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Alaska Purchase

Belongs to subject The history of the Purchase of Alaska, 1867

The Alaska Purchase (Russian: Продажа Аляски, tr. Prodazha Alyaski) was the United States' acquisition of Alaska from the Russian Empire. Alaska was formally transferred to the United States on October 18, 1867, through a treaty ratified by the United States Senate and signed by President Andrew Johnson. Russia had established a presence in North America during the first half of the seventeenth century, but few Russians ever settled in Alaska. Following the end of the American Civil War, U.S. Secretary of State William Seward entered into negotiations with Russian minister Eduard de Stoeckl for the purchase of Alaska. The purchase added 586,412 square miles (1,518,800 km) of new territory to the United States for the cost of $7.2 million. Reactions to the purchase in the United States were mostly positive, as many believed possession of Alaska would serve as a base to expand American trade in Asia. Some opponents labeled the purchase as "Seward's Folly", or "Seward's Icebox", as they contended that the United States had acquired useless land. Nearly all Russian settlers left Alaska in the aftermath of the purchase, and Alaska would remain sparsely-populated until the Klondike Gold Rush began in 1896. Originally organized as the Department of Alaska, the area was renamed the District of Alaska and the Alaska Territory before becoming the modern State of Alaska in 1959.

They arrived in Alaska in 1732, and in 1799 the Russian-American Company (RAC) received a charter to hunt for fur. The Russian government discussed the proposal in 1857 and 1858. 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. Supporters of Konstantin's proposal to immediately withdraw from North America included Admiral Yevfimy Putyatin and the Russian minister to the United States, Eduard de Stoeckl. de Stoeckl reported the interest expressed by the Americans in acquiring Russian America. An Aleut name, "Alaska", was chosen by the Americans. Seward told the nation that the Russians estimated that Alaska contained about 2,500 Russians and those of mixed race (that is, a Russian father and native mother), and 8,000 indigenous people, in all about 10,000 people under the direct government of the Russian fur company, and possibly 50,000 Inuit and Alaska Natives living outside its jurisdiction. The treaty passed the United States Senate with 37 votes for versus 2 opposed.

The ongoing controversy over Reconstruction spread to other acts, such as the Alaska purchase. Russian and American soldiers paraded in front of the governor's house; the Russian flag was lowered and the American flag raised amid peals of artillery. When the business with the flags was finally over, Captain of 2nd Rank Aleksei Alekseyevich Peshchurov said: "General Rousseau, by authority from His Majesty, the Emperor of Russia, I transfer to the United States the territory of Alaska.(Peshchurov had been sent to Sitka as commissioner of the Russian government in the transfer of Alaska.) American settlers who shared Sumner's belief in the riches of Alaska rushed to the territory, but found that much capital was required to exploit its resources, many of which were also found closer to markets in the contiguous United States. The United States acquired an area over twice as large as Texas, but it was not until the great Klondike gold strike in 1896 that Alaska came to be seen generally as a valuable addition to American territory. The seal fishery was one of the chief considerations that induced the United States to purchase Alaska. It provided considerable revenue to the United States by the lease of the privilege of taking seals, in fact an amount in excess of the price paid for Alaska. The business grew so large that the earnings of English laborers after the acquisition of Alaska by the United States amounted by 1890 to $12,000,000. Economist David R. Barker has argued that the U.S. federal government has not earned a positive financial return on the purchase of Alaska. In Alaska, Alaska Day celebrates the formal transfer of Alaska from Russia to the United States, which took place on October 19, 1867. Alaska Day is a holiday for all state workers.

In November 2018 a documentary ("SRF bi de Lüt") by the Swiss television broadcast the information that the Russian Tsar in 1867 had first proposed the sale of Alaska to the Prince of Liechtenstein, and that only after the prince rejected, Alaska was offered to the United States. Bancroft, Hubert Howe: History of Alaska: "Paying for Alaska", Political Science Quarterly Vol. A New Look at the Alaska Purchase (University of Alaska Press, 2016). The significance of the Alaska purchase to American expansion., Russia's American Colony. Alaska History The Limestone Press; Kingston, Ontario & Fairbanks, Alaska, 1990. The Alaska Scandal, the Press, and Congress 1867–1871. The Alaska Purchase and Russian-American Relations. A History of the United States since the Civil War. Richard Pierce, Alaska History, 21 (Fall 2006), 1–25. Seward, William H. Alaska: Speech of William H. Seward at Sitka, August 12, 1869 (1869; Digitized page images & text), a primary source

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