This deal seemed profitable to Alexander II – he got rid of a distant territory, which was expensive to maintain and almost impossible to develop. As for ordinary citizens, they thought otherwise.
Alaska – 1.5 million square kilometers. Mountains, forests and rivers. This is a harsh region, somewhat reminiscent of Siberia. For the Russian Empire, it was rather a burden – gold had not yet been found there, and money had to be spent on at least some maintenance of the territories.
Therefore, the question of the sale of Alaska rose repeatedly. This happened for the first time in 1853. Then there was the Crimean War and the Russian ships that went to Alaska were extremely vulnerable to the fleet of the British Empire. To avoid attacks, our sailors entered into an agreement with the Americans and went to sea under their flags.
In general, Alaska was the backwater of the empire – with the largest settlement of 1 thousand people. Some money came from the sale of furs, but the cost of maintaining the region significantly exceeded income.
And in 1867, Alaska was sold for 7.2 million dollars – 144 million at the current rate. This money went to the construction of the Kursk-Kyiv, Ryazan-Kozlovskaya and Moscow-Ryazan railways.
Only the residents of Alaska were worried about this deal – they had already got used to it and did not want to leave. The rest of the citizens of the Russian Empire did not care. For them, Alaska was something like the moon – something distant and incomprehensible. Most of this region did not even know.
How many Russians lived in Alaska? Two and a half thousand people. Of these, only 15 people remained and received American citizenship. The rest returned to Russia. So only Native Americans remained in Alaska – the Indians. A little later, they were overwhelmed by a wave of gold miners and lovers of easy money.
As it turned out, there was no easy money there. Only a few dozen people got rich on gold mining. Do you know who made fortunes? Companies that sold tools for gold mining – picks, shovels, buckets and everything else.
And while the gold rush had not yet begun, the Americans perceived the purchase of Alaska as something stupid. And they said: “We exchanged 7 million dollars for ice.” When the gold rush began, Alaska became popular for a while. But soon it passed and the region was quickly forgotten.
Today it is a scarce region, despite the fact that oil, timber and other resources are extracted there.
Alaska is needed only in geopolitical interests – it provides direct access to the Arctic and allows naval and air forces to control the northern part of the Pacific Ocean.
Otherwise, Alaska is like a suitcase without a handle. And it’s hard to carry, and it’s a pity to quit.
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