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History Spotlight - Seward's Folly

With all of Alaska's natural resources, beautiful scenery, and tourism hotspots, you would think the United States was excited to purchase this land from Russia. Think again! The year was 1867 and Russia was looking to sell it's Alaskan territory. Fearing they would lose Alaska in a conflict with the British and with the fur trade industry struggling as a result of the declining sea otter population, Russia sold off the land to the United States for just over $7,000,000.

Secretary of State William Seward oversaw the purchase and though he felt he received a great bargain for the land (2 cents per acre), the American public disagreed. Not much was known about Alaska at the time except that it was cold and ice covered. A few nicknames given to the purchase were Seward's Icebox or Seward's Folly. Not many people were excited about their tax dollars paying for this unknown land. Luckily, public opinion would quickly change as gold was discovered in Alaska shortly after and oil was struck the following century. With all the benefits of having Alaska as part of America, it is hard to imagine what the world may look like today if we had never made this purchase. I for one am glad Alaska became America's "Last Frontier!"

~ Danny