John David Merwin

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John Merwin
Governor of the Virgin Islands
In office
September 25, 1958 – January 1, 1961
Preceded byWalter Gordon
Succeeded byRalph Paiewonsky
Personal details
Born(1921-09-26)September 26, 1921
St. Croix, Virgin Islands, U.S.
Died17 March 2013(2013-03-17) (aged 91)
Political partyRepublican
Alma materUniversity of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras
Yale University

John David Merwin (born September 26, 1921 – 17 March 2013[1]) was a former politician of the United States Virgin Islands who served in that territory's Legislature, as Government Secretary (equivalent to Lieutenant Governor), and as the first native born Governor. He was perhaps the first "politician" to be made Governor as previous appointees were primarily men of the military, industry, or non-elected government servants.

Merwin was born in St. Croix. In the 1950s, he became a member of the Legislature, during which time he voted for a 10-year exemption on all taxes for businesses with $10,000 of capitalization ($100,000 for hotels and housing industries) and a 75% reduction in income taxes for those industries. He was an avid campaigner for a USVI representative in the United States Congress.

On December 23, 1957, he was made Government Secretary. The following year, President Dwight D. Eisenhower nominated him for Governor on August 4, Congress approved and he was sworn in on September 25.

As Governor, he worked to build a second airport on St. Thomas, but that plan was scrapped by his successor. He also worked to boost tourism by attending tourism conventions and even opened a Department of Tourism office in New York, New York.


  • Virgin Islands Vote Aid to New Business. New York Times. New York, N.Y.: Jun 15, 1957. pg. 24, 1 pgs
  • Lebanon Envoy Named. New York Times. New York, N.Y.: Dec 24, 1957. pg. 7, 1 pgs
  • J. D. Merwin Is Named For Virgin Islands Post. Special to The New York Times. New York Times. New York, N.Y.: Aug 6, 1958. pg. 5, 1 pgs
  • Merwin Is Sworn it as Virgin Isles' Governor. Chicago Daily Tribune. Chicago, Ill.: Sep 26, 1958. pg. 5, 1 pgs
  • New York Office to Open. New York Times (1857-Current file). New York, N.Y.: Jan 22, 1961. pg. XX26, 1 pgs
  • A Life of Friendships. by John D. Merwin. Southern Cross Publications 2010

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Walter Gordon
Governor of the Virgin Islands
Succeeded by
Ralph Paiewonsky