St. Thomas Historical Tour I
St. Thomas V.I. Historical Tour I:
Schedule your own start time and exclusive V.I.P. accommodations. These are examples of what your day can look like:
9:00 A.M. Tour
11:30 A.M. – 1:30 P.M. +/- *Free Time: Swim Time / Lunch Time / Shopping Time
(on this tour schedule swimming is an option for some members or all. If logistics allow some can go shopping while others swim and subsequently united for return or not with a separate trip in some cases.
1-1:30 – 2:30 P.M. Return
12:00 P.M. Tour
2:30 +/- *Free Time: Swim Time / Lunch Time / Shopping Time
4:30 -5 Return
St. Thomas – Locator
Saint Thomas: Named after a saint, it is currently named in English.
Located: 18 degrees north and 65 degrees west
Size: 28.25 square miles (13 miles in length and 3 miles at the widest width
Capital: Charlotte Amalie (originally Charlotte Amalie)
Population: 51,634 people (2010 census)
Highest Elevation: Crown Mountain (1556 ft.)
Annual Rainfall Average: 42 – 45 inches
National Flower: Yellow Cedar
National Bird: Yellow Breast
Language: English, Spanish, French, other
Major Religions: Catholic, Seventh Day Adventist, Anglican, Lutheran
Government: Democratic; governor and lieutenant governor- seven senators- delegate to
congress, an unincorporated U.S. territory.
Economy: Tourism; service based- annual government revenue; seven hundred to nine
Local and National Holidays
New Year’s Day – January 1
Martin Luther King’s Day – January 15 V.I.
President’s Day – February 19
Transfer Day – March 31
Holy Thursday – April
Good Friday – April
Easter – April
Easter Monday – April
Carnival – The last Friday and Saturday
of April sometimes the first Friday and
Saturday of May; according to Lent.
Memorial Day – May 28
Emancipation Day – July 3
Independence Day – July 4
Labor Day – September 3
Columbus Day – October 8
Liberty Day – November 1
Veteran’s Day – Nov.11
Thanksgiving Day – Nov. 22
Christmas Day – Dec. 25
Christmas Second Day – Dec. 26
Notes: St. Thomas is the shopping mecca of the Caribbean. It is a major free port. It is one of four Islands and 46 cays that comprise the Virgin Islands. The island has seven senators that serve the people. They are elected every two years. There are a total of 15 senators in the legislature: St. Croix has seven and St. John has 1. Water Island, the smallest of the four main islands, has no senatorial representation for its less than 300 population.
St. Thomas History
Tribal migratory peoples that had societies here and had their own name for the island, but in our recent recorded history, Columbus named this island Santa Ana for the mother of Saint Ursula.
Formed by volcanic activity and the changing crust of the earth’s surface, St. Thomas was destined for greatness after being created approximately 106 million years ago. Originally inhabited by ancient peoples of African decent called “Indians/Amerindians” today is a huge melting pot of many different nationalities. St. Thomas has been colonized by many different European countries; Spain, England, Netherlands, France, England, Knights of Malta, Denmark, and the United States. Today it is an Unincorporated U.S. territory.
St. Thomas is located 18 degrees north and 64 degrees west of Greenwich. Approximately 1,100 miles south east of Florida. One of four islands and forty six cays that make up the Virgin Islands most are owned by the United States. Next door neighbors to the British Virgin Islands which are comprised of four (4) main islands and has 50 cays and 10 islets. Only five miles away, even on a hazy day one look from the North of St. Thomas reveals Tortola and many of the cays and islands that inspired Christopher Columbus into naming these islands for the eleven thousand mythical virgins that followed Saint Ursula to martyrdom in Rome.
Thirteen miles long and two to three miles in width. A mere thirty two square miles, what it lacks in size, it makes up in service, beauty and history. A natural deep harbour and central location and Denmark’s neutrality during the European Wars it’s no coincidence that its shores have been called upon by pirates, British, Norwegian, Danish and other colonial ships, these have now been exchanged for cruise ships and mega yachts. Once a huge trading depot, now a huge economy based on a free market trade of goods and services and some manufacturing, tourism comprises 80% of the G.D.P.
Temperatures range from 65 degrees in high elevations during the winter to a cool mild humidity 85-90 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer. The capital is Charlotte Amalia.
Blessed with thirteen -viable- beautiful beaches and American status St. Thomas has world class hotels such as: the Ritz Carlton and the Marriott Frenchman’s Reef Hotel. With cool air conditioned rooms awaiting guests from around the world and the added benefit of duty free shopping, the bargain hunter can go broke saving money or pay for their vacation on the savings. St Thomas has been a free port since 1764.
St. Thomas is rich in history, and geographically one of the most beautiful places in the world. Magen’s Bay Beach has been rated as one of the top ten most beautiful beaches in the world, can be seen from the highest point on the island at 1556 ft. From that famous point on Saints Peter Mountain (Mountain Top) you can also see 13 cays, the Sir Francis Drake Channel, Pillsbury Sound, and the Leeward Passage, St. John V.I. and Tortola the British Virgin Islands. Awesome!!!
We are mostly English speaking but cater heavily to the Latin speaking peoples of the world; many people speak Spanish or some dialect of it.
The centuries old colonial architecture of the capital’s historical shopping district is still standing and is filled with luxury goods and souvenirs these have replaced the Indigo, tobacco, rum, cotton and ammunition that were warehoused, traded, and sold on the island in its colonial past.
First named by the aboriginal peoples, these islands were renamed by Columbus in 1493 on his second voyage, we know that he named them as a whole in honor of the 11,000 mythical virgins that followed Saint Ursula to martyrdom. He named Saint Croix; “Santa Cruz” (Eng. Holy Cross) and St. Thomas “Santa Ana”, in honor of the mother of the virgin. Today St. Thomas is a shopping mecca and vacation retreat for the rich and poor.
The islands are steadily growing with the government collecting revenues now approaching the billion dollar mark at the end of its fiscal year. The department of tourism promote the islands internationally as “America’s Paradise.” This is a true statement for these islands offer beauty for a good state of mind, as well as convenience, tranquility, and human indulgences.
3500 B.C. – 2000 B.C.: Ceramic tribes. Highly civilized and able to make some incredible pottery, a testament to their intelligence and long existence. Proof that any subsequent tribes after must have been civilized also.
