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Caribbean Historical Tours Is A Trip Adviser Recommended Company

Discover the Rich History and Culture of St. Thomas

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Historical Synopsis

Written By: Dawuud N. Nyamekye exclusively for C.aribbean HIS.torical TOURS! This is a copywriiten document and should not be photocopied, reproduced, printed or resold witout the written consent from C.aribbean HIS.torical TOURS!

Tribal migratory peoples that had societies here 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,” today is a huge melting pot of many different nationalities. Many different European countries including Spain, England, Netherlands, France, England, Knights of Malta, Denmark, and the United States have colonized St. Thomas. Today it is an Unincorporated U.S. territory.

St. Thomas is located 18 degrees north and 64 degrees west of Greenwich. It is 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 that 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 twenty-eight point twenty five square miles what it lacks in size, it makes up in service, beauty and history. A natural deep harbor 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 fare trade of goods and services and some manufacturing.

Temperatures range from 65 degrees in the winter to a cool mild humidity 95 degrees 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, Columbus renamed these islands 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 promotes 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, indulgences.

For information on local business development, demographics and statistics please contact our Chamber of Commerce.

“Come and learn the history first hand, taste the food, and partake in the culture of St, Thomas Virgin Islands!!!”

St. Thomas Timeline

+3500 B.C.: Ceramic tribes. Highly civilized and able to make some incredible pottery, a testament to their civilization and long existence. Proves that any tribes after must have been civilized also.

+1500 B.C.: People living in St. Thomas of African origin with Negroid type Features. Bones were actually found that supports this claim at Hull Bay. Those bones were carbon dated to 1250 B.C. but we must assume logically that they were here and probably mixed with the Indian tribes because of their similar nature and culture.

There were several tribes: Ceramic, Ciboney, Arawaks, and the Caribs. These peoples lived off of vegetables, and fish primarily and were civilized. Probably because they fought a good fight is the reason Columbus said that they were cannibals and everyone else has described them as such after him. There is absolutely no evidence what so ever that proves that the Caribs were cannibals. There are many ways to discover this as a truth if it was, through abrasions to bones, evident in archaeological finds etc.

These different tribes were later referred to as “Indians.” Called “Indians” because of Columbus’ error who in 1492, while on a search for India for sugar. In his ignorance landed on Hispaniola and thought he found India. Naming the region “Las Indias”, today everyone calls the aboriginal people “Indians.” By the mid 1600’s almost all of the “Indians” were killed particularly in the smaller islands which had less land to share, hide, and to escape. Bigger islands like Dominica and St. Lucia had more land to escape into the interior.

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, probably because of Columbus’ error, and many others after, the inhabitants of the Caribbean were called “Indians” subsequently. These people were not from India, but from South American and of Negroid African ancestry.

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), Virgin Gorda (fat virgin), St. John (Sankt Jan) 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 “serredurra,” meaning key hole, because of its obvious protective shape. Like a key hole.

1497: Denmark established its first schools, this is literally thousands of years After Africans in Africa had already established theirs. To think in retrospect 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 establish an English colony in Virginia

1621: Dutch West Indies were attacking Spanish ships and there holdings in the area.

1640s

St. Thomas became inhabited by the Dutch who mostly occupied Hassle Island. Their 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 discus 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 Era
Date?

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.

1652 Denmark was looking to join the Slave Trade with some success already, they were beginning to explore the possibilities of having a colony.

English Era
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 was usurped by the English and Louis XIV. Knights of Malta Era

In ?:
(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 Denmarks first colony seems very curious even with no substantial evidence.

1665-1917

1665

Denmark after visiting the Caribbean several times looking for territories to Speculating - late in the game as it was - in the already two hundred year European colonization of the Caribbean claimed St. Thomas through the skipper Erik Neilson Smidt, 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. Denmark never lost control of St. Thomas just of men that either died or left because of their fears and the prospected arduous task of inhabitation.

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, inhumanity, 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, the first of several fortresses built by Denmark on the island of St. Thomas Virgin Islands; Fort Fredericksburg was the name of the fortress and it was built on the hill that Blue Beards Castle sits on. Fort Fredericksburg 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 lose of Smidt, 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 Smidt died June 12, 1666. The Danish flag continued to fly with the new, second governor; Jesper Hoyer who was a colleague and copatriot settler.

