homeA northern and southern group of islands in the
West Indies east of Puerto Rico. The northern group are the British
Virgin Islands and include Virgin Gorda. The southern group are the
Virgin Islands of the US and includes St. Thomas, St. John and St.
(WUD, 1994, p.1595) 1493
Columbus discovered a group of islands that he
christened Las Once Mil Virgenes, in memory of St. Ursula and her
11,000 martyr virgins who were slaughtered by the Huns at Cologne in
the 5th century.
(SFEC, 2/15/98, p.T8)
1757 Jan 11, Alexander Hamilton
(d.1804), first U.S. Secretary of Treasury, was born on St.
(WUD, 1994 p.640)(AP, 1/11/98)(HN, 1/11/00)(HNPD,
1811 Aug 6, Judah Philip
Benjamin (d.1884), Sec. War and Sec. State for the Confederacy, was
born a British subject in the Virgin Islands. He went on to become
the first professed Jew elected to U.S. Senate, from the state of
Louisiana in 1852. He was brought to South Carolina as a child.
After attending Yale (1825--7) he settled in New Orleans. He served
Louisiana in the US Senate (Whig, 1853--9; Democrat, 1859--61). He
was noted for his pro-slavery speeches in the Senate. Favoring
secession, he served the Confederacy as attorney general (1861) and
then as secretary of war (1861--2). He was blamed for the
Confederate army's lack of equipment, but Jefferson Davis promoted
him to secretary of state (1862--5). Late in the war he urged the
recruitment of slaves into the Confederate Army. With the collapse
of the Confederacy he fled to the West Indies and then to England
(1866), where he made a brilliant new career as a British barrister,
especially in appeal cases. He wrote the Treatise on the Law of Sale
of Personal Property (1868), which at once became the standard in
the field. In 1872, he became a counsel to the queen. Benjamin died
(HNQ, 12/8/98)(MC, 8/6/02)
1830 Camille Pissarro, artist,
was born on St. Thomas Island.
(Hem., 1/97, p.124)
1848 Jul 3, Gen. Peter Von
Scholten, faced with the likely destruction of towns and plantations
by a slave revolt, declared the slaves of the Danish West Indies
(later US Virgin Islands) to be freed.
(SSFC, 7/5/09, p.A3)
1855 Camille Pissarro
(1830-1903), French impressionist, moved to France from his native
St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands.
(WSJ, 1/14/97, p.A16)(Hem., 1/97, p.124)(WUD,
1867 Denmark reached a deal to
transfer Saint Thomas and Saint John (part of the Virgin Islands) to
the United States to the US for $7.5 million, but a hurricane,
earthquake, tsunami and fire, as well as domestic and intíl.
political conflicts delayed the transfer for 50 years.
1916 Aug 4, The United States
signed a treaty to purchase the Danish Virgin Islands for $25
million. The US purchased the southern Virgin Islands including St.
Thomas, St. John, St. Croix and about 50 other small Caribbean
islets and cays from Denmark. They were then known as the Danish
West Indies. The Act of March 3, 1917, authorized payment by the US
of $25 million for the Virgin Islands.
(WUD, 1994, p.1595)(AP, 8/4/97)(HNQ, 11/20/99)
1916 Dec 14, People of Denmark
voted to sell Danish West Indies to United States for $25 million.
[see Aug 4]
1917 Jan 17, The United States
paid Denmark $25 million for the Virgin Islands.
1917 Mar 31, The United States
took possession of the Virgin Islands. The purchase from Denmark for
$25 million had been set up in 1916.
1931 Jan 30, The United States
awarded civil government to the Virgin Islands.
1937 Mar 26, William H. Hastie
became the first black federal judge in the Virgin Islands.
(HN, 3/25/98)(SS, 3/26/02)
1949 Oct 29, Alonzo G. Moron of
the Virgin Islands became the first African- American president of
Hampton Institute, Hampton, Virginia.
1952 On St. John the Virgin
Islands National Park was established on 5,000 acres turned over to
the US government by.
(SFEC, 2/15/98, p.T8)
1955 Feb 20, Kelsey Grammer,
actor (Fraiser), was born in the Virgin Islands.
1955 Rockresortsí Caneel Bay
was established on 500 acres purchased by Laurence
(SFEC, 2/15/98, p.T8)
1964 Rockresortsí Little Dix
was established land first purchased by Laurence Rockefeller.
(SFEC, 2/15/98, p.T8)
1989 Sep 17, Hurricane Hugo
slammed into several Caribbean islands, including St. Croix, which
was the hardest hit. The 4 day sweep through the Caribbean killed
1995 Sep 4-1995 Sep 7,
Hurricane Luis hit the Virgin Islands.
