Organic Act Day: Virgin Islands

Celebrating a new constitution

by Liz Olson

Each year, on the third Monday in June, the Virgin Islands recognize Organic Act Day, which commemorates the organization of a new government in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The U.S. Congress granted citizenship to Virgin Islanders in 1927 and universal suffrage was given in 1936 to all persons who could read and write English, but the Islanders did not have their own government. On June 22, 1936, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Organic Act law that gave the Virgin Islands their own Constitution. President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed a revised Organic Act on July 22, 1954, unifying the Islands’ legislature. A unicameral 15-person legislature serves the Virgin Islands, and congressional legislation gave the Islands a nonvoting representative in Congress. Residents of the islands largely enjoy the same rights as mainlanders, but they cannot vote in presidential elections.

Organic Act Day is observed during Carnival—a month-long celebration in the Virgin Islands that includes parades, fireworks, calypso music and dancing, and more.

U.S. Virgin Islands

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William O. Douglas served the longest term (36 years and 209 days) on the Supreme Court.

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