The Virgin Islands under the United States Navel Administration, 1917-1931

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This thesis examines the United States naval administration of the Virgin Islands to determine how the transfer from Danish to American sovereignty affected the island society. This examination provides some insights into the establishment of an American government as part of the history of the Virgin Islands. The paper tries to determine whether the United States naval administration represented more the beginning of a break with the colonial system developed under the Danes, or the continuation of that process of colonialism. This study, largely utilizes the documents contained in several Record Groups of the National Archives. By the information obtained from these documents, the paper analyzes the relationship of social classes to the political and economic systems of the islands. This analysis reveals that the political and economic systems continued to operate for the benefit of the colonial power and a small local elite. Largely due to their racist perceptions of Virgin Islanders, the navy sought to maintain the systems that ensured white domination of the society. This adherence to the existing order disappointed many Virgin Islanders, who hoped that American rule would bring political and social reforms to the colony. Despite the institution of some American cultural practices, the system of colonialism changed little during the fourteen years of United States Navy rule.