Today, in 1917, the islands of St. Thomas, St. Croix, and St. John became an organized unincorporated territory of the United States known as the United States Virgin Islands.
A little history of the islands: They were first “discovered” by Christopher Columbus on his 1943 voyage. Columbus was searching for a direct western route to India from Europe. When he happened upon the islands, he thought he was arriving in India.
Thus, the term for native peoples as “indians.”
Over time, many European powers claimed these and other islands in the region. France, England, Denmark, Spain … the list goes on.
The Danish West India Company settled St. Thomas in 1672, settled St. John in 1694, and bought St. Croix from France in 1733.
Fast forward to World War I. The United States became concerned that Germany might try to install a submarine base in the deep waters surrounding the islands. Denmark became concerned that the United States might commandeer the islands if Germany invaded Denmark and/or looked like they would install a submarine base. The two countries struck a deal. The United States purchased the islands from Denmark on January 17,1917 for $25,000,000. The official transfer took place March 31, 1917. Good deal, if you ask me.
Take a look at these maps to see the strategic importance of the islands at the time. And now.
Have you ever wondered the political & governmental difference between one of the 50 United States, an unincorporated territory like the U.S. Virgin Islands, or Puerto Rico, or American Samoa, or Guantamano Bay? Me, too. Here is a place to start figuring that out.
I would love to be on a pristine white beach, snorkeling, being in awe of the beauty, waiting for my son to return from a scuba adventure, dreaming of local fish & fried plantains or curry chicken, or something wonderful that the islands’ cuisine has evolved into. Here I am, at home, and I am certainly not making ; the national dishes but I’ll cook some fish and make a cocktail of Cruzan Rum, one of the islands’ biggest exports. Check out that Cruzan rum website. It’s pretty fun.
Go here, too.
Eat & drink your history.
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