(NH, 10/96, p.60)(www.nhc.noaa.gov/1995luis.html)
1999 Nov 17, Hurricane Lenny
hit the Virgin Islands with 150 mph winds with most of the force
over St. Croix.
(SFC, 11/18/99, p.A3)
2000 A first Virgin Islands
casino was scheduled to open on Divi Carina Bay.
(SFEC, 9/12/99, p.T3)
2001 Jun 13, In the USA Virgin
Islands police Corporal Wendell Williams (49) disappeared after
ending his midnight shift. On Feb 10, 2012, a team of 70 police
officers arrested five suspects in the case, including one in
Georgia with the help of federal agents.
2003 Jun 17, The Virgin
Islands Party was swept from power after spending 17 years at the
helm, according to final election results.
2003-2007 Physician Orlando Smith governed the
British Virgin Islands.
2004 Nov 13, At least 5,500
residents of St. Croix, the largest of the US Virgin Islands, have
signed a petition asking Congress to make the island its own U.S.
2004 Jun, The US IRS warned
companies in the Virgin Islands, in what is known as the Economic
Development Commission program, to avoid manipulating residency and
income rules to qualify for tax breaks. Enforcement of new
regulations began in early 2005.
(WSJ, 12/27/06, p.A4)
2005 Jun 20, A US federal judge
threw out evidence against four men charged with laundering more
than $60 million through their chain of US Virgin Islands grocery
stores, ruling that FBI agents acted in "reckless disregard for the
2005 Sep 8, In the Virgin
Islands Elena Lin Yee was arrested and charged with impersonating a
US government official and misuse of official documents. Yee used
fake credentials to pose as a US ambassador to Grenada, the wife of
a former US ambassador to the UN and a US ambassador-at-large.
2006 Sep 26, A former chief of
environmental protection in the US Virgin Islands pleaded guilty to
charges of conspiracy to defraud the islands' government of more
than $1 million. Hollis Griffin (43) acknowledged engaging in a
five-year bribery scheme that paid up to $350,000 in kickbacks to at
least four government officials in exchange for consulting contracts
worth $1.4 million.
2006 Oct 31, A leading
researcher said large species of coral that form underwater reefs
and create rich habitat for marine life are disappearing from around
the U.S. Virgin Islands, Jamaica and elsewhere in the Caribbean.
2006 Dec 28, Senators of the US
Virgin Islands passed Act 6905 in a special session. It raised the
governorís salary from $80,000 to $150,000 and senatorsí salaries
from $65,000 to $80,000. The average income on St. Croix was $26,
(WSJ, 1/13/07, p.A14)
2006 Gov. Charles Turnbull of
the Virgin Islands told the US Senate that a government crackdown on
tax abuse was forcing many legitimate businesses to close their
(WSJ, 12/27/06, p.A4)
2006 The population St. Thomas,
one of the US Virgin Islands, was about 55,000. The total population
of the Virgin Islands was about 109,000.
(Econ, 9/2/06, p.32)(WSJ, 12/27/06, p.A4)
2007 Jun 19, James Cockayne
(21) of New Hope, Pa., was beaten and stabbed to death in the Virgin
Islands. 3 men, Anselmo Boston, Kamal Thomas and Jahleel Ward, were
arrested after the parents of Cockayne appeared on US news programs
and accused Virgin Islands detectives of botching an investigation
into their son's death. On Oct 10, 2008, Ward was found guilty of
first-degree murder and other charges. Anselmo Boston and Kamal
Thomas were found guilty on two counts each of third-degree assault,
among other charges.
(AP, 10/6/08)(AP, 10/10/08)
2007 Aug 3, Virgin Islandsí
authorities arrested Kamal Thomas and charged him with first-degree
murder and assault, as well as using a dangerous weapon while
committing a crime. James Cockayne (21) of new Hope, Pa., was killed
on June 19 near a shopping center.
2007 Sep 25, A large swath of
coastal land was secured by The Trust for Public Land, paving the
way for the biggest expansion of the US Virgin Islands National Park
since it was created more than 50 years ago. The pristine property
on St. John, known as Estate Maho Bay, will be transferred to the
National Park Service when federal funds become available in 2-3
2007 Nov 13, The British Virgin
Islands told the US there is overwhelming evidence that Leonid
Reiman, Russiaís Telecommunications Minister owns much of Russiaís
telecom industry through an offshore fund.
