The Three Queens and Fireburn of 1878
Even after the abolition of slavery in 1848 in the Danish West Indies, conditions for the newly freed were difficult. The Emancipation Revolt of 1848 ended slavery but inaugurated a 30-year period of serfdom based on contract labor that ensured continuing control by plantation owners. Frustration and unrest spilled over in the labor force into a violent rebellion which started on October 1, 1878 (Contract Day) in Frederiksted. Houses, warehouses, and plantations were burned, along with over half of the city of Frederiksted. This revolt became known as Fireburn or the Great Trashing, Three (some believe four or even five) women, Mary, Agnes, and Mathilda, were especially active in the rebellion. Today, they are considered heroines in the islands and called Queens of Fireburn.
Read the whole story or Download this article (PDF).
David Hamilton Jackson
The black labor leader David Hamilton Jackson has been described in completely different ways. For officials towards the end of the Danish era, he was an unpleasant rebel. But for the black population of the islands, he was and is a hero.
Alexander Hamilton spent a portion of his youth on St. Croix before leaving the Danish West Indies for America where he became a major name in history. Read a short history of his accomplishments and tragic death.
Transfer Day in the Virgin Islands
On March 31, 1917, the Danish West Indies were officially transferred to the United States for $25 million. The negotiations began almost 50 years prior during the Civil War when the United States recognized that the islands provided a strategic outpost for the navy (fueling ships and protecting interests in the Panama Canal).
EXTERNAL TRANSFER DAY LINKS:
The St. Croix Landmarks Society posts an interesting and in-depth background of the historical significance of Denmark’s allegiance to the Union during the Civil War
The U. S. Dept of State has archive files covering the Purchase of the Virgin Islands in 1917
A Brief History of the Danish West Indies 1666 – 1917
The Danish West Indies consisted of three small islands in the Caribbean situated to the east of Puerto Rico, namely Saint Thomas since the 1660s, Saint John since 1718, and Saint Croix from 1733.
Continue reading at Danish National Archive site