October 18 1866 of the year on a hill towering above the bay of Novoarkhangelsk, the capital of Russian America, two military detachments lined up opposite each other. In one was a team that had just descended from the deck of the frigate Ossippi, which belonged to the United States. The other consisted of Russian sailors. The command was distributed: “To lower a flag!” The officers took off their caps, both guards stretched to the front. The black-yellow-white Alexandrov tricolor shuddered, but did not want to go down - confused at the very top of the flagpole. The rope for which he was being held was cut short. Several Russian sailors rushed up to unravel the flag. It was necessary to shout to the one who was faster than the others, so that he did not throw the cloth, but got down with it, but did not understand it in time. The sailor threw him from above, and it landed right on the Russian bayonets. The governor of the colony, Dmitry Petrovich Maksutov, the hero of the defense of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky from the attack of the Anglo-French squadron, stood with a stony face, his young wife Maria Maksutova looked like tears ... The US flag-striped flag was hoisted without incident.
So became the American Alaska. The vast territory, which occupies one percent of the earth’s land, was sold by the tsarist government for 7,2 million dollars, finally sold, and not rented out for 99 years, as we were taught to think in the Soviet years.
Alaska (in translation from Aleut “whale-rich land”) was discovered by Russian people (undershturman Ivan Fedorov and surveyor Mikhail Gvozdyov in 1732), mastered by Russian people, was watered with Russian blood: in 1802 year, the Tlingitians cut out the population of Novoarhangelkhganske in Russian blood: XNUMX cut out of the population of Novoarhangelgansk in Russian blood of XNUMX; destroyed Two years later, the director of the Russian-American Company, Alexander Baranov, decided to punish the militant Aborigines. It is not known whether he could cope with them or not, but, fortunately, by chance the Neva sloop, commanded by the famous navigator Yuri Lisnyansky, was floating near the islands of the Alexander Archipelago (he was returning from the first stories Russian fleet travel around the world). The Neva cannons decided the matter - the Indians were defeated. Fort Novoarkhangelsk was rebuilt and became a stronghold for the development of Alaska.
What guided the Russian government, selling, in effect, for a pittance - four cents per hectare - their only overseas possession? The authors of the transaction (among them was Grand Duke Konstantin, Minister of Finance Reytern, Russian Ambassador to the USA Glass) gave various reasons. Among them: unprofitable Russian-American company (which is questioned by a number of modern historians); the need to strengthen friendly relations with the United States (they somehow forgot that the Monroe Doctrine was adopted there in 1823, from which all subsequent US imperial ambitions and its aggressive policies were born); the possibility of weakening our main enemy of England (the relations of the United States and Great Britain were then hostile; therefore, the positions of the mistress of the seas, the main opponent of Russia in the Pacific, were indeed weakened for some time, but at the expense of Russia’s huge geopolitical losses). Finally, they pointed to the need to pay the Rothschilds, from whom a huge loan was taken to pay compensation to the landowners after the abolition of serfdom. However, this argument is not too convincing: the amount of the Russian-American transaction was less than a tenth of the money that was required to be given. Progressive representatives of Russian society did not see the benefits of the sale of Alaska and at first perceived the government’s plans to part with Russian America as an empty rumor. But on October 8, 1866, the newspaper of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs “Northern Post”, published the “Highest ratified agreement on the cession of the Russian North American colonies”. This is how Alexander Andreevich Kraevsky, the famous publisher and publicist, responded to this message in his Golos newspaper:
"Today, yesterday and the third day we are transmitting and transmitting telegrams from New York and London about the sale of the possessions of Russia in North America ... Even now, as then, we cannot treat this incredible rumor otherwise than the most evil a joke on the credulity of society. " Kraevsky noted that the Russian American company conquered the territory of Alaska with "a huge donation of labor and even the blood of the Russian people", that Russia spent more than half a century on settling and building its colonies, maintaining the fleet, spreading Christianity and civilization, that the amount paid by America for Alaska "is so insignificant that it can hardly be assumed that it could have any serious meaning for our finances, even in the present unblowing position." Is it worth it to deprive Russia of these possessions precisely at the time “when they received a new telegraph through the world telegraph, and when, as they wrote recently, very promising gold mines opened on their soil, the development of which, if the news is true, in 2-3 the North American States will deliver more than how much they give for them! ”The newspaper was indignant:“ Do foreigners really have to take advantage of the labors of selfless people for Russia and collect their fruits for their own benefit? ”
