Military Review

Remembering Alaska

Remembering Alaska
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.
21 comment

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  1. crazyrom
    crazyrom 27 October 2012 09: 12
    It is a pity, of course, that Alaska could remain ours, but from what I read about it, it follows that we simply did not have enough people in such territories. After all, it was long before the Trans-Siberian Railway. At that time it was almost a whole year from Moscow to Alaska. In short, the Americans and Indians and Canadians would still have settled everything there, then they would have raised buchu, recognized independence from Russia, and soon the Americans would have conquered them.
    1. Xtra1l
      Xtra1l 27 October 2012 11: 00
      Is it possible that during the years of the Cold War, military camps with families were built there
      1. Konrad
        Konrad 27 October 2012 21: 18
        Quote: Xtra1l
        Is it possible that during the years of the Cold War, military camps with families were built there

        There are plenty of abandoned military towns in Russia.
    2. wax
      wax 28 October 2012 00: 35
      Would not populate - Alaska slowly, but mastered. And the Americans themselves were not unanimous regarding the purchase. A vivid example is that you can’t give an inch of land, so you don’t regret later.
    3. borisst64
      borisst64 29 October 2012 13: 08
      Quote: crazyrom
      we simply did not have enough people in such territories.

      According to this logic, we need to sell all of eastern Siberia. The ruler of the state has always been famous for the growth of the state. And such "figures" as Alexander II sold the "Russian land".
  2. Brother Sarych
    Brother Sarych 27 October 2012 09: 36
    Most likely, Alaska could not be restrained! It is painfully far and troublesome, there were problems with our coast ...
    At one time, ships were specially built, several detachments of a frigate and a couple of corvettes, one detachment was in St. Petersburg, one in the Pacific Ocean, and either one, or two on the way! Only in this way was it possible to maintain at least the appearance of his presence in those parts ...
    1. Volkhov
      Volkhov 27 October 2012 16: 29
      Merchants from Totma of the Vologda Oblast sailed there with their own means, along the rivers of Siberia and the ocean, even on the coat of arms of Totma a black American fox.
      People create the Empire, and the leadership of the proponents is falling apart - Gorbachev is the same.
      1. Ross
        Ross 27 October 2012 20: 58

        People create an empire, and the leadership of the lords breaks up

        Here it is: they don’t touch the homeland! Especially for 30 silver coins.
        All "explanations" about the sale are stretched to smooth out the obvious meanness.
        1. Volkhov
          Volkhov 27 October 2012 23: 39
          The Russian empire is very old and the habit has developed without hesitation to carry out the order of the tsar - this is a strong point if the tsar is adequate and adequate, but it is worth replacing him ...
  3. in reserve
    in reserve 27 October 2012 10: 20
    Interesting information about Alaska, it turns out that ours also fought with the Indians, and here you can make a film for the western film.
    1. Brother Sarych
      Brother Sarych 27 October 2012 11: 31
      Creating a script is simple - ready-made works were written about Alaska and California ...
      Ivan Kratt, Great Ocean, at least ...
  4. biglow
    biglow 27 October 2012 10: 58
    There is nothing to regret about Alaska. Russia historically does not need a continental empire and overseas territories. Russia is not in vain portrayed as a huge sleeping bear. And the bear should have everything at hand
  5. revnagan
    revnagan 27 October 2012 11: 57
    Still, it’s a pity that they donated p .... to Alaska. Let them. Could not hold them. Let them be seized by force. But Russia would have retained the rights to this territory. And, having got stronger, it would be possible to download these rights "A similar thing happened with the Black Sea Fleet (well, I agree, the scale is not the same). And now the train is gone. And this is not the first time that the top leadership of our country behaves like a traitor, openly and shamelessly selling the interests of the state for money.
    And let's dream ... Russia, with a reasonable policy, brings the SSh..P to bankruptcy. There is a default. Then a certain Russian politician with a bored look says to the Americans, “Well, so be it, in order to pay off the debt, we agree to take back the primordial Russian land -Alaska. Take, at a loss. "Oh, that would have come true, they would have paid nicely, in the same coin.
    1. El13
      El13 27 October 2012 16: 10
      The same thought was born ... maybe it will come true, because the thought is material :))
  6. pesec
    pesec 27 October 2012 20: 49
    The article does not provide information that the Russian American company developed only the coastal territories: the Alaska Peninsula and some of the Aleutian Islands. The area of ​​the continent, which is about 1,5 million square kilometers. only nominally belonged to Russia (or rather the Russian American Company) under an agreement with Great Britain (or rather with the Canadian Northwest Company). The border ran along the meredian from north to south. At the best of times, only a few hundred Russians lived in Alaska. When they write that someone "discovered" Alaska, they must indicate for whom they opened it. For Europeans? Weren't there residents there? And the terrorist plot in the second part of the article, in my opinion, is superfluous, added to "revive"
  7. nnz226
    nnz226 27 October 2012 23: 15
    These morons reigning - the Romanovs also abandoned the Hawaii !!! stupid people There already was an agreement with the local king on the annexation of the islands to Russia, so in St. Petersburg, the higher idiots considered this superfluous !!! WHERE FLYING THEN !!! Now they would have their tropical islands for recreation in the winter and the whole Pacific Ocean would be controlled !!!
    1. Nevsky
      Nevsky 27 October 2012 23: 54
      Wow! I didn’t know about it ...
  8. mar.tira
    mar.tira 28 October 2012 09: 41
    A week ago, there was a transfer led by Andrei I. There is a very detailed version of the sale of Alaska to the Americans for nothing. The news for me was that we helped the "Northerners" defeat the "Southerners" in the civil war. Having supported Lincoln by blocking our ports, the most powerful in at that time by the fleet, from help from the "Old World", "southerners". Helped on their own head, Big costs, and the loss of Alaska! The amount of proceeds did not even cover the cost of servicing the fleet. They sold thousands of times, even according to estimates of just a square kilometer of land in Siberia.
    1. Brother Sarych
      Brother Sarych 28 October 2012 14: 48
      I don’t remember any of his programs where there would be no outright stupid things about fairly well-known historical events ...
      Sometimes I just look to laugh at how he smashes nonsense with the appearance that he made the greatest discovery ...
    2. Konrad
      Konrad 29 October 2012 06: 53
      Quote: mar.tira
      The proceeds did not even cover fleet maintenance costs.

