James Barry Munnik Hertzog

(1866—1942) prime minister of South Africa

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South African statesman and prime minister (1924–39). A firm supporter of the Dutch language and culture, Hertzog consistently opposed British influence in South Africa.

Born in Wellington, Cape Colony, the son of a farmer, Hertzog was educated at Victoria College, Stellenbosch, and at the University of Amsterdam, where he obtained a law degree in 1892. Opening a legal practice in Pretoria in 1893, he became a judge of the Supreme Court of the Orange Free State in 1895, remaining in office for four years. Hertzog first rose to prominence in 1900, as a Free State general during the second Boer War. An active participant in the Vereeniging peace negotiations in 1902, Hertzog became the unchallenged Free State political leader, co-founding the Orangia Unie Party in 1906. Elected to the Crown Colony cabinet in 1907, he participated in the national convention that drafted the constitution for the Union of South Africa, becoming a minister in the first Union cabinet under Louis Botha in 1910.

Breaking with Botha in 1914, he formed the exclusively Afrikaner National Party and became prime minister in 1924, following a pact with the Labour Party. In 1933 he entered into a coalition with the South African Party led by General Smuts, retaining the position of prime minister when the two parties fused in 1934. However, he lost office in 1939 when disagreement over entry into World War II led the two parties to split up. Briefly joining Malan's National Party in 1940, Hertzog resigned in 1941 to found the Afrikaner Party and retired the following year to his farm in Pretoria, where he died.

Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945).

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