National Geographic : 1968 Jan
KODACHROMESI) NATIONALGEOGRAPHICS of George Washington. Indignantly he wrote a dispatch on October 27 to Vice Admiral Young of His Britannic Majesty's Navy: "The Vessel went out under American Colours, saluted the Fort and had the compliment re turned the same as if she had been an English or Danish ship!" Thus the Danes of St. Croix were the first foreigners to honor the flag of the young American republic, though a more dramatic recognition of the United States three weeks later has somewhat obscured the Danes' credit. The first salute to a flag flown by the Conti nental Navy took place on November 16, when Fort Oranje on the Dutch Leeward island of St. Eustatius returned the cannon salute of the brigantine Andrew Doria.* The United States bought the Virgin Islands mainly to prevent Germany from establishing a submarine nest in the Caribbean during World War I, and to secure the magnificent harbor of Charlotte Amalie as a naval base controlling the sea approaches to the Panama Canal. The acquisition included St. Thomas, St. Croix, St. John, and a scattering of small offshore cays (map, pages 72-3). Land Value Multiplies 3,300 Times The purchase price of $25,000,000 was the highest sum ever paid by the United States for territory, while the land area gained-132 square miles-was the smallest. The cost worked out at $295 an acre, in comparison to the bargain price of 2 cents an acre for Alaska. *See "A Fresh Breeze Stirs the Leewards," by Carleton Mitchell, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC, October, 1966.