On 30 March 149 years ago the Russian Empire and the United States of America signed an agreement, after which Alaska became the largest state of the USA.
Alaska was discovered in 1732 by a Russian expedition lead by Mikhail Gvozdev and Ivan Fyodorov and became the Russian territory in North America. At first it was developed by independent settlers, and then by a specially organized monopoly. In the beginning of the 19th century Alaska contributed to the state budget from the fur trade. However it was clear, that the expanses will always be much higher than the potential profit. It was very expensive to protect and develop this territory located so far away from the capital city.
The first idea of selling Alaska was announced in the beginning of 1850’s in the Russian government and in 1866 negotiations started with the American president Andrew Johnson. On December 28th 1866, in the presence of the Russian Emperor Alexander II, the decision was taken to sell the Russian territories in North America to the USA. On March 30th 1867 in Washington the agreement was signed and Alaska was sold for $7,200,000 US dollars. The territory sold was about 1.5 million square kilometers. Most of the specialists today think that it was beneficial for both countries.
The official ceremony took place on October 18th 1867. In those days most Americans were against the treaty. People called Alaska the “National park for polar bears.” Actually it was during the ratification of the purchase in the Senate, that the territories were for the first time named “Alaska” in a speech of the Senator Charles Sumner, which means “The Great Land.” However, when natural resources and gold were found there, the deal was acknowledged as the greatest achievement of President Andrew Johnson.