According to a letter from Bettie Williams, the first Republican National Committeewoman from the Virgin Islands, the Republican Party of the Virgin was first brought into being in 1948 through the auspices of Bill Bailey, a partner in the law firm of Maas and Bailey in St. Thomas. A previous resident of New York State, Bailey used his connections with the Republican Party there to have the territory become part of the national party. The Virgin Islands did not want to become part of the Southern Region because of “…difficulty with the Southerners.” To this day the V.I. Republican Party is considered part of the Northern Region.
In 1948, the first four members were Roy Gordon and Bill Bailey in St. Thomas and Jose Shaubah and Stanley Farrelly in St. Croix. People who attended the first formative meetings considered themselves “founding members.”
On October 22, 1985 a form letter from the Territorial Committee of the Republican Party of the Virgin Islands was sent out signed by the History Committee, in many cases with a personal handwritten note from Meredith Clarke, asking for “…any information you may consider of interest.” Subsequently a questionnaire prepared by Dr. Patricia Gill Murphy, Political Analyst in the office of the newly elected Senator Holland Redfield, was sent out to as many early members for whom mailing addresses were available. Data listed below is collated from these responses.
Bill Bailey and Jose Shaubah attended the Republican Convention in Chicago in 1948. Proposed by the New York State Delegation a measure was adopted at that Convention accepting the Virgin Islands of the United States as a member of the Republican National Committee with one voting delegate and one alternated delegate beginning with the Convention of 1952.
Jack Monsanto joined the Republican Party in 1954. As his reason for joining he stated: “ The Republican Party’s principles are what I believe makes this country grow. All supporting our country instead of waiting for a free ride and a hand out. I’m a conservative.” Monsanto was elected President of the STT Branch in 1956. He further stated, “ With the revision of the V.I. Code of 1954 provisions came about for a unicameral legislature with one senate comprised of 11 members. 2 from St. Thomas, 2 from St. Croix and 1 from St. John and the other 6 at large. A voter could vote for the candidates from his island and not more than 2 at large. In 1954 the Republican Party was the only party to run a complete slate with candidates from all three islands and candidates at large. During the 50’s and into the 60’s the Republicans made a truce and opposed the Unity Party. In the late 60’s (?) the election law was changed. Political parties were required to register with the Supervisor of Elections. There were 3 parties registered. 1 as Republican and 2 as Democrat. During primary elections party officers were elected.
A voter could only vote in he primary of the party he was registered with. The Unity Party members and the Democrats reenrolled as Democrats and the control of the party to be fought out at the primary. The majority of the Republicans registered as Democrats. At the primary the Unity Party took over the Democratic Party. The decident (sp) Democrats formed the ICM (Independent Citizens Movement) Party. The Republicans almost ceased to exist when it failed to garner 5% of he votes cast at large. Special legislation legalized it to not be required to meet 5% requirement. Many Republicans that had registered as Democrats never bother to change their registration later to the GOP.”