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Historical Highlights
Circa 2500 BC to late 1500's AD: Igneri ("the ancient ones") and later Arawak and Carib Indians inhabit St. John.

1694: Danish West India and Guinea Company acts to take control of St. John. Before then the island had been visited infrequently.

1717: First company-operated plantation established at Estate Carolina in Coral Bay. Settlers hope that this area, with its fine harbor, will soon rival Charlotte Amalie in importance.

1733: 101 plantations under cultivation. Tax exemptions attract 208 whites that control 1,087 black slaves. The Dutch population overwhelmingly outnumbers the Danes. Slaves rebel after Governor Phillip Gardelen imposes harsh rules and punishments. Soldiers and white plantation owners are wiped out or flee the island. Concerned about their holdings in St. Croix to the south, two French warships arrive in April 1733, to put an end to the rebellion. Other settlers arrive to replace those who have been killed or relocated, and St. John becomes a prosperous colony once again.

1801: During Napoleonic Wars British troops first occupy the island.

1803: Denmark completely abolishes the slave trade.

1807-13: British troops again occupy the island. This time the occupation serves to depress the economy.

1834: End of racial segregation between white and free blacks decreed.

1839: Compulsory education decreed.

1848: Governor-General Peter von Scholten grants freedom to the island slaves. The Emancipation and the perfection of the sugar beet result in falling plantation profits.

1871: Capital of the Danish West Indies moves from Christiansted in St. Croix to nearby Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas.

1917: The Danish West Indies-St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix-are purchased by the United States from Denmark for $25 million in gold and become the United States Virgin Islands under administration by the US Navy.

1931: The US Department of the Interior takes over the administration of the islands.

1936: The Organic Act introduces self-government to the Virgin Islands.

1947: Prosperity returns to the Virgin Islands primarily because of the region's free-port status and the general increase in air and sea travel.

1968: The US Congress passes the Elective Governor Act; the President had appointed previous governors.

 


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