Oct. 31, 2005 Educator, editor, labor leader, lawyer and activist, the life and achievements of David Hamilton Jackson will be celebrated in the territory on Nov. 1.
Born in Christiansted on Sept. 28, 1884, Jackson was educated at East Hill School, where his father was the principal. Growing up, Jackson was an educator and later became a bookkeeper at a business owned by James C. Canegata. However, he was only there for a few months before he began his work for the Danish West Indies Company.
At an early age, Jackson also took an interest in the affairs of his island. He took a stand on various issues and because his convictions, knowledge and oratorical skills was selected to go to Denmark as a representative of the people.
Once in Denmark, Jackson talked to King Christian X and the Danish Parliament about relinquishing government control of the press in the Danish West Indies and succeeded. In 1915, he established the territorys first free press, "The Herald."
Formerly known as Liberty Day, David Hamilton Jackson Day celebrates the formation of the newspaper, which became an outlet for the concerns of the community.
Jackson used "The Herald" not only to inform, but to educate others about the laboring class. In order to combat the damaging effects of slavery, he also told people to develop confidence and pride in themselves, as well as their race, while striving toward personal growth.
Around 1910, Jackson attended Howard University and returned to St. Croix to work as a lawyer.
In 1915, Jackson, together with Ralph Bough, organized the first labor union. At the time, men, women and children labored in the cane fields for wages equaling around 10 or 20 cents a day. The labor union, which eventually extended to St. Thomas, fought for higher wages and better working conditions. The union eventually succeeded after organizing a general strike.
When the Danish government realized its governance over its colonies was growing difficult to maintain, it entered into negotiations to transfer the Virgin Islands to the United States. Jackson led the way in gaining support for the 1917 transfer, continuing to fight for the people even after ownership of the territory had changed.
Jackson died in 1946.
On Tuesday, government offices and public schools will be closed territory-wide in observance of the holiday.
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