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
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
1801: During Napoleonic Wars British troops first occupy the
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
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
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.