Certificate of Exchange


On June 20, 1867, U.S. secretary of State William H. Seward and the Russian minister to the United States, Eduard de Stoeckl, exchanged the official instruments of ratification of the Alaska purchase treaty in Washington, D.C. While the Russian government rubber-stamped the tsar’s authorization of the treaty, under the terms of the U.S. Constitution, the U.S. Senate had to consent to the treaty on the American side. The final exchange of ratified treaties took place approximately three months after the signing of the agreement in late March. This Certificate of Exchange notes that the two ratification texts were checked against each other, and then against the original text of the treaty. The Russian and American governments agreed to minor textual variations in the respective English and French versions of the treaty. Aside from their signatures, Seward and de Stoeckl affixed their respective governmental seals to the certificate. This exchange marked the conclusion of the treaty process, and Alaska became United States territory on October 18, 1867, even though the U.S. House of Representatives still had to appropriate the funds for the purchase. Internal American politics swirling around the impeachment proceedings against President Andrew Johnson delayed the authorization of funding for more than a year, causing irritation in Saint Petersburg and giving rise to complaints from the Russian government. The money ultimately was appropriated and final payment for the Alaska purchase was issued by the U.S. Department of the Treasury on August 1, 1868.

Last updated: November 20, 2015