1667

Jesper Hoyer’s tenure ended with complete chaos finding such sickness and death that many fled the island 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 acceded to the throne as king.

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

1671-1680

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 prejudicially to anyone in the community 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 for the colonists social and economic goals.
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 by the name of 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 business man 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.
1686: Christopher Heins became the acting Governor.
1688: Blue Beards Castle was completed. Blue Beards was not a real Pirate this structure was named to market the structure to the tourism industry. The fortress was built on a hill named Frederiksburg named Fort Frederiksburg, King Frederick it helped to prevent France from taking over the island.

  • Blue Beards 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. 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 Demark and leased out their portion to a Norwegian business man by the of George Thormuellen.
1691: Taphus (tap house) the name that signified the capital and labeled it for 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 Sankt Jahn 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.
1697: on September 28, The Danish West India and Guinea Co. was 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 was started by the Moravia people this so called spiritual set out of Germany and Saxony. They did however started education for slaves on the island.
1701-1713: St. Thomas thrived with the Danes during the Spanish Succession. All European countries were fighting each other and Denmark was a neutral territory and benefited by all the European traders doing business safely here.
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.
1730: Nisky Moravian Church was destroyed by a fire, later when it was rebuilt the second floor with shingled sides was added.
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, 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.

In 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: 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 8`` 1 he received it.
In 1754: These islands were officially the Danish West Indies after Denmark took all plantations in the islands.
In 1756-63: The Seven Year War occured where France and Sweden wer allies with Austria and Saxony (Germans) against the German States.
In 1763: Treaty of Paris saw the French retaining Guadeloupe, Martinique, St. Lucia, St. Barts
In 1784: St. Barts a French colony was exchanged with Sweden for trade routes and warehousing in Sweden.
In 1794: Christianborg was burnt down and the royal family purchased and moved into Amelienborg Palace.
In 1764: King Frederick of Denmark declares St. Thomas’ harbour a ‘Freeport’.

Sometime after that, the inhabitants from St. Barthelemy started coming to St. Thomas for a better life, after being ignored by France and Sweden who were at war with each other. 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.

Saint Barts (St. Barthelemy) was ceded to Sweden in 1784 with provisions allowing France to establish a transshipment post at Goteborg. The war between France and Sweden ended, with France purchasing the island in 1877.
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 whow as married to The former king of Denmark; King Frederiks V daughter Sopia Magdalena.
In 1792: White Tail Deer was introduced.
In 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.
Danish Rule; English Takeover-Napoleonic Wars
In 1801-1802: Great Britain over threw 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 Amalia 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
In 1800’s: Sugar cane industry reaches a climatic point in St. Thomas’ Magens Bay.
In 1809: Bernadotte Crown Prince and Regent was stripped of his powers.
In 1812: Napoleon invaded Sweden -Pomerania a former ally.
In 1816: After the Danes reclaimed the island, St. Thomas became a successful trading mecca, while continuously declining in agriculture. Agriculture would never be productive again on the island.
In 1820’s -: Slaves were exported to Puerto Rico, allowed by Governor Torre who could not import from Africa because of English pressure on Spain to sign a treaty to end the Slave trade. With agriculture declining in St. Thomas this was a great way for them to get rid of some of the Blacks on the island.
In 1825-26: Great fires destroyed the Catholic Church and building codes were changed to encourage colonists to build with rubble stone and bricks.
In 1827: Peter von Sholten was appointed governor.
In 1828: Peter vonSholten started a long 20 year affair with an African woman of mixed heritage, her name was Anna Heegard.
In 1830: Camille Pissaro was born in St. Thomas. He later moved to France and
became the father of impressionism.
In 1834: Segregation between, “free” Africans; referred to as ‘coloreds’, and whites
ended by proclamation.
In 1835: Samuel Morse invented the telegraph machine and subsequently the code to communicate.
In 1837: The first steamship was built for North Atlantic ocean travel, The Great Western is launched.
In 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.
In 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.
In 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 to this area.
In 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.

