Skip to comments.This Day in History: Russia Sells Alaska to the United States
Posted on 10/18/2018 9:19:02 AM PDT by CondoleezzaProtege
On this day in 1867, the U.S. formally takes possession of Alaska after purchasing the territory from Russia for $7.2 million, or less than two cents an acre. The Alaska purchase comprised 586,412 square miles, about twice the size of Texas, and was championed by William Henry Seward, the enthusiasticly expansionist secretary of state under President Andrew Johnson.
Negotiations between Seward (1801-1872) and the Russian minister to the U.S., Eduard de Stoeckl, began in March 1867. However, the American public believed the land to be barren and worthless and dubbed the purchase Sewards Folly and Andrew Johnsons Polar Bear Garden, among other derogatory names. Some animosity toward the project may have been a byproduct of President Johnsons own unpopularity. (Johnson battled with Radical Republicans in Congress over Reconstruction policies following the Civil War.)
He was impeached in 1868 and later acquitted by a single vote. Nevertheless, Congress eventually ratified the Alaska deal.
Public opinion of the purchase turned more favorable when gold was discovered in a tributary of Alaskas Klondike River in 1896, sparking a gold rush. Alaska became the 49th state on January 3, 1959, and is now recognized for its vast natural resources. Today, 25 percent of Americas oil and over 50 percent of its seafood come from Alaska.
(Excerpt) Read more at history.com ...
“over 50 percent of its seafood come from Alaska.”
Always wondered where those frozen fish sticks came from....
Long hung with the name of Seward’s folly, the Alaska purchase has proven to be a VERY wise purchase.
All that rich land...and S Palin, too!
I saw the check and Seward’s desk on display at the state museum in Juneau years ago. It was a sweet deal for America.
Ahh, but you haven't seen anything until you've seen a school of those fish sticks swimming en masse upstream to spawn ...
[and would you believe that I looked for a photo-shopped "picture" of fish sticks swimming upstream and couldn't find one ...]
See, see! Trump collusion!
Send the embarrassing idiot murkowski back to Russia. A rebate
And they all made fun of William Henry Seward. He was born in Orange County, NY, educated as a lawyer, moved to Auburn, NY, was U.S. Senator, and NY Governor. And of course he survived the assassination attempt by Lewis Thorton Powell/Paine. His house is in Auburn, and when I lived there, I visited it, and Harriet Tubman’s house. Seward and his family are buried in Fort Hill Cemetery in Auburn, as is Myles Keough, who was killed at the Battle of Little Big Horn, Civil War General Emory Upton, and Harriet Tubman.
Smart move. Defending that border with Canada throughout the Cold War would have been a monumental task.
$7.2 million in 1867 is about a half billion today. That’s far less than Obama’s failed “stimulus.” What a bargain.
You always read about the anniversary of the great event. I always wonder what led up to it. Who first conceived it? Who first proposed it? How did it get up the chain of command to Seward? How was it sold to the Senate for ratification of the treaty? What backroom dealing was required to sell the deal?
Can we sell them back Lisa Murkowski?
1) Russian Alaska remains monarchist after the Revolution,and becomes what Taiwan is the mainland China.
2) Japan claims Alaska after the Russo-Japanese war.
3) Russian Alaska is part of the USSR, with missiles
pointed at the US.
However, the American public believed the land to be barren and worthless and dubbed the purchase Sewards Folly...
It was the press of the time that pushed the name Sewards Folly. The MSM press is the enemy of the people and always has been.
I went to Fairbanks last month for a wedding. I had never been to Alaska. I was very surprised at the number of seasonal workers there from Russia. Nearly every restaurant and gift shop was staffed by 20-something-year-old Russian gals.
The mini-series WW III comes to mind for some reason.
