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The Danish West India Company (Danish: Vestindisk kompagni) or Danish West India–Guinea Company (Det Vestindisk-Guineisk kompagni) was a Danish chartered company that exploited colonies in the Danish West Indies.
It was founded as the Danish Africa Company in 1659 in Glückstadt by a German Hendrik Carloff and two Dutchmen Isaac Coymans and Nicolaes Pancras. Their mandate included trade with the Danish Gold Coast in present-day Ghana and with the Caribbean.
The Danish West Indies first settled St. Thomas in 1668 and St. John in 1718 and purchased St. Croix from the French in 1733. The West India Company was organized on November 20, 1670, and formally chartered by King Christian V on March 11, 1671. The first successful colonization of Sankt Thomas employed ships of the Royal Dano-Norwegian Navy, the yacht Den forgyldte Krone and the frigate Færøe (referring to the islands, but often erroneously translated as Pharaoh), but the company quickly began employing ships of their own, while occasionally relying on the royal navy for escorts and protection. From August 30, 1680, it became known as the West India–Guinea Company. At first, the company had difficulties being profitable, but eventually it began to increase revenue by raising taxes and bringing all colonial exports into Copenhagen directly.
In the 17th and 18th centuries, the company flourished from the North Atlantic triangular trade routes. Slaves from the Gold Coast of Africa were traded for molasses and rum in the West Indies. The company administered the colonies until 1754, when the Danish government's "Chamber of Revenues" took control. From 1760 to 1848, the governing body was known as Vestindisk-guineiske rente- og generaltoldkammer. This led to a brief establishment of Det Guineiske kompagni via Royal resolution of March 18, 1765, to maintain the trade with the Danish Gold Coast colonies. In November, they received the forts of Christiansborg and Fredensborg for 20 years. The company, however, never enjoyed a trade monopoly like the Dutch West India Company. Competition for trade remained amongst all Danish, Norwegian, Schleswig and Holstein companies.
The financially troubled company was liquidated on November 22, 1776. In anticipation of this, the Danish government took control of the granted forts from August–September 1775.
- Charlotte Amelie (1680s)
- Den Unge Tobias (Young Tobias, 1687)
- Røde Hane (Red Cock, 1687)
- Maria (1687)
- Pelicanen (Pelican)
- Unity (1700s)
- Dookhan, Isaac. A History of the Virgin Islands of the United States. Canoe Press, 1974. ISBN 9768125055 [Amazon-US | Amazon-UK].
- Westergaard, Waldemar. The Danish West Indies under Company Rule.
- Thomas, Hugh. The Slave Trade, pp. 172 & 188. Phoenix (London), 2006.