Why Did Russia Sell Alaska?
Alaska, previously known as Seward’s Folly, has been recognised as forty-ninth state of Russia. Long back, very few people were aware about the tremendous potential and importance of this area. In 1867, United States bought it from Russia for $ 7,200,000.
William Seward, Secretary of the state under Lincon, had urged that we buy it. Area acquired about double the size of Texas 586,400 square miles, comparatively at very cheaper rate was which comes around two cents for one acre! At that time, most of the Americans were of the view that the amount paid is very much on the higher side for such a barren, far-off place.
Alaska was, perhaps, the last area of the world to be discovered and explored by whitemen. In eighteenth century, under Peter the Great, U.S.S.R. extended its empire through Siberia and into the Pacific. Sometime in 1741 Vitus Bering, a Dane in the Service of the Russian Navy led an expedition with the help of two small ships and finally got success in reaching their destination i.e. Alaska.
In eighteenth and much of the nineteenth century, Russia discovered its Alaskan territory, previously known as Russian America. It governed Alaska through the Russian America Company. During this span also, sea captains of Spain, France and Great Britain discovered the Alaska Coast. The vessels of United States reached Alaska in 1788 for the first time.
Sometime in 1821 Russia imposed restrictions on other nations to trade, or fish or do business and marked the boundary line. Thereafter, certain concessions and relaxations were given to England and United States when Russia signed treaties, inter alia, giving them trading rights.
In 1854, when the Crimean War brokeout, the Russians felt that they had immense problems at home to bother with Alaska. They also realised that Alaska was too exposed and too aloof for Russia to be able to protect it. Hence, Negotiations were started sometime in 1859 to sell Alaska at the hands of United States. In between, the Civil War halted negotiations temporarily, but ultimately this deal was materialized in 1867.