You Pay for What You Get: The U.S. Virgin Islands, 1917-1936
Journal of Caribbean History, Vol. 41, pp. 109-141, 2007
49 Pages Posted: 26 Aug 2008
Date Written: July 26, 2006
Stephanie Hunter McMahon analyzes the governance of the U.S. Virgin Islands from 1917 through 1936 to assess the relative value of economic and social factors in territorial governance. A review of key decision-makers' financial and political concerns reveals that the U.S. accepted responsibility for the islanders' economic welfare but not their civic well-being. Recognizing the depth of the islanders' financial distress, McMahon contends that the U.S. extended political rights to the territory's inhabitants, not out of democratic obligation, but in the hope of decreasing the burden the islands placed on the federal treasury. Thus, economic considerations largely dictated legislative decisions.
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