Beginning in 1867, the United States made several attempts to acquire the Danish West Indies. Political difficulties prevented the first attempt in 1867, and the second attempt in 1902. The third attempt began in 1915. Many Danes resisted US acquisition of the islands. Some pushed for a treaty of sale that would provide US citizenship for the islanders, maintain free trade, allow for a local plebiscite, and maintain and guarantee the legal rights that Danish citizens in the islands already enjoyed. Not all these provisions were accepted, however a treaty for acquisition of the islands did pass in Denmark and in the United States. The United States paid Denmark $25,000,000 in gold coin for the islands, and the Danish West Indies were formally transferred from Denmark to the United States on March 31, 1917. Thereafter they were known as the United States Virgin Islands.
Who organized the meeting that is promoted in the poster? James C. Roberts.
The St. Thomas/St. John district and the St. Croix district elected three members to present the will of the people of the Danish West Indies related to the potential sale to the United States, to the Danish Parliamentary Commission of 1916. In St. Thomas, lawyer J.P. Jorgensen, Dr. Viggio Christensen and teacher James C. Roberts were to represent the different classes of inhabitants. In St. Croix, J. Stakemann, G.B. Fleming and Frank Coulter were selected. The delegates for both districts included two Danes and one local inhabitant. Meetings such as the one advertised in the poster were held to discuss the sale, and the community’s views and concerns. No official vote was offered to the residents of the Danish West Indies regarding the sale, but at community meetings there appeared to be an overwhelming support for the sale of the islands to the United States of America.