Eager to rid themselves of a vulnerable territory and in need of funds, the Russian government offered to sell the territory of Alaska to the United States in the 1850s and again following the Civil War. Enthusiastic about the prospects of American Expansion,
Secretary of State William H. Seward pursued the offer and negotiated the exchange with Edouard de Stoeckl, Russian minister to the United States.
One hundred and fifty years ago on March 30, 1867, the two parties agreed that the United States would pay Russia $7.2 million for the territory of Alaska.
Opponents of the Alaska Purchase persisted in calling it “Seward’s Folly” or “Seward’s Icebox” until 1896, when the great Klondike Gold Rush convinced even the harshest critics that Alaska was a valuable addition to the United States. Shown here is the Treaty of Cession, signed by Czar Alexander II, which formally concluded the agreement for the purchase of Alaska from Russia. You can see the additional pages of the treaty in the National Archives Catalog.
In addition, the National Archives has loaned President Andrew Johnson’s ratification of the treaty and the canceled check for $7.2 million dollars to Alaska’s Anchorage Museum. Read more at Original Alaska Purchase Documents travel to the Anchorage Museum.