Peter von Scholten
|Governor of St. Thomas, St. John|
1818 – June 1820
|Preceded by||Christian Ludvig von Holten|
|Succeeded by||Carl Gottlieb Fleischer|
|Governor-General of the Danish West Indies|
|Monarchs||Frederick VI (until December 1839), Christian VIII|
|Preceded by||Christian Ludvig von Holten|
|Succeeded by||Frederik von Oxholm|
Peter Carl Frederik von Scholten
17 May 1784
|Died||26 January 1854 (aged 69)|
Altona, Holstein, (present day Germany)
Anne Elisabeth Thortsen
|Parent(s)||Casimir Wilhelm von Scholten |
Catharina Elisabeth de Moldrup
Early life and education
As a young man, von Scholten joined the Danish army and in 1803 he was appointed ensign in a unit stationed in the West Indies. He was transported to Great Britain when the British occupied the Danish West Indies in 1807. Peter von Scholten married Anne Elisabeth Thortsen, daughter of Danish army captain Johan Thortsen, on October 31, 1810.
Later, he had a career as an officer in Copenhagen, first as a second lieutenant in the Det Sjællandske Jægerkorps (a Danish Jaeger or rifle regiment) in 1808, promoted to premier lieutenant in 1811, he reached the rank of staff captain in 1813. This ledhis becoming adjutant for Frederick VI of Denmark's general adjudant Frants Cristopher Bülow. He served in this role until 1814 when British occupation of the Danish West Indies ended, and he got his first official position on St. Thomas, as customs toller.
In 1827, he became acting governor general of St. Thomas. From 1835 to 1848, he served as governor general for all three islands, Saint Thomas, Saint Croix, and Saint John, giving him overall command of the islands. During this period he showed himself a patriarchal administrator trying to lighten the burden of the slaves and to restrain racial tensions. He did this by creating schools for the black population, as well as permitting them private ownership. (Picture of ruins of Von Scholten school, St. Croix.)
In spite of his relatively liberal attitudes, von Scholten was opposed to Christian VIII of Denmark's ruling that every child born of an unfree woman should be free from birth, as he felt that such an arrangement would cause discontent with serious consequences. When the new policy was brought into effect, he felt himself proven right as a slave rebellion broke out on St. Croix in 1848. Peter von Scholten responded by, on 3 July 1848, emancipating all slaves in the Danish West Indian Islands.
Late years in Denmark and Altona
Shortly thereafter, von Scholten was called back to Denmark. There, a humiliating and hard trial was brought against him, and he was at first denied his pension, although he was later cleared of the charges and acquitted shortly before his death. Von Scholten was the last governor general of the West Indies because of the beginning democratisation of the Danish state and colonial administration.
During his early years on St. Thomas, Peter von Scholten enjoyed a wealthy lifestyle due to his position as customs officer during the surge in trade under the state of war between the nearby Spanish islands and the South American colonial insurgents. He later gained promotion to the position of Governor based on St. Croix. At this time, Peter von Scholten lived with Anna Heegaard (1790–1859), a woman of color. The consensus amongst modern scholars is that Anna Heegaard influenced von Scholten into a policy of more humane treatment of the black population.[need quotation to verify][need quotation to verify] They bought the country house Bülowsminde. Peter Von Scholten's brother Frederik also served on the West Indian Islands.
Peter von Scholten married Anna Elizabeth (Lise) Thortsen in Copenhagen in 1810. The couple had three daughters.
His fate has inspired several authors.
- C. F. Bricka (editor), Dansk biografisk Lexikon, first edition, 19 volumes, 1887–1905, Vol. XV. Online edition available: http://runeberg.org/dbl/15/ (pages 255 and 256. Numbered as 257 and 258 in the online edition).
- "Casimir Wilhelm von Scholten" (1752–1810) Personal Information at skeel.info
- Bricka, Biografisk, 257
- Bricka, Biografisk, 258
- "GORP – Christiansted National Historic Site in the U.S. Virgin Islands". Archived from the original on 2010-05-13. Retrieved 2010-05-10.
- Anita Davis ::: Published Articles
- Caribbean Writer On Line Book Review – The Governor-General's Lady
- Isaac Dookhan, History of the Virgin Islands, p. 173. ISBN 978-976-8125-05-7
- Hall, Neville A. T. (1992). Higman, Barry. W. (ed.). Slave Society in the Danish West Indies: St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix. Mona, Jamaica: University of the West Indies Press (published 1994). p. 175. ISBN 978-9764100294. Retrieved 2017-09-07.
- "Bredgade 45a–c". indenforvoldene.dk (in Danish). Archived from the original on 18 March 2016. Retrieved 13 March 2017.
- Slavernes Öer, by Thorkild Hansen
- On the Danish abolition of slavery: 3 sources by Von Scholten translated to French by French abolitionist Victor Schoelcher in 1843.