Why Russia sold Alaska to the US

Signing of the Alaska Treaty, 1867
Signing of the Alaska Treaty, 1867

Alaska, a state located in the Western United States that borders the Canadian province of British Columbia and the Yukon Territory wasn’t always for the United States (US).

It took the US Senate to approve the treaty of purchase on April 9 with President Andrew Johnson signing the treaty on May 28. Alaska was thus formally transferred to the United States on October 18, 1867 for $7.2 million in gold. This purchase ended Russia’s presence in North America and ensured U.S. access to the Pacific northern rim.


The sale of Alaska to the United States was a logical move by Russia. In Alaska, the Russian population amounted to a few hundreds living at any one time. The colony also depended on native tribes, the British, and the Americans for supplies as the fur trade was on the decline.

Another fear of Russian officials was that U.S. settlers would one day overrun Alaska or lose the nearly defenseless colony to Great Britain, a naval power that had defeated Russia in the Crimean War and left it ravaged by debt.

Russia sells Alaska to the US
Russia sells Alaska to the US via Quora

Steinar Vilnes via Quora reckons the animosity towards Great Britain was a key reason to sell to the US adding “this was also an important reason for France selling the Louisiana colony to the US. Guess it was a general “as long as the Brits don’t get it everything is fine” attitude at the time.”

The purchase of Alaska in 1867 marked the end of Russian efforts to expand trade and settlements to the Pacific coast of North America beginning in 1725, when Russian Czar Peter the Great dispatched Vitus Bering to explore the Alaskan coast as it was rich in natural resources and lightly inhabited.

For three decades after its purchase the United States paid little attention to Alaska, which was governed under military, naval, or Treasury rule or, at times, no visible rule at all until a major gold deposit was discovered in the Yukon in 1896, and Alaska became the gateway to the Klondike gold fields.

The strategic importance of Alaska was finally recognized in World War II as it became a state on January 3, 1959.

Traditional Alaskan foods include wild game meats, fish, seafood, marine mammals, plants, and berries.

by michael eli dokosi/www.blakkpepper.net

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