trunk bay saint john virgin islands

St. John, USVI

The history of St. John's Island

The Virgin Islands were first discovered by Europeans when Christopher Columbus made his second voyage to the new world in 1493.  He first sighted St. Croix, which he named Santa Cruz and claimed for Spain.  Sailing further North, he found endless islands and christened them Las Islas Virgenes - The Virgin Islands.

St. John and the other Virgin Islands had been visited and inhabited by peoples indigenous to the America's long before Columbus' arrival. On St. John, one can view petroplyphs that that may be the work of these earlier visitors.

Annaberg Sugar Mill windmill

Early European settlers developed sugar plantations and imported African Slaves to work them.  One of the most remembered chapters in the history of St. John is the Slave Revolt of 1733.  Slaves on the island rose up and took control of the island.  The Danish government of the islands was initially unable to end the revolt on its own.  After seven months, the Danes enlisted the aid of French Marines and the revolt was finally put down, it is estimated that over 300 of the slaves jumped to their death at Ram's Head on the Eastern end of the island, rather than face capture and certain torture at the hands of soldiers.  The Danish abolished slavery in 1848.

In 1917, the Virgin Islands were purchased by the United States to prevent the Germans from creating sub bases in the area. U.S. citizenship was given to the inhabitants in 1927 and in 1968, the Virgin Islands Legislature was created and elections were held for Legislators, Governor and other island wide posts.

By the 1930's, news of the beautiful American island had spread to the United States and the tourism boom on St. John was established. In 1956, Laurence Rockefeller donated land to the Federal Government to establish a National Park. The 5000 acres became the nation's twenty-ninth National Park.

Cinnamon Bay History     Learn more about St. John's history.

© 2013 The Beach, US Virgin Islands