When Did Alaska Become Part of the United States

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When Did Alaska Become Part of the United States

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Russia had settled in Alaska in the 1790s, but fur trapping in Alaska was far less profitable than Russians initially thought. Transporting the fur across the Bering Strait was too costly.

Russia offered the territory, which they called Russian America, to the United States. Still, the offer was not seriously considered because the Civil War broke out in the United States around the same time, and the President was too busy.

During this period, communication overseas took very long, while overland communication was much faster. To remedy this, the UK began seeking other communication methods between Europe and North America. The first attempt at the transatlantic telegraph cable was in 1857 by Cyrus West Field. At the time, laying the undersea cable across the Atlantic was quite a feat, but it lasted less than a month before it broke.

When the cable broke, a man named Perry Collins went to Western Union Telegraph Company with a plan to connect North America with Russia via overland cable and then across the Bering Strait. Communications between the Russian and the United States governments increased as they worked together on this Western Union Telegraph expedition.

Russian America began working on the telegraph cable, but rough terrain and harsh conditions slowed progress. Meanwhile, a transatlantic telegraph cable was finally successful in July 1866. The Russian American workers, however, did not find this out for an entire year while they continued to work on their telegraph lines. In July 1867, work on the Russian-American Telegraph was stopped. By this time, Russia had wasted much money on the telegraph system.

Though the Russian-American Telegraph was a failure and Russia was struggling financially, the expedition provided valuable information about the territory to the United States.

Russia wanted to unload the unprofitable territory before it was forcibly taken from them by the UK, so Russian America was offered again to the United States at a bargain.

U.S. Secretary of State, William Seward, approved the Alaska Purchase, which cost $7,200,000, on August 1, 1867.

The decision was unpopular, as most Americans believed Alaska was worthless due to cold temperatures and the inability to farm. The Alaska Purchase was nicknamed “Seward’s Folly.” {Later, gold and oil were discovered in Alaska, making it one of the best sources of natural resources in the United States. Alaska’s abundant fish, oil, gold, timber, and other resources have paid back the purchase price several times over

.}In 1884, Alaska became the United States civil and judicial district. With this, Alaska came under US law, and a federal court was subsequently established for law enforcement. In 1912, Alaska became a US territory after international boundaries were demarcated between Canada and the US. In 1942, during World War II (1939-1945), Japan occupied Attu and Kiska islands, which they repossessed in 1943. Alaska became the 49th state of the US in 1959.

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