Tsar's Ratification of the Alaska Purchase Treaty


The original treaty for the purchase of Alaska by the United States from the Russian Empire, written in parallel columns in French and English, is presented here with the signatures of U.S. secretary of state William H. Seward and the Russian minister to the United States, Eduard de Stoeckl. The diplomatic language of the Russian imperial court was French, so there was no official Russian version of the treaty. The Russian tsar, Alexander II, affixed his signature at the end of this copy of the treaty following a short commentary on his ratification in Russian. This version includes a lengthy listing of the tsar’s historical titles in Russian on the first page, which is absent in the American copy. Following consent by the U.S. Senate, President Andrew Johnson signed an equivalent ratification on June 20, 1867. The subsequent Certificate of Exchange noted minor textual changes in the English and French versions of the treaty. The U.S. House of Representatives failed to appropriate funds for the Alaska Purchase for more than a year, on account of internal American political opposition and the impeachment proceedings against President Andrew Johnson. Alaska became United States territory on October 18, 1867. The U.S. government finally issued a treasury warrant to Russia for payment for Alaska on August 1, 1868.

Last updated: November 20, 2015