Alaska Map, Getty Images, 2017

Alaskan Purchase 

 On March 30, 1867, the United States diplomat, Secretary of State William H. Seward reached an agreement with Russian Minister to the United States Edouard de Stoeckl to purchase Alaska from Russia for $7.2 million dollars- 2 cents an acre.

In the words of diplomat Frederick W. Seward:

On the evening of Friday, March 29th, Seward was playing whist in his parlor with some of his family, when the Russian Minister was announced.

"I have a dispatch, Mr. Seward, from my government, by cable. The Emperor gives his consent to the cession. Tomorrow, if you like, I will come to the Department and we can enter upon the treaty."

Seward, with a smile of satisfaction pushed away the whist table, saying:

"Why wait till tomorrow, Mr. Stoeckl? Let us make the treaty tonight."

"But your Department is closed. You have no clerks, and my secretaries are scattered about the town," said Stoeckl.

"Never mind that," responded Seward. "If you can muster your legation together before midnight, you will find me awaiting you at the Department, which will be open and ready for business."

-Seward's Folly: A Son's View

Signing of the Alaska Treaty,  Anchorage Museum, 1868 

Seward, National Portrait Gallery

Stockel, Library of Congress

U.S. hand-written treaty, Alaska Historical Society

Russian Czar Alexander II's ratification of the Alaskan Purchase, National Archives

Page one of the Treat of Cession, Library of Congress

Senate votes in favor of the purchase, Library of Congress

The Senate would ratify the purchase on April 9, 1867, by a vote of 37-2.

However, the House of Representatives would not approve the appropriation of money until July 14, 1868 because of much debate about the potential of Seward’s transaction. It passed by a vote of 113-43.

Congress' approval of the purchase, 1868, Library of Congress

On October, 18, 1867, The United States would finally take possession of Alaska. It would become the 49th state on January 3, 1959.

Check used to purchase Alaska, Alaska's Digital Archives