Alaska purchase - Business in United States of America

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Alaska purchase: U.S.-Russian Negotiations

Alaska purchase: Funding the Purchase

The Event: U.S. acquisition of the Alaska territory from the Russian Empire
Date: Treaty completed on July 27, 1868
Place: United States, Alaska
Significance: The United States purchased Alaska to boost American fishing and whaling industries, increase the nation’s control of commerce in the Pacific, and create a bridge to Asian markets.
The American entrepreneur Perry McDonough Collins had a vision as early as 1857 of expanding U.S. trade into Siberia, Manchuria, and northern China, foreseeing a million-dollar market for cotton manufactures alone. To this end, Collins promoted a telegraph line running from San Francisco up the Pacific coast and across the Bering Strait to the Amur River. In 1862, the United States agreed to pay for the line through Russian territory and receive in return a right of way in Russian America (the future Alaska). This grand scheme collapsed when the Russian Empire objected to paying rebates on messages transmitted to and from the United States.

Frank Day

Further Reading

  • Farrar, Victor J. The Annexation of Russian-America. 1937. Reprint. Washington, D.C.: W. F. Roberts, 1966. Account of the purchase of Alaska based on State Department records and Russian sources in the National Archives. 
  • _______. “Background to the Purchase of Alaska.” Washington Historical Quarterly 13 (1922): 93-104. Reviews Alaska’s role in the United States’ early relations with Russia.
  • Jensen, Ronald J. The Alaska Purchase and Russian- American Relations. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1975. Comprehensive, well-written survey of the treaty, beginning with the early Russian-American discussions in 1854 and concluding with a chapter on questions surrounding the disposition of some of the money meant for transfer to Moscow. 
  • Reynolds, Robert L. “Seward’s Wise Folly.” In America and Russia. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1962. Strong defense of the Alaska Purchase.
  • Taylor, John M. William Henry Seward: Lincoln’s Right Hand. Washington, D.C.: Brassey’s, 1991. Chapter 24, “The Empire Builder,” provides a concise account of the negotiations between Seward and Stoeckl concerning Alaska.
  • Woldman, Albert A. Lincoln and the Russians. New York: World, 1952. Broad account of U.S.-Russian relations during Abraham Lincoln’s presidency, with good commentary on the financial issues involved.

See also: Alaska Pipeline; exploration; Fur trapping and trading; International economics and trade; Klondike gold rush; Land laws; Louisiana Purchase; Petroleum industry.

Alaska purchase: Funding the Purchase

Alaska purchase: U.S.-Russian Negotiations

Alaska Pipeline: After Three Decades

Alaska Pipeline: Origins of the Project

Klondike gold rush

Hawaii annexation

Alaska Pipeline

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