queen of England a " kwaaie vrouw " —
Closer alliance with the Orange Free State . . . . 211


Paul Kruger's Fourth Presidency

The Bunu Question — Sir Alfred Milner — F. W. Reitz —
J. C. Smuts — The agitation of the South African




League — The Edgar Case — The Crisis: the suffrage,
the suzerainty — The Ultimatum — The War — President
Kruger during the War — On the way to Europe — On
foreign soil — Homeless — Conclusion 261



Speeches delivered at the Solemn Inauguration of His
Honor S. J. P. Kruger as State President of the South
African Republic, on Thursday, 12 May 1898 . . . 333


Speech of State President Kruger in the First Volksraad
on Monday, 1 May 1899 368

Two Speeches of President Kruger at the Decisive Sit-
ting of the First and Second Volksraad of 2 October
1899 376

Opening Speech of President Steyn at the Annual Session
of the Volksraad of the Orange Free State at Kroon-
stad, 2 April 1900 381


Opening Speech of President Kruger at the Ordinary
Annual Session of the First and Second Volksraad of
the South African Republic at the Joint Sitting of 7

May 1900 385





Speech delivered on the 7th of May by President Kruger
in explanation of his Opening Speech at the Ordinary
Session of 1900 391


Circular Dispatch from State President Kruger to the
Commandant Generals, Assistant Commandant Gen-
erals and Officers 399


Telegram from the State President to the Commandant
General 403


Circular Dispatch from the State President to the Com-
mandant General, the Assistant Commandants General
and the Officers 405


Proclamation by President Steyn against the Annexation

of the Orange Free State 409

Index 411





Homeless — In the new home — Hunting adventures — Kruger
kills his first lion — The dead lion roars — Further lion-hunts
— Panther and rhinoceros hunting — Under a rhinoceros —
Buffalo hunting — A fight with a buffalo-cow — Elephant
hunting — Race between Kruger and an elephant — Canine
fidelity — Kruger amputates his own thumb.

MY recollections go back to the time when, as
a boy of nine, I left the land of my birth with
my parents and my uncles Gert and Theunis Kruger.
Till then we had lived at Vaalbank Farm, in the
Colesberg district in Cape Colony, where I was born
on the 10th of October 1825 as the third child of
Caspar Jan Hendrik Kruger 2 and Elisa Steyn, his
wife, daughter of Douw Steyn, of Bulhoek Farm,
behind the Zuurberg in Cape Colony. My parents
were simple farmers, and I grew up at the farm like
other farmers' lads, looking after the herds and lend-
ing a hand in the fields. With the exception that an
old woman prophesied to my mother that her son

1 The President declares that his ancestors originally came from Ger-
many, but his family do not know from which town. He only knows
that the founder of the African branch of the family married a French-
woman, and was obliged to fly from the country on account of his religion.
— Note by the Editor of the German Edition.



Stephanus Johannes Paulus was destined for a su-
perior position in life, I do not know that any one
could have had the least notion that God would en-
trust me with a special mission.

The first event of importance in my life was our
departure from home, our trek. I was too young
at the time to occupy myself much with the reason
of the great emigration. But I know that my pa-
rents said they emigrated because the English first
sold the slaves and, after they had got the money, set
these slaves free again; and that the money which
had been awarded in compensation was made payable
in England, where it could be received either person-
ally or through an agent. The expenses entailed by
this method of payment in many cases amounted to
more than the capital, so that a great many preferred
to sacrifice what was due to them, rather than be put
to so much trouble and vexation. But they refused
to continue to live under such unjust masters.
Added to this, the Kaffirs repeatedly raided the col-
ony and stole the Boers' cattle, and the English gen-
eral, after the Boers had themselves recovered their
cattle, declared the collective herds to be so much
booty, out of which the British Government must re-
cover their war-costs before the rest could be distrib-
uted among the former proprietors, who had them-
selves joined in the fighting in order to get back their
own. The discontent caused by this unjust proceed-



ing took a firm hold of the Boer mind; especially
since each child when quite young receives as his per-
sonal property a couple of sheep, oxen or horses from
his parents, which he tends with special care and
to which his heart becomes attached. Among the
stolen beasts were naturally those belonging to
the children, and when those presents, made sacred
by custom, were detained in such an arbitrary way
and used for the purposes of a war-indemnity, much
bitterness was caused. And so my parents and rela-
tives left house and home for a wild and unknown
country, and set out, about twenty of them, with
nearly thirty thousand African sheep and a few hun-
dred horses and cattle, which they had received
largely in exchange for the goods they left behind.