In 1848: The African captives (slaves) were emancipated by the order of Danish Governor Peter von Sholten 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.
In 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.
In 1861: The Civil War begins.
In 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 off spring and he became the "Father in Law of Europe" after his six children married into six different Eurpean Royal Houses, in the early 21st century many European monarchs were directly descended from him:

  1. Russia- Nicholas II
  2. Greece- Constantine I
  3. United Kingdom- George V
  4. Denmark- Christian X
  5. Norway- Haakon VII

In 1864: Second Schleswig War Denmark lost South Jutland and Holstein Germany. This war was started by Prussia (Germans) and Austria.
In 1865: Chamberlain Louis Rothe, Knight of Dannebrog was Vice Governor of The Danish West Indies. The Civil War ends.
In 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 earth quake in the same year hit St. Thomas and caused a tsunami that destroyed many of the homes on the island.

In 1869: The 15th Amendment was passed giving Africans who were formerly enslaved the right to vote.
In 1872: The Mongoose was introduced to the Caribbean to prey on the snakes.

We still have the Puerto Rican Racer and Wild boas around the island.

  • The capital was moved from St. Croix to St. Thomas.

*In 1874: The V.I. Legislature Building was erected as a Danish warehouse; it later became a U.S. Marine barrack, the first public high school and was turned into the Legislature Building in 1957. Today it is known as the Earl B. Ottley Legislature Building. Earl B. Ottley was political figure who made and broke Careers.

In 1876: Alexander Graham Bell receives a U.S. patent for the telephone.
In 1879: Thomas Edison invents the light bulb.
In 1881: Booker T. Washington a former African slave was selected to be principle of the new Tuskegee Institute.
In 1883: The Brooklyn Bridge was completed.
In 1898: The Spanish American War begins. Puerto Rico was ceded to America.
In 1903: Wright Brothers made their first flight.
In 1904: U.S. takes over the construction of the Panama Canal.
In 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.

Naval Administrators governed the islands

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…
In 1924: Hurricane
In 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.
In 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.
In 1930: Daily News was established as the local paper in St. Thomas was founded by Ariel Melchoir.
In 1931: The end of Naval rule.

Governors appointed by the U.S. Dept. of the Interior

In 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…
In 1932: Malaria epidemic
In 1934: Blue Beards Castle Hotel, the first hotel in St. Thomas, was established.
1935-1941: The second appointed Governor; Lawrence W. Cramer, was born on Dec. 26, 1897 and died Oct.18, 1978… In 1936: The name of the capital was changed in spelling from Charlotte Amalia to Charlotte Amalie. Women received their rightful freedom to vote and be counted as a democracy should allow.
*In 1939: _______ Submarine Base was established.
*In 1939: The Organic Act was passed by Congress this allowed the people to create their own constitution, supreme court, and also created their judicial, territorial court, and legislative bodies of government. A self defining Moment in history marked the day when the Organic Act which was passed in 1939 by the U.S. and subsequently revised in 1954 set the stage for the Virgin Islands people to define themselves. Stimulated by the need to have a supreme court to hear and decide over cases autonomously and be more self ruling, efficient and independent. Cases such as the one which challenged the right for them to have safaris (a modified truck flatbed made into a carriage with parallel seats with an open air design and a covering over head for protection from sun and rain. An idea which originated in St. John (saint John 19.5 square miles) that was developed for our own survival, ingenuity and resourcefulness, turns the flat bed of a truck into a bus with several parallel seats and an opening on the side of each chair for passengers to get in and out. Without a door to lock, or a seat belt to prevent body propulsion in sudden stops or crashes this could seem very dangerous, but we have a constitutional right to create such a vehicle under the Organic Act. Where it may not be legal under U.S. safety laws, we have different laws here that can allow us the right to have such a vehicle. Everyday things such as these that people take for granted are rights that could and were challenged. Sometimes by a people that these things don’t affect demographically.
In 1941: The Navy builds 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 after him…
*In 1945-47: The submarine base was closed after World War II.
In 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 forth appointed Governor; William Henry Hustie, was born Nov.17, 1904 and died April 21, 1976…
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 was held.
1950-1954: The fifth appointed Governor; Morris Fidanque DeCastro was the first native born Governor.
In 1954: The Organic Act was revised and expanded. 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. In these times (ca. 2008) some people feel that it needs more revision.
1954-1955: The sixth appointed governor; Arcihbald 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 (approximately 3/5of the island) 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.
In 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 Governors position today.

