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Marthinus Wessel Pretorius

Marthinus Wessel Pretorius
State President MW Pretorius
Member of the Triumvirate
In office
8 August 1881 – 9 May 1883
Serving with Paul Kruger and Piet Joubert
Preceded by The Viscount Wolseley
As Governor of the Transvaal
Succeeded by Paul Kruger
As President of the South African Republic
President of the South African Republic
In office
22 October 1866 – 20 November 1871
Preceded by Willem Cornelis Janse van Renseburg
Succeeded by Daniel Jacobus Erasmus
President of the Executive Council of the South African Republic
In office
6 January 1857 – 15 September 1860
Preceded by Office established
Succeeded by Johannes Hermanus Grobler
In office
10 May 1864 – 22 October 1866
Preceded by Willem Cornelis Janse van Rensburg
As Acting President
Succeeded by Daniël Jacobus Erasmus
As Acting President
State President of the Orange Free State
In office
8 February 1860 – 20 June 1863
Preceded by Jacobus Nicolaas Boshoff
Succeeded by Johannes Brand
Personal details
Born Marthinus Wessel Pretorius
(1819-09-17)17 September 1819
Graaff Reinet, Cape Colony
Died 19 May 1901(1901-05-19) (aged 81)
Potchefstroom, South African Republic
Resting place Potchefstroom, North West, South Africa
Religion Dutch Reformed
Military service
Allegiance  South African Republic
 Orange Free State
Voortrekker flag.svg Voortrekkers
Rank Commandant General
Commands Transvaal Commandos

Marthinus Wessel Pretorius (17 September 1819 – 19 May 1901) was the first president of the South African Republic, and also compiled the constitution of the Republic.

After the death of his father, the Voortrekker leader Andries Pretorius, in 1853, he was appointed as the Commandant-General of the ZAR (South African Republic) and moved from his farm Kalkheuwel, near Broederstroom, to the city of Potchefstroom. He was the last Head of State of Potchefstroom between 1853 and 1856.

In an endeavor to establish a new town, he bought two farms named Elandspoort and Daspoort between 1854 and 1855, on which he founded the city of Pretoria in 1855.

Ds. van der Hoff originally named the first church congregation in this area Pretoria Philadelphia (Pretorius Friendship), in honor of Pretorius' father. Later, the town took on the shortened name of Pretoria.

Five years later the capital of the ZAR (Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek or South African Republic in English) was moved from Potchefstroom to Pretoria.

Pretorius served as the first president of the South African Republic from 1857 to 1860. However, in 1859, in an effort to create closer bonds of relationship with the Orange Free State, he simultaneously held the office of State President of the Orange Free State and that of president of the South African Republic. This however created tension in Transvaal and he resigned the presidency of the South African Republic in 1860. After serving in the presidency of the Orange Free State until 1863, Pretorius was reelected as president of the South African Republic in 1864 and served a second term until 1871. Pretorius served a third term as joint head of state (triumvirate) of the South African Republic between 1880 and 1883. He died in 1901 at Potchefstroom.


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