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The Sale of Alaska: A Russian Perspective

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Abstract:

One of the foremost Soviet specialists on the history of Russian-American relations discusses Russia's motives behind the sale of its only overseas colony. He focuses on a "special meeting" on December 16/28, 1866 attended by Tsar Alexander II, his younger brother Constantine, Foreign Minister Gorchakov, Naval Minister Krabbe, Minister of Finance Reutern, and the Russian envoy to Washington, De Stoeckl. All of the participants supported a sale of Russian America to the United States for at least five million dollars, not because of the impact of the proceeds on Russia's depleted finances or because of the straitened circumstances of the Russian-American Company but primarily because of a desire to strengthen relations with the burgeoning United States and the conviction that Russia's Pacific future lay not on the eastern but on the western side of the ocean in the contiguous territory of the more promising Amur Valley.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 1, 2003

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