By the 1850s a population of 300,000 sea otters was almost extinct, and Russia needed money after being defeated by Britain in the Crimean War. The California gold rush showed that if gold were discovered in Alaska, Americans and Canadians would overwhelm the Russian presence in what one scholar later described as "Siberia's Siberia". In any future war with Britain, the hard-to-defend colony would be easily captured. Therefore, Emperor Alexander II decided to sell the territory. The Russian government discussed the proposal in 1857 and 1858. Perhaps in the hope of starting a bidding war, both the British and the Americans were approached in 1859. However, British Prime Minister Lord Palmerston steadfastly rejected the offer, arguing that Canada (which wasn't a country at the time and under British rule) had enough uncharted wilderness to deal with and that Britain would overstretch its resources in maintaining Alaska as well as its territories and colonies outside North America. Then the Russians offered to sell the territory to the United States, hoping that its presence in the region would offset the plans of Britain. However, no deal was reached, as the risk of an American Civil War was a more pressing concern in Washington.
Additionally, the Russian Crown sought to repay money to its landowners after its emancipation reform of 1861 and borrowed 15 million pounds sterling from Rothschilds at 5% annually. When the time came to repay the loan, the Russian government was short of funds.
Russia continued to see an opportunity to weaken British power by causing British Columbia, including the Royal Navy base at Esquimalt, to be surrounded or annexed by American territory. Following the Union victory in the Civil War, the Tsar instructed the Russian minister to the United States, Eduard de Stoeckl, to re-enter into negotiations with William H. Seward in the beginning of March 1867. President Johnson was entangled in negotiations about Reconstruction and Seward had alienated a number of Republicans, so they believed that the purchase would help divert attention from the domestic issues. The negotiations concluded after an all-night session with the signing of the treaty at 04:00 on March 30, 1867, with the purchase price set at $7.2 million ($105 million in 2016), or about 2 cents per acre.
So the animal pelts had run out (1850s), the Russians needed money after the Crimean war (1856), needed more money to pay for land reform (1861) and they wanted to weaken British power in BC by surrounding BC with American power.
Earlier, the Russians had a small colony at Fort Ross on California's north coast:
The Russians had begun their expansion into the North American continent in 1741 with a massive scientific expedition to Alaska. Returning with news of abundant sea otters, the explorers inspired Russian investment in the Alaskan fur trade and some permanent settlement. By the early 19th century, the semi-governmental Russian-American Company was actively competing with British and American fur-trading interests as far south as the shores of Spanish-controlled California.
Russias Alaskan colonists found it difficult to produce their own food because of the short growing season of the far north. Officials of the Russian-American Company reasoned that a permanent settlement along the more temperate shores of California could serve both as a source of food and a base for exploiting the abundant sea otters in the region. To that end, a large party of Russians and Aleuts sailed for California where they established Fort Ross (short for Russia) on the coast north of San Francisco.
Fort Ross, though, proved unable to fulfill either of its expected functions for very long. By the 1820s, the once plentiful sea otters in the region had been hunted almost to extinction. Likewise, the colonists attempts at farming proved disappointing, because the cool foggy summers along the coast made it difficult to grow the desired fruits and grains. Potatoes thrived, but they could be grown just as easily in Alaska.
At the same time, the Russians were increasingly coming into conflict with the Mexicans and the growing numbers of Americans settling in the region. Disappointed with the commercial potential of the Fort Ross settlement and realizing they had no realistic chance of making a political claim for the region, the Russians decided to sell out. After making unsuccessful attempts to interest both the British and Mexicans in the fort, the Russians finally found a buyer in John Sutter. An American emigrant to California, Sutter bought Fort Ross in 1841 with an unsecured note for $30,000 that he never paid. He cannibalized the fort to provide supplies for his colony in the Sacramento Valley where, seven years later, a chance discovery ignited the California Gold Rush.
Welcome to the USA, Eskimo-Americans!
Just kidding, had the pleasure to visit the 49th in 2016. Beautiful land and people!
They should offer a mail-order bride business...
And those little dinner rolls....
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