Open forum: The History of Danish Rule of the Virgin Islands

The Danish flag, the Dannebrog, was lowered for the last time on March 31, 1917. (Submitted photo)

I hereby allow myself to comment on [this] indicated article: In the article, it says “Danish rule extended from 1754 to 1917 […].”

It is a truth with modifications to say that Danish rule over the islands only began in 1754. The thing is that the islands became a Danish crown colony in 1754, i.e., the direct financial and administrative responsibility of the islands was assumed by the Danish state that year. However, Danish sovereignty over the islands began decades earlier when the islands were colonized successively by the Danish West Indian Company (DWC) in 1666/72 (STT), 1718 (STJ) and 1733 (STX).

The DWC was heavily subsidized and supported by the Danish state and, according to international law at the time, its acquisition and administration of the islands did therefore mark and represent Danish state sovereignty over the islands. The transformation of the islands into a direct crown colony in 1754 was motivated by the company’s bad economy and thus inability to assure an effective administration of the islands.

By the way, the same juridical and administrative development took place in the Dutch West Indies. Aruba, Curaçao, Bonaire, Sint Maarten, Sint Eustatius and Saba were all colonized by The Dutch West Indian Company in the 1630s and 1640s. Like its Danish counterpart, it was heavily subsidized and supported by the Dutch state, and its acquisition and administration of the six islands did therefore mark Dutch sovereignty of the islands. For the same reasons as in the Danish islands, the six Dutch islands were transformed into a direct crown colony in 1792.

With kind regards and happy 105 years Transfer Day,

Thorbjørn Nielsen of Copenhagen, Denmark