Did you know that Russia sold Alaska to the United States for 7.2 million dollars in 1867? Numerous Americans stated, “We purchased a colossal walrus and an expensive farm.” At the moment, the utilization of Alaska’s natural resources generates 40 times the initial investment per year.
Purchase of Alaska, 1867
The acquisition of Alaska in 1867 brought a stop to Russia’s aspirations to extend trade and colonies along North America’s Pacific coast, and was a critical step in the United States’ climb to great power status in the Asia-Pacific region. Russia had a strong interest in this region, which was rich in natural resources and sparsely populated, beginning in 1725, when Russian Czar Peter the Great despatched Vitus Bering to explore the Alaskan coast. Americans quickly found themselves in conflict with Russian explorers and traders as the United States pushed westward in the early 1800s. St. Petersburg, on the other hand, lacked the financial resources necessary to establish substantial colonies or a military presence along North America’s Pacific coast, and permanent Russian inhabitants in Alaska never exceeded 400. Russian interest in this region was further diminished following Russia’s defeat in the Crimean War.
Why did the United States buy Alaska in 1867?
Russia proposed to sell Alaska to the United States in 1859, hoping that the United States’ presence in the Pacific would offset Russia’s main opponent, Great Britain. The approaching American Civil War delayed the sale, but following the war, Secretary of State William Seward immediately accepted a revised Russian offer and on March 30, 1867, agreed to acquire Alaska for $7.2 million from Russian Minister in Washington, Edouard de Stoeckl. Alaska was legally sold to the United States on October 18, 1867, after the Senate ratified the treaty of purchase on April 9; President Andrew Johnson signed the treaty on May 28, and Alaska was formally handed to the United States on October 18, 1867. This acquisition effectively terminated Russia’s foothold in North America and provided the US with access to the northern rim of the Pacific.
For three decades following its acquisition, the US paid little attention to Alaska, which was controlled by military, navy, or Treasury officials or, at times, by no one at all. In 1884, the United States established a civil government in order to implement US mining rules. Skeptics nicknamed the acquisition of Alaska “Seward’s Folly,” but the former Secretary of State was justified in 1896, when a significant gold deposit was found in the Yukon, and Alaska became the entrance to the Klondike gold fields. Alaska’s strategic significance was eventually realized during World War II. Alaska was admitted to the Union as a state on January 3, 1959.
Why Did Canada Refuse to Acquire Alaska?
Today’s Wonder of the Day is all about the largest state in the United States of America. It is home to approximately 100 volcanoes, 3,000 rivers, and three million lakes. At times, its days and nights stretch on for months. Additionally, it is one of the greatest locations to view the Northern Lights. In case you haven’t guessed it yet, we’re discussing Alaska!
Alaska may not be immediately visible on a map of the United States. Why? Because Alaska is completely surrounded by other states. Indeed, Canada is sandwiched between this northernmost state and the rest of the United States.
This may cause you to WONDER how Alaska came to be a part of the United States. Numerous Wonder Friends are aware that the United States purchased Alaska from Russia in 1867. Many dubbed that transaction Seward’s Folly. However, why did Russia sell Alaska to the United States in the first place? Why did Canada not purchase it?
To get the answer to this question, we must travel all the way back to 1741. That is the year Russia annexed Alaska. It built Russian settlements throughout Alaska in the years that followed. Additionally, it made use of Alaska’s natural resources. Specifically, fur trade developed as a thriving industry. These efforts would practically annihilate Alaska’s otter population over time.
Simultaneously, another force was establishing itself on the other side of North America. You may already be familiar with the British colonies that became the United States of America. However, Britain established settlements in modern-day Canada as well. These occurred in Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, and the Hudson Bay region.
Russia and Great Britain were at conflict on a number of fronts throughout the nineteenth century. Notably, both governments aimed to expand their influence in the Pacific Ocean. Additionally, they were on opposing sides of a violent struggle known as the Crimean War.
Russia was under strain as both the United Kingdom and the fledgling United States spread their influence over North America. With the decline of the fur trade, Russia began to reassess the worth of its Alaskan holdings.
This is when Russia considered selling Alaska. However, to whom would it sell the territory? Canada remained a British colony. Despite the fact that the two territories shared a border, Russia and Great Britain remained adversaries. This increased Russia’s reluctance to transfer Alaska to the United Kingdom. Of course, we all know how the narrative ends: in 1867, Russia surrendered Alaska to the United States. That same year, the Dominion of Canada was created by Great Britain. This brought the area closer to independence.
Therefore, why didn’t Canada get Alaska? There are two primary causes for this. To begin, Canada was not a sovereign nation in 1867. Second, the British Empire ruled over the Canadian colonies. Russia was adamant about not selling Alaska to its adversary.
Following the acquisition of Alaska, the United States and Canada engaged in a protracted and contentious conflict. They couldn’t agree on the precise location of Alaska’s boundary. Eventually, the matter was resolved, and Alaska established its 1,538-mile boundary with Canada. Alaska later became the 49th state of the United States of America in 1959.
Are you a resident of Alaska? Have you ever paid a visit? Along with being the biggest state in the United States of America, many consider it to be the most beautiful. Alaska undoubtedly has a variety of views to visit, from glaciers to mountains to forested places. It may be the state for you if you enjoy exploring the great outdoors!