to Mr. Evarts
Copenhagen , November 4, 1878.
Sir: In relation to the recent negro revolt at Santa Cruz, Danish West Indies, referred to in my dispatch No. 486, of the 28th ultimo, I have now the honor to communicate to you the following facts:
On the 1st of October last, it being the time for the annual renewal of the labor contract between the plantation owners and the negro laborers, the latter appear to have refused to renew the contract for a year’s labor, and at the same time to have demanded higher wages; a demand which was not only refused by the former, but answered by a partial reduction thereof. The negroes, having apprehended such a reduction, and being under the influence of liquor, gave the signal for a revolt, the particulars of which have no doubt been communicated to you by the United States consul at Saint Thomas. The revolt was quelled by the authorities of the Danish West Indies, without their being obliged to avail themselves of the proffered assistance of French and British war-vessels that were or arrived at Santa Cruz during the revolt, but not before much property had been destroyed by the rioters. According to statistics published in the semi-official journal of this city, of eighty sugar plantations, the works of forty-three have been destroyed. The average loss sustained by the destruction of works, implements, sugar, molasses, rum, &c., is calculated to amount to $4,000 per plantation, the amount of loss sustained by the destruction of dwelling-houses not included. The town of Fredericksted has suffered much, one-half of the estimated value of its real estate having been destroyed by fire, besides $150,000 worth of sugar, molasses, and rum that had been stored in its warehouses.
Drought and scanty harvests during the past few years, as well as [Page 161] the recent negro revolt, have almost hopelessly ruined the island of Santa Cruz. While the liberal contributions of the mother-country may temporarily alleviate the distress of the unfortunate sufferers, it is a mooted question whether that island will ever regain its former prosperity.
Your No. 209, of the 18th ultimo, as well as two volumes of “Report upon the Commercial Relations of the United States with Foreign Countries for the year 1877,” have been received.
I am, &c.,