Alaska Purchase

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U.S. Secretary of State William Seward wrote to Russian minister Eduard de Stoeckl proposing the purchase of Alaska (March 23, 1867). The following week Stoeckl wrote a response that the Tsar agreed to the American terms. 
File:The Russian exchange copy of the Treaty of Cession.jpg
Treaty concerning the Cession of the Russian Possessions in North America by his Majesty the Emperor of all the Russias to the United States of America : (June 20, 1867).
The Purchase of Alaska: Unveiling the Remarkable Acquisition

Often referred to as "Seward's Folly," the acquisition of this vast landmass of Alaska in 1867 showcases the U.S. ambitions and foresight.

The Historical Context
During the mid-19th century, Alaska, then known as Russian America, was under the control of the Russian Empire. However, Russia's interest in maintaining a distant and costly colony waned over time. Meanwhile, the United States was keen on expanding its territory and influence beyond the continental borders. The backdrop of the American Civil War and concerns about British encroachment in the region added further urgency to acquiring Alaska.

The Key Players
Two prominent figures played pivotal roles in the purchase of Alaska: U.S. Secretary of State William H. Seward and Russian Minister to the United States Eduard de Stoeckl. Seward, a proponent of territorial expansion, believed in the potential value of Alaska. Stoeckl, representing Russia, sought to alleviate the economic burden of maintaining the distant colony. Their negotiations would lead to one of the most significant real estate transactions in history.

The Purchase Agreement
On March 30, 1867, the United States and Russia signed the Treaty of Cession, officially transferring Alaska to American control for a sum of $7.2 million, equivalent to approximately two cents per acre. Skeptics and critics of the purchase derided it as Seward's Folly or Seward's Icebox, doubting the value of the vast, seemingly inhospitable territory.

Consequences and Legacy
The purchase of Alaska has proven to be a momentous decision with far-reaching consequences. Contrary to initial skepticism, the acquisition of Alaska brought numerous benefits to the U.S. The territory's rich natural resources, including gold, timber, and fisheries, played a crucial role in stimulating economic development and attracting settlers. Alaska also emerged as an important strategic location during World War II and the Cold War, with its proximity to Russia providing a significant advantage.

Moreover, the purchase of Alaska laid the groundwork for future growth and expansion. It set a precedent for the United States' willingness to acquire territories beyond its continental borders, influencing subsequent territorial acquisitions, such as the Hawaiian Islands and the Philippines. The purchase also played a vital role in shaping the country's perception as a global power.

Conclusion
The purchase of Alaska in 1867 was a bold and visionary move that redefined American history. What was once viewed as an icy wasteland transformed into a land of immense economic potential, strategic importance, and natural beauty. The acquisition not only enriched the U.S. but also contributed to its development as a global power. Recognizing the significance of the purchase of Alaska allows us to appreciate the foresight and audacity of those who forged the path to expand the nation's horizons.

 

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