2000 B.C.: Vieques has been carbonated to have had life there. Vieques is very close in proximity to St. Thomas it’s not impossible to presume that fish could have been caught there or fresh water not retrieved or salt from the area. Due to proximity of Puerto Rico these natural presumptions can be made and supported by later carbon dating of groups.
1250 B.C. People living in St. Thomas of African origin based on carbon dated evidence of bones and artifacts that were actually found that supports this claim at Hull Bay site on the beach.
There have been several groups over the millennia naturally: Ortoiroid, Ceramic, Ciboney, Taino, the Caribs and others unknown. These people lived off of the fruits and vegetables of the land, and fish of the sea. The most important thing was that they were a civilized people.
Probably because they fought a good fight and seem to have made human sacrifice that is steeped in legend and mysticisms is probably the reason that Columbus projected and said that they were cannibals like others projected before him and has described them as such after.
There is absolutely no evidence whatsoever that proves that the Caribs were cannibals. There are many ways to discover this as a truth if it was. Forensic abrasions to bones consistently would be evident in archaeological finds etc. The natives putting a head in a post does not translate as a diet of the people but out of fear and the acts of war that are otherwise unacceptable in their societies during peace are understandable and rationale for a people who had specific diets and a spiritual way of life.
Like a script on character, endonymical names were also given to these natives who were referred to as “Indians,” – for example- as Columbus tried to find a water route to India, and instead landed on Hispaniola in 1492. In his ignorance landed on Hispaniola and thought he found India coming all the way from Western Europe. Naming the region “Las Indias”, today everyone calls the original multi millenia people “Indians.” If Columbus can visit the Caribbean in 1492 what was to stop Africans and their descendants by language and skin colour from coming as far back as 3000 plus years previously. Nothing.
By the mid 1600’s almost all of the original inhabitants that lived here by choice and peaceful exploration were objectively killed particularly in the smaller islands which had less land to hide or share and nowhere to hide, to escape the danger.
Save for bigger islands, or ones that had the ecological Eden to provide an almost impenetrable forest at the very least challenging for the European Colonists and at worst the best environment to wage war against an enemy armed with guns. Islands such as Dominica, Jamaica, Puerto Rico and St. Lucia had more land to escape into the interior.
+1000 B.C.: The earliest known pyramid in the Americas stands at La Venta in Tabasco, Mexico. Built by the Olmecs, the first major Mesoamerican civilization (a group famous for other firsts, like chocolate and the use of for sports), the pyramid dates to between 1000 B.C. and 400 B.C. American pyramids were generally built of earth and then faced with stone, typically in a stepped, or layered, shape topped by a platform or temple structure. They are often referred to as “stepped pyramids.”
Olmec, Maya, Aztec and Inca all built pyramids to house their deities, as well as to bury their kings.+
+100 B.C. Apart from the pyramids, Teotihuacan is also anthropologically significant for its complex, multi-family residential compounds, the Avenue of the Dead, and its vibrant, well-preserved murals. Additionally, Teotihuacan exported fine obsidian tools that are found throughout Mesoamerica. The city is thought to have been established around 100 BC, with major monuments continuously under construction until about 250 AD. The city may have lasted until sometime between the 7th and 8th centuries AD, but its major monuments were sacked and systematically burned around 550 AD+
1492 A.D. Columbus on his first voyage sails to the Caribbean after unsuccessfully trying to convince the queen of Spain to fund his expedition, he set out on his own
with a group of men and sailed to the Caribbean looking for India after landing on Hispaniola and mistakenly thought it was India, probably because of the many “Indians” there; naming it “Las Indias.” Today, because of Columbus’ error, and many others after, the inhabitants of the Caribbean were called “Indians.” These people were not from India, but from the Americas through African ancestry over the last Ice Age, its climax, and the warming of Earth.
1493 A.D. Columbus on his second voyage sails to the Caribbean again and eventually lands at 17 degrees north and 64 degrees west at an area now known as Salt River. After landing on St. Croix on Nov.13, with a fleet of 17 ships, and then sailing north and subsequently finding Tortola (turtle dove-Zenaida), Virgin Gorda (fat virgin), St. John (John the Baptist-,) the saint, St. Thomas (Santa Ana) and many other cays. He was inspired to name them after the 11,000 mythical virgins that followed Saint Ursula to martyrdom in Rome. He named St. Thomas “Santa Ana” after the mother of the
virgin. St. Thomas’ harbour on the south where hassle island used to be connected would look like the womb of a woman if it was still connected today. He named the natural harbour “serradura,” meaning keyhole, because of its obvious protective shape. Like a keyhole
1497: Denmark established its first schools, this is literally thousands of years after Africans in Africa had already established their schools. To think that Africans were
called uncivilized and enslaved for so many centuries. It has to be the biggest man made catastrophe in history.
1585: Sir Frances Drake, a privateer, sailed through a channel now named after him between St. John and Tortola B.V.I. on his way to overthrow the Spaniards in Haiti, where it became English, and then later became French.
1607: John Smith the captain visits St. Thomas on his long journey to America to eventually establish an English colony in Virginia
1621: Dutch West Indies were attacking Spanish ships and their holdings in the area.
1630: Danish Castle built in Africa. Ghana.
1640s: St. Thomas became inhabited by the Dutch who mostly occupied Hassle Island. There was evidence on Hassle Island that the Dutch were pursuing tobacco agriculture. Cays surrounding us still have Dutch names and reflect their occupation of these territories: Little and Great
Tobago (Dutch for Tobacco), Jost Van Dyke, Buck “Pokken”Island after the pox Lignum Vitae tree that grows there. Lignum Vitae (lead wood) is a very light wood but is hard as a rock.
1645: The Dutch governor was assassinated in St. Croix by the English in retaliation for the assassination of the English governor to ensure that they were understood and not out done the English invited the newly elected Dutch governor over to discuss some issues concerning land rights and he was arrested and later killed.
The Dutch settlers withdrew from St. Croix, some came to St. Thomas.
French men settled in St. Thomas possibly disturbing the peace with Dutch settlers still here. They were able to settle and did enough to be noted as a former French colony before the British drove them away.
