Timelines: Timeline of African Slavery in the Former Danish Empire, 1659 – 1917

Shalom, everyone! Denmark was heavily involved in the trafficking and enslavement of Africans. Firstly, as a joint kingdom with Norway called Denmark-Norway or the Dano-Norwegian Realm (1523-1814); secondly, as the Kingdom of Denmark (1814 – Present). The following is a timeline of African slavery in the former Danish Empire from 1659 to 1917. Please note that this post is a work-in-progress. As more information becomes available, this timeline will be updated:

Year Historical Event
1659 Danish Africa Company established by Finnish Hendrik Carloff, two Dutchmen Isaac Coymans and Nicolaes Pancras and two German merchants, Vincent Klingenberg and Jacob del Boe. Their mandate included trade with the Danish Gold Coast in present-day Ghana. Slaves from the Gold Coast of Africa were traded for molasses and rum in the West Indies.
1660 – 1803 Danish ships transported approximately 85,000 enslaved Africans to the Americas.
1663 (20 April 1663) The Danish seize of the Fort Christiansborg (Accra) and Fort Carlsborg (Cape Coast) with the annexation of the Swedish Gold Coast settlements. Fort Christiansborg became the base for Danish power in West Africa, and the centre for slave trade to the Danish West Indies.
1668 The Danish settled the island of St. Thomas (Sankt Thomas) in the Virgin Islands, the first successful colonization of the Royal Dano-Norwegian Navy.
1671 (11 March 1671) The Danish Africa Company was formally chartered as the Danish West India Company by King Christian V.
1672 Denmark-Norway established full control over St. Thomas through the Danish West India Company.
1680 (30 August 1680) Danish West India Company renamed the Danish West India-Guinea Company.
1685 – 1693 Brandenberg African Company (Germany) took control of the slave trade on St. Thomas, and for some time the largest slave auctions in the world were held there. The Danish seize the trading post in 1693 taking control without compensation to the Germans.
1718 The Danish take possession of St. John (Sankt Jan) in the Virgin Islands.
1733 (15 June 1733) Denmark-Norway purchased St. Croix in the Virgin Islands from France for 750,000 livres. St. Croix became a major sugar-producing colony and one of the wealthiest sugar-producing islands. St. Croix gained a reputation as “The Garden of the West Indies.”
1733 – 1734 (23 November 1733) 1733 Slave Insurrection on St. John led by 150 enslaved Africans from Akwamu (modern-day Ghana). Insurrection lasts until 23 August 1734. The slave rebellion was one of the earliest and longest slave revolts in the Americas. The slaves took over the fort in Coral Bay and took control of most of the island. Rebellion put down by French and Swiss troops from Martinique.
1734 Denmark-Norway established Fort Fredensborg (Old Ningo) on the Gold Coast in modern-day Ghana.
1753 BY 1753, St. Croix operated 375 plantations not only cultivating sugar, but also cotton, indigo, and tobacco.
1754 Danish crown takes full control of the administration of the Danish Virgin Islands (Danish West Indies).
1755 King Frederick V of Denmark issued more new Regulations, in which slaves were guaranteed the right not to be separated from their children and the right to medical support during periods of illness or old age.
1775 By 1775, enslaved Africans outnumbered the Danish settlers on Saint John by a ratio of 5:1.
1776 (22 November 1776) Danish West India-Guinea company liquidated due to financial troubles.
1778 By 1778, the Danish were importing about 3,000 enslaved Africans annually to the Danish West Indies.
1784 Denmark-Norway established Fort Prinsensten (Keta) and Fort Kongensten (Ada) on the Gold Coast in modern-day Ghana.
1787 Denmark-Norway established Fort Augustaborg (Teshie) on the Gold Coast in modern-day Ghana.
1803 (1 January 1803) Denmark ended the African slave trade in the Danish West Indies.
1807 Denmark‘s African business partners were suppressed by the Akan people subgroup, the Ashanti, which led to the abandonment of all trading posts.
1814 Norway declares independence from Denmark.
1833 Bilateral Denmark-United Kingdom treaty abolishing the slave trade.
1848 (3 July 1848) Denmark abolished in all its territories. The Danish government reimbursed plantation owners fifty dollars for every slave they had owned for their “financial losses.” The former slaves received no reparations but instead worked for low wages within a sharecropping system which yielded little profit. Slaves received no additional benefits from their former slave masters.
1850 (30 March 1850) Denmark sells the Gold Coast territories and forts, Fort Christiansborg (Accra), Fort Fredensborg (Old Ningo)Fort Prinsensten (Keta)Fort Kongensten (Ada), and Fort Augustaborg (Teshie) to the United Kingdom.
1917 (17 January 1917) Under the terms of the Treaty of the Danish West Indies, Denmark sells the Danish Virgin Islands of St. Thomas, St. Croix and St. John to the United States for $25 million. The United States takes possession of the islands on 31 March 1917, and rename them the United States Virgin Islands.


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