The First Salute to the United States of America: On November 16, 1776 Governor (than acknowledged as Commander) Johannes de Graaff of St. Eustatius returned the salute fire of the visiting American brig Andrew Doria by firing the cannons of Fort Oranje. Becoming the first international country to acknowledge the independence of the United States. President Roosevelt visited the island for approximately 2 hours on February 27, 1939 on the USS Houston. He presented St. Eustatius with a plaque to recognize the importance of the First Salute. This plaque is proudly displayed in Fort Oranje on St. Eustatius.
St. Eustatius was discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1493. He named this tiny Island Santa Anastasia. In 1636 the first Dutch Settlers arrived. For a period of 150 years the tiny Island of St Eustatius changed hands over 20 times mainly between the French, British, English and Dutch. The Dutch finally gained control in 1679. During the 17th and 18th Century St. Eustatius was a major trading center for the western hemisphere. Both legal and illegal trade brought gold and prosperity to this tiny island then dubbed the Golden Rock.
During The American Revolutionary War (also known as the American War of Independence or the Revolutionary War) St. Eustatius was the major supplier of arms and ammunition to the Thirteen Colonies in North America. Benjamin Franklin had his mail routed through St. Eustatius to ensure its safe arrival. At one time this tiny Island had some 70 plantations.