“[I]t was unfortunate that we ever acquired these islands”: The progressive destruction of St. Thomas Harbor under Danish and American rule, 1841 – 1931
By Mora McLean
Following the ravages of two back-to-back hurricanes in 2017, a young St. Thomas couple prepared meals on an improvised barbecue pit, fueled by chunks of drywall salvaged from the rubble of their demolished public housing complex. Living without power and exposed to the elements the couple tried to imagine a financial future for themselves and their children. When tropical cyclones Irma and Maria tore through St. Thomas they not only destroyed homes, but also crippled the island’s economic mainstay: cruise ship tourism. The husband thought he might find work as a painter once rebuilding efforts took off. But like many St. Thomians whose jobs disappeared when hotels and other tourist amenities shut down, the wife feared long-term unemployment. Even before the storms, the Virgin Islands jobless rate exceeded twice the U.S. national average. Sparse U.S. mainstream news coverage of the devastated VI territories, compounded by the isolating impact of cruise line suspensions, left many Virgin Islanders feeling forgotten and “American-in-name-only.”
Ironically, for decades before 2017, marine scientists had been reporting on trails of destruction being inflicted by the very cruise ship traffic that Irma and Maria immobilized. Studies found that shipping vessels routinely dumped a litany of toxic pollutants associated with cancers and respiratory and other ailments—raw sewage, heavy fuel oil spills, hazardous solid wastes, diesel exhaust, and more—into St. Thomas Harbor. Noting that toxic residues, some traceable back to the mid twentieth century, were decimating coral reefs, endangering fish and other species, and triggering turbidity currents in waters that had once been crystal clear, researchers warned of an existential threat to the natural environment—the very thing touted as St. Thomas’s greatest asset. And yet this prolonged human-induced contamination of St. Thomas Harbor barely drew media attention, within or outside the Virgin Islands.
This essay was inspired by my desire to understand why the specter of hurricanes and other natural disasters has consistently overshadowed the progressively corrosive impact of the cruise ship industry on St. Thomas Harbor and its environs. Throughout my childhood on St. Thomas I had experienced the annual bouts of community anxiety in anticipation of a potentially devastating hurricane season. Family and friends still living on the island kept me abreast of the VI territories’ perennial economic fragility, and the latest VI government attempts to restore prosperity. As it has for more than a century, the management and development of St. Thomas Harbor development falls under the purview of the West Indian Company (WICO), and entity created as a private company by Denmark in 1912, and sold to the U.S. Virgin Islands government in 1993.
How, I wondered, had St. Thomas become so dependent on cruise ship tourism in the first place? By what norms had the pursuit of island “prosperity” been defined historically, and how had St. Thomas Harbor been factored into this equation? Did these prevailing norms dictate a utilitarian conception of St. Thomas Harbor—the idea that the natural environment should be manipulated to meet human demands at any cost, even when the burdens and benefits were unequally distributed? Did the utilitarian approach toward St. Thomas Harbor and the high threshold of public tolerance for cruise ship pollution reflect a change in attitudes from the Danish colonial era to the period of American rule? Further were Virgin Islanders’ views about St. Thomas Harbor development projects and cruise ship tourism in any way shaped by social divisions based on racial and ethnic identity, and class?
Historian Rob Nixon’s theory of “slow violence” provided a useful framework for exploring this dynamic by which episodic natural disasters routinely eclipsed concerns about prolonged human-induced damage to St. Thomas’s natural environment. The largely underwater, out-of-sight, out-of-mind consequences of harbor dredging and toxic cruise ship pollution fit his definition of “formless threats whose fatal repercussions are dispersed through space and time.” Complementing this framework, historian Andrew Hurley’s analysis drew my attention to the significance of social relations in shaping group perspectives on the environmental challenges facing St. Thomas. His finding that, “the political process and the dynamics of the marketplace” afford wealth and capital “a decisive advantage” when it comes to making change the impacts the environment is relevant to the dynamics of environmental injustice in St. Thomas. Anthropologist Barbara Rose Johnston’s close study of environmental regulatory regimes designed to mitigate the harmful environmental impact of tourism in the Virgin Islands, confirms this dynamic of unequal power and points to another related key factor: institutional bias in favor of protecting “the tourist economy and U.S. investments in that economy and [meeting] the needs of the U.S. tourist population.” Also critical to understanding attitudes toward nature are the histories and cultures that people bring to bear. Analyses produced by Johnston and other scholars show that people whose ancestors were enslaved on rural island plantations and who come from communities which traditionally relied upon small scale agriculture as a source of livelihood, relate to “the environment” differently than people who view nature mainly as a place of leisure.
Historians have tended to focus on St. Thomas Harbor through the lens of political economy. Studies based on Danish and U.S. archival collections provide detailed analyses of how the harbor was valued as a strategic military outpost, global trading entrepôt, tool of empire through the early twentieth century. Aside from Johnston, however, fewer historians have analyzed St. Thomas Harbor from an environmental justice perspective. Among them, marine law historian Dennis Nixon analyzed the unsuccessful campaign waged by Virgin Islands community activists seeking to prevent WICO from transferring seven and a half acres of dredged and filled land in St. Thomas Harbor to a private company for commercial development in 1986. By relying on treaty rights awarded to it by the Danish colonial government in 1913, WICO went ahead with the transfer and settled in court. Nixon summed up the dramatic case as “a powerful example of the continuing struggle to balance public and private rights to the shore.”
In her study of Denmark’s “colonial imprint” on the natural environment of St. Thomas anthropologist Nathalia Brichet frames the question of how to, on the one hand, build and maintain the necessary infrastructure to accommodate “sudden rushes” of thousands of cruise ship tourists on regular basis and, on the other, sustain a livable conditions for island residents, as an insoluble dilemma. She concludes that this is “the unresolvable and tough balancing act that the US Virgin Islanders have inherited and must deal with.”
This essay poses an alternative to Brichet’s insolvable dilemma thesis. I argue that the idea that prosperity for St. Thomas is necessarily tied to cruise ship tourism is the product of a long history of seeing and managing the harbor in a particular way. Far from being an unavoidable economic choice, it is an idea stemming from a deeply-embedded utilitarian view of nature constructed over time by dominant political powers and self-serving financial interests. This utilitarian view was an inherent part of both the Danish colonial enterprise and ultimately the American modernization mission. Over time the idea of the harbor as the island’s sole resource and cruise ship tourism its only economically viable path, was taken for granted. The possibility of envisioning St. Thomas as a place where people thrive by “respecting the well-being of all people and the health of the whole planet,” was not even entertained.
