Saturday, September 4, 2010

Piet Retief (J 10)

Name:Piet Retief

The Person:

Pieter Mauritz Retief (usually referred to as Piet Retief), (12 November 1780 – 6 February 1838) was a South African Boer leader. Settling in 1814 in the frontier region of the Cape Colony, he assumed command of punitive expeditions against competing Zulu forces. He also acted as spokesperson for the frontier farmers.

He wrote the Voortrekkers' declaration at their departure from the colony, and became a leading figure during their Great Trek. He proposed Natal as the final destination of their migration and selected a location for its future capital, later named Pietermaritzburg. Following the massacre of Retief and his delegation by Zulu king Dingane, the short-lived Boer republic Natalia suffered from ineffective government and succumbed to British annexation.

Contents [hide]
1 Early life
2 Great Trek
3 Death
4 Legacy
5 Popular culture
6 See also
7 References
8 Further reading
9 External links

[edit] Early life
Retief was born to Jacobus and Debora Retief in the Wagenmakersvallei, Cape Colony, today the town of Wellington, South Africa. His family were Boers of French Huguenot ancestry: his great-grandfather was the 1689 Huguenot refugee François Retif, from Mer, Loir-et-Cher near Blois. He was the progenitor of the name in South Africa.[1] Retief grew up on the ancestral vineyard Welvanpas, where he worked until the age of 27.

After moving to the vicinity of Grahamstown, Retief, like other Boers, acquired wealth through livestock, but suffered repeated losses from Xhosa raids in the period. These prompted the 6th Cape Frontier War. (Retief had a history of financial trouble. On more than one occasion, he lost money and other possessions, mainly through gambling and land speculation. He is reported to have gone bankrupt at least twice, while at the colony and on the frontier.)[2] Such losses impelled many frontier farmers to become Voortrekkers (literally, "those who move forward"ra) and to migrate to new lands in the north.

Retief wrote their manifesto, dated 22 January 1837, setting out their long-held grievances against the British government. They believed it had offered them no protection against raids by the native blacks, no redress, and by the Slavery Abolition Act 1833 freed their slaves. The compensation offered to owners hardly amounted to a quarter of the slaves' market value. Retief's manifesto was published in the Grahamstown Journal on 2 February and De Zuid-Afrikaan on 17 February, just as the emigrant Boers started to leave their homesteads.

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