Alaska A Brief History

Alaska has seen many different people on her land. In 16,000 BC Paleolithic families moved western Alaska after crossing the Bering Land Bridge. Alaska became populated by a variety of Native Americans. It wasn't until the 18th century that Alaska saw the first European influence, the Russians, although there are reports of them settling there much earlier but there is no written indications proving that.Russia decided that Alaska was one of the best places in the world for fur and quickly established fur trading posts.

The Russian-American Company was created for fur trade. It wasn't too long before the land became over hunted. That and the reliance on American supply ships meant the profits of fur trading began to fall.

Rather than let the British try to take control of Alaska, Russia sold it to the United States and the Russian-American Company was dissolved.Russia wasn't the only one who tried to lay claim to Alaska. Spain also sent expeditions form Mexico to explore Alaska in 1775. They stopped at a few places and renamed a few things. And eventually headed back south after a few months.

Another expedition was sent in 1791 to search for the Northwest Passage. They ran into the Tlingit tribe and studied their way of life. But it proved toward the end that the rivalry was too much and withdrew with only a few place names kept such as Malaspina Glacier and the town of Valdez.

Not wanting to be left out, the British followed in pursuit of Alaska, in Spain's wake. James Cook, who also has famous ties to Hawaii, mapped the west coast up to the Bering Strait, which proved to be impassable. Even after Cook died in Hawaii after visiting Alaska, his crew continued to sell fur that they had bought in Alaska for a very high price which spurred the British to increase their presence in Alaska.

In today's Russia, there is a myth that still circles, that Russia did not sell Alaska to the United States, but rented the land for 100 years. There also was another myth that circulated that the Untied States deal with Russia was a direct result of bribery and that the United States manipulated the stocks of the Russian American Company. However, the United States bought Alaska from Russia on April 9th 1867 for $7, 200, 00 in gold coins. That would equal to $90, 750, 00 today. The purchase of Alaska was known as "Seward's Folly".

At the time the purchase was unpopular until later it was discover that gold was in Alaska.Alaska was considered the Department of Alaska until 1884. There was no government there yet and Alaska stayed under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Army until 1887.

The United States Department of Treasury took over from 1877 to 1879. It then shifted hands again to the U.S. Navy for 1879 to 1884.Alaska changed names again to the District of Alaska.

But government was too busy with reconstruction after the Civil War to devote any time to Alaska. After gold was discovered in the Yukon Territory in 1896, the U.S.

economic depression ended over night. Although gold had not been discovered Alaska yet, but miners had to travel through Alaska to get to the gold rush. It wasn't until 1899 that gold was discovered in Alaska and even more towns were built. Copper mining, fishing and canning also became popular and helped build the population in Alaska.In 1916 Alaska's population reached 58,000 and renamed the Territory of Alaska.

It was also reorganized. It wasn't until July 7th 1958 the President Eisenhower signed the Alaska Statehood Act. Alaska's admission to the U.S. was finalized and recognized as the 49th state on January 3rd, 1959.

.Michael Russell.Your Independent guide to Alaska.Article Source: http://EzineArticles.



By: Michael Russell

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