The Best of St. Croix
Contract Day
1878 Fireburn Re-Enactment 2009
The Fireburn of 1878 was the culmination of many factors. This year, more of those reasons
came out in the re-enactment. First, there were the very low wages tantamount to serfdom,
where the pay equals what is owed to the property owner for food, clothing, shelter and
medical care, so no actual money is received by the worker. Then there were the contracted
ex-slaves from other islands and East Indians who were brought in to cut cane but were
never given their papers to go back home and so had to stay stranded on St. Croix with no
prospects of ever seeing their families again. This along with various illegal murders and
poor living conditions boiled up into the conflagration we know as the Fireburn.
King Street Frederiksted, Customs House Square and
United Caribbean Association UCA's headquarters.
A lesson in conch shell blowing is in progress.
Outside the torches are made ready and the crowd is assembling.
Some background talk is given before the play begins.
Historian Mario Moorhead begins to lay the down the
framework for how it all began and what took place.
We begin with a market scene. It is a slow day of sales.
The next scene is two women talking in the cane fields.
The next scene is two men discussing things as they
eat a meal in the field.
A crowd has gathered to discuss working conditions and possible
solutions to the poor conditions under which they are living.
Our next scene is two men down by the bayside
discussing life on the plantations and not being able to
go back to their own islands.
The next scene finds Queen Mary rising early to light a
fire under her coal pot to make breakfast before going to
the fields to work. She is called upon by a friend bringing
bad news about a murder of one of her relations.
Queen Mary puts out one fire to go and start another.
The Cast.
Now everyone is invited to participate in the torch bearing
re-enactment. The route is South on Queen Street, West
on Fisher Street and North on King Street.
African drums lead the way. Drummers ride together in
the back of the lead vehicle.