Alaska was transferred from the Russian Empire’s ownership and jurisdiction to the United States of America in late 1867. It was sold for a total of 7.2 million dollars, and for most people, it is but a footnote in history. Why did Russia decide to sell its overseas colony is a topic that should be explored. Furthermore, why did it sell it to the US rather than to Britain or another colonial power?
Russia’s defeat in the Crimean War was the fundamental reason for the sale of Alaska. Several things have happened as a result of the battle. The first was that it had nearly bankrupted Russia, which was striving to repay the debts incurred during the war.
The second reason was that the Royal Navy’s triumphs over the modernizing Russian Navy had demonstrated that Russia had a long way to go before it could confront Britain at sea. As a result, the Russian leadership knew that if another war broke out, there was little to stop Britain from easily seizing the area via Canada.
What kind of land was Alaska?
For starters, it wasn’t called Alaska at the time, but simply Russian America, and it gave various benefits to the Russian Empire. First and foremost, there was the prestige associated with possessing an overseas territory. Alaska’s economic benefits were far more diverse, which, when combined with the cost of maintaining it, made assessing them far more difficult. It’s easy to see why the sale was deemed necessary.
The sale of Russian America was first proposed by Emperor Alexander the Second’s second brother, Grand Duke Constantine, who sought to strengthen and liberalize the empire following the Crimean War disaster. It didn’t take much to persuade the Emperor to agree to the transaction. but now the question was who would buy it.
Finding a buyer:
Many people thought Britain would be an excellent contender because it already had property in North America connected to Russia. They had already been granted permission to sail in its seas and trade with the colony.
So, why didn’t they sell to the United Kingdom? Because Russia and Britain were imperial rivals, giving Britain such a huge coastline so near to Russia posed a risk. Also, because Canada is already massive and Britain has sufficient access to the Pacific Ocean, the United States of America was the sole likely option for the purchase.
Selling Alaska to America
Russia had approached the United States about the acquisition in the early 1860s, but they were preoccupied with the American Civil War, so they were a little busy. After the war, the United States had to deal with reconstruction concerns. The acquisition of Alaska was viewed as a good diversion. The Russian Empire was also eager to maintain good relations with the Americans since they might be beneficial as an ally.
Alaska was purchased in March 1867 by the governments of the United States.
How did they arrive at the price?
Russia assigned a team of surveyors to look for natural resources and to assess the quality of life in Alaska, and it was decided that Alaska was worth roughly ten million dollars. The poll, on the other hand, argued that Alaska should not be sold at all, but rather its government should be overhauled.
This was overlooked by the Emperor. In October 1867, the parties reached an agreement on an amount of 7.2 million. It was ceded to America, and Russia’s attention was shifted to the south and west.