Passenger: But this is VERY interesting!
Lecturer: Good I’m glad you think so! There were two
other physicians who were credited with saving
the lives of sailors by giving them oranges or
lemon. It took 41 years before they were able to
convince the British Navy to give the Sailors
oranges to prevent scurvy. Finally, the British
used lime juice instead, which is why the sailors
became known as “limeys.”
Passengers: (Laughing.) Oh, that’s why... I often
wondered about the name. 41 years?
Lecturer: Now, ladies and gentlemen. Let’s get back
to discussing St. Thomas. It is believed that
Arawak, also known as Taino and Ciboney tribes
settled in the Caribbean. And who knows what
important event happened in 1492?
Passengers: (Together.) Columbus discovered America!
Lecturer: In the same year, Columbus “discovered”
the Caribbean. Thinking He had landed on the
Asian coast, he named the islands “Las Indias”.
And what did he name the people?
Lecturer: Right! During his second voyage, Columbus
named the islands, “Las once Mil Virgins” or “The
11,000 Virgins” in honor of St. Ursula and her
11,000 martyred Virgins.
Passenger: So that’s why we call all these islands,
“The Virgin Islands?”
Lecturer: That’s right. Now to continue:
In 1665 Danish King Frederik III claimed St.
Thomas, but two years later, the Danes abandon
the island discouraged by hurricanes and disease.
By 1681, the island was flourishing again.
Passenger: What would make them go back again?
Lecturer: It was probably an order by the king. He
owned the land and wanted people living there. He
couldn’t collect taxes if no Danes were living on
Passenger: The town of Charlotte Amalie was founded
by the Danes from the profits of the sugar trade.
At one time there were over 170 sugar
plantations. But, the focus changed to one of
trade. In 1722 it became a free port, meaning all
goods were exempt from duties and regulations.
Passenger: Where did the name, Charlotte Amalie come
Lecturer: It was re-named after Charlotte Amelia to
honor the bride of King Christian V of Denmark.
It is the capital and the largest of the U.S.
Virgin Islands. St. Thomas (along with most of
the Caribbean islands) was ruled by French, Dutch
and English Countries. Meanwhile, the United
States also had its’ eye on The Virgin Islands.
Does anyone have an idea why it would be of
interest to the U.S.
Passenger: military reasons?
Lecturer: Exactly! The U.S. government had already
considered the strategic Caribbean military base.
But it took 50 more years to purchase the Virgin
Passenger: Why such a long time? Especially if the
government wanted a military base.
Lecturer: Did anyone see the movie, “Seward’s
Folly?” (Several people say they had seen it).
For those of you who did not see the movie, it
was about Secretary of State William Henry
Seward’s purchase of Alaska. It was not a popular
move in congress.
Passenger: I know Alaska cost around $7 million; how
much did the islands cost?
Lecturer: The proposed contract for $7.5 million was
approved in Denmark, but the U.S. Senate refused
to authorize it. A few years later, in 1900,
another offer was made for $5 million. This time,
Denmark refused the offer.
Passenger: It doesn’t make good business sense to
Lecturer: You’re right! When WWI began in 1914,
Congress worried that Denmark might lose control
of the islands. So as the expression goes, they
went “back to the drawing board”. The Danes
raised the price to $25 million in gold.
Passengers: Incredible! Wow!
Lecturer: The sale finally took place in 1917. The
final price represents one of America’s most
expensive land purchase ever. But now the
government realizes that neither Alaska nor the
Virgin Islands was “folly”. Alaska became a huge
resource for oil, hunting, fishing, and tourism.
The Virgin Islands provide employment and fun for
Passenger: The Virgin Islands were certainly a great
Lecturer: Yes, they are often referred to as
“American Paradise.” Since my time is almost
over, I’m going to give you a handout of some
more dates about the islands. I know you all want
to change into formal clothes for tonight’s
dinner. You will be meeting the captain then.
Passengers: (They clap hands and say, “Thank you, that
was very informative”).
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