1652: Denmark was looking to join the Slave Trade with some success already, they were beginning to explore the possibilities of having a colony.
1653: Oliver Cromwell (drove the Spanish out for England) during the English period. The French moved into St. Thomas with force to take over completely but were usurped by the English and Louis XIV.
Knights of Malta Era (A rich and powerful Catholic sect) The Knights of Malta spent some time here, nothing noted of fights or wars with anyone for St. Thomas. They probably set up the slave system for Denmark. The Knights have plied the slave trade for centuries and were driven out of several European countries until they were allowed to settle in Malta in the Mediterranean. They also occupied Saint Croix for some periods and so their presence was felt in some way. The Knights being here just before Denmark
and Denmark’s first colony seems very curious even with no substantial evidence
1660: Coup d’etat of King Frederik III in Europe.
1660: Dutch Reformed Church
Danish Era 1665 & 1671-1917
1665: Denmark after visiting the Caribbean several times looking for territories to colonize – late in the game as it was – in the already two hundred plus years of European colonization of the Caribbean, claimed St. Thomas through the help of Danish skipper Erik Neilson Schmidt, who planted the Danish flag into the ground of “Sankt Tomas”. He went about the business of setting up the first colonization attempt and was successful before his death very soon after. Denmark never lost control of St. Thomas, just men that either died or left because of their fears and the prospected arduous task of habitational development..
Only a man familiar with the sea and the Caribbean would dare to lead a group to colonize an island; men who fare the sea, are fearless in life on land, and their pursuits of happiness in it. With the volatile nature of the Caribbean in its ecological character and the many wars that the natives (“Indians”) and Africans waged to keep and set themselves free, it definitely took a certain propinquity to fearlessness of God and man to inhabit this new world. These were colonies of slavery, inhumane war, high humidity, diseases, and almost certain death. For some: spiritually, and for almost all, physically. It was a high risk, made irresistible, by the promise of great wealth, and freedom for many exiles that would be sent away to work plantations or as indentured servants etc.
The fact that the Danes in Denmark did not have formal education in schools until 1749, you can see how it was a need to expand from their misery of life that drove many Europeans into the Caribbean and suppressed and enslaved Africans who already had schools and institutions of higher learning for thousands of years.
This being said Erik Nielsen Smidt died soon after arriving in 1665. Before he died on June 12, 1666 he was able to build a small fortress (Bluebeards Castle location), the first of several fortresses built by Denmark on the island of St. Thomas Virgin Islands; For Frederiksburg was the name of the fortress and it was built on the hill that Bluebeards Castle sits on. Fort Frederiksburg was reconfigured over the years and was finally completed in ca.1688 to the current configuration (ca.1688 – 2007). The area was used as a plantation and subsequently a residence in the modern era and was later established as the first hotel on the island in 1934. This effort was spearheaded by Paul M. Pearson the very first civilian governor under the U.S. Dept. of the Interior.
Because of the loss of Schmidt, new blood sailed in to administer the island, and a different vision for the island and its security was realized; his name was Jesper Hoyer and here the idea and plans seeded to build and a fort in the location that is now Fort Christian.
1665: The Danes were in and out of this area now called the Virgin Islands. Many lost their lives to dysentery and Malaria during their commute and attempts to settle St. Thomas.
1666: Danish governor Erik Nielsen Schmidt died June 12, 1666. The Danish flag continued to fly with the new, second governor; Jesper Hoyer who was a colleague and co-patriot settler. .
1667: Jesper Hoyer’s tenure ended with complete chaos finding such sickness and death that many fled the island that was deemed unsafe; this was Denmark’s first attempt.
1668-1669: This was a quiet period of little activity with intentions of finding another governor to continue the goals of establishing a productive slave colony..
1670: In Denmark King Christian ascended to the throne as king.
1670: Privy Council established.
1671: The Danish governor was George Jorgen Iversen and his assistant was the very important Lutheran Minister Kjeld Jensen Slagelse. Together organized the return of Denmark to the territory as a permanent colony.
The Danish West Indian Company was established.
1672-1680: Construction of Fort Christian was overseen by the second Danish governor Jorgen Iverson, it was the second, but first legitimate fortress to be built by Denmark, and the most formidable one that helped them maintain control of St. Thomas; the Danish West Indies – for more than two hundred forty five plus years. The new Danish governor Jorgen Iverson completed this task by any means necessary and was labeled a tyrant by employing and delegating work non Africans and anyone in the community regardless of societal status in order to complete the job.
1672: Denmark officially takes over St. Thomas: St. John in 1694 and St. Croix in 1733.
Jorgen Iverson was the Danish Governor. A Dane by birth, he became rich while working in the slave trade in St. Kitts (St. Christopher), he became a partner in a Dutch slave venture.
1673: Africans were: captured, enslaved, and brought to St. Thomas to be used to cultivate land for cash crops or to be traded or perform other tasks to achieve the colonist’s social and economic goals.
- The West India and Guinea companies merge
1674-1680: Saw major fortress construction completed for the protection of the harbour; Skytes Borg (sky tower);Black Beards Castle built by a Dutch man named Carl Baggaert and used as look out by the Danish government and the eminent Fort Christian which was being completed by the Danes. Because of these fortresses and Denmark strategic decision to remain neutral during the European Wars. Denmark became very wealthy during this period of trade, with diverse European slave companies participating in the Triangular Slave Trade industry.
1680: Governor Iverson resigned with the construction of Fort Christian completed. For him it must have been mission accomplished, he ran the island autonomously and was labeled a tyrant during his term in office. He was an asset for Denmark who had a rough start in the early stages of colonization. Being a businessman and very ambitious he worked hard and expected others to as well.
1680-1686: Between these years, were the unstable years of the terrible brothers named Nicolai Esmit, and Adolph Esmit, who both did things that were self serving and illegal,? in those days. Corrupt for Governors even though in the slave trade; they: allowed pirates to fly the Danish flag, confiscated British property and he (Adolph) even imprisoned his brother Nicolai, albeit justified he himself should have been imprisoned.
A new Governor was sent down from Denmark by the name Milan, Gabriel he turned out to be worse than the Esmits. He tried to turn the
Danish settlers against Denmark by force promising to throw the people to the gallows.
