Chronicling America adds St. Croix Avis Newspaper from US Virgin Islands

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Image credit: National Endowment for the Humanities

Chronicling America is a product of the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP) and jointly sponsored by the Library and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH)

Nearly every week new newspaper pages from NDNP award recipients are added to Chronicling America and provide users with useful coverage of newspapers available in the database at a given time.

St. Croix Avis covers a particularly tumultuous time in the U.S. Virgin Islands in 1867 it was struck with hurricanes, earthquakes, and tsunami at the time when rumors of the impending sale of the U.S. Virgin Islands to the United States.

“The journals of Denmark are discussing the reported proposition of the United States for the purchase of the island of St. Thomas . . .There was something almost ludicrous in the diplomatic mystery with which these Seward-like preliminaries were conducted, ” St. Croix Avis reported.

Image: “To the Editor of the ‘Saint Croix Avis,’” St. Croix Avis, November 4, 1867. Image credit: LoC

The Avis also encouraged charity for its “Sister-Island” of St. Thomas: “The number of lives lost cannot as yet be fully ascertained — reports, however, fix the number at 300 persons, principally sea-faring men . . . We trust, and sincerely hope, that the influential part of this community will hasten to circulate a subscription-list, to aid the sufferers of this dire calamity.”

While islanders were still reeling from the hurricane, a devastating earthquake and subsequent tsunami hit in November 1867. “Two very severe shocks of Earthquake, one immediately after the other occurred . . . The frightened people rushed out of their houses, quickly after the occurrence, and then beheld the troubled seas, which had receded soon after the shocks, coming furiously, mountain-high, and dashing on the shore . . .” (St. Croix Avis, November 18, 1867).

The 1867 tsunami was one of the largest in recorded history in the Caribbean, and aftershocks from the earthquake continued throughout the month.

By December 1867, uncertainty about the treaty for the sale of the Islands to the United States, and concerns about the reintroduction of slavery, was published by the Avis in its editorials.

“As to the folly, that if the Americans were to purchase this Island, that Slavery would ever be re-established here. No! The Americans are too honorable, too just, and too generous ever to be guilty of such a crime.”

The following year, the sale was put on hold for another fifty years.

The Avis published articles and advertisements in a mix of Danish and English.

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