To map this history, I examine how St. Thomas Harbor was imagined, utilized, and represented between 1848, the year that Denmark abolished slavery, and 1931, fourteen years after the United States had purchased the islands and occupied St. Thomas as a U.S. Naval base. The COVID-19 pandemic precluded gaining access to physical archives, so my analysis draws largely upon existing scholarship along with accessible primary sources—photographs and illustrations, newspaper articles, travel journals, and literature produced by Europeans, Americans and Virgin Islanders spanning the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
II. St. Thomas Harbor as a tool of empire and mark of “civilization”
St. Thomas, Danish West Indies shipping route, Royal Library Copenhagen, Denmark
In the mid-nineteenth century, coaling stations epitomized the interface between the natural world and European and American expansionism and unwavering faith in technology. Sheltered natural harbors were in high demand as repositories of heavy fuel needed for steam-powered military and commercial vessels. Retrofitted for bunkering, replenishing supplies, and making ship repairs, these spaces enabled the launch of a new era of global transportation, communications, commerce, and military logistics. At one end of the geopolitical spectrum, the behemoth British empire maintained networks of coaling stations at strategic shoreline locations dotted among its possessions around the world. At the other end, smaller regimes like Denmark balanced their conquering ambitions against the need to fend off more powerful imperial predators (like Britain). Except for two periods in the early 1800s when the British naval fleet seized control of Denmark’s Caribbean possessions, St. Thomas functioned as a coaling and free port where anyone (including privateers and pirates) might warehouse and transship foreign goods such as indigo and enslaved human beings from Africa. By the mid-1800s three European trading companies—the Danish West Indian Company, the British Royal Mail Steam Packet Company (RMSPC), the French Compagnie Générale Atlantique and the German Hamburg-American Steamship Company—maintained coaling station “outposts of civilization” on St. Thomas.
Coaling stations epitomized the technological mastery over nature that was integral to European and North American cultural conceptions of nation building and “civilization.” With a depth of around twenty-eight feet St. Thomas Harbor accommodated large sailing ships with relative ease through the eighteenth century. But the advent of steam and a contract for RMSPC to establish its Caribbean headquarters in St. Thomas, prompted the Danish Crown to authorize modernizing infrastructural “improvements.” In 1843 a group of “far-sighted burghers” financed the construction of the Saint Thomas Marine Repairing Slip, a double slipway that could handle multiple steam vessels for repairs. The venture was so successful that, according to historian Erik Goebel Danish authorities could boast that “[d]uring the gold rush of 1848-1849, the fastest service from Europe and eastern North America to California was via St. Thomas!” But increasing shipping traffic warranted more improvements. The British Admiralty and RMSPC went on record with concerns about natural fluctuations in the harbor water level and the development of underwater coral rock. Hence, between 1865 and 1873 and again between 1910 and 1912, the Danish Parliament authorized blasting and dredging by companies like the Copenhagen firm of Baumgarten and Burmeister and the American Standard Dredging Company of Wilmington, Delaware. Standard was contracted “to excavate a precisely defined part of the harbour basin to a depth of thirty feet below the [adjusted] low-water mark.” In the name of externally-directed “progress” the utilization of technology to alter the natural environment of the Virgin Islands proceeded a pace. Attention to the costs—rapid erosion and disturbance of the “natural equilibrium of the beaches over wide stretches,” turbidity from sediment and waste, damaged reefs, destruction the habitats of fish and other wildlife, and disruption of local livelihoods—came centuries later. 
As marine historian Anyaa Anim-Aidoo has shown, Caribbean coaling stations were also spheres of contact, mobility, and labor exploitation. Exploitation of people and natural resources was integral to the colonial enterprise. However, the utilitarian conversion of natural harbors also created spaces for local European and creolized communities to emerge and afforded members opportunities to elevate their socio-economic status. With the official or tacit approval of the Danish Crown, local St. Thomas elites achieved these ends by harnessing the labor people at the bottom of the local social order: enslaved and formerly enslaved people transported from Africa. As sites of heightened interaction and access to the outside world, coaling stations were especially well suited to this process. In her study of the RMSPC, Anim-Aidoo showed that even as British opponents of child labor “deployed the trope of slavery” to rail against British mining labor practices in 1842, the shipping company “literally circumnavigated emancipation” by purposefully relying upon a combination of bonded as well as “free” labor to maintain its coaling operations at St. Thomas Harbor. In a letter to a Member of Parliament in 1838, RMSPC founder James McQueen went so far as to imply that circumventing Britain’s Slavery Abolition Act of 1833 was for the good of the natives. “[He] wrote that: ’[t]he West Indies everywhere want a little European energy and regularity infused into them, – and this is one efficient, perhaps the simplest and most efficient way to do it.’” Denmark was an accommodating distant landlord until a violent slave rebellion prompted it to abolish slavery in 1848.
The legendary coal carriers of St. Thomas are emblematic of the social order that placed utility above all other values. These African-descendant, mainly female, dock workers were paid pennies to toil up and down the gang-planks between coal storage containers and bunkers, hauling hundred-pound baskets of coal balanced on their heads. The coal carriers women’s own voices are largely missing from the archive. However, numerous references in an array of European and American travelers’ journals, magazines and news articles document their significance in earning St. Thomas a wide reputation as the “commercial emporium of the Antilles.”
For instance, in 1888 Charles Edwin Taylor, a British-born St. Thomas resident, self-styled medical doctor, and member of the Colonial Council of the Danish West Indies wrote effusively that:
[t]he coaling of a steamer is a sight worth seeing. No sooner is it in port when a horn is blown. This is a signal for the coal carriers to assemble, and it is not long before a hun- dred or more of them come trooping into the coal yard. By-and-by they may be seen run- ing to and from the shore and the steamer with the heavy baskets of coal upon their heads. The greater part of them are women, who enliven this severe labor with their songs… .It is wonderful how rapidly they can coal a large steamer. Four to five hours is sufficient. Machinery has been suggested instead, but up to now it has been shown not to be so available.
Consistent with enduring Victorian era ideas about white masculinity and femininity, including a belief in “the centuries-old truism that civilized [white] women were sheltered from the hard labor that savage [black] women had to perform,” these articles typically described the coaling women as though they were an exceptionally hardy component of the exotic island landscape. An article published in a 1898 issue of Harper’s Bazaar Magazine observed that among the “mostly fine specimens of the black race” in St. Thomas “[t]he women in particular are strong and well-developed and… have made themselves an important factor in the commercial development of the island.” In a similar vein, John Codman an American sea captain from Massachusetts whose career lasted through the Civil War remarked that “the labor which the women perform is almost incredible. When we were ready for our coal, and the stages rigged, these women threw into the hold on the first day over three hundred tons.”
