First decade of its stories Fort Ross was under the control of its founder, I. A. Kuskov (1812-1821). At the same time, Baranov closely followed the formation of the California colony, giving detailed instructions in its structure. Ross was created as a fishing and future agricultural base, which was eventually to supply Alaska with food. At the same time, it was the southernmost outpost of the Russian-American company in the south and a transit point in trade with Californian Spaniards (later Mexicans).
By 1814, all the main structures of the fort were built, many of which were novelties in California. It was in the Russian fortress Fort Ross that the first shipyard in the history of California was built. True, California oak turned out to be an unstable material. The forest was damp and quickly began to rot. Therefore, the built ships (the Rumyantsev haliot, the brig Buldakov, the brig Volga and the brig Kyakhta) did not last long. When the error became apparent, shipbuilding in Ross was stopped. Another reason for stopping shipbuilding in Ross was the shortage of people. So, “Kyakhta”, taking into account the previous mistakes, was built mostly from pine forest, felled away from the fortress. The wood was delivered by canoe in tow to Ross, or it was carried and carried by land, the forest was sawn and dried in the fortress. There was not enough people for such laborious work.
The first windmills in California were built in Forte-Ross, as well as the objects necessary for life and development of the settlement: a brick factory, a tannery, a forge, stables, carpentry, locksmith and shoemakers, a dairy farm, etc.
Agriculture has just begun to develop, and initially it could not provide the inhabitants of the fortress. Therefore, the source of food was sea and land hunting. An important source of food (meat, salt) in the first decade and a half was the Spanish San Francisco. The most promising direction of development of the Russian colony was agriculture. According to Khlebnikov, Kuskov, "loved gardening and was especially engaged in it, and therefore he always had abundant beets, cabbage, turnips, radishes, salads, peas and beans"; he also made watermelons, melons, and pumpkins. Success in gardening allowed Kuskov to supply all the incoming ships with greenery, as well as to salt and send a significant amount of beets and cabbage to Novo-Arkhangelsk. They also grew potatoes, but the harvest was small. When Kuskovo was the beginning and gardening. Saplings of fruit trees and flowers - apples, pears, cherries and roses were brought from California. The first peach tree in Ross (from San Francisco) produced fruit already in 1820, and vines from distant Lima (Peru) began to bear fruit in 1823. It should be noted that most of these fruit trees and vineyards were bred in this area - again for the first time in its history.
However, gardening and horticulture had to play only a supporting role. The main hopes were pinned on the development of cattle breeding and arable farming. But tillage developed slowly and under Kuskovo played a secondary role, crops and yields were small. Since the middle of the 1820-s, grain farming has become the leading branch of the colony. The second manager, Ross - Schmidt, has achieved significant success in agriculture. A good harvest made it possible for the first time to achieve Ross self-sufficiency in grain. Cattle breeding also developed slowly. By the time of the Kuskov case transfer (in 1821), the livestock population reached: horses - 21, cattle - 149, sheep - 698, pigs - 159 heads. The main problem in the development of arable farming, as in other areas, was the lack of experienced people. For the development of the agricultural colony there was no main component - a peasant-tiller.
The company sought to diversify the activities of the colony, making the most of the available California resources - from minerals (including clay) to beekeeping. The colony developed a variety of handicrafts and auxiliary industries, mainly focused on the export to Russian America and Spanish California. Ross’s joiners and coopers made various furniture, doors, frames, redwood shingles, carts, wheels, barrels, “two wheelchairs”. Leather was produced, iron and copper were processed.
In some cases, Ross became the Russian Alaska source of inaccessible or unknown materials and products from them. Millstones and grinding stones were made from local granite, syenite and sandstone. In the vicinity of Ross there was a lot of good clay: the clay itself (dry in barrels) and especially the bricks made of it in large quantities were exported to Novo-Arkhangelsk. The rich vegetation of California was widely used, from trees they used primarily sequoia (in California, the Russians began to call it the word “chaga” that had taken root earlier in the colonies). The terrain at the fortress was covered with forests, mainly of sequoia. It was mainly Ross that was made of sequoia wood. She, for example, was used for the production of kegs for salting meat. Later, the production of “chazhnaya” tile, which was in great demand in Novo-Arkhangelsk, became widespread. From Ross to ships leaving for Alaska, they loaded oak boards and bars, firewood and hay for cattle. Of particular interest in Novo-Arkhangelsk was the fragrant wood of the local laurel. Later, liquid resin, which was driven from the local pine, became the subject of export.
The settlement settlement was relatively concentrated: most of them lived in Ross. However, apart from the actual “village and fortress of Ross”, there were two other smaller settlements in Russian California. These were the Port of Rumyantsev in Malaya Bodega, Russian ships moored there. It consisted of 1-2 buildings (warehouse, then also a bath), which were guarded by several Russians or Kadiaks. And the animal-hunting artel on the Farallon Islands, usually consisting of a Russian and a group of Alaskan hunters. The artel produced seals and sea lions, they also caught sea birds for food. Meat and birds were dried and exported to the mainland. In the 1830s, the Russians advanced southward from Ross by creating three ranch farms (Kostromitinovskoye village, Black Ranch, Khlebnikov Plains ranch) to increase agricultural production.
