Alaska Purchase (1867)

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  • The Alaska Purchase refers to the acquisition of Russian America on March 30, 1867, which added nearly 600,000 square miles to the United States. By purchasing Alaska, the United States thanked Russia for its support during the Civil War, obtained valuable mineral resources, and gained important strategic outposts for trade in Asia. The treaty exemplified Secretary of State William H. Seward's vision of America as a commercial power in the Pacific.

    In the late eighteenth century, Russian traders organized the Russian-American Company. American traders sought access to Alaska to engage in the fur trade, whaling, and fishing. To protect the company from foreign competitors, in 1821, the Russian government claimed ownership of the Pacific coast of North America to 51° north latitude and barred foreigners from ...

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