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The Orange River Convention (sometimes also called the Bloemfontein Convention) was a convention whereby Great Britain formally recognised the independence of the Boers in the area between the Orange and Vaal rivers, which had previously been known as the Orange River Sovereignty. This resulted in the formation of the independent Boer Republic of the Orange Free State (OFS).

The convention was signed on 23 February 1854 at the Green Lodge in Bloemfontein.

The convention did not state what the boundaries between the Basotho kingdom and the OFS were to be; this omission was the cause of much conflict in later years.


Bloemfontein, convention of

JOHN CANNON. "Bloemfontein, convention of." A Dictionary of British History. 2004. 10 Dec. 2010 <>.

Bloemfontein, convention of, 1854. The British government was puzzled by the Great Trek of 1836–7 when thousands of Boer farmers moved out of the Cape, leaving British jurisdiction. In 1845 it annexed Natal and in 1848 followed up by annexing the Orange River Territory, pursuing the Boers. But it was difficult to establish control and in 1852 the British signed the Sand River convention acknowledging the independence of the Boers in the Transvaal in the hope that they would not assist the Boers in the Orange River Territory. But the Orange River Territory remained unstable and, in a startling switch of policy in 1854, by the Bloemfontein convention, power was handed back to the Boers. This arrangement did not prove satisfactory and two Boer wars resulted.



The Republic of the Orange Free State was established by the signing of the Bloemfontein Convention (also called the Orange River Convention) between Sir George Clerk (for Britain) and twenty-five ‘representatives of the people’ in Green Lodge, Bloemfontein. The convention guaranteed the independence of the territory between the Orange and Vaal Rivers. In addition to the declaration of independence, the document also contained clauses regarding treaties with indigenous people, prohibition of slavery, and regulating trade.


Potgieter, D.J. et al. (eds) (1970). Standard Encyclopaedia of Southern Africa, Cape Town: NASOU, v. 2, p. 373.

Wallis, F. (2000). Nuusdagboek: feite en fratse oor 1000 jaar, Kaapstad: Human & Rousseau.


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