The exodus over the Orange River commenced in
May 1835. Here my father sold about three thou-
sand wethers, at a dikheton 1 (an old coin, worth a
little over two shillings) apiece to a butcher, after
which the expedition proceeded towards the neigh-
borhood of the Caledon River, and there encamped.
My occupation here, as well as on our further
marches, was to drive the cattle and keep them toge-
ther. The children of most of the emigrants had to
do this work, for the black servants had nearly all
remained in the Colony, and, just at that time, when

1 Obviously a corruption of " ducatoon," the old silver ducat of
Venice. — Translator's Note.


the whole property of the families consisted of herds
of cattle, their services would have proved specially
useful. 1

Other burghers left their home at the same time as
my parents and were also encamped near the Cale-
don River. But this was not the Great Trek. That
took place during the following year, 1836, under
Hendrik Potgieter, and was joined by the single
groups of earlier emigrants. Immediately after this
junction, a meeting was held, resolutions were passed
to which all the emigrants had to submit, and a sort
of government was instituted. But God's Word con-
stituted the highest law and rule of conduct. Pot-
gieter was chosen for the first position, that of com-
mandant. The resolutions which came into general
force contained, for example, the decree that it was
unlawful to take away from the natives, by force,
land or any other of their property, and that no sla-

1 1 am on this occasion able to confirm the authenticity of an anecdote
which tells how a gentleman who introduced an English lord to President
Kruger, thinking that the latter did not take sufficient account of his
aristocratic visitor, and hoping to make a greater impression upon him,
began to enumerate the important positions which this nobleman occupied,
and to tell what his ancestors had been. Whereupon the President an-
swered drily :

" Tell the gentleman that I was a cow-herd and my father a farmer."

The gentleman who introduced this nobleman was the proprietor of a
large distillery at Zwartkop in the neighborhood of Pretoria. — Note by
t}i. Editor of the German Edition.

The anecdote is quite well known in England, where I have often heard
it told of a certain noble duke who, at that time, had held no particular po-
sition outside the Court, but whose father, who was then living, had filled
more than one important post under Government. — Translator s Note.



very would be permitted. They now proceeded
jointly to the Vet River and crossed the whole of the
Free State without depriving the weak native races
which lived there of a single thing. The land be-
tween the Vet and the Vaal Rivers was bartered in
exchange for oxen and cows by the Kaffir chief who
ruled there.

When the first emigrants arrived at the Vaal, and
were encamped both here and on the Rhenoster River
in small scattered parties, they were attacked unex-
pectedly and without having given the least provo-
cation by the Zulu chief Moselikatse. This Mose-
likatse was at that time lord and master of the entire
country west of the Lebombo and Drakensberg
Mountains. All the Makatese tribes in this district
had submitted to his sway. He treated them like
dogs and called them so, and, when vultures passed
over his " town," he gave orders to kill a few poor old
men and women and throw them for food to his
"children," as he called the vultures. The subju-
gated races hid from him in caves and gorges. When
Moselikatse heard that men with white faces had
come from the south, he sent a couple of thousand
warriors with orders to massacre the invaders. The
trekkers who were encamped along the Rhenoster
and Vaal Rivers were divided into small parties,
which was necessary on account of the dimensions of
the herds, so as not to cause quarrels about the graz-



ing lands. They were surprised by Moselikatse's
robber band, and the greater number of them mur-

After this massacre the Matabele went back to
their town, taking the cattle with them ; but they re-
turned a fortnight later in great numbers and at-
tacked the emigrants at Vechtkop, in the Orange
Free State. But here Sarel Celliers had built a
strong laager and, with the 33 men whom he had at
his disposal, repelled the impetuous attacks of the
Zulus, from his wagon fortress, causing them heavy
losses. Women and children bravely assisted the de-
fenders of the camp, casting bullets, loading the
rifles and, in some instances, even taking rifle in hand
themselves to shoot down the enemy. On their re-
treat to the Moselikatse Pass, near Pretoria, and to
Marico, two of their principal places, the Kaffirs car-
ried off all the emigrants' cattle, as naturally they
could not be taken into the laager, and so were un-
protected. They also took with them two white chil-
dren and three half-breeds, of whom nothing was
ever heard again.

