In the 18th century, Russian sailors were the first to discover Alaska. The settlement of new territories began towards the end of the century and was very slow. Basically, only private companies went to Alaska. The question of the sale of these lands arose already in the middle of the 19th century, and in 1867 Russia sold Alaska to the United States of America. The amount that the Americans paid was $ 7.2 million.
Perhaps today this act seems unreasonable, but in the 19th century there were only problems from Alaska. These are the main reasons why Russia had to get rid of it.
Reason # 1 – loss making.
The main trade in Alaska was hunting. People killed animals, skinned them and sold them. At first, the business was profitable, but the animals became smaller and the hunt became more difficult.
The climate did not allow the cultivation of cultivated plants, so the food in Alaska was tight. Alaska could not provide for itself and had to bring food from outside. Let’s not forget that Alaska is a different continent and the transportation costs were very large.
Very soon Alaska became a burden for Russia. At that time no one knew that there were deposits of gold and oil.
Reason number 2 – unsuitability for life.
The harsh climate did not allow to grow plants – it’s not so bad. Alaska was not empty land. When the Russians found her, people were already living there. The local population was suspicious of strangers. Some assimilated and tolerated the Russians. Others constantly quarreled with the Russians, attacked their settlements, killed people and took prey.
The number of Russians in Alaska did not exceed 1000 people, so it was impossible to create a reliable defense. Then something similar to the beginning of the movie “Survivor” happened.
The eastern lands of Russia were poorly prepared for hostilities. The rulers of Russia were convinced of this when they lost the war with the Turks. There is nothing to say about the security of Alaska, this land was defenseless.
Alaska borders on Canada, which at that time was under the control of hostile Britain. There was a risk of the capture of Alaska by the Anglo-French forces. In order not to lose land for nothing, it was decided to sell.
Why exactly America?
Perhaps today it will seem incredible, but at that time Russia and America were not enemies. During the American Revolution, Russia supported the rebels. During the American Civil War, Russia supported the north, which later turned out to be the winner.
Russia and America were linked by trade relations and, in general, the Russians believed that America would become their ally in the fight against Britain. The proposal to buy Alaska to the Americans came during the war with Turkey. The Americans agreed, but the contract was not signed.
There was heated debate among American senators. Many of them believed that buying Alaska would not generate income. Bidding began between the parties. The Americans wanted to buy Alaska for $ 5 million, but in the end they paid $ 7.2 million.
In 1896, gold was discovered in Alaska. The gold rush began and the region’s growth rate increased significantly. About 1,000,000 kg of gold was mined during the gold rush in Alaska.