Debunking the Myth: The True Cost of Alaska’s Purchase
Amidst the annals of American history, a persistent myth claims that the United States acquired Alaska from Russia for a mere dollar. However, this tale is far from the truth. In an event known as the Alaska Purchase of 1867, the United States actually paid $7.2 million for the territory, which equates to roughly two cents per acre—a significant sum at the time.
Understanding the Historical Transaction
The deal, negotiated by Secretary of State William H. Seward and the Russian Minister to the United States, Eduard de Stoeckl, was initially met with skepticism and was colloquially dubbed “Seward’s Folly” or “Seward’s Icebox.” Critics at the time saw little value in the remote, frozen land. Yet, the subsequent discovery of gold and oil would prove the transaction to be one of the most strategic and economically beneficial in U.S. history.
FAQs About the Alaska Purchase
Q: Why did Russia sell Alaska to the United States?
A: Russia sold Alaska due to financial difficulties and concerns that they might lose the territory without compensation in a future conflict.
Q: When did the Alaska Purchase take place?
A: The Alaska Purchase was formally completed on October 18, 1867.
Q: How much land did the United States acquire?
A: The U.S. acquired approximately 586,412 square miles of territory.
Alaska Purchase: The 1867 transaction in which the United States bought Alaska from the Russian Empire.
Seward’s Folly: A term used by critics of the Alaska Purchase who believed the U.S. had acquired worthless land.
In dispelling the $1 myth, it is clear that the Alaska Purchase was a substantial investment with a rich payoff, shaping the geopolitical landscape of North America and contributing to the United States’ emergence as a global power.