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Sunday, August 14, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesFREDERIKSTED REMEMBERS FREEDOM FIGHTERS

FREDERIKSTED REMEMBERS FREEDOM FIGHTERS

Although last year's 150th anniversary of emancipation celebration in the Virgin Islands was packed with more raw emotion, this year's commemoration in Frederiksted carried the same message: Celebrate the past and those who made the future possible.
On Saturday, historian Gerard Emanuel said that Frederiksted, built in 1752 by Denmark, has witnessed scores of historic events. The most notable, though, was when the enslaved Africans of St. Croix marched on Frederiksted on July 3, 1848, demanding their freedom.
According to Emanuel, in 1846, just two years before freedom was granted, there were 16,000 slaves on St. Croix and some 7,000 Europeans and freeman.
The goals of the slaves who planned the revolt were clear: unlimited freedom and wages for work done, Emanuel said. Most of the leaders, John "Buddhoe" Gottlieb, Moses Roberts, Admiral Martin Luther, Martin Williams and George Fancy among a few, were masons and other craftsmen who knew the slave system.
"It is clear that the emancipation of 1848 wasn't a spontaneous riot,"
Emanuel said.
He added that while for the most part the revolt was carried out without wide scale violence, there was burning and looting around the island in the days immediately following Governor General Peter Von Scholten's proclamation of emancipation.
Lt. Gov. Gerard Luz James II, who is acting as governor while Gov. Charles Turnbull is in Denmark, also spoke about the need to remember that freedom wasn't freely given by Von Scholten 151 years ago. Rather, it was demanded by the enslaved people of St. Croix.
He said St. Croix and Haiti were the only places in the Western Hemisphere where freedom was won, and kept, by force of arms.
"It is important for the people of the world and the Virgin Islands to know the true story. Not the one our children read in history books today,"
James said.
Former Sen. Fritz Lawaetz read Von Scholten's proclamation in Danish and
English, pointing out sections that said the former slaves were to be paid for their work, but that the old and infirm were to be cared for by their late owners.
"They were determined that they wanted their freedom — now," Lawaetz said.
He said that while Virgin Islanders have come a long way since 1848, there are many in the community today who are not free.
"They are slaves to drugs or are power drunk," said Lawaetz. "The only way we can solve that is for leaders to get up as Buddhoe did…"

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Although last year's 150th anniversary of emancipation celebration in the Virgin Islands was packed with more raw emotion, this year's commemoration in Frederiksted carried the same message: Celebrate the past and those who made the future possible.
On Saturday, historian Gerard Emanuel said that Frederiksted, built in 1752 by Denmark, has witnessed scores of historic events. The most notable, though, was when the enslaved Africans of St. Croix marched on Frederiksted on July 3, 1848, demanding their freedom.
According to Emanuel, in 1846, just two years before freedom was granted, there were 16,000 slaves on St. Croix and some 7,000 Europeans and freeman.
The goals of the slaves who planned the revolt were clear: unlimited freedom and wages for work done, Emanuel said. Most of the leaders, John "Buddhoe" Gottlieb, Moses Roberts, Admiral Martin Luther, Martin Williams and George Fancy among a few, were masons and other craftsmen who knew the slave system.
"It is clear that the emancipation of 1848 wasn't a spontaneous riot,"
Emanuel said.
He added that while for the most part the revolt was carried out without wide scale violence, there was burning and looting around the island in the days immediately following Governor General Peter Von Scholten's proclamation of emancipation.
Lt. Gov. Gerard Luz James II, who is acting as governor while Gov. Charles Turnbull is in Denmark, also spoke about the need to remember that freedom wasn't freely given by Von Scholten 151 years ago. Rather, it was demanded by the enslaved people of St. Croix.
He said St. Croix and Haiti were the only places in the Western Hemisphere where freedom was won, and kept, by force of arms.
"It is important for the people of the world and the Virgin Islands to know the true story. Not the one our children read in history books today,"
James said.
Former Sen. Fritz Lawaetz read Von Scholten's proclamation in Danish and
English, pointing out sections that said the former slaves were to be paid for their work, but that the old and infirm were to be cared for by their late owners.
"They were determined that they wanted their freedom -- now," Lawaetz said.
He said that while Virgin Islanders have come a long way since 1848, there are many in the community today who are not free.
"They are slaves to drugs or are power drunk," said Lawaetz. "The only way we can solve that is for leaders to get up as Buddhoe did..."