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By 1688 the Danish West Indies colony of St. Thomas stood poised on the brink of anarchy. A decade on unsound leadership at the hands of brothers Adolph and Nicholas Esmit and their successor Gabriel Milan had left the colony’s coffers depleted and its citizenry near revolt. On July 7th, 1688, the island’s inhabitants were called upon to swear their support for St. Thomas’ forthright Vice-Governor, Christopher Heins, the man whose duty it became to lead the colony into a new era. The 1688 Census of the Danish West Indies, completed only twelve days after Heins’ appointment as governor, remains as an indelible snapshot, a portrait of a colony in crisis.

This is a special 2017 Centennial reprint. Translated by Gary Horlacher. Edited and Annotated by David W. Knight Sr.

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