(WSJ, 11/14/07, p.A1)
2008 Feb 9, Sen. Barack Obama
swept the Louisiana primary and caucuses in Nebraska and Washington
state, slicing into Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's slender delegate
lead in their historic race for the Democratic presidential
nomination. Obama also won almost 90% in the Virgin Islands. McCain
narrowly won Washington while Huckabee took Kansas along with a
narrow win in Louisiana.
(AP, 2/10/08)(SSFC, 2/10/08, p.A1)
2008 Jul 31, A US Virgin
Islands hospital fired four board members after a US government
audit found alleged financial mismanagement and the use of taxpayer
money to fund lucrative pay packages for top administrators.
2008 Aug 14, In the Virgin
Islands 2 former government officials faced prison after being found
guilty of running a million-dollar bribery and kickback scheme. Dean
Plaskett, former commissioner of the islands' planning and natural
resources department, was sentenced to nine years in prison. Marc
Biggs, former commissioner of the property and procurement office,
will serve seven years.
2008 Aug 21, In the US Virgin
Islands a judge imposed a life sentence on Daniel Castillo,
convicted of strangling Laquina Hennis, a 12-year-old girl, last
2008 Sep 7, In the Virgin
Islands US federal agent William Clark (33) intervened in a couple's
drunken fight outside his apartment and shot Marcus Sukow to death.
Clark was charged with murder and faced trial. In 2010 the case was
dismissed on a technicality: that proper procedure was not followed
in identifying Sukow's body to the medical examiner.
(AP, 10/23/10)(AP, 10/28/10)
2008 Oct 16, Hurricane Omar
passed the Virgin Islands overnight leaving oil spills in St. Croix
as 40 boats sank or washed ashore.
2008 Oct 26, Gabriel Lerner
(27) was kidnapped and killed after he offered 2 men a ride in St.
Thomas, US Virgin Islands. Lerner was from the Milwaukee area and
worked as a clerk for a Superior Court judge on the island. On March
4, 2011, Auriel Frett (24) was convicted of first degree murder for
the slaying. Jurors deliberated less than three hours before
reaching the verdict. The co-defendant, who was 17 at the time of
the murder, pleaded guilty last year. He was sentenced to 20 years
2009 Jan 19, Some 25 people,
most of them Haitians, were aboard an overloaded boat that was
illegally traveling the 100-mile (160-kilometer) passage from the
Dutch territory of St. Maarten to the British Virgin Islands. They
were apparently island-hopping in hopes of eventually reaching US
shores when the boat hit a reef, pitching passengers into the ocean.
13 migrants were rescued by a passing fishing boat. In September 4
men, two Sri Lankans and two residents of St. Kitts, were convicted
and sentenced to prison terms ranging up to 2 1/2 years for
organizing the doomed sea voyage from St. Maarten.
(AP, 1/21/09)(AP, 9/22/09)
2009 Jan, Liquor company Diageo
PLC signed a long-term lease to build a Captain Morgan rum
distillery in the Virgin Islands in exchange for a portion of the
territory's excise-tax revenue, estimated at $2.7 billion over 30
years. The distillery opened in late 2010 on the island of St.
Croix. Puerto Rico expected to lose $140 million in 2012 as a result
of the lucrative production of Captain Morgan rum moving to the U.S.
2009 Apr 30, Police in the US
Virgin Islands canceled the popular J'ouvert carnival after four
people were wounded in a shooting and two stabbings.
2009 Sep 3, In the US Virgin
Islands two ticket agent contractors who worked for Delta Airlines
and an airport employee were arrested after being indicted by a
federal grand jury on charges of conspiracy to smuggle illegal
immigrants into the US.
2009 Oct 27, A jury in the
British Virgin Islands convicted dive shop owner David Swain of
drowning his wife, Shelley Tyre (46) during a 1999 scuba-diving trip
in what prosecutors called a near perfect murder. Authorities
charged Swain with murder after a 2006 civil trial in Rhode Island
found him responsible for his wife's death. That jury awarded Tyre's
family $3.5 million, but Swain filed for bankruptcy and has not paid
the sum. On Nov 10 a judge sentenced Swain to 25 years in jail. In
2011 Swain walked free after judges with the Eastern Caribbean
Supreme Court of Appeal found problems with the jury instructions
during the 2009 trial.
(AP, 10/28/09)(AP, 11/10/09)(AP, 9/29/11)
2009 Oct 29, In the US Virgin
Islands a small plane crashed into a field and burst into flames
shortly after taking off in St. Croix, killing all three people on
2010 Mar 17, US federal
authorities won a court order requiring officials in the US Virgin
Islands to repair sewage plants that have dumped raw waste at
beaches renowned for snorkeling and surfing.