Codman’s observations are also noteworthy in that they highlight the way in which the natural landscape and workers of St. Thomas were geared toward the servicing of shipping vessels, at the expense of all other occupations notably including subsistence agriculture:
The Island of St. Thomas, though small in extent,— about fifteen miles long and five miles wide,— contains a great deal of arable and fertile soil, little of which is now cultivated. The inhabitants depend upon the neighboring Island of Porto Rico for nearly all their cattle, poultry, fruit, and vegetables. Before slavery was abolished, not only did St. Thomas supply all these for their own consumption, when the population far exceeded the present, but it produced thousands of hogsheads of sugar, molasses, and rum for ex portation.
Like other observers in the nineteenth century and historians who have since analyzed the Danish West Indies economy, Codman did not attribute St. Thomas’s dependency on imported basic commodities to its inability to sustain livelihoods. Instead he pointed to the wage-earning possibilities that the port afforded black people in the wake of emancipation:
The negroes are said to have been well treated, and not overworked, and were, therefore, in accordance with what was considered their place upon the scale of creation, in the possession of such happiness as their limited faculties would permit them to enjoy. They have now nearly disappeared from the back country…. Labor is at all times remunerative in the town, and it is mainly on this account that the plantations are universally abandoned….
Writers who resided in the Virgin Islands were more inclined to depict the coal carriers as beleaguered human beings, rather than as beasts of burden. Reflecting his interest in medicine and public health Charles Taylor noted that “[a]fter their work is over [the coal carriers] go to their homes, but never to sleep before they have carefully cleansed themselves from the coal dust and other impurities.” Commenting further on their housing and work conditions he wrote:
They dwell chiefly in that part of the town known as the ‘Black of All,’ living alone in one small room, or with a female friend if unmarried. Their pay is one cent per basket of coal weighing from eighty-five to ninety-five pounds. Some carrying as many as two or three hundred baskets during the coaling of a steamer. When not thus employed their pay is from sixty to seventy five cents per day for discharging coal from the steamers or sailing vessels which bring it to St. Thomas. It is a life of hardship and exposure to all sorts of weather. Yet many reach a good old age. Consumption is what carries most of them off.” [Italicized emphasis added.]
Members of the creolized Virgin Islands literary community offered yet another distinctive set of local views on the environmental and working conditions confronting women who labored at the St. Thomas coal wharfs. Literary scholar Ruby Simmonds-Esannason’s “excavation and examination” of the works of three early twentieth century (male) Virgin Islands poets , reveals conflicted feelings among locals about the commercial harbor’s impact on people and the natural environment. All three writers Cyril Creque, J. P. Gimenez, and J. Antonio Jarvis, depict the coaling women as leading lives dominated by unrelenting toil and impoverishment; but they diverge from the European writers referenced earlier, and to a degree from each other, in their assessments of the kind of progress being advanced by the harbor economy and its impact on the nature. Simmonds-Esannason argues that whereas Jarvis (1901-1960), the black educator, historian, newspaper founder, and devotee of the Harlem Renaissance, tended to romanticize the women’s labor in ways that scenically portrayed them as noble occupants of an island straying from old traditions, Creque and Gimenez critiqued the coaling economy for exploiting the women and despoiling the environment.
In his poems and lyrics, Creque the noted musician and composer of the group (whose mother was a black woman and whose father was “a white or near-white” man) bemoaned both the inhumane treatment of the coal carriers and the assault on the environment. During his lifetime (1899-1959) Creque was an outspoken opponent of development projects on St. Thomas. Gimenez (1893 -?) was a prominent businessman and admirer of Franklin D. Roosevelt who wrote verse in the local vernacular. In poems like “Out of Work” written when St. Thomas Harbor was on an economic decline, Gimenez admonished the harbor managers’ failure to heed coal carriers’ warnings about the decrepit condition of the floating dock, which eventually sank. He also lamented the women’s inability to afford imported cornmeal to make fungi, a staple of the local diet.
Tings gettin woss and woss each day,
Ships doan come no mo in de bay,
Now ah kin hardly buy fungee,
Guess Ah goin have to ketch booby.
The views expressed by these lettered men are not necessarily representative of how the coaling women saw their own lived experienced and relationship to the natural world. Judging from the historical record of their legendary labor protests for better wages and working conditions, it is clear that the women knew they were being exploited. It is also reasonable to conclude that their hard labor contribution was a source of pride and solidarity with other dock workers. In her detailed study of the St. Thomas coal workers strikes of 1892 and 1916, historian Ann Nørregaard found that for most of the women the low-paying job of hauling coal supplemented other livelihood occupations, such as housekeeping and childcare for the families of local merchants.  Additionally, historian Kevin Dawson’s analysis shows that “virtually all” enslaved and bonded African descendants in the Caribbean were amphibious, and depended upon the waterways for some measure of leisure as well as survival. “[T]he majority of bondpeople utilized the watery environs adjacent to most slaveholdings to their dietary and material advantage.”
After a hard days work, slaves swam in cool waterways to relax, and on the weekend they participated in swimming competitions. Countless numbers of slaves gained legal, or at least geographic, freedom by swimming, rowing, or sailing outside the boundaries of bondage. Simultaneously, many of the African-influenced entrées that female slaves prepared for their families and Westerners were seafood based.
In her chronicles of the food and folklore of the Virgin Islands, the twentieth century St. Thomas writer Arona Petersen offers her first-hand impression that women who hauled coal carried themselves with dignity, and routinely depended upon the natural environment for self-care. They consumed maubi, a “ale-like drink” locally produced from fermented bark “to keep the lungs clear, and took frequent bush [herb] baths to keep the pores open so they could perspire freely.” Petersen’s impression of the dignity and self-pride displayed by women who hauled coal at St. Thomas Harbor coincides with family accounts passed down to Nadine Marchena Kean, a St. Thomas resident and coal worker descendant whom I interviewed for this research project.
