18 Oct:
Let’s Buy Alaska

On October 18th, 1867, the United States formally took possession of Alaska, after purchasing the territory from Russia for $7.2 million, or less than two cents an acre.

This certainly looks like an incredibly good deal today but at the time the American public believed the land to be barren and worthless and dubbed the purchase “Seward’s Folly” and “Andrew Johnson’s Polar Bear Garden”, among other derogatory names.

In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and Olly discuss how the the discovery of gold served to change Americans’ attitude to their purchase; explain why Alaska natives maintain that their land was never Russia’s to sell; and reveal why the handover ceremony was a thoroughly unedifying spectacle… 

Further Reading: