At the end of the Civil War, America revisited the idea of purchasing the land from Russia. Russia sent Ambassador Stoeckl to Washington, D.C. to negotiate a deal; William H. Seward, then the Secretary of State for President Andrew Johnson participated in the process. Seward was an expansionist who had a great interest in the purchase of the land. He was adamant about pursuing the treaty as quickly as possible. Indeed, he entered talks with the Russian ambassador before gaining authorization by the President. Seward was zealous in his negotiations and trumped his own offer of five million dollars, before Russia could respond with a second offer of $5.5 million. While Russia looked over the price agreement Seward went to a cabinet meeting and asked for permission to spend $7 million for the purchase. He received no objections and by March 23, the two negotiators had agreed upon the main points of the deal. By March 29 Stoeckl had pushed Seward to the full $7 million. Russia agreed and Seward, being as fervent as he was about obtaining the land, coordinated for that same evening to have the treaty signed. Russia wanted to make some last minute changes to the deal, and as Seward did not want to make these changes he agreed to pay Russia $200,000 more than the agreed upon price. The treaty was signed at 4 a.m. In the end, Seward bought 586,400 square miles of territory for the United States in about a two week time span. The very same day the Senate was called upon to ratify the treaty. The Senate opposed the buying of Alaska, and after much negotiation finally voted in favor of the treaty by a narrow margin of one vote. Congress approved the treaty and named the new territory Alaska from the native Aleutian word for the mainland (Wheeler).
When actually arriving in Alaska my fear of a far off land was quickly put to rest. Even in its remoteness, Alaska seemed to be completely tied into our culture. At times it seemed strange to think that we were even disconnected from the lower 48; yet, at other times, we felt so insignificant in its majestic beauty that there seemed to be no other people on the planet besides us. Evidence of its somewhat recent pioneering past can still be seen throughout its towns; many places lay claim to the title pioneer and the overall landscape and size of the cities show their recent development since becoming a state. The landscape of this massive region is beautiful, and as each day passes we still find ourselves in awe of everything around us. Denali National Park and Preserve is the epitome of beauty in our nation. Climbing to the top of huge ranges that have graced this land for millions of years gives one an entirely new perspective on time, the natural environment and our place alongside the vast wilderness. There was no folly in Seward's decision to purchase Alaska from Russia. Alaska is one of the greatest treasures of our nation and should be noted as one of our highest accomplishments in its acquisition. Beyond its mineral wealth, Alaska offers our nation a fleeting glimpse of undisturbed wilderness, untarnished by human interaction. Never will there be a greater feat in the history of acquisition in the United States then that of Seward and his Alaskan Wonderland.