FUN WITH MAPS ISSUE 2024-067

By Steve Kovacs (Introduction by Chuck Gibson)

LOVELAND, OH (April 9, 2024) – In this edition of Fun with Maps we learn a little about the hope for a great northern territory.

SEWARD’S FOLLY

On April 9, 1867 the Senate ratified the treaty with Russia which allowed for the purchase of Russian America, currently better known as the state of Alaska. 

The principal negotiator for the United States was Secretary of State, William Seward. There were many opponents to the deal, fearing that the land was just a useless ice block with walruses and polar bears, so it earned the nickname of “Seward’s Folly” or “Seward’s Icebox.”

The deal started at $5 million, but finally settled at $7 million.  For those in favor of the deal, there was the optimistic hope for gold and other minerals, the opportunity to expand trade with Japan and China, and establish more power in the Pacific region by blocking England’s chance to add to their Canadian territory.

The area became desolate as Russians left, but the 1896 Klondike Gold Rush brought the first big influx of Americans to the area. 

Alaska was officially designated as a territory in 1912 and became the 49th state in 1959.

Taylor’s whimsical pictorial map of Alaska is offered here from 1938.

Alaska -Circa 1938 (Credit Steve Kovacs)

Steve Kovacs and his wife Theresa reside in Loveland, Ohio where they raised their two children. He is a passionate collector of antique maps.

Visit his antique map boutique world-on-paper online. Watch for his daily feature Steve Kovacs: Fun with Maps here on Loveland Beacon.