On March 30, 1867, the United States purchased Alaska from Russia for $7.2 million. Russia had originally attempted to sell the territory to the United States in 1859, but the offer was declined due to concerns about the value of the land and the potential difficulty of defending it. However, by 1867, the United States had become increasingly interested in acquiring new territories, and Russia was eager to sell Alaska in order to avoid potential conflicts with Great Britain, which also had territorial interests in the region.
Many people believe that at the time, the purchase was met with widespread criticism and ridicule, with many Americans referring to the new acquisition as “Seward’s Folly” or “Seward’s Icebox,” after William H. Seward, the United States Secretary of State who negotiated the deal. However, although there was some opposition to the deal, this is actually a myth. An analysis of newspaper editorials from the time found most to be neutral or positive.
The purchase of Alaska proved to be a wise investment for the United States. The territory contained vast reserves of natural resources, including gold, timber, and fish, and would eventually become a major source of oil. In addition, the acquisition of Alaska helped to solidify the United States’ claim to the Pacific Northwest and strengthened its position in the region.
Today, Alaska is the largest state in the United States and home to a diverse population of over 700,000 people. It remains an important source of natural resources and is a popular destination for tourists seeking to explore its rugged beauty and unique culture. The purchase of Alaska was a key moment in American history, demonstrating the nation’s willingness to take risks and invest in its future.