On this day: in history (1867), the U.S. Secretary of State William Seward and Russian minister Eduard de Stoeckl agreed to a treaty for the purchase of Alaska, and the treaty was ratified by the United States Senate by a wide margin.
Russia had established a presence in North America during the first half of the 18th century, but few Russians ever settled in Alaska. In the aftermath of the Crimean War, Russia needed money after being defeated by France and Britain to rebuild what they lost. Russian Tsar Alexander II began exploring the possibility of selling Alaska, which would be difficult to defend in any future war from being conquered by Russia’s archrival, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.
The purchase of Alaska added 586,412 sq mi (1,518,800 km2) of new territory to the United States for the cost of $7.2 million 1867 dollars.
The cost was equivalent to $133 million in 2020. 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; 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 (1884) and the Alaska Territory (1912) before becoming the modern State of Alaska in 1959.
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Created by Okey Obiabunmo