Gabriel Milan was ordered to bring Adolph Esmit back to Denmark but he now also faced persecution with the ship called Fortuna Coming with a Commissioner authorized to order them to stand trial.
1685: Brandenburg treaty concerning St. Thomas and the control of the African Slave Trade.
1686: Christopher Heins became the acting Governor.
1688: Bluebeards Castle was completed. Bluebeards was not a real pirate or person this structure was named to market the structure to the tourism industry. This fortress was built on a hill and named Fort Frederiksburg (King Frederick) it helped to prevent France from taking over the island.
This year saw the first island wide census conducted, which counted 422 Africans and 148 Europeans (66 Dutch/ 31 English/ 17 Danes and Norwegians/ 17 French/ 4 Irish/ 4 Flemish/ 3 Germans/ 3 Swedes/ 1 Scotch/ 1 Brazilian/ 1 Portuguese).
1685: Brandenburg African Company was a German based company involved in the Triangular Slave Trade with the Americas built and used what is today the former
Berne Ice Plant building to store slaves and to ship merchandise in the colonial era and leased large portions of St. Thomas from the Danes between 1685-1718. Their headquarters was located in the Finance Building perpendicular to Saints Peter and Paul School.
1687: The German Brandenburger Company fell back on their payments to Denmark and leased out their portion to a Norwegian businessman by the name of George
Thormuellen (officially beginning in 1690).
1691: Taphus (tap house/tavern) the name of the capital signified the use of what St. Thomas was known for at the time: a market of pubs and bistros, was changed to Charlotte Amalia in 1691, in honor of King Christian V’s new bride. The name of the capital was later changed to Charlotte Amalie by America in 1936.
1694: The English finally allowed the Danes to settle St. John which the Danes names Sankt Han after being driven out a few times by British troops living on Tortola after meetings and municipalities agreeing to allow them to settle the small island.
- Ownership of St. Thomas as property returns to the Danish West India Company.
1697: On September 28, The Danish West India and Guinea Co. was officially established with the intentions of capitalizing on the slave market for big gains.
1700: Nisky Moravian Church was built. This is the oldest Moravian church in the Caribbean. The Moravian religion originated by Moravia and Saxony people of Germany.
1701-1713: St. Thomas thrived with the Danes during the Spanish Succession. All European countries were fighting each other and Denmark strategically took a neutral position in the metropolis and the colonial territory benefited by all the European traders doing business safely here.
1706: First delegation of Planters sent to Copenhagen.
1710: droughts begin
1715: Second delegation of planters sent to Copenhagen
1717: Planters from St. Thomas travel back and forth to St. John to cultivate sugar cane. In 1718 they had an official ceremony to inaugurate the establishment of St. John as a plantation colony.
1726: Droughts continues and starvation continues.
1733: St. Croix was bought from France by Denmark.
- That same year saw a huge rebellion on St. John; the Fortsberg Fortress Slave Revolt lasted for six months when the African slaves took over St. John until the French from neighboring Martinique assisted the Danes to regain control of the island. That single event is said to have started the revolution of slaves throughout the Caribbean. The legend of their bravery encouraged slaves for over a century and still today instills a sense of pride and wonder in some today.
▪ The first Danish governor of St. Thomas was Erik Nielsen Smidt, Jorgen Iversen was brought in soon after to replace the short lived
governor Nielsen, and subsequent governors followed, such as: (3)Nicolaj Esmit, (4)Adolph Esmit, (5)Gabriel Milan, (6)Christoffer Heins
June 1686 – March, 1689.
1733: A legendary slave rebellion in St. John that started at the Fortsberg Fortress lasted for six months with the Danes losing the battle until French help came from Martinique, at this point the French and Denmark were business associates after having recently selling St. Croix to the Danes. This slave rebellion encouraged slaves to revolt throughout the Caribbean.
In 1734: Common (Burgher) Council
In 1734: Birth of Chaka Zulu. He went on in life to revolutionize the spear by simply shortening it and changed the method of combat inevitably by making it more physical body to body contact where before it was more distant and less violent. It is believed that he was influenced by the state of the world as he justified his actions by its conditions.
1739: In Denmark; the Danes passed an ordinance to create schools in Denmark for their poor and peasant children to receive an education
1748: Third delegation of planters was sent to Copenhagen.
1750: Droughts end
1754: These islands were officially the Danish West Indies after Denmark took all plantations in the islands.
1756-63: The Seven Year War occurred where France and Sweden were allies with Austria and Saxony (Germans) against the German States.
1763: Treaty of Paris saw the French retaining Guadeloupe, Martinique, St. Lucia, St. Barths
1764: King Frederick of Denmark declares St. Thomas’ harbour a ‘Freeport’.
1784: St. Barths a French colony was exchanged with Sweden for trade routes and warehousing in Sweden.
1794: Christianborg was burnt down and the royal family purchased and moved into Amelienborg Palace.
1784: Saint Barths (St. Barthelemy) was ceded to Sweden in 1784Sometime after that, the inhabitants from St. Barthelemy started coming to St. Thomas for a
better life, after being ignored by France and Sweden.These people were originally exiles or descendants of those who were Slaves, indentured servants and plantation heads etc. who occupied themselves in fishing and agriculture. When they came here they took up the same traditions and settled in St. Thomas on the southern side of St. Thomas now called French Town for fishing and the Northern side of the island called North Side which is today the agricultural capital. They have several prominent family names now in Virgin Islands: the Berry’s, Honduras, Magras, Boschulte. These people have assimilated the culture of the island well and have gone into politics and business. Some have mixed in and interbred with the largely African population, but many still live in a somewhat segregated way on the island.
- France purchased the island of St. Barths and reverted back to a French colony in 1877-78.
1773: Boston Tea Party
1776: American Revolution
1784-1878: St. Barth was controlled by sweden a former Danish ruled country then the Swedish West India Co. was formed in 1785-1805 eventually the French reentered the island after the trading routes and warehouses in Sweden part of the arrangement ended. The capital of St. Barth’s is named after Gustav III King of Sweden of whom was married to The former king of Denmark; King Frederik’s V daughter Sopia Magdalena.
1792: White Tail Deer was introduced as game.
(1789)-1793: Frederick Lutheran Church was built. It was the religion of the Danes and is today the official religion of the Virgin Islands although the island main religion is Catholicism.
