View of Saint Thomas in America with the Citadel Fort Christian


This colored drawing by an anonymous artist is a view of the Danish settlement on the island of Saint Thomas (present-day U.S. Virgin Islands) as it appeared in the 18th century. The settlement was established in 1672 by the Danish West India Company. Denmark claimed the nearby island of Saint John in 1683 and purchased the island of Saint Croix from France in 1733. The three islands became a Danish royal colony in 1754. The colony prospered as the import of slaves made possible a profitable plantation economy, and the harbor of Saint Thomas became a center of Caribbean commerce. The left side of the drawing shows Fort Christian, named after King Christian V, which was built by the Danes in 1666–80 to protect the harbor and defend the Danish settlements. Denmark sold the islands to the United States in 1917, but retained Greenland as its other and much larger possession in the Western hemisphere.

Last updated: July 1, 2014