Alaska, discovered by a Russian expedition led by M. Gvozdev and I. Fedorov in 1732, was the possession of Russia in North America. Initially, it was mastered by private individuals, and, starting in 1799, by a specially established monopoly – the Russian-American Company (RAC). At the beginning of the 19th century, Alaska brought income to the Russian treasury through the fur trade, but by the middle of the century it became clear that the costs of maintaining and protecting this remote and vulnerable, from a geopolitical point of view, territory would greatly exceed the potential profit.
For the first time, the idea of selling Alaska sounded in the government of tsarist Russia back in the early 1850s, and negotiations for its acquisition by the United States began in 1866 under President Andrew Johnson. At a special meeting in the ceremonial hall of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, held with the participation of Emperor Alexander II on December 28, 1866, it was decided to sell Russian possessions in North America.
On March 30, 1867, an agreement was signed in Washington for the sale of Alaska by Russia to the United States of America for $ 7,200,000 (11 million tsarist rubles). And the area of the sold territory was just over 1.5 million square meters. km.
The official ceremony of handing over Alaska to the United States took place on October 18, 1867.
At that time, in America itself, there were few who wanted to acquire a huge territory, called by the opponents of the deal a reserve for polar bears and a glacier cellar. The treaty was ratified by only a majority of one vote.
By the way, the very name Alaska appeared during the passage of the purchase agreement through the US Senate. In his speech in defense of the acquisition of new territories, Senator Sumner, following the traditions of the indigenous population of the Aleutian Islands, gave them a new name – Alaska, which means “Big Land”.
However, when gold and rich mineral resources were discovered in Alaska, the deal was hailed as a major achievement by President Andrew Johnson’s administration.