On this day: Seward’s Icebox
If a poll had been conducted among Americans in 1867 for who could be regarded as the craziest among them, Secretary of State William H. Seward could have been the big winner on the ballot. On March 30, 1867, Seward and the Russian Minister to the United States Eduard de Stoeckl signed the treaty under which the USA purchased Alaska for 7.2 million dollars from Russia. The transfer ceremony was held months later, on October 18, 1867 in Sitka Alaska at the governor’s house where the American flag was raised in front of parading American soldiers.
In retrospect, Russians made the world’s worst business deal for selling ”the icebox” for about 2 cents per acre. It happened that some lucky prospectors found gold alongside one of the tributaries of the Klondike River. During the last gold rush in history, between 1896 and 1899, nearly 30,000 prospectors arrived in the area. Although only 4,000 of the determined gold hunters found gold, from that time on nobody regarded Alaska as worthless.
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