      The treaty on the sale by Russia of Alaska (Russian America) to the USA was signed on March 18 [30], 1867 in Washington by the Secretary of State Seward and the Russian envoy Steckle. According to the agreement, the United States acquired from Russia Alaska with the nearby Aleutian Islands for an insignificant amount - 7 million 200 thousand dollars (11 million rubles), having received an area of ​​1519 thousand square meters. km, on the development of which the Russian people have put a lot of effort and money for 126 years. But the saddest thing about this whole story is that the money for Alaska never made it to Russia. A significant part of the $ 7,2 million was paid in gold, which was loaded onto the Orkney ship, heading for St. Petersburg. In the Baltic Sea, a group of conspirators tried to seize the gold, but failed. And for some reason the ship sank along with the precious cargo ...
    3. revnagan
      revnagan 29 October 2012 20: 23
      Quote: mar.tira
      The news for me was that we helped the "Northerners" to defeat the "Southerners" in the civil war. Having supported Lincoln by blockading the ports with our most powerful fleet at that time, from the help from the "Old World", the "Southerners". ,

      Well, don’t do good to the Americans (and to all arrogant Saxons), there will be no evil in return ...
  9. Magadan
    Magadan 28 October 2012 14: 04
    The story of the sale is mixed. It must be remembered that in those years, England was a superpower, and besides, a marine superpower. And England even attacked Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky! I think ours simply understood the danger of the occupation of Alaska by England. Then we would have a very insidious and aggressive neighbor right at our side. And hell knows, if they had such a bridgehead, maybe they would have stuck in Kamchatka, Sakhalin and my native region again. Americans, whatever one may say, are nevertheless a better people, and then, in general, we were almost allies. So that. 80% think the king was right.
  10. Stasi.
    Stasi. 28 October 2012 17: 58
    Selling Alaska is a betrayal. No wonder Nicholas I did not want to sell it. And his son Alexander committed a betrayal, it was necessary to save Alaska. These days, there was such infa, they say the Americans would like to sell Alaska to the Russians for about a couple of billion dollars in order to pay off debt obligations. I don’t know if this is true or not, but it might be worth our government to raise this issue. What the hell is not joking, maybe the Americans will like this idea.
    1. Konrad
      Konrad 29 October 2012 06: 57
      Quote: Stasi.
      To pay off debt, the Americans would like to sell Alaska to the Russians for about a couple of billion dollars.

      Nonsense is complete. But even if this happened, imagine what Alaska would have turned into.
  11. SIT
    SIT 28 October 2012 18: 40
    Quote: Stasi.
    What the hell is not joking, maybe the Americans will like this idea.

    Only not those who live there because they live well. Anchorage is one of the world's largest private jet airports. I will not say that in every family, but many have them. As a rule, these are hydroplanes, which also have a landing gear. He took off from the strip and flew to his favorite lake, got on the floats, moored, he melted the stove in the hut and then some went fishing and some went hunting. Every resident of Alaska once a year receives a piece of bucks for oil produced there. They get to Prudo Bay in the north and through all Alaska there is a pipeline on stilts to non-freezing terminals on the southern coast of Alaska. When designing this pipeline in the 70s, environmental requirements for technical solutions were first put forward and implemented. By the way, in winter in Anchorage it’s -10 -15, and the Sitka mentioned above is just about 0. In the middle of the Firebanks area there, almost every year there is -50.
  12. biglow
    biglow 29 October 2012 20: 21
    and Alaska is the most subsidized state in the USA