The Life of St Croix Governor Peter von Scholten

Peter von Scholten, born in 1784, is renowned as one of the most prominent Danes in the West Indies. Initially serving as an officer in the army and having a close association with King Frederik VI, his career took a significant turn when he transitioned to become a customs officer on St. Thomas after leaving the military in 1814. Subsequently, he ascended to the position of Governor on St. Thomas in 1823, later becoming the Governor-General overseeing all three islands by 1827.

In 1810, he tied the knot with Anna Elizabeth (Lise) Thortsen in Copenhagen, with whom he had three daughters. Additionally, he maintained a relationship with Anna Heegaard on St. Croix, a freed slave, which notably impacted his governance. This connection led to groundbreaking decisions such as granting similar civil rights to freed slaves as Europeans, endorsing the establishment of schools for enslaved children, and allowing enslaved individuals to have Saturdays off in addition to their existing Sundays. Despite his advocacy for the rights of both freed and enslaved laborers, his actions stirred animosity among the European population.

His efforts to suppress the revolt of 1848 faced challenges as the unrest persisted for several days, reportedly contributing to a mental breakdown. Following this tumultuous period, he was summoned back to Denmark, where he faced a trial that resulted in the loss of his pension, despite being acquitted of any misconduct. After the passing of his wife in 1849, he resided with one of his daughters in Altona, Hamburg until his demise in 1854. His final resting place is within the sole mausoleum at Assistens Kirkegård, a cemetery located in the Nørrebro district of Copenhagen. Noteworthy figures like fairy tale writer Hans Christian Andersen (known for “The Little Mermaid” and “The Ugly Duckling”) and philosopher-theologian Søren Kierkegaard also find their eternal repose in this historic cemetery.

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