Danes like to say they were the first people to abolish slavery, but this is not the whole truth. It is, however, correct that Denmark was the first country to abolish transatlantic slave trading, i.e. the transportation of enslaved people from West Africa to the West Indies. This happened in 1792, with the passage of a bill banning the slave trade [Forordning om Negerhandelen]. But this ban did not end slavery. Plantation owners in the West Indies were still allowed to own slaves.
The ban on the transatlantic slave trade was also not solely motivated by empathy with the enslaved. Ultimately, it was all about economics. The large number of enslaved Africans that died during passage resulted in financial losses for the slave traders. The ban also did not come into effect until over ten years later, in 1803. During that time the number of slave passages exploded, directly supported by the Danish government, who issued favourable loans to facilitate it. And with the introduction of tax relief for the introduction of female slaves the agenda was clear: the Danish West Indies were to be self-sufficient in slaves. Breeding plantations where women slaves were to raise future slaves were even considered.
Whilst slavery was abolished on the British Virgin Islands in 1833, it continued unimpeded in the Danish West Indies. Right up until 1848. In Denmark people like to claim that Governor General Peter von Scholten granted the slaves their freedom. But in the U.S. Virgin Islands the story is different: it was not the governor who freed the slaves, but the enslaved population who took matters into their own hands, demanding their freedom.