K 1836 population of the fort increased to 260 people, most of them lived on the banks of the river Slavyanka (now called the Russian River). In addition to the Russians, representatives of several local Indian tribes lived on the territory of the settlement. The Russian population was represented mainly by men who signed a seven-year contract with a Russian-American company. There were practically no Russian women in the colony, so mixed marriages were especially common.
At the head of the colony was a ruler (from 1820's - the ruler of the office), who was helped by clerks. In the entire history of Ross, five chiefs were replaced - the first since the founding of 1821 was Ivan Kuskov, then Karl Juhan (Karl Ivanovich) Schmidt (1821 - 1824), Pavel Shelikhov (1824 - 1830), the future consul of Russia in San Francisco Peter Kostromitinov (1830 - 1838) and Alexander Rotchev (1838 - 1841).
The next level of the hierarchy was the Russian workers, the so-called "industrial". They were joined by those who were in the service of the RAC for salary, natives of Finland (Swedes and Finns), Creoles and Alaskan natives. The bulk of the male population of the colony were the so-called "Aleuts" - mostly Kodiak Eskimos (koniag), as well as Chugachi and certain representatives of other peoples of Alaska. They went to California for hunting, but in fact they were mainly engaged either in hunting or in various types of unskilled labor, including logging. At the start of the 1820s, Californian Indians accounted for more than one fifth of Ross’s adult residents. The vast majority of them are natives, wives, or female cohabitants of settlers.
The development of social infrastructure institutions in Russia, which are generally characteristic of the Russian colonies in Alaska (hospital, school, church), was restrained by the company’s administration because of fears of suspicion by the Spaniards, including missionaries, that the Russians have far-reaching plans to colonize California. However, the first Russian Orthodox church in America was built in Ross. In 1820, the Trinity Church was opened, which operated throughout the life of the fortress.
Chapel in Ross
Project D. I. Zavalishin
One of the most interesting pages in the history of Russian California is associated with the name of Decembrist Dmitry Irinarkhovich Zavalishin. Zavalishin (1804-1892) was an extraordinary person. A descendant of an old noble family, who received an excellent education in the Marine Corps, since childhood he has been distinguished by great abilities and great ambition, faith in his own exclusiveness and high purpose. This brought him closer to the Decembrist movement, in which he acted relatively independently, trying to create his own organization (Order of Restoration). By the time of the Decembrist uprising, Zavalishin advocated the destruction of the monarchy and the extermination of the imperial family. In the case of December 14, he was sentenced to penal servitude, replaced by 20 for years.
Even before the uprising, midshipman Zavalishin participated in round-the-world cruise on the cruiser Frigate commanded by M. P. Lazarev (1822-1825). The ship from November 1823 to February 1824 stood in San Francisco. According to Zavalishin's memoirs, California at that time was experiencing a crisis — it was in a state of no beginning, did not submit to Mexico, and at the same time was not considered independent. The political situation in it was determined by the struggle of two elite groups: the “Mexican” (senior officers, officials) and the “royal-Spanish” (clergy). About the clergy was weaker due to the inability of the missionaries to ensure their safety from the Indians without the help of the military.
Zavalishin proposed a project of voluntary accession of California to the Russian Empire. Zavalishin was able to interest Emperor Alexander I. To consider his proposals, a secret committee was established under the chairmanship of A. A. Arakcheev and composed of the Minister of Education, Admiral A. S. Shishkov, a member of the Council of State and the Council of the RAC, Admiral N. S. Mordvinov, Head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Affairs KV Nesselrode. Alexander I found the idea of the Order “fascinating, but not executable”, and Zavalishin's proposals on California and administrative reforms instructed N. S. Mordvinov to learn from them “every possible advantage”.
Zavalishin offered to join California and the government of Nicholas. In a letter to Nicholas I of 24 in January of 1826, he writes: “California, succumbing to Russia and populated by Russians, would remain forever in her power. The acquisition of its harbors and the low cost of its content made it possible to maintain an observation fleet there that would give Russia dominion over the Pacific Ocean and Chinese trade, strengthen the possession of other colonies, and limit the influence of the United States and England. ” The purpose of his plans, he planned, with the help of the Order of Restoration, "establishing themselves in America, acquiring the richest province and beautiful harbors to have an influence on her fate and limit the power of England and the United States," which Zavalishin constantly emphasized.
