Croix is one of the United States Virgin Islands, a United States
territory, in the Caribbean. It is the largest of the U.S. Virgin
Islands being 28 by 7 miles (45 by 11 km).
It was inhabited by Arawaks and Caribs prior to European colonization of the
Americas. Christopher Columbus visited there on November 14, 1493 giving it the
name Santa Cruz. His initial visit led to a battle in which one Spaniard and one
Carib were killed. This heralded warfare between the Spaniards and Caribs which
lasted for over one hundred years until the Spanish abandoned their colony. In
the seventeenth century the island was colonised by Dutch and English settlers,
who were soon in conflict with one another. Eventually the Dutch abandoned their
settlement, and then the English settlement was destroyed by the Spanish who retook
the island in 1650. However they on their turn were immediately ousted by the
island was owned by the Knights of St John after being bequeathed
by De Poincy, Governor of the French colony of St Kitts in
1660. However they sold it to the French West India Company
in 1665. Under Governor Dubois the colony became profitable
with over 90 plantations growing such crops as tobacco, cotton,
sugar cane, and indigo. After Dubois' death the colony declined
and the island was abandoned by Europeans until 1733 when
it was sold to the Danish West India and Guinea Company. This
company placed no national restrictions on colonists and soon
attracted Spanish Sephardic Jews, Huguenots, and English settlers,
the last of which came to dominate the Island. Sugar became
the major crop. However the development of sugar beet in Europe
undermined the economy of the colony.
Slavery was abolished in 1848, but in 1862, St. Croix received a shipload of
East Indians that were indentured on the island for five years.
There was a revolt by former slaves in 1878 when much of Frederiksted,
the major town was burnt.
In 1917, the Virgin Islands were sold by Denmark to the United
States of America for $25 million. In return, the United States
backed Denmark's claim to Greenland.
The island suffered major damage in September 1989 when it
was struck by Hurricane Hugo.
Although the U.S. Virgin Islands remain under the U.S. flag,
the islands are an unincorporated territory with a non-voting
delegate to the United States House of Representatives. Although
taxpaying citizens, residents of the islands have no vote
in national elections.