In 1962: The College of The Virgin Islands was established. It was the beginning of a new era with this institution for higher learning being established.
In 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 up coming elections and the changes that were on the horizon. To save embarrassment he was probably asked to resign.

Term limited elected officials, a supreme court, and a constitution

In 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: A delegate to Congress 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. The United States has work to do in making it a more equitable relationship, With, justice, freedom and empowerment for all of its citizens.
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 Humphreys office in the 1940’s and was the first African to serve in a U.S. senators 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 bWashington 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.

In 1977: In this year began the long journey to world notoriety and acclaim for David Montgumery Horsford, today known as Dawuud Najee-Ullah Nyamekye, after changing his name in 2002 to undo what was done in slavery. Dawuud was born to Lorna Glendora West (Horsford) and William Z. Horsford on December 8, 1967, was crowned Prince of St. Thomas Carnival on the 25th anniversary of their annual celebration. He later became a historian of African and Caribbean History and developed comprehensive, entertaining, historical tours in the Caribbean for Caribbean Historical Tours.com. He was a consummate artist, a renaissance man acting on film and stage, painting, singing, dancing... Dawuud was born on Antigua (Wadably) W.I. in English Harbour a beautiful fishing and boating coastal community.
1977: 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…
In 1979: This year saw two powerful hurricanes (David and Frederic) whispering of things to come.
In 1984: A tropical storm (Klaus) hit.
In 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…
In 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 in St. Thomas and as governor pushed for the hospital to be named after him. An obvious affinity for women of a lighter or white complexion he was viewed by many as being pompous.
In 1995: Yet another devastating Hurricane hit the island of St. Thomas and the island was 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.
In 1996: Water Island is formerly transferred to the Virgin Islands government for governorship, after being previously managed by the U.S. Dept. of Interior Water Island has a population of less than 300 people. The island has three salt ponds, two gorgeous beaches.

  • Hurricane Bertha hit.

In 1998: Our sixth elected Governor Charles W. Turnbull was elected as Governor.

  • Hurricane Georges.

In 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.

In 2006: Julian Jackson was inducted into the Boxing Hall of Fame. Julian Jackson was our four time middle weight champion of the world who insisted on training in St. Thomas, despite opportunities to use better facilities off island.
In 2006: The Virgin Islands government almost exceeds one billion dollars in revenue. This is evidence 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 facts and accounts. There has been documented proof of corruption in government in some instances with a high rate of approximately a third of the population working in government, it is definitely time to reduce and redefine the governments 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 the handling their daily governmental affairs and the societal laws 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 markets were to open but are not because of its “American” status. We will see how this will change in the future.
St. Thomas’ population is approximately 53,200 people, with a low unemployment rate between 4 – 6 percent. The government however employs a staggering third of the population and should reduce its size. Backed up with people who refuse to retire while reaping the benefits of huge salaries.

The government needs to downsize and stimulate the local economy in the private sector with the intent to create entrepreneurs with the local people and use their talent. Most people who are not working is because of a lack of desire or unfair hiring practices. Many people from abroad come to St. Thomas to find work or escape their existence and to “do some thing different.” Blacks comprise a large part of the population at about 80%, Whites 10%, Indian 10%.

2006: Eighth elected Governor; John P. DeJongh was elected, with his running mate Lieutenant Governor, Gregory R. Francis from St. Croix. They were elected in 2006 and started working in 2007.

In 2008: 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 going to alleviate traffic congestion.

Currently: There is a boom in development that is now slowing down but is going to provide lots of service jobs. If the U.S. economy stays strong the island should do well. Most of the visitors are Americans (97%) and visit by way of cruise ship service.

Historically: St. Thomas has always been the capital of the Virgin Islands, even when the capital was headquartered in St. Croix. A tourisms based service economy with a low unemployment rate. St. Thomas was place of commerce and still. is today. Used in the olden days as a trading depot and then a coaling station, now is jewelry mecca of the world. Government: St. Thomas and St. Croix has seven senators for each island, 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 made in the legislature. 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 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 Works.

The District Court of the Virgin Islands and the Territorial Court exists, these hold judicial power.

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