2010 Jul 12, In the US Virgin
Islands a Puerto Rican tourist (14) was killed in front of her
horrified family when she was caught in the crossfire of a gunfight
attributed to warring gangs.
2010 Oct 19, Two employees of
the US Virgin Islands' tax bureau were accused of leading a scheme
that pilfered as much as $500,000 from the government using
fraudulent tax refund checks. Tax bureau employees Tiffanne Sutton
and Colette Hacket-Browne and others had allegedly taken part in tax
fraud since 2006.
2011 Jan 9, In the US Virgin
Islands a traffic stop led to the seizure of 228 kg (502 pounds) of
cocaine from Miguel Pascual, a Dominican national. The drugs had an
approximate street value of more than $6 million.
2011 Jun 17, The Virgin Islands
government said it has transferred 66 male inmates to the US
mainland to improve security at a prison that federal officials have
said is out of control. Gov. John de Jongh said the transfer of
inmates from the Golden Grove prison on the island of St. Croix to
prisons in Virginia and Florida was planned months before the
federal government requested to take over the prison.
2011 Jun 24, In the US Virgin
Islands a 6-week embezzlement case against three former hospital
executives ended in mistrial. A US government audit had accused the
three of colluding with the hospital's board to hide bloated
compensation packages and of lying to legislators about hospital
2011 Jun 28, U.S. Virgin
Islands Immigration and Customs Enforcement said officers have found
531 kg of cocaine, worth about $16 million, some marijuana and two
pistols at a house on St. Thomas.
2011 Oct 26, A high-end jewelry
manufacturer in the US Virgin Islands was ordered to forfeit
thousands of pounds (kg) of protected black coral and pay a $1.8
million fine for trading in it. Gem Manufacturing Inc. pleaded
guilty to seven counts of violating the Endangered Species Act and
the Lacey Act.
2011 Nov 7, The British Virgin
Islands held elections. The main opposition party, The National
Democratic Party, dominated parliamentary elections with nine of 13
parliamentary seats, putting party leader Orlando Smith, the
islands' No. 1 politician, in line to be premier of the offshore
corporate haven for the next four years.
2011 Nov 15, US Federal agents
said they have seized 709 pounds (321 kg) of cocaine and arrested
three men off the US island of St. John. The suspects' boat was
first spotted Nov 11 by a maritime surveillance aircraft flying over
the US Virgin Islands.
2012 Nov 8, Alvin Williams Jr.,
a senator in the US Virgin Islands, was arrested after being
indicted by a grand jury in a public corruption case.
(SFC, 1/17/13, p.A10)(http://tinyurl.com/ao85ge6)
2013 Jan 17, Alvin Williams Jr.
(34), a former senator in the US Virgin Islands, pleaded guilty in a
public corruption case.
(SFC, 1/17/13, p.A10)
2013 Apr 5, A data leak was
reported orchestrated this week by a Washington-based group called
the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. It
involved tens of thousands of offshore bank accounts, mainly form
the British Virgin Islands, the Cook Islands and Singapore, and
named dozens of prominent figures around the world. New details were
being released by the day. The leak allegedly involved records from
10 tax havens.
(AP, 4/6/13)(SFC, 4/5/13, p.A4)
2013 Jun 15, Britain clinched a
deal with its major offshore tax havens on Saturday that will see 10
British overseas territories and crown dependencies sign up to
international protocols on information sharing. Those included were
Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Gibraltar,
Anguilla, Montserrat, Turks and Caicos Islands, Jersey, Guernsey and
the Isle of Man.
2014 Jan 22, The
Washington-based Intíl. Consortium of Investigative Journalists
(ICIJ) said it has obtained documents showing the identities of
nearly 22,000 owners of companies and trusts in the British Virgin
Islands, Samoa and other offshore centers. It said they include the
brother-in-law of Chinaís Pres. Xi, former Premier Wen Jiabaoís son
and son-in-law and relatives of other ruling party figures.
(SFC, 1/23/14, p.A4)
2014 Jan 26, The Royal
Caribbean cruise line ended a 10-day trip in the Caribbean early
after hundreds of passengers and crew members on the Explorer of the
Seas were sickened with a gastrointestinal illness consistent with
norovirus. Health officials boarded the ship at St. Thomas in the US
(AP, 1/27/14)(SFC, 1/27/14, p.A2)
2014 Feb 13, Louis Willis, the
former director of the US Virgin Islands' Internal Revenue Bureau,
turned himself in under charges of tax evasion.