Why Did the US Buy Alaska from Russia?

Elmira | 11 - 09 - 2020
Why Did the US Buy Alaska from Russia?

In 1867, Russia sold the territory of Alaska to the United States for $7.2 million, by believing that the US would provide access to the Pacific northern rim. 50 years later, the US earned the amount back 100 times over.

The Purchase of Alaska (1867)

The purchase of Alaska in 1867 happened in the first place to end Russian efforts to increase trade and settlement to the Pacific coast of North America. It was a big step in the USA’s rise as a great power in the Asia-Pacific region. At the beginning of 1725, Russian Czar Peter the Great sent Vitus Bering to explore the Alaskan coast and had an interest in the region that was rich in natural resources and least inhabited.

In the early 1800s, as the US expanded westward, Americans soon thought of competing Russian explorers and traders. St. Petersburg needed the financial resources to increase major settlements or a military presence along the Pacific coast of North America. During the time, at least 100 permanent Russian settlers lived on the land.

1. Why Did the US Purchase Alaska?
  • A. To capture more land
  • B. To maintain peace
  • C. Create coffee House
  • D. None of the above

Defeat in the Crimean War decreased their interest in the region. Hence the US planned to buy Alaska to control more lands.

Signing of the Alaska Treaty, 1867

In 1859, Russia offered to sell Alaska to the US. The US Civil War delayed the sale, but after the end of the war, Secretary of State William Seward swiftly accepted a renewed Russian offer. On March 30, 1867, he agreed to a proposal from Russian diplomat Edouard de Stoeckl. On April 9, 1867, the Senate approved the treaty of purchase. On May 28, President Andrew Johnson signed the treaty, and Alaska formally transferred to the US on October 18, 1867. It became a US state on January 3, 1959.

The sale of Alaska ended Russia’s presence in North America and the U.S. granted access to the Pacific northern rim. This purchase added 586,412 square miles (1,518,800 km2) of new territory to the US.

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