Best bargain of the 19th century: Alaska

Check for the Purchase of Alaska

Cancelled check in the amount of $7.2 million, for the purchase of Alaska, issued August 1, 1868; Records of the Accounting Officers of the Department of the Treasury; Record Group 217; National Archives.

In 1866, a handful of americans and russians began hashing out and bartering over the sale/purchase of the Alaska territory. It took two years, and in the end, the U.S. handed over the cancelled check pictured above, made out in the amount of 7.2 million dollars. Now keep in mind, the purchase we made wasn’t seen as being very wise–there was even a name applied to this “foolish” purchase–it was called “Seward’s Folly”, since secretary of state William H. Seward was the enthusiast behind the purchase. As a matter of fact, the purchase was all but ignored until the great Klondike Gold Strike almost 25 years later.

Now given that the NOAA recently announced that the total harvest at just Dutch Harbor, Alaska for 2006 adds up to some $165 million dollars and that’s just for one year, and doesn’t even include the fisheries in Bristol Bay or the gulf of Alaska. It also doesn’t include all of the gold and copper that’s come out of Alaska, nor the untapped oil…wouldn’t you say that Alaska turned out to be a damned good buy?

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One Response to Best bargain of the 19th century: Alaska

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