A small party of burghers, under Potgieter, pur-
sued the enemy as far as the Marico River : God was
with them and gave them the victory at Zeerust.
They continued to pursue the enemy further, and in
the end entered into possession of his territory.



They recovered part of their property and, when
Moselikatse had fled, the commando returned.

A small number of the emigrants now proceeded
to Natal. To develop the conquered country and
make it independent, it was necessary to be in
communication with the outer world, and, in Natal,
where already a number of emigrants had settled
and were in treaty for the necessary acquisition of
land, they hoped to obtain the harbor of Durban.
But after the treacherous murder of Piet Retief
and the attack on the settlers by Dingaan's hordes,
most of the emigrants, including my father, returned
to the district which is contained within the Free
State and Transvaal of to-day. My people settled
at Liebenberg Vlei, in what has since become the
Orange Free State ; a tract of country which became
so well known through Kitchener's operations against
De Wet.

A commando again crossed the Vaal, in 1839, to
find and punish Moselikatse, who continued to rob
and plunder, and also to recover the stolen cattle. I
took part in this expedition. Potgieter left the
wagon laager behind at Wonderfontein, in what is
now the Potchef stroom district, and, with a mounted
commando, pursued Moselikatse, who continued to
fall back. The whole country had been devastated
and all the settlers murdered. Potgieter discovered


the Chief Magato at Klein Bueff elshoek, near the
well-known Elephant River in the Magaliesberg,
where he was hiding. We shall hear of him again,
for he settled, later, in the neighborhood of Rusten-
burg. He had only a few followers with him and,
when Potgieter asked him where Moselikatse was,
he told him that he had already crossed the Crocodile
River. Asked why he had remained behind and was
in hiding, he said that he had escaped during the
night on the march to the north, and was now hiding
because he stood in fear of Moselikatse's bands which
had been left behind on the Moselikatse Pass. See-
ing that it was impossible to overtake Moselikatse
and that an attack on the entrenched position at
Moselikatse Pass was out of the question, the com-
mando returned to the women's camp on the Rhe-
noster and Vaal Rivers. But as early as the fol-
lowing year, 1840, Potgieter started with another
commando, and this time went direct to Moselikatse
Pass. I took part in this expedition too. Potgieter
there found a large Kaffir town, which he stormed.
When it was in our hands we recovered a number of
things which had formerly belonged to the trekkers
who had been murdered by Moselikatse's orders.

During the pursuit of Moselikatse, the chief Ma-
magali told Potgieter that there was still a force of
Moselikatse's savages at Strijdpoort in the Water-
berg district. Potgieter went there at once and at-



tacked the Kaffir camp. But it turned out that we
were fighting the wrong people. They were not
Zulus but Rooi, or red Kaffirs who had been forced
to join Moselikatse's hordes. Directly Potgieter was
informed of this fact he put a stop to the fighting.
Mamagali, who had been the cause of this battle, was
arrested and, after a regular trial by court martial,
was sentenced to six months' imprisonment. He
would not have got off so cheaply had he not been
able to prove that the Rooi Kaffirs had always been
associated with Moselikatse on the war-path, and that
he had taken them for Zulus.

At last the wanderers had found a comparatively
safe home. It is obvious that the disturbed life which
they had led till then must have occasioned great
losses. To institute schools or churches, or a firm and
regular management of external affairs, was out of
the question. But the Boer fathers and mothers, for
all that, looked after the education of their children
to the very best of their ability. They knew that
they lived in a country where anything that was once
neglected was difficult to recover, and that to neglect
the rising generation meant the ruin of their nation-
ality. Therefore every Boer taught his children to
read and write, and, above all, instructed them in
God's Word. At dinner and supper, as the children
sat round the table, they had to read part of the Sa-
cred Scriptures, and to repeat from memory or write



down now this and now that text ; and this was done
day by day unless unusual circumstances made it im-
possible. That is how my father taught me the Bible,
and instructed me in its teaching during the even-
ings. My other course of instruction was covered
altogether by a period of about three months, with
frequent interruptions. My master's name was Tiel-
man Roos, who found much difficulty in carrying out
his mission. Whenever the trek came to a resting-

Online LibraryPaul KrugerThe memoirs of Paul Kruger, four times president of the South African republic → online text (page 1 of 27)