Chatting With Dr Leonard Richardson

Extensive Trade and Shipping in the Charlotte Amalie Harbor



The St. Thomas Harbor is one of the most important commercial ports in the West Indies of the 1800s. The harbor was a free port. Traffic there was extensive because of its good situation & fine facilities. It was popular among merchants & trading companies for its good facilities: the West Indies’ largest floating dock, good machine shops, clear channel marking, & inexpensive harbor fees. But it was also notorious for 2 problems: hurricanes & diseases, particularly yellow fever & cholera. In the 1800s, an average of 2,000–3,000 ships came annually to St. Thomas. In the 1860s, this increased to 4,600 annually. About half of the tall ships arrived from Caribbean ports & a quarter from European ports. Vessels under the Danish flag made up a smaller share. In the 1820s, it was 23%; in the final year before the sale in 1917, it was only 13%. Most ships in the 1820s sailed under an American flag, but in the 1910s British ships had become completely dominant. The vessels in the harbor beca