With the aid of slavery, prosperity and productivity became the dominating factor throughout the British Virgin Islands. In 1774, the House of Assembly met for the first time in Road Town, Tortola and this is considered the official date of settlement of the British Virgin Islands.

August 1st, 1834 the Emancipation Proclamation brought freedom to 5,133 slaves. A few days later, William Roger Isaacs, President of the Virgin Islands, informed London that the proclamation day "passed off very quietly and the Negroes throughout the island have, contrary to the expectations which were entertained, with a very few exceptions, commenced their labour under the new system in an orderly and peaceable manner."

Jost Van Dyke is one of the British Virgin Islands. Jost is a volcanic island of approximately 8 square miles, and lies about 5 miles northwest of Tortola, 7 miles northeast of St. Thomas, and 5 miles north of St. John. Winter temperatures range between 75 and 85 degrees, with summer temperatures in the 80-90 degree range and occasionally reaching into the lower 90's. Showers do occur, but rarely last more than 10 minutes. The prevailing easterly trade winds provide great sailing and "natural" air conditioning.

Jost Van Dyke was named for a Dutch pirate, and was once a popular hangout for buccaneers and smugglers. In the 1730's, it was settled by Quakers, who began cultivating the land for sugar cane and cotton. Dr. John C. Lettsome (founder of the British Medical Society) was born on Little Jost Van Dyke in 1744, and William Thornton (architect of the U.S. Capitol building and the first U.S. Secretary of Patents) was born on Jost, both children of original Quaker settlers.
Today, Jost Van Dyke has about 175 permanent residents, most of whom live in Great Harbour and secondarily, Little Harbour. There are only 11 year-round residents in White Bay.

Great Harbour is the "commercial" center of the island, with five restaurant/bars, the government administration/Customs building, a small Methodist Church, a school and library, small grocery store, bakery, ice house and several small boutiques. Little Harbour has three restaurants, all specializing in lobster dinners. Up until March of 1996, the only way to get to these harbours from White Bay was by water taxi. However, we now have a paved road, and access to the rest of the island is much easier.