Alaska Purchase Treaty
(1867)
   A treaty transferring Alaska, a Russian possession in North America, to the United States. Negotiations between Secretary of State William H. Seward and Russian Minister Edouard de Stoeckl concluded on March 30; the U.S. Senate ratified the treaty on April 9; and President Andrew Johnson proclaimed it on June 29, 1867. Russia had begun to see its North American holdings as political and financial liabilities and approached the United States before the Civil War, but only after the war could Washington take advantage of the offer.
   The treaty provided for Russian cession of the territory in exchange for $7.2 million, a deal ridiculed in the United States as “Seward’s Folly.” The property of the “Greek Oriental Church” was to be protected, and inhabitants could return to Russia within three years. Those who remained would enjoy the “rights, advantages, and immunities of citizens of the United States.” Alaska was the nation’s final continental acquisition and symbolic of its manifest destiny to expand. The purchase addressed concerns over Russia’s North American presence but left issues of government and citizenship unresolved, as the treaty did not specify that the territory was slated for statehood. A domestic corruption scandal over congressional funding for the purchase blunted the expansionist drive for 30 years.
   See also <>;
   Appendix: Words and Deeds, Document No.3.
   FURTHER READING:
    Bevans, Charles I. Treaties and Other International Agreements of the United States of America 1776-1949. Vol. 11. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1974, pp. 1216–1219;
    Jensen, Ronald J. The Alaska Purchase and Russian-American Relations. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1975.
   KENNETH J. BLUME

Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.

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