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Schalk Willem Burger

The Last President of the Boer Republic

Schalk Willem Burger, interim president of the Boer Republic

Schalk Willem Burger(6 September 1852 - 5 December 1918) was a Boer leader, politician and military commander. He served briefly as interim president of the Transvaal after President Kruger and his cabinet fled overseas to avoid capture by the British.

Burger gained military experience in various border conflicts between the Boers and neighbouring African tribes, and also fought in the First Boer War.

H was elected commandant-general of the Boer unit known as the Lydenburg Commando and led his unit at the great Boer victories at the Spion Kop and the Modder River. He was nicknamed the Flying General on account of his speed at maneuvering. However ill health forced him to resign his commission and leave the fighting after the battle of Spion Kop in January 1899.

Afterwards he focused on politics and served as an elected representative in the Boer parliament and as Vice President to President Kruger of the Transvaal Republic. In September, 1900 President Kruger fled into exile overseas following the capture of the Boer capital.

Burger remained behind and assumed the presidency on an interim basis. In May of 1901, a Boer council was convened at which Burger advocated laying down arms since victory over the British was now impossible. He was opposed by President Steyn of the Orange Free State, who advocated fighting to the end. As a result the war dragged on for approximately two years.

Burger remained in office as Interim President of the Transvaal, moving from place to place to avoid capture, until the peace treaty brought an end to the war in May 1902.

After the Boer War, Burger retired from private life. He died in 1918.