1796: A congregation was established by a group claiming to be Sephardic Jews and really arrived to participate in slavery in the financing end between Europe and the New World.
Danish Rule; English Takeover-Napoleonic Wars
1801-1802: Great Britain overthrew the Danish government. Great Britain and France were at war. The Danes and France had good relations after having bought St. Croix from France in 1733, and therefore Great Britain was concerned about France getting their hands on Danish ships
etc. Denmark at the time was flourishing from the Atlantic slave trade after having introduced slavery to the Virgin Islands for over one
hundred twenty five years.
1804-1806: Great Charlotte Amalie Fires. The wooden warehouses and storage units were destroyed by fire. With gun powder and alcohol stored in the warehouses, and alley ways to channel wind plus the strong trade winds, nothing could stop the fires until natural circumstances intervened and some man power when the fire got to the point where they could handle it were finally put out.
1806-1816: Great Britain overthrows the Danish government again because of the continuing Napoleonic wars with France. Great Britain changed the name of Fort
Frederick on Hassle Island to Fort Willoughby. We also drive on the left side of the road today because of Great Britain’s influence. Napoleon
Bonaparte’s rise to power in France was a historical one that changed the whole world. Born in Corsica in 1769 by 1795 he already
commanded an army. In 1804 became emperor. Defeated in Russia in 1814 he reclaimed power in 1815. He died in 1821. All the world drove on the right side, Great Britain’s influence is why most of the world now drives on the left during Napoleon’s time and he tried to change it to the right. If Great Britain did not take over St. Thomas we would be driving on the right side of the road still today.
The Danish Era continued, after Great Britain’s interruption
1800’s: Sugar cane industry reaches a climactic point in St. Thomas’ Magens Bay.
1809: Bernadotte Crown Prince and Regent was stripped of his powers.
1812: Napoleon invaded Sweden -Pomerania a former ally.
1816: After the Danes reclaimed the island from the peaceful British takeover, St. Thomas became a successful trading mecca again, while continuously declining in
agriculture. Agriculture would never be productive again on the island.
1820’s: Slaves were exported to Puerto Rico, allowed by Governor Torre of Puerto Rico who could not import from Africa because of English pressure on Spain to sign a treaty to end the Slave trade and with Puerto Rico under Spanish control they were dependent on them to facilitate or to follow the laws with attempts to end the wars between them. With agriculture declining in St. Thomas this was a great way for them to get rid of some of the Blacks on the island.
1825-26: Great fires destroyed the Catholic Church and building codes were changed to encourage colonists to build with rubble stone and bricks.
1827: Peter von Schulton was appointed governor.
1828: Peter von Schulton started a long 20 year affair with an African woman of mixed heritage, her name was Anna Heegard.
1830: Camille Pissaro was born in St. Thomas. He moved to France as a young man and became the father and leader of a new art form called impressionism and leader of an art
group named the impressionists.
1834: Segregation between, “free” Africans; referred to as “coloreds”, and whites ended by proclamation.
1833: The St. Thomas Synagogue was built for Beracha Veshalom Vegmiluth Hasidim.
1835: Samuel Morse invented the telegraph machine and subsequently the code to communicate.
1837: The first steamship was built for North Atlantic ocean travel, The Great Western is launched.
1839: There were at least 41 different European importing houses of considerable business volume in St. Thomas. Some by English (13), French (11), German (6), Spanish (4), American (4), Italian (4), and Danish (3). That same year compulsory education was created.
1840’s: St. Thomas became a coaling and watering station for ships traveling between South America and the North. Cunard starts to provide commercial transatlantic sailings.
1843: A light was placed at the entrance of St. Thomas’ harbour to assist in the navigation of vessels to the island a testament to the frequency of ships tothis area.
1846: The U.S. Mexican War rages on.
In 1847: King Christian VIII declared that all babies born after July 28, 1847 will be declared free and that all others will be free in twelve years. This angered the
Africans and started the chain of wars and revolts lead by many individuals including General Budhoe. This resulted in the freeing of the Africans who were held captive as slaves in 1848.
1848: The African captives (slaves) were emancipated by the order of Danish Governor Peter von Schulton first in St. Croix and then in the Emancipation Garden on July 4th and subsequently on the 5th in St. John. France also abolished slavery and all related commerce. Anna is said to have been influential in Peter’s decision to free them.
- The U.S. wins the war with Mexico and after winning, California was ceded to America and the Gold Rush began; but very few got rich.
- The First Schleswig War 1848-51. Danes vs. the Germans of Schleswig-Holstein which Denmark previously ruled.
1850’s: Cholera broke out in the commercial harbour of St. Thomas on the south side due to the filthy water caused by feces and trash in the water.
1852: Colonial Law first introduced to form a voice for the masses.
1861: The Civil War in the United States begins.
1863: Colonial Law amended.
1863-1906: King Christian IX (1818-1906) ascends to the Danish Throne after King Frederik VII death. King Chiristian IX wife was strategic and fanatical with dynastic goals and organized six successful marriages of her offspring to different European Royal Houses making him her husband “The Father in Law of Europe”. In the early 21st century many European monarchs were directly descended from him:
- Russia- Nicholas II—-Princess Dagmar Czar Alexander III
- Greece- Constantine I Vilhelm / greece
- United Kingdom- George V —Alexandra /Edward VII
- Denmark- Christian X
- Norway- Haakon VII
- Thyra / Duke Ernst August of Cumberland
1864: Second Schleswig War Denmark lost South Jutland and Holstein Germany. This war was started by Prussia (Germans) and Austria.
- Smallpox and dengue fever were widespread in the British islands and entry into Tortola was prohibited. The islands were put under quarantine to
help stop the spread and fears that were brewing.
1865: Chamberlain Louis Rothe, Knight of Dannebrog was Vice Governor of The Danish West Indies.
- The Civil War in the United States ends.
1867: The U.S. offers 7.5 million dollars for St. Thomas and St. John, the offer was made by Mr. William Henry Seward the Secretary of State at the time. Mr. Seward had recently lead the purchase of Alaska for 7.2 million from Russia and that deal was done the same year so the proposal was killed by the U.S. Senate 1868 and referred to as Seward’s folly because it was an unsuccessful bid. The amount offered was 7.5 million for St. Thomas and St. John.
