The St. Thomas Craftsmen of the Nineteenth Century

Mark Clague

in The Memoirs of Alton Augustus Adams, Sr.

Published by University of California Press

Published in print April 2008 | ISBN: 9780520251311
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520933811 | DOI:
The St. Thomas Craftsmen of the Nineteenth Century

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This chapter reviews Adams's childhood and family history to highlight two of the traditional values that he holds as essential to the Virgin Islands: discipline and culture. It discusses the values of hard work, skill, and education espoused by the free black artisans of the islands and instilled by the islands' apprenticeship system. Adams's efforts as a writer, musician, and civic leader can be seen as a quest to regain the best aspects of this halcyon period. Its example fueled his social thinking, as he believed economic strength was the foundation of a harmonious society. This chapter further articulates his strategy of identity formation in his portrayal of the islands' craftsmen, who derived a deep sense of self and purpose from their creations “as mirroring themselves.” Adams hopes that retelling this story of the Virgin Islands' Danish past will help preserve these same core values as a source from which young Virgin Islanders may draw inspiration and strength.

Keywords: discipline; culture; craftsmen; halcyon period; identity formation

Chapter.  7315 words. 

Subjects: American Music

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