Alaska Purchase

Alaska Purchase
1. purchase of the territory of Alaska by the U.S. from Russia in 1867 for $7,200,000. Cf. Seward's Folly.
2. the territory itself.

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Acquisition in 1867 by the U.S. from Russia of 586,412 sq mi (1.5 million sq km) at the northwestern tip of North America, comprising the current U.S. state of Alaska.

The territory, held by Russia since 1741, was considered an economic liability, and in 1866 it was offered for sale. Pres. Andrew Johnson's secretary of state, William Seward, negotiated its purchase for $7.2 million, or about two cents per acre. Critics labeled the purchase "Seward's Folly." Congressional opposition delayed the appropriation until 1868, when extensive lobbying and bribes by the Russian minister to the U.S. secured the required votes.

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▪ United States history
 (1867), acquisition by the United States from Russia of 586,412 square miles (1,518,800 square km) of land at the northwestern tip of the North American continent.

 William Henry Seward (Seward, William H), secretary of state under President Andrew Johnson, had as early as 1860 dreamed of acquiring Alaska. The territory was considered an economic liability by the Russians, and in December 1866 Baron Eduard de Stoeckl, Russian minister to the United States, was instructed to open negotiations with Seward for its sale. On March 29, 1867, Stoeckl and Seward completed the draft of a treaty ceding Russian North America to the United States, and the treaty was signed early the following day. The price—$7,200,000—amounted to about two cents per acre.

      Few Americans, however, viewed the purchase as a bargain, and Seward was vilified in the press. “Seward's Icebox” and “Seward's Folly” were the two most popular names for the Alaska Purchase, and consent by the Senate and funding by the House of Representatives seemed in jeopardy as a result of the public outrage. The treaty was submitted for consent on March 30. Senator Charles Sumner spoke in its favour, and the treaty was passed on April 9. The House passed the necessary appropriation on July 14, 1868. Extensive propaganda campaigns and judicious use of bribes by Stoeckl secured the required votes in each house of Congress.

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Universalium. 2010.

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