Open letter from the king to the population of the Danish West Indies

In spite of the long journey between the Danish West Indies and Denmark, a community had arisen. Some found the sale to the USA a sad farewell to the distant mother country. On 9th March 1917 King Christian X signed an open letter to the people who would no longer be his subjects.
First page of the original open letter of 9th March 1917. (Danish National Archives)

The letter was read aloud and also printed in the newspaper. The acting governor, Henri Konow, read it aloud to local officials and politicians and it was printed in the newspaper St. Thomæ Tidende in both Danish and English on 21st March 1917. English was the language understood by most people in the colony, where Danes only comprised a small minority.

The best for the islands

In his open letter, the king pointed out that the sale was in the best interests of the three islands and that Denmark had safeguarded various rights for the population in connection with the sale. For example, the inhabitants could themselves choose whether to remain on the islands or leave them. Those who chose to remain could retain their Danish citizenship, or become American citizens.

Loyalty and devotion

In conclusion, the king drew attention to the centuries-long relationship between Denmark and the islands. The king expressed his gratitude for the loyalty and devotion of the inhabitants of the islands and wished them the best for the future. The letter did not mention the many years of unrest that had prevailed on the islands, the widespread social problems or the inhabitants’ long struggle for better conditions.

The full text of the open letter can be found here.

Picture of Governor Henri Konow reading the king’s open letter.
Governor Henri Konow reads the king’s open letter to the assembled officials in government house on St. Thomas on 17th March 1917. (National Library of Denmark).