|Preceded by Office established|
Parents Andries Pretorius
Religion Dutch Reformed
Succeeded by Paul Kruger
|Name Marthinus Pretorius|
Role Andries Pretorius' son
Resting place Potchefstroom
|Preceded by The Viscount Wolseley
As Governor of the Transvaal|
Preceded by Willem Cornelis Janse van Renseburg
Preceded by Willem Cornelis Janse van Rensburg As Acting President
Preceded by Jacobus Nicolaas Boshoff
Full Name Marthinus Wessel Pretorius
Born 17 September 1819 Graaff Reinet, Cape Colony (1819-09-17)
Died May 19, 1901, Potchefstroom, South Africa
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.
Founding of the city of Pretoria
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.
Multiple roles as Head of State
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.