Why Russia Sold Alaska to the US in 1867

Grunge reports: “Alaska boasts a wealth of natural resources, rich in oil, fish, minerals, and beautiful scenery. When The United States bought Alaska from Russia in 1867, though, many people on both sides were left scratching their heads. Why? Here’s a look at the real reason Russia sold Alaska to the United States.

“In 1741, Vitus Bering crossed the straits from Russia to Alaska, opening up a wealth of opportunities for industrious hunters and entrepreneurs. One problem: Alaska was already inhabited by a native population that wasn’t exactly thrilled by the Russian invasion. Tensions finally reached a breaking point in 1802, when the Tlingit people rose up and attacked a Russian outpost, leading to two years of warfare. That was just one of the problems that faced the Russian-American Company, which was formed to exploit Alaskan resources. At first, the company thrived thanks to the leadership of Alexander Baranov. He was on more-or-less friendly terms with native tribes, which helped the company become wildly profitable. But when he retired, the Company was taken over by the Russian military, and things went quickly downhill. In an attempt to raise profits, they slashed the price they paid for pelts and furs. Desperate trappers ended up over-hunting in an attempt to make up the lost wages, which in turn led to the drastic decline of the otter population, which led the complete collapse of the Alaskan fur trade. And without profits from the fur trade, the whole endeavor suddenly began to make a lot less financial sense for the Russian government.”

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