Danish West Indies Becomes United States Virgin Islands
On March 31, 1917 the Danish government sold the Danish West Indies to the United States government for 25 million dollars. The primary reason the US acquired the islands was for a US navel base in the Caribbean. This was not the first time the US looked to purchase the islands from Denmark. Each previous time was also fueled by some military incentive. The Virgin Islands offered a strategic position that the US highly coveted.
During the 1860's, right before the US Civil War, Secretary of State, William H Seward, began investigating the islands as a potential coaling station for US vessels. On October 24, 1867 the Danish government ratified a treaty which would sell the islands of St. Thomas and St. John to the US government for 7,500,000 dollars in gold; as long as the native population consented. However, during that same year the islands were hit by a terrible hurricane, an destructive earthquake, and a devastating tsunami. This treaty was never ratified in the wave of the natural disasters; however it was mostly voided due to the imperialistic overtone the US wrote into the treaty, and unrest within the US government itself.
At the end of the Spanish American War, the US showed renewed interest in the Virgin Islands. This time drawing up a treaty, which was ratified by the Us congress, that would sell the islands of St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix for five million dollars. The Danish government never ratified this insulting treaty. This treaty prompted the poem, The bride and the Bridegroom, to be published in the local newspaper. Which can be read here.
The US continued efforts to negotiate the purchase of the Virgin Islands after the failed Treaty of 1902. However by 1915, due to US fear of the impending WWII, the US had purchased Puerto Rico, and therefore were not concerned with acquiring the Virgin Islands for there own strategic purposes, but as a way to keep other world powers out of the Caribbean.
In March of 1916 the US sent a drafted treaty to the Danish government offering 25,000,000 dollars in gold for the three islands. On August 14, 1916 both governments signed a revised treaty in New York City. The US Senate approved the treaty on September 7, 1916; and on December 21, 1916 the Danish Rigsdag approved the treaty as well. On January 17, 1917 the treaty was fully ratified, exchanged and finalized.
The 50 year long process of selling the Danish West Indies to the United States was finally completed on March 31, 1917; where the official transfer occurred on the island of St. Thomas, at a ceremony held in front of the Virgin Islands Legislature building.
HAPPY VIRGIN ISLANDS HISTORY MONTH EVERYBODY
information gathered from:
Hubert Henry Harrison: "The Black Socrates"
Hubert Henry Harrison was born April 27, 1883 in Estate Concordia, St. Croix. As a child and adolescent Harrison was no stranger to poverty, but his mental disposition was very much molded by the rebellious culture of St. Croix. He learned much of African customs and the direct actions that Cruzians took toward racial oppression. D. Hamilton Jackson, another prominent Virgin Islands activist, was his schoolmate and life long friend. Later in life Harrison would work with many more Virgin Islands born activists.
Harrison moved to the mainland in 1900. He joined his older sister in New York and attended night school while working various service jobs. He had never encountered racial oppression to the level the United States perpetuated. Despite all of this, The World, a local New York Newspaper described Harrison as a 'genius'. In 1903, the New York Times published an early letter written by Harrison. Before the United States bought the Danish West Indies, later know as the United States Virgin Islands, Harrison naturalized himself and became a citizen of the US.
Within the fist ten years Harrison continued to write letters the New York Times and began lecturing around New York. He worked with many other activists in the area and eventually became interested in the Free Thought Movement. This movement encouraged scientific method, reason, and thought processes apart form theistic dogma.
In 1907 Harrison started work at the United States Post Office. He became an outspoken critic of the Republican Party and Presidents Roosevelt and Taft, as well as Booker T. Washington, a prominent black leader. His opposition to Washington however lost him his Post Office position. After being fired from the USPS he joined the socialist movement, but then later left.
In 1917 Harrison became especially active in Virgin Island causes after the United States purchase of the Danish West Indies. The abuses that they suffered from the U.S. Navy's occupation were foreign to them under Danish rule.
Later he teamed up with Marcus Garvey and his United Negro Improvement Association by writing for the Negro World, UNIA's newpaper, although he never formally joined UNIA. He brought the Negro World to the height of its publication, but later became critical of Garvey's tactics and ceased work. It was during these years and those following that he became known as the Black Socrates, for his association with the Free Thought Movement, and his ideas on class and race relations.
Due to complications of an appendectomy, Hubert Henry Harrison died in New York at the age of 44, on December 17, 1927.
information gather from:
Edward Wilmot Blyden: Father of Pan-African Thought
Edward Wilmot Blyden was born 3 August 1832 in the Danish West Indies (Currently known as the United States Virgin Islands) on the island of St. Thomas. In 1845 Blyden met Reverend John P. Knox. He was the pastor of the St. Thomas Protestant Dutch Reformed Church. Knox soon became impressed with the young Blyden's studious nature. Mostly due to his close proximity to Knox, Blyden became a minister, much to the pleasure of his parents.
In May of 1850, Blyden went to the United States with Knox's wife, and tried in vain to enroll in Rutgers Theological College, as well as two others. Knox encouraged Blyden to move to Liberia where his efforts could reap fruition.
Later that year Blyden arrived in Liberia and became deeply involved in the new country's development.
From 1855 to 1856, Blydenwrote a column for and edited the Liberia Herald. He also spent time writing and editing for other budding newspapers in Nigeria and Sierra Leone.
In 1861, Blyden became professor of Greek and Latin at Liberia College, and from 1880 to 1884 he was president of the college. Blyden also served as ambassador for Liberia to Britain and France.
From 1864 to 1864, Blyden was appointed as the Liberian Secretary of State, and Minister of the Interior from 1880 to 1882.
Blyden traveled to the United States and spoke to many major black congregations of the time. Blyden advocated to African Americans that the suffering due to racial discrimination could be ended by repatriating back to Africa and developing the mother land. Because of ideas like this, Blyden is regarded widely as the "father of Pan-Africanism".
His most notable book is Christianity, Islam, and the Negro Race (1887). Where he argues that Islam is a more fulfilling and unifying practice for those of African descent.
Edward Wilmot Blyden Died on 7 February 1912 at the age of 79.
information gathered from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Wilmot_Blyden
What do you know about the real history of St. Patrick's Day? I know very little. The day was always special to me because my brother was born on St. Patrick's Day, so we always celebrated. I wanted to find more info so I looked around and found the link below. Enjoy!
Senator Shawn Michael Malone Sponsored Act 6802 in 2006, which set aside every March as Virgin Islands History Month
“I remain a strong advocate for the promotion and preservation of Virgin Islands culture and each March we have an opportunity to revisit the people and events that have shaped our Territory,” Malone said. “Parents, educators and culture bearers should take this opportunity to teach our children about our history. Local history provides many noteworthy role models. Sharing this information instills a sense of pride in our young people and helps them to develop a strong foundation for future success.” Malone