President Thomas Francois Burgers

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President Thomas Francois Burgers (Burger)

Birthdate: (47)
Birthplace: Graaff-Reinet, Western District, Eastern Cape, South Africa
Death: December 9, 1881 (47)
Richmond, Western District, Eastern Cape, South Africa
Immediate Family:

Son of Barend Jacobus Johannes Burger and Elizabeth Magdalena Burger
Husband of Mary Bryson
Father of Mary Adeline Burgers; Emma Burgers; Helen Burgers; Herbert Bryson Burgers; Florence Burgers and 2 others
Brother of Willem Jacobus Burger and Elsje Margaretha Burger
Half brother of Magdalena Johanna van Heerden; Barend Jacobus Johannes Burger; Wilhelmina Maria Burger; Jacoba Johanna Burger; Andries Petrus Burger and 8 others

Occupation: President van die Zuid Afrikaansche Republiek, 4th president of the South African Republic from 1872 to 1877
Managed by: Alexander Armenis (Alex)
Last Updated:

About President Thomas Francois Burgers

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Thomas Francois Burgers (15 April 1834 - 9 December 1881) was the 4th president of the South African Republic from 1871 to 1877. He was the youngest child of Barend and Elizabeth Burger of the farm Langefontein in the Camdeboo district of Graaff Reinet, Cape Colony. After studying theology at the University of Utrecht in Holland, he obtained the degree of doctor of theology. Burgers was ordained minister of the Dutch Reformed Church, at Hanover, in the Cape Colony South Africa in 1859.He served in this position for eight years He was described as a charming, eloquent, but fiercely individualistic man, with very liberal ideas for those times. In 1862 his preaching attracted attention and the Rev. Burgers became involved in a controversy with the Dutch Reformed Synod over his alleged liberalism and disbelief in the literal truth of the Bible. Two years later an ecclesiastical tribunal found him guilty and suspended him for heresy. He appealed to the colonial government in 1865, the Supreme Court overturned the decision, and he was re-admitted to the ministry. When M. W. Pretorius resigned as President of the Transvaal Republic and President Brand of the Orange Free State declined the office of Transvaal President, Burgers was urged to stand for the presidency. He was elected president of the Transvaal in 1871, by a majority of 2,964 to 388. In 1873 he attempted to obtain an alteration in the boundary of the Barolong territory as fixed by the Keate award, but failed. During his visit to the New Caledonia goldfields in 1873, his remark upon reading the mining register and seeing all the Scottish surnames was that they were all Mc Mc's. This led to the naming of the fields Mc Mc originally and later changed to Mac Mac. FOR MORE

The South African Republic's first coins—the famous Burgerspond—was introduced in 1874. These were struck at Heaton's Mint in Birmingham, England when he was there on a visit. Some people in the South African Republic objected to the issue of the Burgerspond, because the portrayal of the President on coins likened him to a dictator. Another of Burgers' plans was to build a railway linking the Transvaal to the sea and in 1875 he traveled to Europe in to raise funds. He failed to find financial help in London, but managed to raise £90,000 in Holland, with which he purchased a quantity of railway material. This was mortgaged on its arrival at Delagoa Bay to pay for freight costs and thus the scheme ended. In June 1876 he induced the Volksraad to declare war against Sekhukhune, a powerful native chief in the eastern Transvaal. The campaign was unsuccessful, and with its failure the republic fell into a condition of lawlessness and insolvency, while a Zulu host threatened invasion. In 1877 Burgers was very unpopular and his government was insolvent and in an address to the Volksraad on 3rd of March 1877, Burgers stated that "I would rather be a policeman under a strong government than the president of such a state. It is you -- you members of the Raad and the Boers -- who have lost the country, who have sold your independence for a drink."

As Britain was keen on expanding her empire, Sir Theophilus Shepstone, was sent to investigate the condition of affairs in the Transvaal Republic. On the 12th of April 1877 he issued a proclamation annexing the Transvaal to Great Britain. Burgers fully accepted the necessity for annexation. He accepted a pension from the British government, and settled down to farming in Hanover, Cape Colony. He died at Richmond in that colony on the 9th of December 1881. Burgers was fluent in both Dutch and in English, and described as a strong patriot. He once pardoned a man sentenced to death, because he was skilled at tending roses. Burgers believed that this skill was better being put to use than lost to the grave. He was full of energy but his failure can be attributed to the fact that he attempted to carry out his far seeing plans with not enough financial backing.

Thomas François Burgers (15 April 1834 – 9 December 1881) was the 4th president of the South African Republic from 1871 to 1877

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President Thomas Francois Burgers's Timeline

April 15, 1834
Graaff-Reinet, Western District, Eastern Cape, South Africa
May 11, 1834
Eastern Cape, South Africa
December 9, 1881
Age 47
Richmond, Western District, Eastern Cape, South Africa