The occupation of St. John

After almost 50 years on St. Thomas, the Danish West India Company wanted to colonize yet another island of the West Indies. The natural choice was St. John, close to St. Thomas.

In 1718, the Danes simply went ahead and occupied St. John, as there were no other Europeans here either. In the beginning, the island was cultivated with cotton and tobacco. But increasingly, they began growing the sought-after sugar cane. Sugar cane was very profitable but also hard work, and the need for slaves grew substantially. In the years to follow, thousands of Africans were carried by ship from West Africa to the West Indies on ships sailing under Danish or international colors. The plantation owners usually stayed on St. Thomas and left the running of the plantations on St. John to entrusted overseers, called “mesterknægte”.

St. John.
St. John is located just east of St. Thomas. The two islands are separated by a small sound. The cultivation of the island was even more difficult than St. Thomas because of the mountains dominating the area. (The Danish National Archives).