III. St. Thomas Harbor as an emblem of national security and modernization
Whereas Denmark relied on extraction from the Danish West Indies and St. Thomas in particular to maintain its status as a small but significant imperial power, the United States had mixed motivations for acquiring coaling stations. In the aftermath of the Civil War and with intensity during the Gilded Age, public debate over whether coaling stations should be pursued as a national priority was led by influential Americans representing disparate worldviews. Amborose Thompson the “inventor, entrepreneur, and inveterate promoter” lobbied President Lincoln to acquire coaling stations in Panama so that the U.S. would have an advantage in global commerce. As U.S. Ambassador to Haiti Frederick Douglass argued, without success, that by securing a foothold on the shoreline of Haiti, America would fulfill its promise as a beacon of “freedom, knowledge and progress” in the Caribbean region. After the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, U.S. Secretary of State William Henry Seward set his eyes on St. Thomas, the Caribbean locale widely recognized as “‘the place which is on the way to every other place.’” Historian Peter Schulman shows that it was only after the U.S. acquired the Phillipines from Spain in 1898, that mainstream Americans arrived at a consensus that the United States needed coaling stations for strategic purposes. One political push led to another: “The boosting of American commerce became territorial expansion; expansion became a preoccupation with American vulnerability.” After fifty years of on-and-off again negotiations, in 1917, just weeks before President Woodrow Wilson declared war on Germany, the deal to purchase St. Thomas as part of the Danish West Indies package was completed.
Schulman argues that, for the Navy as well as other dominant mainstream American interests, the U.S. purchase of St. Thomas was motivated by a complex of factors involving technological as well as political considerations. He argues that U.S. naval thinkers were in the vanguard among Americans who anticipated the potential of technological systems to manipulate the natural world. In keeping with this inclination, even as Congress authorized the acquisition of St. Thomas Harbor to safeguard against German submarine bombers, the Navy was investigating technologies that would make coal carrying—and coal—obsolete. In a symbiotic process, by acquiring far flung naval bases the U.S. Navy simultaneously honed its capacity for logistics and displayed the nation’s technological prowess in “taming nature”—capacities that were central to early twentieth century America’s perception of itself as an emergent global power with an anti-authoritarian modernizing mission.
The image of the United States Ship (USS) Orion—photographed while offloading coal at St. Thomas Harbor, circa 1918 – 1919—captures the dynamic convergence of America’s expansionist, technological, and modernizing ambitions with socio-economic realities in the Virgin Islands, at the turn of the twentieth century. The image is a dramatic representation of the utilitarian view of St. Thomas Harbor, a view that Americans shared with the Danish but pursued more aggressively and decisively through the 1900s.
From the outset of its occupation beginning in 1917 the U.S. Navy dispensed with any pretense of valuing St. Thomas as anything other than a military command and control center.
Accordingly, the photographer of the Orion positioned the camera so that the collier commands the entire scene. An immediately striking aspect of the image is the massive superstructure on top of the ship’s hull. Alternating between giant looping cables, the long cranes form a series of gargantuan Vs, which jut sharply forward so that the sky and hilly landscape are obscured in the receding background. The Caribbean Sea in which the fuel ship is afloat is all but absent from view, except for a small patch to the right of the ship’s stern, visible in the lower far right corner. Built for long-distance transport of huge shiploads of coal used to refuel battleships of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet, the Orion was hailed as a technological marvel.
Historians who are critical of the Navy’s administration of the VI Territory from 1917 to 1931 allege that it was an era of “poverty and [American style] prejudice,” and that Navy officials were almost as indifferent to the people of the Virgin Islands as they were to the natural landscape. If not indifference the Orion photograph conveys an acute sense of detachment. Completely dwarfed by the ship, in the lower half of the photograph, are clusters of human beings with indecipherable dark faces, who appear to be Lilliputian zombies, wandering around in an industrial maritime tableaux. The light and shadows on the Orion’s cranes and cable mechanisms depict angularity, solidity, and technological precision. The light and shadows on the human bodies, including the women hauling coal in the foreground of the photo lower right-hand corner, depict anonymity, coal dust, and drudgery. In one way or another, the people on the ground are there to accommodate the Orion. The dwarfed bodies with blank faces milling around the coal heaps on the dock while carrying baskets, pose slight, insubstantial images, in stark to the massively commanding vessel. Toward the left side of the photograph, on the ship’s main deck, one solitary sailor stands with his foot leaning on the ship’s edge as he casually surveys activity on the ground below. Perhaps he was pondering the end of quaint scenes such as this as naval maritime forces undertook the shift from coal to oil.
The U.S. Navy aggressively promoted its unequivocal stance that the main selling point of the Virgin Islands, valuable from a purely military strategic perspective, was the harbor in St. Thomas. A Washington Post OpEd reportedly authored by a “United States Naval Officer” made the case: to prevent Germany or any other hostile foreign power from acquiring St. Thomas Harbor and using it to launch an attack on the Panama Canal, thus jeopardizing America’s national security and $384 million investment. Acknowledging the high price tag of $25 million, the anonymous naval officer reassured readers that “with reasonable development” the Danish West Indies would prove to be “a profitable investment.” Giving a nod to the “picturesque” islands’ alleged “discovery” by Christopher Columbus and legendary occupation by eighteenth century pirates, the author gave further assurance that “in addition to unquestioned naval and strategic strength, we have gained historical atmosphere.” But he maintained, in the final analysis the package price for all three islands was worth it because “[i]t is St. Thomas that we really want on account of its harbor, which is the finest in all that part of the world.”
The only downside according to the anonymous naval officer, was that St. Thomas Harbor was relatively small. It would warrant “improvements” such as the construction of drydocks to accommodate the largest battleships and magazines for storing naval ammunition. The lengthy article refers to the people of St.Thomas in a single noteworthy paragraph:
In St. Thomas agriculture has been almost wholly neglected for many years past, for the reason that the natives were able to earn more money by business (or labor) connected with the supplying of passing ships the transhipment of merchandise &c. This for instance, negro men and women have earned $3 or more by carrying baskets of coal at a cent a basket. On this account almost the entire population of the island numbering about 13,000, dwells in the town of Charlotte Amalia. But the war has ruined this business and the people, having nothing else to fall back on, are now experiencing much distress.
IV. St. Thomas Harbor as a development gateway for “efficiency”
In March 26, 1931 president Herbert Hoover reflected on his recent Virgin Islands “goodwill tour” in terms that provoked the ire of local residents and drew local and national headlines. After spending five hours on St. Thomas, the president reboarded the USS Arizona to head back to the U.S. mainland. But first he released a press statement opining that the Virgin Islands were “an effective poorhouse.” Continuing in this vein, Hoover delivered the damning assessment that “[v]iewed from every point except remote naval contingencies, it was unfortunate that we ever acquired these islands.” Unsurprisingly, the statement drew negative reaction from the Virgin Islands press, which assailed the U.S. government for its “stupid laws”—a reference to Prohibition and its dampening impact on island rum exports—and the president himself for displaying a “lack of decency.” Even the former Danish governor weighed in on the side of the local merchants who accused Hoover of damaging local Virgin Islands business interests. Reporting on the statement and ensuing furor, Richard V. Oulahan for The New York Times offered readers the ambiguous reassurance that although “[t]he President’s apparent reactions from the Caribbean trip are that …the Virgin Islands are useless to the United States except as a possible defense safeguard…there is no thought in Mr. Hoover’s mind of giving up our Virgin Islands liability.”