One hundred twenty six years have passed since the opening of Alaska. The map of this vast land has been dotted with Russian names. And suddenly overnight, six percent of the territory of the Russian Empire became alien. Never before did Russia trade its possessions. This created a dangerous historical precedent. It is worth remembering that the Governor-General of Eastern Siberia Muraviev-Amursky in the spring of 1853 gave the idea to Nicholas I about the assignment of Russian America to the United States. The Crimean War began, and the Secretary of State of the United States (then the USA - North American United States) W. Marcie, through the Russian ambassador in Washington, offered to sell the empire's possessions east of the Bering Strait. The king, however, did not go for it, although the situation of the country was then much harder than in 1866. “Where the Russian leg will be, it’s impossible to leave it,” said Nikolay. Alexander II crossed his father's testament. Russia gave the land rich in gold, fur, and then, as it turned out, oil and gas, and most importantly - it lost its most important strategic position, the ability to control the northern part of the Pacific Ocean. At the same time, Washington opened the way to the realization of hegemonic aspirations, turning the USA into a superpower. The union with Russia was fragile. As a result, Russia lost in strategy (instead of one, it had two geopolitical opponents - the Anglo-Saxons of the Old and New Worlds, when the States strengthened a common language without Russian help), she suffered economic losses: the Americans vigorously forced out Russian merchants in China’s markets and other countries of Southeast Asia.
Novoarkhangelsk renamed Sitka. There, the Gregorian calendar was immediately introduced; as a result, Alaskan residents went to bed on the fifth of October, and woke up on the Nineteenth. And they woke up no longer in their dwelling: their houses were ordered to surrender the new administration. The Americans walked around the city and, if they liked the building, they threw people out onto the street. In this way, 250 people were evicted. It was a continuous drizzle. People had to huddle in the harbor and live in the holds of ships. On the same days, a hurricane hit the city, which even experienced sailors could not remember. The storm damaged the court, and they could not immediately go to the shores of Russia.
How was the money received from the Americans spent? According to one of the versions, the money was transferred to the accounts of the London Bank of the Barring Brothers, where the funds of the August family were kept, where they fell into the hands of trustees of Grand Duke Konstantin Nikolayevich and Finance Minister Reitern and were allegedly spent, according to a document of the State Treasury Department, border for the purchase of accessories for the railways: Kursk-Kiev, Ryazan-Kozlovskaya, Moscow-Ryazan, etc.
The construction of railways during the reign of Alexander II is not the topic of our article. We will only say: it is connected with corruption, which the Nikolaev Russia did not know. Roads were laid on state funds or on funds guaranteed by the government, which put the state in huge expenses. The management of the whole railway business was given to private entrepreneurs almost uncontrolledly. “This is the case,” wrote Cesarevitch Alexander (the future Emperor Alexander III) in his diary, “dirty from Reitern, his company and the Ministry; Of course, Uncle Kostya (Grand Duke Constantine - Ed.) is at one with him, since Reitern is his creature. ” He tried (unfortunately, unsuccessfully) to convey his point of view on the corruption of the Ministry of Finance to his father: “I remain at my own conviction, and I repeat once again that unclean things are being done in this Ministry. “I do not compose and would not allow myself to speak so boldly, if it was not all this so obvious and disgusting.” It is easy to assume (and some researchers suggest) that the money received from the Americans for Alaska did not spend "on supplies for the railways", but was simply appropriated by a group of high-ranking officials (who will check the activities of the minister, who is patronized by the Grand Duke) .
