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Alaska Purchase from the Russians

Discussion in 'U.S. Politics' started by Bunz, Oct 19, 2007.

  1. Bunz

    Bunz New Member

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    Wow what a deal did the US get by buying Alaska from the Russians when it didnt even really belong to them. 380million acres, 2.5 times the size of Texas. For roughly 2 cents an acre. Today is the 140 year anniversary of that "purchase" That number is not adjusted for inflation, but even if it was. That would still be the most important land aquisition in post civil war America.
    http://www.americanheritage.com/art...ia-seward-otters-fur-fish-gold-ice-snow.shtml
    This is an essay I will copy and paste some from. Often called Seward's Folly, but Alaska has turned out to be an incredible investment for the United States.

    Why Did Russia Sell Us Alaska So Cheap?
    By John Steele Gordon

    A hundred and forty years ago today, sovereignty over Alaska was transferred from the Russian Empire to the United States. The transfer completed the national territory on the North American continent. It was one of the great bargains of all time.

    For a price of $7.2 million, this country got 365 million acres of land and another 13 million of water, at slightly less than two cents an acre. Over the last 140 years, we have taken untold riches in gold, oil, and other minerals out of the ground and billions of dollars worth of fish out of the surrounding waters. And yet with a population of only 1.1 people per square mile, Alaska is still in a very real sense the last American frontier, a land rich in wildlife, open spaces, and incomparable natural beauty.

    It also gave the United States the most diverse national territory in the world. Today the United States is the only country whose territory encompasses arctic, temperate, and tropical areas.

    In 1725, a few weeks before his death, Peter the Great wanted to determine if far eastern Siberia was attached to the North American continent, so he dispatched Vitus Bering, a Danish-born sailor, to find out. In his first expedition, Bering determined that Asia and North America were separated by the strait that now bears his name, but he did not sight Alaska. Not until 1741, on Bering’s second expedition, did he make landfall there. His ship was forced to take refuge on what is now called Bering Island, and there the explorer died of scurvy at the age of 60, along with many of his crewmen. The survivors, however, made it back to Siberia with sea otter pelts, among the most valuable of furs. And it would be the fur trade that would draw the Russians to Alaska.

    Russian fur traders and others, including Captain James Cook, repeatedly visited Alaskan waters, but it wasn’t until 1784 that the Russians permanently settled, on Kodiak Island. In 1799 the Russian-American Company was formed, and it established a capital at New Archangel, now Sitka. The Russian-American Company would run Russian Alaska much the way the British East India Company ran India at the time.

    But while India was the jewel in the crown of the British Empire, Alaska was a very minor part of the Russian one. At the end of the Russian period, there were only a few hundred Russians living in Alaska, along with about 8,000 natives within reach of Russian authorities. Elsewhere there were perhaps another 50,000 Eskimos and Indians. No one really knew. Moreover, Alaska was very difficult for Russia to defend, and the tsar feared encroachment from British North America.
     
  2. USMC the Almighty

    USMC the Almighty New Member

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    Interesting read, Bunz. But personally, I find the acquisition of Mexico more intriguing.
     
  3. Popeye

    Popeye Active Member

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    I've read James Michener's "Alaska", and though I realize it is fiction, it has basis in fact. I've also read T.C. Boyle's "Drop City", another fictional tale that takes place partially in Alaska. Living relatively close in Washington, I've often wanted to visit, the state holds a special fascination.
     
  4. palerider

    palerider Well-Known Member

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    Everyone should visit Alaska before they die. I was lucky enough to be stationed there (Elmendorf) in the early 70's and my job took me all over the state. I have been back several times over the years to visit and simply can't get enough of the state.
     
  5. vyo476

    vyo476 Active Member

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    I really want to visit Alaska someday, maybe even live there. My father was stationed in Delta Junction for about a year, but that was before I was born (he was, as a matter of fact, out of the military my the time I was born). Still, I've heard great things.
     
  6. Bunz

    Bunz New Member

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    Thanks for the replies so far.
    Hmm...Ive never heard of either of them. Though I dont read much fiction. Are they any good?

    Ah back in the good ole days. Before my time. I did grow up in ANC though. You know that Elmendorf now has the F-22s? Amazing birds. I love airplanes and especially fighter jets. Still a few F-15s hanging around. Back then it must have been F-4s. When you come up where do you go? I would imagine things have changed dramatically since you lived here. I hope you were able to get some of the pipeline boom fun at that point.

