The Info List - Thomas François Burgers

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Thomas François Burgers
Thomas François Burgers
(15 April 1834 – 9 December 1881) was the 4th president of the South African Republic
South African Republic
from 1872 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.


1 Biography 2 See also 3 Bibliography 4 References

4.1 Notes 4.2 Literature

Biography[edit] After studying theology at the University of Utrecht
University of Utrecht
in the Netherlands, Burgers became the parson of Hanover, South Africa
South Africa
in 1859. A charmingly eloquent, but fiercely individualistic man, he had been influenced by Professor C. W. Opzoomer in the Netherlands
and embraced his rationalist, liberal ideas. Burgers quickly became involved in a stormy controversy with the Dutch Reformed Synod over his alleged liberalism and disbelief in the literal truth of the Bible. He was critical of traditional culture and strongly emphasised knowledge and rationalism. In 1862, his unorthodox doctrine brought on him an accusation of heresy, and in 1864 he was found guilty by the Synod and suspended. The Supreme Court overturned the decision, and in 1865, he was readmitted to the ministry. Some of his liberal theological ideas and his diverting viewpoints can be found in the sketches he wrote about daily life in Hanover.[1][2] The burghers of the South African Republic
South African Republic
urged Burgers to stand for the presidency, and he was elected by the considerable majority of 2,964 to 388 in 1872. 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
South African Republic
objected to the issue of the Burgerspond, because the portrayal of the President on coins likened him to a dictator.

1874 Burgerspond
(obverse) depicting Thomas Burgers

President Dr. Th.F. Burgers, c. 1877

The 1905 New International Encyclopædia describes Burgers' policies as president as “characterized by brilliant but impracticable schemes, aiming chiefly at territorial expansion.”[3] One of his plans, inspired by the neighbouring Cape Prime Minister John Molteno's massive railway programme, was to build a railway linking the Transvaal to the sea. In 1875 he traveled to Europe
to raise funds, but his plans were thwarted by the Pedi chief Sekhukhune, whose lands lay in the path of the proposed railway.[4][pages needed] By 1877 Burgers was very unpopular and his government was insolvent. Britain, keen on expanding their empire, stepped in and annexed the Transvaal. Burgers retired from political life, settled in the Cape Colony again, and died in 1881, only forty-seven years old, and leaving his family destitute. Coming to the family's aid, Burgers' former private secretary, Th.M. Tromp, published the sketches Burgers had written about his experiences as minister in Hanover. The proceeds of the book, in Dutch and published in the Netherlands, were used to alleviate his family's financial problems.[2] He ended his days disheartened and in poverty. His body was disinterred in 1895, to be reburied in the Pretoria
cemetery now known as the Heroes' Acre.[5] See also[edit]

Coins of the South African pound


Burgers, Th.F. (1882). Toneelen uit ons dorp. Den Haag: Henri J. Stemberg.  Burgers, Th.F.; Wium van Zyl (ed.) (2008). Tonele uit ons dorp. Kaapstad: Africana Uitgewers. CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)


has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article Burgers, Thomas François.


^ Burgers. Toneelen uit ons dorp.  ^ a b de Jong-Goossens. "Menselijk en overtuigend: de dorpstonelen van Burgers": 78–79.  ^  Gilman, D. C.; Peck, H. T.; Colby, F. M., eds. (1905). "Burgers, Thomas François". New International Encyclopedia
New International Encyclopedia
(1st ed.). New York: Dodd, Mead.  ^ Bond, J. (1956). "The Makers of Railways". They were South Africans. London: Oxford University Press.  ^ Webster, Roger (2003), At the fireside: true South African stories, 2, Spearhead Press, p. 27, ISBN 0-86486-536-8 


de Jong-Goossens, Riet (April 2008). "Menselijk en overtuigend: de dorpstonelen van Burgers". Maandblad Zuid-Afrika. 85 (4): 78–79. 

v t e

Heads of Government of the South African Republic
South African Republic
and Transvaal Colony


A. Pretorius


W. F. Joubert


A. H. Potgieter P. J. Potgieter S. Schoeman


J. A. Enslin


A. Pretorius M. W. Pretorius

Chairmen of the United Volksraad

A. Pretorius W. Jacobszoon H. Pretorius

State Presidents

M. W. Pretorius J. H. Grobler S. Schoeman W. C. Janse van Rensburg M. W. Pretorius D.J. Erasmus T.F. Burgers


T. Shepstone O. Lanyon


G. Wolseley


S. J. P. Kruger P. J. Joubert M.W. Pretorius

State Presidents

S. J. P. Kruger S. W. Burger


A. Milner W. Palmer

Prime Minister

L. Botha

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 16063898 LCCN: n80034257 GND: 17375