July 1 - Emancipation Day in Sint Eustatius

Posted on July 1, 2017

Today is a day of celebration, of ceremonies and great food and get-togethers - all in honor of the 1863 emancipation of slaves on this Caribbean island.

If you’ve never heard of Sint Eustatius, also known as Statia, you’re not alone. This teeny island is less than a fourth the size of my smallish California city - and the population is fewer people than the students at my high school! It is not an independent nation, but is rather a “special municipality” of the Netherlands. 

Where Sint Eustatius is known, it’s known for a nice tropical-rain-forest hike down into the crater of an extinct volcano known as the Quill, and for diving among the 200 shipwrecks and pristine coral reefs and anchors and volcanic pinnacles.

Above, the Quill.
Below, view of the inside of the Quill's crater -
the crater looks like a tropical rainforest, mostly
because it is covered by a tropical rainforest!

Here are some things that surprised me:

Even though Sint Eustatius is a part of the Netherlands, and the official language is Dutch, most people speak English most of the time!

Sint Eustatius provided the first (or possibly second) international recognition of the independence of the United States of America, on November 16, 1776. An American brig came into port on the island, and the ship’s captain announced his arrival by firing a 13-gun salute (13 for the 13 colonies, of course). International protocol was to salute a sovereign flag back with two fewer guns, and that is what Sint Eustatius’s governor ordered: an 11-gun salute.

Apparently this acknowledgement of the “rebel” American’s sovereignty really angered Britain. Even more anger was caused by the fact that merchants on Sint Eustatius eagerly sold weapons and supplies to the American army. One Brit complained in Parliament that, if Sint Eustatius had sunk into the sea before the Revolutionary War even started, the United Kingdom “would have already dealt with George Washington”!  Starting in late 1780, Britain and the Netherlands fought a war over these and other issues.

By the way, in 1939 U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt visited Sint Eustatius and presented them with a brass plaque declaring America’s gratitude for the “First Salute.”

Also on this date:


(First Saturday in July)

Plan ahead:

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And here are my Pinterest boards for:

Historical anniversaries in August

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