But there is another point of view: the Russian government did not receive money from the Americans from selling Alaska. Not a cent! It could be considered an extravagant fiction of journalists who are sensational to the sensation, if it were not authoritative experts. That is why this point of view is worth presenting, especially as the presentation is reminiscent of a sharply twisted detective story.
The Russian ambassador to the USA Baron Edward Stekl received a check in the amount of seven million thirty five thousand dollars in Washington. Of these, 21 owed him a thousand in remuneration, he distributed 144 thousands in a secret item of expenditures "for affairs known to the emperor" (elegant wording denoting bribes to American journalists who supported the acquisition of Alaska and senators who voted to ratify the treaty). The remaining 7 million Russian envoy converted to pounds and transferred to London. In the British capital, gold bars were bought for this amount (after deduction of funds spent on conversion) and next year they were taken to St. Petersburg by sea. However, the bark "Orkney", delivering the precious cargo, 16 July on the approach to St. Petersburg sank. Whether gold was in it at that time, or whether it did not leave the limits of Albion at all, is unknown. The company that insured the vessel and cargo declared itself bankrupt - there was no one to ask for money from.
What happened to Orkney?
The mystery of his death was revealed seven years later. December 11 The 1875 of the year when loading baggage onto the ship Mosel, departing from Bremen to New York, was a powerful explosion. 80 people died, and 120 were injured. Police came to the cabin of the German-American William Thomson. A heavily wounded passenger lay in a pool of blood, a revolver was lying next to him. It was Thomson who owned the barrel in which there was a bomb equipped with a clockwork mechanism. It was supposed to explode somewhere in the ocean, after the owner of the barrel, who had insured a huge amount of cargo, would descend in the British port of Southampton. But from the impact when loading the clock mechanism worked before. Thompson wanted to go ashore, but the captain of the Mosel ordered no one to be let out. Then the American tried to commit suicide.
He lived for another six days and during this time he confessed. It turned out that during the American Civil War, he served in the SSK southerners detachment (Secret Service Corps). There he mastered the technology of making bombs with a clockwork, blew up warehouses, trains and ships of northerners. But the war ended, the Southerners lost, and Captain Thompson was out of work. He sailed to England, where he was once arrested for a drunken brawl. A man was put in his cell who promised a tidy sum for performing one delicate assignment. It was necessary, having gone free a few days later, to settle down as a port loader and, under the guise of a bag of coal, to drag a mine with a clockwork to board the Orkney. When a few hours remained before the arrival of the ship in Petersburg, there was an explosion in the coal hold. After completing the assignment, Thompson received a thousand pounds sterling and, according to a prescription signed by British Prime Minister Disraeli, immediately left England. Thomson settled in Germany, got married and lived comfortably for several years. However, the money ran out, then he decided to make a living, dropping to the bottom of the court and receiving payments for his drowned cargo, insured for a huge amount.
The further history of the villain is overgrown with truly fantastic details: allegedly he annually blew up ships going to America, the path of which passed in the region of Bermuda. And the sailors began to talk about the mysterious disappearance of ships long before the term "Bermuda Triangle" was born.
Let us return, however, to the explosion aboard the Orkney. What was the fate of gold that was not delivered to Petersburg: was it left on the seabed? According to the doctor of historical sciences, Professor E.P.Tolmachyov, author of the book “Alexander II and His Time”, in the Baltic Sea a group of conspirators attempted to seize the gold, but failed. However, it was rumored that shortly before the ship was destroyed, a heavily loaded boat pushed off from him ...
It remains to add that according to some information in 1975, the Soviet-Finnish expedition examined the Orkney flooded area and found shipwrecks. She confirmed that the ship was a powerful explosion and a strong fire. However, gold could not be found. Whether gold was on board, or whether it never left England, remained a mystery.