Treasury Warrant in the Amount of $7.2 Million for the Purchase of Alaska


On the night of March 29−30, 1867, U.S. secretary of State William H. Seward conducted the final negotiations and signed the treaty for the purchase of Alaska from the Russian Empire with the Russian minister in Washington, Eduard de Stoeckl. After years of advocating the expansion of the United States through the acquisition of various territories, Seward finally had acquired a major new territory in fulfillment of what he believed was the country’s “Manifest Destiny.” The U.S. Senate soon voted its consent to the treaty, but appropriation of the $7.2 million needed to complete the purchase was delayed in the House of Representatives. The treasury warrant for the purchase, as seen here, was not issued until August 1, 1868, a full 16 months after Seward and the Russian minister had signed the treaty. The tsarist autocracy required no substantive ratification procedure or internal political agreement, and the Russians were aggravated by the lengthy approval process on the U.S. side. Following the purchase, the United States for the most part ignored its new territory for another 30 years until the Klondike Gold Rush of 1898, when Alaska’s vast economic potential suddenly became apparent.

Last updated: November 20, 2015