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History of St. John

The island of St. John had a bit of a rocky start in terms of its original settlers. The British and Danish had many disputes over who would ultimately control the island. Finally in 1718 after the British had given up, a group of Danish plantation owners from St. Thomas established the first settlement in Coral bay.

Once the Danes were settled they wasted no time at all. In just a few years there were approximately 109 sugar cane plantations covering the majority of St. John. Although the hilly terrain of the island was not ideal for planting and harvesting, they managed to do their best and began importing African slaves to assist with labor. Like many of the Virgin Islands, eventually the number of slaves inhabiting St. John greatly outnumbered the amount of settlers. This led to a major revolt against plantation owners and the practice of slavery. The revolt went on for seven months and left many slaves and settlers dead. The population dropped dramatically and was not settled until French and Swiss soldiers came to the aid of the Danish.

In response to the revolt, the Danish government erected a new courthouse and prison in hopes of improving the justice system and treatment of slaves. This building is now the only government building still standing today. Finally Slavery was abolished in 1848, which led to another major decline in the population of St. John. After many years of struggle and economic decline the island was bought by the United States in 1917 and the news of this new acquisition spread all the way to the mainland. U.S residents were excited to hear about the beautiful island and anxious to visit.

Not only has the island continued to expand and flourish over the years, but so has its number of inhabitants and visitors. It is no longer a slow moving, desolate island, but rather a developing and thriving hot spot for islanders and tourists alike.

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