Hoover’s terse assessment of the problems confronting the Virgin Islands and his proposed solution were based on the findings and recommendations contained in the multi-volume, 900-page Report on the Political, Social, and Economic Conditions of the Virgin Islands. Prepared under the direction of Herbert D. Brown, Chief of the United States Bureau of Efficiency, the Report encapsulated the findings of Brown and his staff from two- months of extensive field research and interviews of individuals “high and low,” in each of the three Virgin Islands. Based on his own meticulous reading of the history leading to the 1917 purchase, Brown concluded that U.S. officials had essentially been outmaneuvered by Danish negotiators. Even before the purchase, economic conditions on the islands were so dire that the Danish government had formed a special commission to study them. In its report to the Danish parliament, the commission called for the establishment of better hospitals, improvement of water supplies, and support of small-scale agriculture on all three islands. It also pointedly “lamented ‘the unfortunate change in the quality of the negro population” due to the exodus of islanders seeking escape from low-waged labor on sugar plantations and more remunerative work on the Panama Canal. But pleading poverty, the Danish government chose not to make the necessary investment to implement the Commission’s recommendations.
Brown’s Report concluded that the people of the Virgin Islands had been the victims of “a series of calamities”: 1) the World War I conflict that spurred the Hamburg-American Steamship Company to close its St. Thomas Harbor headquarters and take its business to Curacao; 2) the “advance of science” wherein radio superceded cable and oil superceded coal, thus eliminating two other profitable lines of business in St. Thomas Harbor; 3) the extension of the U.S. Prohibition act which “laid a blighting hand on the islands’ three main industries—shipping in St.Thomas Harbor, sugar grown in St. Croix, and bay rum produced on St. John; 4) the drought between 1921 and 1923, the most severe water shortage experienced by the islands in fifty years; 5) a severe hurricane in 1928 that incurred losses estimated to exceed $1 million U.S. dollars; and 6) a local shortage of “suitable labor” due to the emigration of “natives who were once content to work in the cane fields” and sought better opportunities in Panama and the U.S. mainland. Hence, Brown and his team determined that, the people of the Virgin Islands were “worse in some respects than they were before the Occupation”—in a phrase “Overeducated and underfed.”
Along with representing a level of attention from the federal executive and legislative branches that was unprecedented relative to the previous fourteen years of Navy rule, the Bureau of Efficiency Report was a turning point for the governance and economy of the Virgin Islands, and St. Thomas in particular. It marked the end of Navy Rule, and a very early step on the long road toward U.S. citizenship for Virgin Islands residents. The nine hundred-page Report led to the closing of the U.S. naval base at St. Thomas Harbor and the launching of a “program of reconstruction,” a federal government-directed process that came to be known as the Bureau of Efficiency’s “program of rehabilitation.” In addition to their own surveys and reconnaissance, Brown and his team took note of the grievances registered by delegations of Virgin Islanders who had lobbied Congress over the preceding fourteen years of naval rule. On the one hand, the local bay rum producers men of “mostly of British or Danish extraction,” ascribed the economic depression to “the lack of a good hotel” and loss of the dry dock in St. Thomas Harbor, Prohibition, and lack of “suitable labor.” On the other hand, the “colored men”—men who owned little property and were descended from enslaved Africans or brought to St. Thomas more recently from Barbados and the British West Indies—lodged complaints of a “different character from those presented by the landowning class.” These black men were concerned with gaining U.S. citizenship and the franchise and more representation on the still existing Colonial Councils. They saw greater political power as the path to greater economic security for African descendant Virgin Islanders.
One of the most striking features of the Brown Report is its insistence that St. Thomas needed to diversify its economy beyond the harbor. Indeed, on this issue Brown’s recommendations were consistent with the vision advocated by members of the Virgin Islands’ merchant class. In response, the U.S. Navy had conceded to the establishment of the Virgin Islands Department of Agriculture, Commerce and Labor in 1924. Brown critiqued the department’s broad jurisdiction as impracticable. But he found it noteworthy that was authorized with a joint resolution of the Colonial Councils calling for an end to the coal station-centered economy:
The Island of St. Thomas was in past years largely agricultural but has almost ceased to be so, the inhabitants having come to depend almost solely upon the beautiful harbor for their livelihood. Depending entirely upon the harbor is too uncertain, and ways and means of getting the habitants at least partially to a dependence on the soil should be seriously considered. [Bureau 342].
Brown and his team concurred with the Councils’ joint assessment of the need for diversification and recommended a Congressional appropriation to underwrite: the remodeling of the Grand Hotel on St. Thomas “where refined people will spend their time”; warehousing infrastructure to support St. John’s bay rum industry and ensure against product diversion for illegal purposes; an industrial and agricultural training school to be set up in St. Croix, along with a reorganized agricultural extension service; a program to restore the forests destroyed by plantations; and a homesteading plan for small cultivators. “Top priority was assigned to the homestead plan.”
Before and after 1917, Danish and U.S. government officials determined that overreliance on St Thomas Harbor was unwise, and that economic diversification across the VI territories was imperative. The history examined here shows that when United States incorporated tourism as part of an official economic development plan for St. Thomas it was a very small part of a more comprehensive development plan for the Virgin Islands which prioritized homesteading. The forces that led to the dismantling of the Bureau of Efficiency in 1933, the construction of a major thoroughfare along St. Thomas Harbor in the mid-1950s, and aggressive marketing of St. Thomas as a cruise ship destination after the Cuban Revolution (under both Eisenhower and JFK), are beyond the scope of this essay. But it is telling that in 1931, at a political and economic turning point for the Virgin Islands, the federal government designated agriculture, not tourism, as the best path toward Virgin Islands efficiency and progress. And yet after 1931, the federal government determinedly steered St. Thomas toward a different course.
An artist’s rendering from 2014 shows the proposed Long Bay Landing cruise pier in St. Thomas Harbor.
