On August 14, 1784, a group of hardy pioneers founded Three Saints Bay, Alaska’s first settlement, on Kodiak Island. The settlers did not come across the Atlantic, but across the Bering Strait. They were Russian fur traders led by Grigory Shelikhov.
The settlement had a short life. It was destroyed by an earthquake and its attendant tsunami in 1792. There was no turning back, however, as more fur traders and even orthodox monks sought to arrive at the new land.
Russians moved along the entire Pacific coast all the way to California, but British and American pressure limited the territory controlled by the tsars to what we know today as Alaska.
Following the country’s defeat in the Crimean War, bankrupt Russia sought to sell this remote, frozen territory. The American Secretary of State, William Seward welcomed the idea.
In 1867, Seward went on to strike quite a bargain. Paying a total of $7.2 million, less than 2 cents an acre, for a territory as large as a fifth of the lower 48 states combined, he acquired Alaska. Many in Congress accused him of folly but the measure passed by…one vote.
Thus, the path was clear for our 49th state to join the Union (1959).
Have a peek at “Seward, Alaska” today in this 2 min video and you’ll feel the breeze, hear the ice plummeting into the water and see the allure of this wondrous land:
Alaska has untold riches and majestic landscapes. It is undoubtedly an asset worthy of its size. And to think, it all started with a group of plucky fur traders from Siberia.
*Thank you! In Russian. Usually spelled in English as Spasibo but say it loud, proud and often as SpasibA!