30.03.

1867: The Alaska Purchase was Arranged by an Austrian?

1867: The Alaska Purchase was Arranged by an Austrian?
Photo Credit To Wikipedia Commons

Story Highlights

  • Historical event:
  • 30 March 1867
  • The sale of Alaska was arranged by a Russian diplomat in the USA, named Eduard Stoeckl. It is interesting that Stoeckl was of Austrian origin on his father's side, and his original surname was “von Stoeckl” or “von Stöckl”.

On this day in 1867, the sale of Russian America (the name for Alaska at that time) to the USA took place. The so-called Alaska Purchase was actually initiated by the Russians, who wanted to get rid of such a poorly-defensible, faraway territory.

Namely, the Russians were at that time threatened by the British in the northern part of the Pacific Ocean (from Canada). In addition, the Russian Empire was in great need of funds.

The Alaska Purchase was arranged by a Russian diplomat in the USA, named Eduard Stoeckl. It is interesting that Stoeckl was of Austrian origin on his father’s side, and his original surname was “von Stoeckl” or “von Stöckl”. Namely, Eduard was most likely the son of an Austrian diplomat in Constantinople.

The price of Alaska was agreed at 7.2 million dollars. It is interesting that it was the Americans who used the name “Alaska” for the entire area, while Russians mostly used the term “Russian America” (Русская Америка). The American negotiator was William Seward, who was at that time the U.S. Secretary of State.

7.2 million-dollar Alaska Purchase check
7.2 million-dollar Alaska Purchase check

In the USA, such “wasting” of money to buy a territory in the far north wasn’t universally approved. In fact, some ridiculed Seward, calling his purchase “Seward’s Folly”, and Alaska “Seward’s icebox”.

However, in time it became apparent that the Alaska Purchase had been a wise move. The USA acquired a territory of some 170 million hectares, which soon proved to be rich in natural resources.

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