▪ A major hurricane and earthquake in the same year hit St. Thomas and caused a tsunami that destroyed many of the homes on the island.
1869: The 15th Amendment was in the United States passed giving Africans who were formerly enslaved the right to vote after it was ratified on February 3, 1870.
1872: The Mongoose was introduced to the Caribbean to prey on snakes. We still have the Puerto Rican Racer and Wild boas around the island.
▪ The capital was moved from St. Croix to St. Thomas.
1874: The V.I. Legislature Building was erected as a Danish warehouse; it later became a U.S. Marine barracks, and the first Charlotte Amalie High School in 1820 and was turned into the Legislature Building in 1957. Today it is known as the Earl B. Ottley Legislature Building. Earl B. Ottley was a political figure who made and broke Careers.
1876: Alexander Graham Bell receives a U.S. patent for the telephone.
1879: Thomas Edison invents the light bulb.
1881: Booker T. Washington a former African slave was selected to be the principle of the new Tuskegee Institute.
1883: The Brooklyn Bridge was completed.
1884 – 1946: D. Hamilton Jackson was born on September 28th in St. Croix, Danish West Indies. He successfully petitioned the King of Denmark to repeal laws that restricted freedom of the press and started the first free press on the island. In 1915 Jackson traveled to Denmark to protest the harsh living and working conditions of the people. He was the organizer and President of the first Labor Union. D. Hamilton Jackson was an educator, journalist, judge, lawyer and legislator. He died May 30, 1946.
1898: The Spanish American War begins, Puerto Rico was ceded to America.
1903: Wright Brothers made their first flight.
1914: U.S. takes over the construction of the Panama Canal.
1906: Colonial Law amended; the last of changes by the Danish Crown.
1916: Denmark; the first European country to allow their women to vote in that same year voted on a referendum to sell the Danish West Indies and was passed by a wide margin after being narrowly defeated in parliament as early as 1902.
1917: The group of islands now known as the Virgin Islands was bought for an amazing 25 million dollars worth of gold (some of it probably stolen from Africa at some point in the preceding history; America profited greatly from Slavery. The islands were governed by the U.S. Naval officers from 1917 until 1931, and governors were appointed by the president of the U.S. up until 1970 under the jurisdiction of the United States Dept. of the Interior.
1915: David Hamilton Jackson lobbied the Danish to sell the entire Virgin Islands to the United States and also fought for freedom of the press and started The Herald Newspaper and organized labor unions for better work conditions. 1919: The Hassle (Hazzell) Island Peninsula was separated by the Army Corp of Engineers and named the hard igneous rock “Blue Bitch”. Pumpo island was also destroyed to not obstruct the passage of ships or submarines.
U.S Naval Rule
1917-1919: James Harrison Oliver; Rear Admiral of the U.S. Navy administered the islands.
1920-1921: Joseph Wallace Oman; Rear Admiral of the U.S. Navy…
1921-1922: Sumner Ely Wetmore Kittelle; Rear Admiral of the U.S. Navy…
1922-1923: Henry Hughs Hough; Captain of the U.S. Navy…
1923-1925: Phillip Williams; Captain of the U.S. Navy…
1925-1927: Martin Edward Trench; Captain of the U.S. Navy…
1927-1931: Waldo Evans; Captain of the U.S. Navy…
1927: U.S. citizenship was granted to Virgin Islanders. During the intervening ten years before they were made citizens Virgin Islanders were considered subjects of the United States.
1927 -1947: Arthur Fairchild created an arboretum on Magens Bay Beach. He brought flowers and herbs from different parts of the world and cultivated them on the beach. In 1946 he donated the beach property and surrounding perimeter to the government with a contractual stipulation protecting it by prohibiting the building of hotels and homes in the area.
1930: Daily News was established as the local paper in St. Thomas was founded by Ariel Melchoir.
1931: The end of Naval rule.
Civilian Rule Era (1931-1969)
Governors appointed by the President of the United States
1931-1935: The first appointed Governor; Paul M. Pearson, was born on Oct.22, 1871. Paul M. Pearson (a Quaker) was appointed by the President of the United States as the first civilian governor he tried to revive the economy by creating a commercial hospitality industry. He spearheaded the Blue Beards Castle Hotel establishment, one of the founders of the Caribbean tourism industry he died March 27, 1938…
1932: Malaria epidemic.
1934: Bluebeards Castle was established as a hotel in 1934 after being speculated by Paul D. Pearson to stimulate the local economy and create work for locals.
- The service industry was being established.
1935-1941: The second appointed Governor; Lawrence W. Cramer, was born on Dec. 26, 1897 and died Oct.18, 1978…
1936: The name of the capital was changed in spelling from Charlotte Amalia to Charlotte Amalie.
- S. women received their right to vote and be counted as a democracy should allow.
- Thomas’ harbour was dredged for the cruise ship industry. The sediment was distributed in the French Town ballpark area and the Waterfront to establish the highway.
1936: The Organic Act was passed by Congress and was the first time that the people had something that started to resemble a legislature and on the path to self government. The Act also created two municipalities in St. Croix and St. Thomas/St. John. The governor was still appointed by the president, however the Act gave power to the governor to veto legislation. The legislature could overrule the governor with a two thirds majority with the President having the final veto power.
- District Court
- Extended the right to vote for the legislators for individuals over 21 years and able to read and write.
- Bill of Rights.
1939: Submarine Base was fully established.
1941: The Navy builds an airport, roads, and housing.
1941-1946: The third appointed Governor; Charles Harwood, was born on May 14, 1880 and died on Oct.23, 1950, the Charles Harwood highway was named in his honor after he asked for monies to be appropriated to improve roads hospitals and other infrastructural facilities.
1945-47: The submarine base was closed after World War II.
1946: Magens Bay Beach was donated to the Virgin Islands government by Arthur Fairchild, a contractual stipulation prohibiting the building of homes or hotels around the perimeter of the beach was arranged by Arthur Fairchild the owner of Magens Bay.
1946-1949: The fourth appointed Governor; William Henry Hastie, was born Nov.17, 1904 and died April 21, 1976 he was the first African governor of the Virgin Islands and the U.S.