Source: Virgin Islands Daily News, December 6, 2020
In the midst of a global pandemic that revealed previously unfathomed dangers for cruise ship passengers and their harbor destinations, on December 6, 2020, the Virgin Islands Daily News announced the revival of proposals to further increase St. Thomas Harbor’s berthing capacity. The headline read: “WICO pushes for Long Bay Landing, dredging to accommodate cruise lines.” Initially conceived in the early 2000s the Long Bay Landing Project was as a plan to construct a third pier that would accommodate “mega-class” ships, the cruise industry’s latest innovation. The project was temporarily shelved after the Save the Long Bay Coalition, a movement of local civic groups and community activists formed in the 1980s to protest an earlier WICO dredge-and-fill project, voiced strong opposition. In reaction to WICO’s Long Bay proposal, the Coalition rejected the idea for a third pier and called for the creation of more public space, such as a recreational and cultural park, instead.
Just months before Irma and Maria wreaked havoc, the multi-million dollar Long Bay Landing Project resurfaced in local op-ed headlines telegraphing a spectrum of public opinion: In May the St. Thomas Source, published an opinion editorial by Filippo Casinelli with the headline: “Dredging Charlotte Amalie Harbor Is Crucial to Long Term Prosperity.” One month later the Virgin Islands Daily News published a a direct response penned by Dorothy Ann Maguire Isaacs with the headline: “Ruining St. Thomas harbor beauty with a third dock is shortsighted.” A close reading of these OpEds yields insight into the perspectives of some of the most vocal participants in the public debate. Casinelli’s byline identified him as running “A.H. Riise Mall on St. Thomas, which has been in his family since 1928.” He is a grandson of the late Isidor Paiewonsky, the renowned Virgin Islands historian, humanitarian, and businessman, and also a grand nephew of Ralph Paiewonsky, the ninth civilian governor of the Virgin Islands through most of the 1960s. A gubernatorially-appointed member of the Ports of the Virgin Islands Charlotte Amalie Task force, Casinelli, characterized the island’s marine and wildlife as “drivers of our economy.” He urged the necessity to build yet another cruise ship dock in order to recapture St. Thomas Harbor’s “position as the premier cruise destination in the region.”
In her rejoinder, Dorothy Ann Maguire Isaacs pointedly established herself as having the “right to speak out” based on lineage—the fact that her family “has been on St. Thomas for almost 250 years.” This was an allusion to her family’s role in operating The Hotel 1829, an inn established on St. Thomas in 1906. While expressing concern that dredging to erect an additional dock would lead to increased traffic congestion and overwhelm the port facilities, Isaacs gave assurances that she understood the bottom line: “I am not unmindful of the many benefits we receive from the cruise ships,” she wrote, “I just believe that we can accommodate the mega ships while still preserving our harbor’s natural beauty.” She left the question of how to achieve this balancing act of pursuing “prosperity” while preserving nature unanswered.
Reminiscent of the chain of St. Thomas Harbor “improvement” proposals vetted at various points over more than a century, neither author made a case for how the Long Bay Landing Project would benefit the majority of St. Thomians who are not members of the property-owning class. Casinelli made an ominous prediction that failing to make a proposed $12 million dollar investment in dredging and harbor expansion will result in “a devastating loss of millions to our economy,” and offered vague assurances that such an investment “ultimately will protect jobs and government taxes.” Entirely missing from the local news were the voices of Virgin Islanders among the estimated one-third of the population living below the poverty line, or like the young couple consigned to long-term housing insecurity and joblessness after Irma and Maria, in a tourist economy characterized by low wage jobs and high living costs even in the best of times.
From all appearances, the pattern of privileging corporate financial and commercial dredging, construction and shipping interests, intensifying St. Thomas’s mono-economy, sacrificing the natural environment, and the precarity of St. Thomians least likely to benefit, would resume. In an economic downturn exacerbated by hurricane destruction and then COVID-19, Virgin Islanders were once again being confronted with the question of what to do about St. Thomas Harbor. However, this time there were no “farsighted burghers” willing and able to underwrite harbor “improvements,” and no emergent global super-power with deep pockets, to come to the rescue. WICO officials told the Daily News that “What we definitely need to do is get the channel dredged — that’s first and foremost….One of the necessities that we need as a territory is to have increased berthing.” In 1931 when the Virgin Islands were struggling to recover from a similar confluence of calamities—an economic downturn exacerbated by a destructive hurricane—the federal government, elite European and creolized business interests and property-less racialized, anddisenfranchised Virgin Islanders agreed that over reliance on St. Thomas Harbor was a foolhardy and dangerous. Given the persistent default toward that economic choice despite its harmful environmental consequences, it is worth examining whether cruise ship tourism has become a “commonplace means through which colonialism is abroad in our own present,” an extension of dominance over the St. Thomas landscape at the expense of prosperity defined as well-being.
 Richard Pérez-Peña, “After Irma and Maria: How 3 Spots on the U.S. Virgin Islands Are Faring,” New York Times, Nov. 10, 2020.
Jeremy W. Peters, “‘Are you FEMA?’ Reporter Returns to Islands to Find Despair.” New York Times, Oct. 4, 2017.
Tiphanie Yanique, Op-Ed Contributor, “Americans Battered in a Paradise,” New York Times, Sept. 12, 2017. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/12/opinion/irma-virgin-islands-damage.html;
Jeremy W. Peters, “In the Virgin Islands, Hurricane Maria Drowned What Irma Didn’t Destroy,” New York Times, Set. 27, 2017.
 Nathalia Brichet, “Cruise Ships Deliver Chemical Cocktails to Caribbean Marine Life” https://feralatlas.supdigital.org/poster/cruise-ships-deliver-chemical-cocktails-to-caribbean-marine-life; National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, “Coral Reef Condition: A Status Report for the U.S. Virgin Islands,” NOAA 2020 Coral Reef Conservation Program https://www.coris.noaa.gov/monitoring/status_report/docs/USVI_508_compliant.pdf; Congressional Research Service report etc.
 Rob Nixon, “Slow Violence, Gender and the Environmentalism of the Poor” Journal of Commonwealth and Postcolonial Studies, Vols. 13.2 14.1 (2006-2007): 14.
 Barbara Rose Johnston, “Environmental alienation and resource management: Virgin Island Experiences,” in Johnston, Barbara Rose Who Pays the Price?: the Sociocultural context of Environmental Crisis (Washington D.C: Island Press, 1994) 200-201.
 Johnston; Barbara Deutsch Lynch, “The Garden and the Sea: U.S. Latino Environmental Discourses and Mainstream Environmentalism,” Social Problems, Feb. 1993, Vol. 40, No 1 Special Issue on Environmental Justice (Feb., 1993): 109.
