Not far from this shore, there was canon fire that marked a changed world.
In November 1776 Captain Isaiah Robinson sailed the Continental navy brigantine Andrew Doria to St Eustatius.
St Eustatius is and was a volcanic rock of a Caribbean Island owned by Holland. And the Doria wasn’t coming for some R&R . It came to pick up military supplies. During this time St Eustatius would sell weapons to anyone. It was one of the few places the rebel colonies could do this kind of shopping, and about half of all weapons the colonist use during the revolutionary war come through St Eustatius. And they also came with a special delivery for the island’s governor, Johannes de Graaf – a copy of the Declaration of Independence.
The Doria was flying the Continental flag, the first flag of the nascent United States of America.
As it sailed into the harbor Robertson ordered the customary salute be fired by the Doria, in this case 13-guns, one for each colony. What happened next was not expected. de Graaf ordered that Fort Oranje fire an 11-gun salute in return, which at the time was the customary salute rendered to a republic.
This is an extraordinary event! For the first time the US flag, our rebellion against Great Britain, and our sovereignty itself, is acknowledged by another country. And this recognition of what would be the most consequential event of the 18th century doesn’t happen in Paris, Philadelphia, or London, but on a small 7 square-mile rock nowhere near the centers of power. But this small act is a huge step on the way to American independence.