Zavalishin noted a number of priority cases that were supposed to strengthen Russia's position in the region. For the development of agriculture in Ross, Zavalishin believed, it was enough for the first time to bring there three or four families of “people who know good farming” (peasants), and then allow the RAK employees instead of returning to Russia to stay in Ross. Zavalishin proposed, in order to accelerate the growth of the population of Ross, to accustom the Indians to a sedentary way of life and farming, to begin their Christianization. He noted that "the very difference in the treatment of" the Spaniards and the Russians in relation to the Indians could arrange them in favor of the Russians. Zavalishin took an offensive position: "These places must be occupied immediately, for the last time now for the foundations of the colonies, and if it is not founded in the near future, the hope will disappear so that it can ever be done."
Zavalishin proposed to expand the colony, which was necessary for the development of agriculture (the coastal strip was infertile). Such an expansion, according to Zavalishin, should have led to the entire west of Northern California joining Russia. In later publications, Zavalishin calls the border of the United States, recognized by Spain along the 42 parallel, in the south, the San Francisco Bay in the south, and the r. Sacramento. In these territories, it was necessary to establish new agricultural settlements, for which purpose organize the resettlement of peasants from Russia.
Thus, Zavalishin was the successor of the ideas of Rezanov and Baranov, he sought to make California part of Russia, and his own destiny and like Rezanov, he sharply felt the time factor - the “window of opportunity” for Russia in this region was quickly closed (the Americans were already on the way). Zavalishin not only appreciated the potential of the region and drew attention to the weakness of the colony of Ross. He also understood that in order to achieve the goal originally set by the Russians in California, one must hurry and act energetically, otherwise it will be too late.
However, Nesselrode hacked down this project, as well as a number of others aimed at expanding the territory and sphere of influence of the Russian Empire. Nesselrode told Mordvinov that the government cannot allow itself to be involved in enterprises with unknown consequences, according to the initiative and imagination of private individuals, especially since Russia's relations with Britain and the United States are already strained. Thus, again the national interests of Russia were placed below the interests of the western "partners" - the United States and Britain. They say that it is impossible to spoil relations with them by supporting different “fantasies” of the Russian people. Although of these "fantasies" actually was born the Russian Empire.
In addition, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs reacted negatively to the idea of Zavalishin and the CANCER for the settlement of the new colony by the plowmen liberated from serfdom. Zavalishin, seeing the main problem of the Russian colony in California, proposed "to develop agriculture in California through the free colonization of Russian indigenous plowmen ...". Cancer, according to the plan of N. S. Mordvinov, "thought ... to redeem from the serf state, mainly in small land areas and from poor landowners, peasants for relocation to California." The migrants were supposed to be given complete freedom from duties and obligatory classes so that they could fully devote themselves to arable farming. Zavalishin clarifies these plans somewhat: with the redeemed serf peasants, the RAC entered into an agreement for seven years, with a five-year basis in place. The company supplied them with everything, and the peasants had the right to choose whether to return or stay in California: then everything they received became their property and they received a piece of land as property. That is, it was a project to create a layer of a kind of free farming (a revolutionary idea for that period).
For the fate of Russian California and wider Russian America, the transition to peasant colonization would be salvation. This would be a radical change in the colonization strategy of the RAC, including its demographic and ethnic aspects. Russian America could get a significant mass of the Russian population, hardworking and relatively free, which solved the problem of military security and economic development of the territory.
Despite all the strategic prospects, the whole colony was unprofitable for the Russian-American company. By the middle of the 1830-ies, the local population of fur-bearing animals was greatly reduced, so the fur trade fell to a minimum. After the agreement of the RAK administration in Novo-Arkhangelsk and the Hudson's Bay Company at Fort Vancouver, the need for food supplies from California disappeared. In addition, the international status of Ross has not been determined. Another factor hindering the development of the settlement was its isolation from the rest of the Russian possessions. Petersburg did not express a desire to expand the Russian lands in America, although taking into account the weakness of Spain (then Mexico) and the United States in that period, Russia had a window of opportunity for California to join the empire.
By the end of the 1830s, the board of the Russian-American company was faced with the question of the liquidation of the Russian colony in California. Hudson's Bay Company was not interested in the deal proposed to it. The Mexican government, which continued to consider the land beneath Ross, did not want to pay for it, expecting the Russians to simply leave. In 1841, Fort Ross was sold to a large Mexican landowner of Swiss origin, John Satter, for almost 43 thousand rubles in silver, of which he underpaid about 37 thousand. In return, Satter had to supply wheat to Alaska, which he did not do.
Subsequently, the deal Sutter was not recognized by the Mexican authorities, who transferred the territory of the fort to a new owner - Manuel Torres. Soon this was followed by the separation of California from Mexico and its seizure by the United States of America. After changing several owners in 1873, Fort Ross was acquired by an American, George Koll, who set up a ranch on his territory, in which he successfully worked in agriculture and animal husbandry. In 1906, the fortress was bequeathed to George Call of California. Nowadays, Fort Ross exists as one of the national parks of the state of California.
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