 See, e.g., Anyaa Anim-Addo, “‘AWretched and Slave-like Mode of Labor’: Slavery, Emancipation, and the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company’s Coaling Stations.” Historical Geography 39: 65-84 (2011);
Erik Gøbel, “Management of the Port of Saint Thomas, Danish West Indies, During the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries” Northern Mariner: Journal of the Canadian Nautical Research Society. Vol. 7, No. 4, October 1997, 45 -63. (1997); Erik Gøbel, “Shipping through the Port of St. Thomas, Danish West Indies, 1816-19171,” International Journal of Maritime History. 6:2 (1994): 155–73. (1993).
(1993); Aimery Caron, “The Urgency for the Acquisition of of the Danish West Indies,” Presented to the Caribbean Genealogy Library on the occasion of the 97th anniversary of Transfer Day, March 31, 2014, https://cgl.vi/pages/Caron/TransferDWI.pdf.
 Dennis W. Nixon, “The Filling of Long Bay: The Legacy of a Colonial Past” Ocean & Shoreline Management 15 (1990): 1-23.
 Nathalia Brichet, “A Post-Colonial Dilemma Tale from the Harbour of St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands,” International Journal on the History of European Expansion and Global Interaction (2019) 43 (2), 348-365.
 David Ekbladh, The Great American Mission: Modernization & the Construction of an American World Order (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2010) 17, 41.
”Introducing the City of Amsterdam Donut https://www.kateraworth.com/2020/04/08/amsterdam-city-doughnut/; Daniel Boffey, “Amsterdam to embrace ‘doughnut’ model to mend post-coronavirus economy” The Guardian, April 8, 2020.
 Peter A. Schulman, Coal and Empire: The Birth of Energy Security in Industrial America (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2015)
 Ibid, 160, 181.
G.L. Gower, “A History of Dredging.” Institution of Civil Engineers (Great Britain). Dredging: Proceedings of the Symposium Organized by the Institution of Civil Engineers in London, 18th October 1967. London: Institution of Civil Engineers, 1968.
 Erik Gøbel, “Management of the Port of Saint Thomas, Danish West Indies, during the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries.” Northern Mariner: Journal of the Canadian Nautical Research Society. Vol. 7, No. 4, October, 45-63 (1997): 54.
 Erik Gøbel, “Shipping through the Port of St. Thomas, Danish West Indies, 1816-19171,” International Journal of Maritime History. 6:2 (1994): 155–73 (1993): 161.
 Erik Gøbel, “Management of the Port,” 54.
 Island Resources Foundation, 1977 Virgin Islands Coastal Zone Management Report Prepared for: Virgin Islands Planning Office of the Governor, The Honorable Cyril King, Governor St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/CZIC-hv395-v6-v57-1976/html/CZIC-hv395-v6-v57-1976.htm
 Anim-Addo, “‘A Wretched and Slave-like Mode of Labor’,” 68.
 Ibid., 65.
 Anyaa Anim-Addo, “Capital, people and texts’: The Royal Mail Steam Packet Company in the post-emancipation Caribbean.” The Society for Caribbean Studies Annual Conference Papers. Vol. 10. Ed. Sandra Courtman (2009): 4.
 Charles Edwin Taylor, Leaflets from the Danish West Indies (London: Author 1888) 55.
 Ibid., 96.
 Gail Bederman, Manliness & civilization a cultural history of gender and race in the United States, 1880 – 1917 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995) 159.
 “The Coal-Women of St. Thomas.” Harper’s Bazaar (1867-1912); Aug 20, 1898; 31, 34; ProQuest pg. 711
 Codman, John. Ten Months in Brazil: With Notes on the Paraguayan War. Edinburgh: R. Grant and Son, 1870; and “Codman, John (‘Captain Ringbolt’)” in“Searchable Sea Literature,” The Maritime Studies Program of Williams College & Mystic Seaport,
 Ibid., 18.
 Ibid., 15.
 Ibid., 15-16.
Due perhaps to a Freudian slip, Taylor got the name of the St. Thomas neighborhood wrong: It’s called “Back of All” not “Black of All!”
 Ruby Simmonds, “The words beneath the sand: an examination of the works of three Virgin Islands poets, Cyril Creque, J. P. Gimenez, and J. Antonio Jarvis,” Ph.D. Diss, Clark Atlanta University, 1995.
 Ibid.,106. “Booby” refers to a local seabird.
 Underscoring that the perspectives of workers and their literary sympathizers should not be conflated, historian Ivan Greenberg found that, as compared to poets of the CIO, the literatures of middle-class “proletarian” writers in the 1930s “display markedly different sensibilities and sociopolitical content…. Notably, the proletarians frequently depicted workers as downtrodden and alienated, crushed by capitalism… By contrast, [CIO] poets privileged dignity, perseverance, and successful struggles against adversity.” Ivan Greenberg, “Proletarian Literature from the Bottom Up: Workers and Poetry during the Rise of the CIO,” American Quarterly, Volume 67, Number 2 (June 2015): 413-441.
 Nørregaard shared this finding in an oral presentation hosted virtually by the St. Thomas-based Caribbean Genealogy Library on September 27, 2020. Speaking from Denmark via Zoom she discussed the research for her book Dollar fo‘ Dollar, The Coal Women of St. Thomas 1870-1917, which was published that year in Danish and as of the end of 2020 had not been translated to English.
 Kevin Dawson, “Enslaved Watermen in the Atlantic World, 1444 –1888.” Ph.D. diss., University of South Carolina (2005), iv.
 Arona Peterson, “Coal Carriers,” in “1990 Festival of American Folklife” (Washington D.C.: The Smithsonian Institution, 1990) 33. At the time of this interview, Nadine T. Marchena Kean, was Managing Director of the United States Virgin Islands Enterprise Zone Commission. Kean, who is also a genealogist, has traced her ancestry to one St. Thomas coaling station worker and found additional evidence of a possible familial connection to one among the women described in the paper.
 Quoted in Peter A. Schulman, Coal and Empire: The Birth of Energy Security in Industrial America. (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2015), 128.
Ibid., Chapter 5 “The Debate Over Coaling Stations,” 125-163; and
Schulman, Peter A.Schulman, “Empire of Energy: Environment, Geopolitics, and American Technology before the Age of Oil.” Ph.D. diss., Massachusetts Institute of Technology (2007), 185-186.
 For instance, in the unpublished manuscript of his study of the commercially and culturally vibrant Kings Wharf section of St. Thomas Harbor, historian George Tyson provides this evocative description of the U.S. Navy’s detachment. The 1925 “official U. S. geographic dictionary of the U. S. Virgin Islands defines [King’s Wharf] rather vaguely as the ‘water front just west of Fort Christian’ and characterizes its importance as the being ‘the site of flashing red Light and of Navy radio towers.’ (McGuire 1925:105), a narrow-mind perception that speaks volumes about America’s understanding of the place and people that it had just acquired from Denmark.
[St. Thomians] of the time knew better. They knew that King’s Wharf was far more than a beacon to American warships and shipping; more than the site of tall, radio towers connecting the newly established naval administration with America’s colonial directorate. They knew that it was a very special place, imbued with historical and cultural associations that they cherished and talked about, but, characteristically, did not write about.”
George F. Tyson, “Historical Overview from the 1670s to the Present,” prepared for Panamerican Consultants Inc., November 2014.
 United States Naval Collier Orion: Built in Record Time, International Marine Engineering (1906-1920); Oct 1, 1912; 1; ProQuest pg. 418
 Marilyn F. Krigger, Race Relations in the U.S. Virgin Islands: St. Thomas – A Centennial Retrospective. (Durham: Carolina Academic Press, 2017), 71-82; and
William W. Boyer, America’s Virgin Islands: A History of Human Rights and Wrongs (Durham: Carolina Academic Press, 2010), 111-120.
 “Why We Need These Picturesque Little Tropical Islands: Fortified as Our Government Plans, They Will Form the Best Defense of the Panama Canal Against an Attack From Europeand Put Us on an Equal Footing With the Powers Established in the West Indies,” By a United States Naval Officer.
The Washington Post (1877-1922); Feb 25, 1917; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The Washington Post pg. SM5
 Boyer, America’s Virgin Islands, 153.
 Richard V. Oulahan, “Porto Rico Gaining, Virgin Isles A Loss, Hoover Concludes: President In Statement Sums Up His Impressions From Visit To Possessions. Favors Continuing Aids But While Porto Ricans Advance, We Bought ‘Poorhouse’ In Virgin Islands, He Says. Only Of Use For Defense Executive And Party Are Dinner Guests Of Arizona’s Officers As Battleship Speeds Homeward. Porto Rico Gaining, Hoover Concludes Pictures Of President Hoover’s Visit To Porto Rico.” New York Times (1923-Current File), Mar 27, 1931. https://login.proxy.libraries.rutgers.edu/login?url= ?url=https://www-proquest-com.proxy.libraries.rutgers.edu/historical-newspapers/porto-rico-gaining-virgin-isles-loss-hoover/docview/99378048/se-2?accountid=13626; “Virgin Islanders Resent ‘Poorhouse’Remark; Bitterly Assail Hoover, Talk of Migrating,” Special Cable to the New York Times, April 8, 1931; For the complete text of Hoover’s statement see Herbert Hoover, Statement on Porto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/211890:
 Report on Economic and Social Conditions in the Virgin Islands, prepared under the direction of Herbert D. Brown, Chief of the Bureau of Efficiency (March 10, 1930), 17–18.
 Ibid., 35-38.
 Ibid., 342.
 Ibid., 46, 55-56.
 Boyer, America’s Virgin Islands, 150.
 A. J. Rao, “WICO pushes for Long Bay Landing, dredging to accommodate cruise lines,” Virgin Islands Daily News, Dec 6, 2020.
“Coalition Urges More Public Space At Long Bay,” St. Croix Source, March 10, 2003.
 Filippo Cassenelli, “Dredging Charlotte Amalie Harbor Is Crucial to Long Term Prosperity”
St. Thomas Source, May 9, 2017 https://stthomassource.com/content/2017/05/09/dredging-charlotte-amalie-harbor-is-crucial-to-long-term-prosperity/;
Dorothy Ann Maguire Isaac, “Ruining St. Thomas harbor beauty with a third dock is shortsighted” Virgin Islands Daily News, Apr 3, 2017 http://www.virginislandsdailynews.com/opinion/letters_to_editor/ruining-st-thomas-harbor-beauty-with-a-third-dock-is-shortsighted/article_6541045d-f20d-50ea-a732-d60e549b79e8.html
 Central Intelligence Agency, CIA World Factbook,
 A. J. Rao, “WICO pushes for Long Bay Landing.”
 Velvet Nelson, PhD Dissertation, Landscape and Postcolonialism in British West Indies Travel Narratives, 1815-1914 (2006), 215-217.
Codman, John. Ten Months in Brazil: With Notes on the Paraguayan War. Edinburgh: R. Grant and Son, 1870.
Department of Commerce Bureau of the Census, Sam. L. Rogers, Director, Census of the Virgin Island of the United States, November 1, 1917. Prepared under the Supervision of Eugene F. Hartley
Gower, G.L. “A History of Dredging.” Institution of Civil Engineers (Great Britain). Dredging: Proceedings of the Symposium Organized by the Institution of Civil Engineers in London, 18th October 1967. London: Institution of Civil Engineers, 1968.
Hoover, Herbert. “Statement on Porto Rico and the Virgin Islands.” Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/211890:
Oulahan, Richard V. “Porto Rico Gaining, Virgin Isles A Loss, Hoover Concludes: President In Statement Sums Up His Impressions From Visit To Possessions. Favors Continuing Aids But While Porto Ricans Advance, We Bought ‘Poorhouse’ In Virgin Islands, He Says.” New York Times, Mar 27, 1931.
Oulahan, Richard V. “Virgin Islanders Resent ‘Poorhouse’ Remark; Bitterly Assail Hoover, Talk of Migrating,” Special Cable to the New York Times, April 8, 1931;
Taylor, Charles Edwin. Leaflets from the Danish West Indies. London: Author, 1888.
“The Coal-Women of St. Thomas.” Harper’s Bazaar (1867-1912); Aug 20, 1898; 31, 34; ProQuest pg. 711
Bureau of Efficiency, “Report on Economic and Social Conditions in the Virgin Islands,” prepared under the direction of Herbert D. Brown, Chief of the Bureau of Efficiency, March 10, 1930.
“United States Naval Collier Orion: Built in Record Time.” International Marine Engineering (1906 -1920); Oct 1, 1912; 1; ProQuest pg. 418
“Why We Need These Picturesque Little Tropical Islands: Fortified as Our Government Plans, They Will Form the Best Defense of the Panama Canal Against an Attack From Europeand Put Us on an Equal Footing With the Powers Established in the West Indies.” By a United States Naval Officer. The Washington Post (1877-1922); Feb 25, 1917; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The Washington Post pg. SM5.
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Schulman, Peter A. Coal and Empire: The Birth of Energy Security in Industrial America. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2015.
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Accessed December 24, 2020.
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