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Home > History > Growth of a Nation - Alaska Purchase

Growth of a Nation - Alaska Purchase

This page describes "Seward's Folly" - the Alaska Purchase.

Alaska Purchase

Alaska Purchase

Alaska Becomes American Territory

Secretary of State William Seward initiated and facilitated the purchase of Alaska from Russia in 1867. Seward convinced the U.S. Senate to buy 600,000 square miles of land and ice for about $7.2 million dollars (equivalent to about 90 million dollars today). Alaska was formally purchased on April 9, 1867 - two years after the end of the Civil War. The senate approved the measure by a single vote.

Seward's "Folly" Pays Off, Big Time!

Despite the fact that Alaska would become one of the best bargains in U.S. history, the purchase of Alaska was referred to as "Seward's Folly" in the 1860's and 1870's. Most people saw Alaska as a desolate wasteland that would never be settled. In 1896, however, Seward's investment paid off. Gold was discovered near the Klondike River, which immediately set off a frenzied gold rush. Today Alaska is a state with abundant natural resources such as timber, coal, petroleum, gas, and salmon. Hundreds of thousands of people each year visit Alaska's national parks or take cruises along its coastlines to see its beautiful scenery and wildlife. The Alaska Purchase was one of the best bargains in American history.

The Story of a Growing Nation

Original Colonies
Colonial Territory (Northwest Territory)
Land Ordinances of 1784 and 1785
The Louisiana Purchase
The Establishment of the 49th Parallel
The Monroe Doctrine
The Adams-Onis Treaty and the Annexation of Florida
The Building of the Erie Canal
The Battle of the Alamo
Oregon Territory
Manifest Destiny
California Gold Rush
Mexican-American War
The Alaska Purchase
The Annexation of Hawaii
The Gadsden Purchase


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