History, American Colony
Alexander Farrelly, Hurricane Marilyn, Hurricane Hugo, Organic Act, Virgin Islanders
During the American Civil War (1861-1865), the Union began to negotiate with Denmark for the purchase of the Virgin Islands in order to establish naval bases in the Caribbean. Nothing came of the negotiations, however, until World War I (1914-1918). In 1917 the United States bought the Virgin Islands from Denmark for $25 million and built a naval base in order to protect the Panama Canal and to prevent Germany's seizure of the islands.
Virgin Islanders have been U.S. citizens since 1927. After World War II (1939-1945), the Virgin Islands began to prosper again. Federal aid, local industry, and the growth of tourism helped improve the islands' economy. In 1946 William Henry Hastie became the first appointed black governor of the islands. The Organic Act, which was passed in 1954, created a 15-member senate. Then in 1968 the Congress of the United States passed a law granting the people of the Virgin Islands the right to elect their own governor. Melvin Evans, appointed in 1969, was the first native-born black governor of the territory and in 1971 became its first elected governor; he served until 1975. In 1975 Cyril E. King became governor and served until his death in 1978. King was succeeded by his lieutenant governor, Juan Luis. Luis was elected governor in the 1978 and 1982 elections. Alexander Farrelly was elected in 1986 and again in 1990. Roy Schneider became governor after the 1994 elections.
In September 1989, Hurricane Hugo caused at least $500 million in damage, and 1,000 U.S. troops were sent in to suppress looting and unrest. The islands were damaged again when Hurricane Marilyn struck Saint Thomas and Saint John in 1995. The islands were declared a disaster area and the National Guard was called to help.
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