St John History, United States Virgin Islands

Arawak Indians were the first settlers of St John, arriving from Columbia and Venezuela, around 300 AD.

In 1300 AD the Carib Indians drove the Arawaks from the island.

The first European to see the Virgin Islands is thought to be Christopher Columbus, who on his second voyage in 1493, claimed the islands for Spain and named them. Named for the feast day of Saint Ursula, October 21, Columbus called them "Las Islas Once Mil Virgenes" which means "The Islands of Eleven Thousand Virgins"; women who were martyred with Saint Ursula.

Danish rule of St John began in 1684, but was disputed by England until 1672.

On March 25, 1718 the first European settlers, represented by the Danish West India and Guinea Company, arrived and named the island "Sankt Jan", translated as Saint John.

Sugar plantations like the Annaberg Sugar Plantation were established in great numbers because of high quality growing conditions, leading to the importation of slaves from Africa. 1733 marked one of the first notable slave rebellions in the "New World" when Akwamu rebels from Gold Coast, Africa, took control of St John for 6 months.

In 1754 the Danish gained full control of St John, St Thomas, and St Croix.

An estimate from 1775 put the number of slaves to danish at a ratio of 5 to 1. Among the slaves were remaining Arawak and Carib Indians who were entirely wiped out before slavery ended.

The end of slavery on St John finally came on July 3, 1848, under Danish Governor Johannes Söbötker. He was replaced by Hans Hendrik Berg on July 8, 1848.

On December 12, 1916, the United States purchased St John, St Thomas, and St Croix from Denmark, as a means of protecting the US mainland from a German offensive in World War I.

March 31, 1917 marked the beginning of the U.S. Virgin Islands, which were administered by the U.S. Navy until 1931.

January 31, 1931 began the administration by the U.S. Department of the Interior.

In 1956 Laurance Rockefeller donated a huge portion of land to the US National Park Service, with an agreement that it remains protected lands.

In 1969, the US Virgin Islands began electing their own Governors.

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