The Plantation System
The social structure of the Danish colony in the West Indies was synonymous with the plantations. Their purpose was to produce tropical goods like cotton, coffee and sugar cane that could not be grown in the cold climate of Denmark. Sugar came to play a key role in the new colony.
The land on the three islands of St. Thomas, St. Jan and St. Croix was divided into plots, each of which formed the basis for a plantation. On St. Thomas and St. Jan the future plantation owners themselves dictated the size of their holdings. St. Croix, on the other hand, was divided into a grid of plantation plots of about equal size. Some plantation owners chose to purchase plots adjacent to their own in order to expand. These mergers resulted in the creation of large plantations like La Grange and Bethlehem on St. Croix.