1801 - 1815

The English occupy the islands

There were political problems in Europe, and Denmark was on a collision course with Great Britain. In March 1801 the British occupied the Danish West Indies.

Great Britain abandoned its occupation of the three islands in February 1802. But the conflict between Denmark and Great Britain continued, and the three West Indian islands were occupied again by the British in 1807. Not until April 1815 did Denmark recover the islands.

Economy and trade during British occupation

During both periods of occupation, the Danish military and some individual officials were placed under arrest. But by and large, the administration and everyday life in the colony continued almost uninterrupted.

However, there were some changes. The islands were no longer the next link in an almost closed Danish economic circuit. Instead, they became part of the heavily regulated British war economy. That meant, for example, that the profits from sugar exports from the islands went to the British instead of the Danes. The British also made sure that the illegal transatlantic slave trade ceased from 1807. Despite the fact that the Danish slave trade ban had entered into force in 1803, there were still slave transports under a Danish flag. The British were also less strict in their policies, and the number of free coloreds grew explosively during the occupation years, especially because of immigration from other British islands in the West Indies.

The seal used by the "Saint Croix Government".
The British administration during the two occupations of Denmark’s colony in the West Indies continued largely as under the Danish administration. The seal above was used by the “Saint Croix Government” and shows the crowned monogram of King George III surrounded by his motto “Dieu et mon droit” (“God and my right”). (The Danish National Archives).