1948: Harry Truman desegregated the U.S. military the St. Thomas airport was named after him up until the 1980’s when it was then changed to Cyril E. King Airport.
1952: The very first Carnival Parade in over 20 years was held, reinvigorated by Ron de Lugo a radio personality who later became the first elected Delegate to Congress.
1950-1954: The fifth appointed Governor; Morris Fidanque DeCastro was the first native born Governor.
1954: The Organic Act was revised and expanded to drop all unfair prerequisites for being able to vote. In essence it set the stage for the people of the Virgin Islands to govern themselves. It created our legislative, judicial and our territorial court and also had provisions for us to create a supreme court. These provisions allowed us to be more autonomous in our government.
- A unicameral government.
- A single municipality structured government.
- Each island a separate voting district.
- The power for Congress to annul any unfavorable legislation.
- Governor was responsible to report in order to justify a vetoed legislation within 10 day or the legislation would become law.
- 2 senators St. Thomas, 2 St. Croix and 1 for St. John with 6 at large senators 2 for each island and the power to set salaries.
- Bill of Rights …
- Illiterates in the English language could vote.
- An appointed attorney from the United States.
- The authorization for the legislature to issue revenue bonds only.
1954-1955: The sixth appointed governor; Archibald Alphonso Alexander, was born May 14, 1888 and died Jan. 4, 1958. Archibald was appointed at a very mature age.
1956: Laurance S. Rockefeller the conservationist purchases and later donates 5000 acres (today circa 2021 approximately ⅗ of the island is National Park) to the V.I. National Park Service.
1955-1958: The seventh appointed Governor; Walter Arthur Gordon was born on Oct.10, 1894 and died April 2, 1976 at the ripe age of 81.
1956: Laurance S. Rockefeller donates 5000 acres of his land in St. John to the V.I. Park Service. It is today federal land and is undisturbed beauty. The Virgin Islands National Park was established in St. John V.I.
1958-1961: The eighth appointed Governor; John David Merwin was first native born administrator of the Virgin Islands, a sign of things to come. He was born on Sept.26, 1921.
1961-1969: The ninth appointed Governor; Ralph M. Paiewonsky was born on Nov.9, 1907 and died on his birthday on Nov.9, 1991…
King was appointed as Government Secretary by John F. Kennedy.
This position was the equivalent of the Lieutenant Governor’s position today.
1962: The College of The Virgin Islands was established through the efforts of Cyril Emmanuel King. It was the beginning of a new era with this institution for higher learning being established.
1969: Melvin Evans was appointed as governor after the resignation Ralph M. Paiewonsky was received by Richard Nixon. Cyril E. King was serving as Government Secretary at the time; a position that was the equivalent to the Lt. Governor position.
1969-1970: The ninth and last appointed Governor; Melvin Evans was appointed as Governor after the early resignation of Ralph M. Paiewonsky. Something very curious about his resignation, he was probably aware of the upcoming elections and the changes that were on the horizon. To save embarrassment he was probably asked to resign.
Self Governorship Era
Term limited elected officials, a supreme court, and a constitution
1970: The people of the Virgin Islands elected their own governor under the Organic Act, his name was Melvin Evans. Mr. Evans before being elected was an appointed governor in the previous administration albeit one year.
1970-1974: The first elected Governor; Melvin Evans was elected by the people of the Virgin Islands he was the first person to be elected by the people after 53 years under American rule. Melvin was born on August 7, 1917 and died on Nov. 27, 1984. The time had come for the people to choose their own
administrator. Melvin Evans was supposed to be an easy choice because he served the people in that position by appointment of the President previously, but one the election in a runoff victory.
1972: Delegate to Congress Ron de Lugo is elected and became our voice in the U.S. House of Representatives. Our delegate has no voting rights for President. Still, the right and freedom to vote for president of the U.S. is not granted to the “American” citizens of the Virgin Islands these are people who serve in the military and die for their country, and was sent to war to die for a country that does not give them the right to vote or impeach the person sending them to war.
1974: The College of the Virgin Islands become fully accredited.
Cyril E. King was elected to office.
1975: Second elected Governor; Cyril E. King, was born on St. Croix April 7th, 1921 and died January 2nd, 1978 before he was able to complete his term in office. He started to work in office on January 6th.
The College of The Virgin Islands became fully accredited.
Cyril E. King worked his way up the ladder to become Senior Staff Member of Senator Humphrey’s office in the 1940’s and was the first African to serve in a U.S. senator’s office. He worked with Senator Humphrey for 12 years after being appointed in 1949. While in that position he acted as the Deputy of the Virgin Islands Legislature and helped to gain Congressional action to amend the Organic Act (the Constitution of the Virgin Islands).
Mr. King a brilliant man, Graduated from the American University in Washington D.C. during the 1950’s with a Bachelor of Science degree in Public Administration. Later on in his life he worked hard and received an Honorary doctor of Laws degree from Roger Williams College in the 70’s and was the first
ever to be awarded the Hilbert Medal by Hilbert College for outstanding Humanitarian and public efforts on behalf of Virgin Islanders and United States residents alike.
▪ In 1961 he was appointed as Government Secretary by President Kennedy,
▪ In 1970 he ran governor of the V.I. and won the general election but lost in the run off count against Melvin Evans the incumbent.
▪ Cyril E. King received a United Caribbean Youth Award in 1968 (New York).
▪ He received many accolades and appointments in his lifetime most after he was appointed Government Secretary for the Virgin Islands by
President John F. Kennedy.
▪ Cyril E. King died in 1978 before he was able to complete his term in office as governor. Juan Luis the lt. Governor held the seat until he ran for office and won.
1977: In this year David Montgumery Horsford, today known as Dawuud Najee-Ullah Nyamekye, after changing his name in 2002 to undo what was done through slavery. Dawuud was born in Antigua W.I. to Lorna Glendora West (Horsford) and William Zephaniah Horsford on December 8, 1967, and was crowned Prince of St. Thomas Carnival on the 25tth anniversary of their annual celebration. He later became a self taught historian of African and Caribbean History and developed comprehensive, entertaining, historical tours in the Caribbean for Caribbean Historical Tours.com. A consummate artist, or “renaissance man” acting in film and on stage, as well as painting, singing, dancing and writing.
