David Hamilton Jackson’s homecoming from Denmark

David Hamilton Jackson fought for better conditions for the workers on the three West Indian islands. Many regarded him as a hero. The descriptions of his homecoming after a stay in Denmark illustrate the population’s huge expectations of him.
Photo of the return to St. Croix in 1915.
The return to St. Croix in 1915 of David Hamilton Jackson, as it must have looked. (Royal Library).

After a trip to Denmark in the summer of 1915, Jackson arrived at St. Thomas by ship on 11 September 1915 and at St. Croix the following morning. Everybody was out on the street and he received a hearty welcome.

A bombastic description of Jackson’s homecoming

Jackson’s ally and colleague, Ralph de Chabert, wrote a bombastic description of the event in The St. Croix Bulletin. He reported that flags were flying everywhere and that the workers had gathered on the roads outside the plantations to pay tribute to Jackson. According to de Chabert, Jackson’s arrival at Christiansted was worthy of a prince, as the houses were decorated with flags, flowers, arches of palm leaves and the beautiful Danish flag, the Dannebrog. Two brass bands played music composed for Jackson, while women showered flowers on his car. Jackson held a speech and ended with a nine-fold cheer for King Christian X, prompting all the men to remove their hats in respect. According to de Chabert, this marked ”a change of sentiment and a general feeling of loyalty towards our high-cultured mother country”.

Fruitless optimism

However, the optimism shown at David Hamilton Jackson’s homecoming and the hopes for a better relationship between Denmark and the workers on the islands soon proved to be futile. There was increasingly violent friction between the population of the islands and the Danish authorities, and after two years of strikes and riots, in 1917 the islands were sold to the USA. After the sale, David Hamilton Jackson continued his fight for better conditions for the population of the islands.

The Danish transatlantic passenger liner ”Oscar II”.
The Danish transatlantic passenger liner ”Oscar II”, which David Hamilton Jackson went by. (Danish National Archives).