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David Hamilton Jackson
(1884-1946)

David H. Jackson was born in Estate East Hill, St.Croix on September, 28 1884  He was an educator and later became a bookkeeper at a business owned by James C. Canegata, but he was only there for a few months before he began his work for the Danish owned territory of the Virgin Islands.

Since 1779 the Danes had pressed strict censorship on all publications in the territory  That same year an ordinance was authorized providing that only government subsidized newspapers could be published under strict government censorship  Jackson traveled to Denmark & successfully petitioned the King of Denmark for removal of this law  When Jackson returned home he organized the first free newspaper,¬  the Herald  Liberty day is now holiday celebration of the this event.

The Herald Newspaper was just the beginning of Jackson's efforts for his people  Ralph Bough helped Jackson organize the first labor union in the Danish West Indies during 1913  With this union the people were able to abandon physical uprisings and begin discussing the problems with organized protests.

The labor movement later included St. Thomas, where the majority of the laborers were coal workers at the West India company wharf   They earned $1 or more a day  Only a small amount of St. Thomians were farmers, earning less  On Sept. 1, 1892 the women (the majority of the coal workers were women) coal workers got frantic and demanded a wage increase and a payment in gold or its equivalent  Gathering at Market Square and wielding sticks and other weapons to make their point  Even though surrounded by 40 soldiers armed and prepared to take shots at the packed group, it was hard to keep the people in control  Captain Pauludan of the military force was ready to give orders to shoot but Judge Fischer restrained him  Luckily it rained and the crowd dispersed.

The next St. Thomas labor protest of the workers was in 1916  By this time they had¬  organized the St. Thomas labor union with the help of George A. Moorehead, with a membership of about 2,700  The coal carriers and other laborers were on strike in Oct. 1916 causing 3 ships go elsewhere for coal  The West India Company¬  then entered into an agreement with the St. Thomas labor union, and began paying higher wages for the newly unionized workers.

After the labor movement the Danish government sent down a commission to study what was happening in the Danish Virgin Islands  They came to the conclusion that Denmark was too far away and was not knowledgeable enough of the problems in the Danish West Indies, they'ld save money if they transferred the Virgin Islands to the United States rather than invest lots of money to spend improving the poor conditions  With entry into the American market, the commission believed that the islands economy would be improved  Fed up with the promises of reform that the Danish government had given in the past, Jackson led the way in gaining support for the transfer of the Virgin Islands  And even after the transfer Jackson had to fight for the citizenship of the residents of the new U.S. territory.

David Hamilton Jackson died in 1946  After serving his people as an educator, editor, labor leader, lawyer, judge, and legislator  A housing project in Christiansted has been named in his honor  And his birthday is a U.S. Virgin Island Holiday.

Excerpt from Essay by David Hamilton Anderson

 

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