Early Russian trappers in Alaska were disorganized. They depleted the stock of
fur-bearing animals in many areas and killed or enslaved large numbers of
In 1799 Tsar Paul I chartered the Russian-American Company and gave it a
monopoly on trading rights. Between 1800 and 1817, the fur harvest increased
During the first half of the 1800s, the Hudson's Bay Company and American
traders also were very active in Alaska. These traders' rights and most of the
present boundaries of Alaska were established by treaties among Russia,
Britain, and the United States.
Russian scientific and industrial interests, from 1820 onward, provided much
development. Because of the Crimean War and other issues, Russia sought to
sell Alaska to the United States, rather than lose it to Britain.
Following the U.S. Civil War, U.S. secretary of State William H. Seward
negotiated the purchase of Alaska. The treaty was signed on March 30, 1867.
Alaska was called "Seward's Folly" during the early years of U.S. control. The
region was neglected, and popular thought was that Alaska was believed to be
Civil government was not established until 1884. Fishing grew after 1867, and
the first salmon cannery opened in 1878.
Fur seals, whales, sea otters and walruses were killed in abundance. Sheldon
Jackson, a missionary and educator, introduced reindeer to the region in 1891
Modern economic development began in 1897-1898 with the Klondike gold rush.
Later, copper ore was found, as well as oil and other minerals.
Alaska was admitted to the Union as a state on January 3, 1859.