- Cyril E. King wrote a congratulatory letter to Dawuud N. Nyamekye; formerly David M. Horsford after winning his victory as Prince of Carnival.
1978-1987: Third elected Governor; Juan Francisco Luis was born on July 10, 1940…
1979: This year saw two powerful hurricanes (David and Frederic) whispering of things to come.
1984: A tropical storm (Klaus) hit.
1986: The College of The Virgin Islands was changed to: The University of The Virgin Islands.
1987-1995: Fourth elected Governor; Alexander A. Farrelly was born on Dec.29, 1925…
1989: Hurricane Hugo hit St. Thomas, St. Croix, St. John, and Water Island. The four islands and many others in the Caribbean as well as the continental United States were devastated. St. Thomas lost its power island wide and took months for some areas to receive electricity. The idea to put the electric cables under ground was discussed in political and social circles as a good alternative.
1995-1999: Fifth elected Governor, Dr. Roy Lester Schneider was born on May 13th, 1939. Dr. Schneider was a former Prince of Carnival. Dr. Schneider worked as a prominent doctor for many years before being elected for a single term as governor. The current Schneider Hospital was named by him while he was still governor.
1995: Yet another devastating Hurricane hit the island of St. Thomas and the island in shambles many people left the island. Hurricane Marilyn was debatably more devastating than Hurricane Hugo, thanks to the resilience built up from going through Hurricane Hugo the people somehow survived. Hurricane Luis was in that same year.
1996: Water Island is formally transferred to the Virgin Islands government for the duly elected governors to administer locally. It was previously managed by the U.S. Department of the Interior. Water Island has a population of less than 300 people. The island has three salt ponds, two gorgeous beaches.
- Hurricane Bertha hit.
1998: Our sixth elected Governor Charles W. Turnbull was elected as Governor.
- Hurricane Georges.
1999: Hurricane Lenny.
1999-2007: Sixth elected Governor; Charles W. Turnbull Ph.D. started his term in office…
2002: Governor Charles W. Turnbull was re-elected as the seventh governor.
- The islands thrived under Turnbull’s administration.
- July 19- Governor Charles Turnbull nominated Rhys Hodge, Cabret, and Swan to the first V.I. Supreme Court all were confirmed by the 26th Legislature.
2006: Eighth elected Governor; John P. DeJongh was elected, with his running mate and Lieutenant Governor was Gregory R. Frances from St. Croix…
- Julian Jackson was inducted into the Boxing Hall of Fame. Julian Jackson was our four time middleweight champion of the world who insisted on training in St. Thomas, despite opportunities to use better facilities off island.
- The Virgin Islands government almost exceeds one billion dollars in revenue. This is evidence of progression on the island. With crime on the rise, and many unsolved crimes the island has a price to pay for its economic growth and sustained wealth and exposure. We are recording this history based on statistical
2008-2011: A new road project was begun, after many years being a topic of discussion, the expansion of Long Bay is now becoming a reality. This hopefully is the beginning of a quick end.
2010: John P. DeJongh is reelected.
- Federal investigations into government corruption.
2014 Governor Kenneth Mapp was elected in 2014 and served from 2015 – 2018 before being defeated after only one term in office.
2017: Hurricanes Irma and Maria (both category 5’s)
2018: Governor Albert Bryan and Tregenza Roach are elected as governor and lieutenant governor respectively.
2021: St. Thomas’ population is approximately 48,634 people, with an unemployment rate between 11-13% percent. The government however employs a staggering third of the population and should reduce to a much lower percentage of the normal 4 -7%. Compounding the problem; a high cost of living to wage ratio with many people unable to retire. The government needs to downsize and stimulate the local economy in the private sector with the objective intent to create entrepreneurship within the local community. Educational development around history and technology is still lacking and the use inherent intellectual talent are still not being met.
Long Bay road expansion construction that started in 2011 is still on going.
Many socially sophisticated people from around the world come to St. Thomas to find work or escape their mundane existence to “do something different.” “Blacks”comprise a large part of the population at about 80%, Whites 10%, Indian 10%.
Currently: The after effects of Irma and Maria has lingering effects on the economy both good and bad employing many whom were unemployed previously. While slowing the economy in service oriented jobs, construction contrastly has grown, and should lead to a full recovery. Most visitors are American citizens (70-80%) and visit by way of cruise ship service.
Historically: St. Thomas has not always been the capital of the Virgin Islands, the capital was in St. Croix until 1874. A tourism based service economy 80% of the GDP with the balance 20% St. Thomas was a place of trade and commerce. It still.has those qualities today as an importer of everything and a trade in tourism for revenue for jobs and taxes today. Used in the olden days as a trading depot and subsequent and simultaneously a major coaling station, now is jewelry mecca of the Caribbean.
Government: St. Thomas has 7 out of 15 senators (St. Croix 7/ St. John 1) in this unicameral government that the Organic Act of 1954 established. St. Croix has seven senators, and St. John has one senator (At-Large) making a total of fifteen. Under the new constitution these dynamics may change. There is now a growing desire in the community for changes to be made in the legislative body. Currently in the Executive Branches of government a Governor and Lt. Governor is elected every four years and fifteen senators in the Legislative Branches that are elected every two years. There is also a Delegate to Congress but without voting rights in the House Commissioners are appointed by the Governor and are approved by the Legislature. They head: Agriculture, Police, Housing Parks and Recreation, Education, Tourism, Planning and Natural Resources, Public Work.
The District Court of the Virgin Islands and the Territorial Court exists, these hold judicial power.
Facts and accounts. There has been documented proof of corruption in government. A high rate of approximately a third of the population working in government, it is definitely time to reduce and codify the government’s way of doing business, especially with the creation and utilization of the Organic Act which was passed by Congress in 1954. This has given the people of the Virgin Islands a right to create their own constitution and supreme court, with some limitations but still in effect gives them more autonomy in handling their daily governmental affairs and societal law for their people. Therefore the dynamics in their relationship will change with the United States of America. How much and profound depends on their creativity in writing these new laws.
C.A.R.I.C.O.M. exists in the Caribbean to unite and engage these islands in trade, but the Virgin Islands only has observance status representing the limitations in trade and other areas that can be of benefit if these network markets were to open but are not because of its “American” status. We will see how this will change in the future.