    Well come visit for sure. But think long and hard about moving before you do. I have seen tons of people who show up and check out because they are in over thier heads. Plus each new person that moves in, it lowers everyone else's dividend ;)

    I live in the bush now. Have for nearly a decade now. I would encourage anyone who is coming to Alaska to drop the tour bus garbage and get out on thier own.
    For anyone who has ever wanted to fish Lake Iliamna, the Kvichak or Nushagak Rivers, I would encourage you to do it soon. In the next 5 years there is probably going to be the largest pit mine in North America sitting on its shores. If the mine goes in, I have vowed to never return to the site. It would probably make me quite literally cry.

    You would ;) but I think looking at the current rates, it is the other way around.
     
  7. Popeye

    Popeye Active Member

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    Michener's novel "Alaska" is well researched history seen through the eyes of fictitious characters. His novel "Centennial" is my favorite, but "Alaska" is a good read as well. Check it out if you have the oppurtunity.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Michener
     
  8. TruthAboveAll

    TruthAboveAll Active Member

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    Although we didn't do too badly with the Louisiana Purchase, I've long held the belief that Alaska has got to be the very height of wise expenditures in the U.S. Period, hands down.

    I join the ranks of those hoping to make it there for a visit, at least, at some time. Bunz, it's apparent that you take great pride and joy in your state, as well you should. Not that it's the only one, but Alaska is definitely a great jewel for the U.S.

    Of the books mentioned, I picked up a copy of Michener's not too long ago, but haven't read it yet. I have read some of his other works. He is masterful at accurately portraying people and places in his sweeping epics.

    In it's own way, I think Alaska is so unique that it carries it's own sense of mystery and allure of the exotic. My neighbors are retired, and while not rich they are able to take couple nice trips a year. Trudy tells me that their 12 day trip to Alaska in August was truly one of the most magnificent and awe-inspiring locations they've had the privilege to visit. And one of the few she hopes to return to again, soon.
     
  9. Bunz

    Bunz New Member

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    Nothing against the reading, I just have plenty on my list. I would encourage you to read more non-fiction on the issue. One dealing in my area is "Down in Bristol Bay" By Bob Durr. A quick read and fairly representative of the area.
    Honestly, there is nothing I am more proud of than being an Alaskan. I hope to realistically become Governor here one day. Look for me in the 2024 race. Bunz for Gov!
    You know, I have heard this from more than just you. I dont quite understand it, it is simply home for me. I dont know any different, and feel sorry for anyone who does.
     
  10. Popeye

    Popeye Active Member

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    I have just put the book you have recommended, by R.A. Durr, on hold at the local library. Thank you, I'm always open to book recommendations. Keep your mind open about Michener, for reading one of his works is a grand experience.
     
  11. Bunz

    Bunz New Member

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    Excellent. I hope you will enjoy it. It speaks of the salmon fishery I hold dear and some of the interesting times, good and bad involved in it.
    I personally know several of the characters in the book. Plus the imfamous pub that is discussed at length, I have visited many a times.
    I have plenty of other recomended reading I could forward as well. The first one, considering the release of the movie is "Into The Wild" by Jon Krakauer. I have read the book, but wont manage to see the movie until it comes out on DVD because there isnt a movie theater in a 300 mile radius.
    The Krakauer book, has caused much controversy in the state. Many Alaskans think of the main character in the book as an idiot with no skills or respect for the forest that got himself killed in the process. Others(often lower 48ers) think of the character as something of a heroic person.
     
  12. Popeye

    Popeye Active Member

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    I have seen several PBS specials on Richard Proenneke, entirely made up of film that he took himself while living in Alaska, fascinating. Have you heard of him as well?
     
  13. Bunz

    Bunz New Member

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    Yeah, Dick Proenneke, most Alaskans know of him. He was an amazing guy. Incredible skills and ingenuity, he did something the far majority of us could never even dream of.
    I never had the chance to meet him. His cabin is only a couple hundred miles from here in the same geographic region of Alaska that I live.
     
  14. Truth-Bringer

    Truth-Bringer New Member

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    I would speculate that the U.S. purchased Alaska from Russia because Lincoln needed the Russian fleet to blockade the Confederate states and California (who was becoming more sympathetic to the Confederacy) during the Civil War. There was no Constitutional way for the U.S. to pay a foreign government for that "service", so by making a purchase of land everyone considered to be worthless, they did it "off the books."
     
  15. Bunz

    Bunz New Member

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    I thought I heard them all. Thanks for bringing up the theory. I have never heard this one before. Please expand on it. I am not a scholar on the civil war. I know a fair amount but have never heard of the confederate navy operating in the Pacific.
    Granted I dont know how long negotiations took before hand. Ill get back to you on that. But the treaty was finished two full years after the war was over.
     
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