Department of Alaska

Department of Alaska
Department of Alaska
Administered by U.S. Army (1867-1877), Administered by United States Department of the Treasury (1877-1879), Administered by U.S. Navy (1879-1884), Organized incorporated territory (1884) of the United States


Flag of Alaska


Location of Alaska
Department of Alaska
Capital Sitka
Government Organized incorporated territory
 - 1868-1870 Brevet Maj. Gen. Jefferson C. Davis
 - 1884 Lt. Cmdr. Henry E. Nichols
 - Russian Alaska October 18 1867
 - District of Alaska May 17 1884
Flag of Alaska
History of Alaska
Russian America (1733-1867)
Department of Alaska (1867-1884)
District of Alaska (1884-1912)
Territory of Alaska (1912-1959)
State of Alaska (1959-present)
Other topics
v · d · e

The Department of Alaska was the designation for the government of Alaska from its purchase by the United States of America in 1867 until its organization as the District of Alaska in 1884. During the department era, Alaska was variously under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Army (until 1877), the United States Department of the Treasury (from 1877 until 1879) and the U.S. Navy (from 1879 until 1884). The area later became the District of Alaska, then the Alaska Territory, then the State of Alaska.

At the instigation of U.S. Secretary of State William Seward, the United States Senate approved the purchase of Alaska from Russia for $7,200,000 on 9 April 1867, and the United States flag was raised on 18 October of that same year (now called Alaska Day). Coincident with the ownership change, the de facto International Date Line was moved westward, and Alaska changed from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar. Therefore, for residents, Friday, October 6, 1867 was followed by Friday, October 18, 1867; two Fridays in a row because of the date line shift.

On the morning of October 18, 1867, USS Ossipee arrived at Sitka with Russian Commissioner Captain Alexis Pestchouroff and American Commissioner General Lovell H. Rousseau on board. That afternoon, 250 American soldiers, 80 Russian soldiers, Russian-American Company Chief Manager Prince Maksutov and his wife, and a group of locals assembled at the flagstaff in front of the governor's residence (on what has come to be known as "Baranof (Baronov) Castle Hill" to witness the flag of Russia being lowered and the U.S. flag being raised in its place.

A dual cannon salute was fired for each flag, and each Commissioner gave a short speech. Perhaps misunderstanding the directions, the Russian soldier bringing his country's flag down tore it loose, then dropped it. The banner drifted down and was caught on a portion of the upraised bayonets of the Russian garrison. Princess Maksutova is said to have fainted at the sight.[1]

Legend has it that the first American administrator of Alaska was Polish immigrant Włodzimierz Krzyżanowski. However, the Anchorage Daily News was unable to find any conclusive information to support or disprove this claim.[2] Public opinion in the United States was generally positive, though some criticized the purchase as "Seward's Folly" or "Seward's Icebox". However, the resources of Alaska would soon show that this was a wise buy. Alaska celebrates the purchase each year on the last Monday of March, which is known as Seward's Day.

When the United States had first bought Alaska, vast regions of the area still remained unexplored. In 1865, Western Union decided to lay a telegraph line across Alaska to Bering Strait where it would connect with an Asian line. Robert Kennicott, part of a Western Union surveying effort, had led his crew to Nulato on the banks of the Yukon. He died the following year and William H. Dall took charge of scientific affairs. The Western Union expedition conducted the first scientific studies of the region and produced the first map of the entire Yukon River. That same year, 1866, workers finally succeeded in laying an Atlantic undersea telegraph cable, and the Alaskan overland project was abandoned. Dall returned to Alaska many times, recording and naming geological features.

The Alaska Commercial Company also contributed to the growing exploration of Alaska in the last decades of the 1800s, building trading posts along the interior's many rivers. Small parties of trappers and traders entered the interior, and, though the federal government provided little money to the region, army officers would occasionally explore on their own. In a four-month journey, Lt. Frederick Schwatka and his party rafted the Yukon from Lake Lindeman in Canada to Saint Michael near the river's mouth on the Bering Sea. In 1885, Lt. Henry T. Allen and four others left the Gulf of Alaska, followed the Copper River, crossed a mountain range, and traveled down the Tanana River to the Yukon, and portaged to the Kanuti and Koyukuk rivers. Allen went up the Koyukuk, then back down the Yukon, crossed over to Unalakeet on the coast, and then made his way to Saint Michael, exploring about 1,500 miles (2400 km) of Interior Alaska.


  1. ^
  2. ^ Ruskin, Liz (December 17, 2002). "Poland honors second 'ski' to lead Alaska". Anchorage Daily News. 

Coordinates: 64°N 153°W / 64°N 153°W / 64; -153

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Department of Alaska — Karte des Departments of Alaska von 1867 Department of Alaska war nach dem Kauf Alaskas von Russland von 1867 bis 1884 die offizielle Bezeichnung für Alaska, den heutigen Bundesstaat der Vereinigten Staaten. Während dieser Zeit hatte Alaska keine …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Alaska — (Details) (Details) …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Alaska (Begriffsklärung) — Alaska bezeichnet: Geografische Objekte: Alaska, US amerikanischer Bundesstaat Department of Alaska, Bezeichnung für Alaska von 1867 bis 1884 District of Alaska, Bezeichnung für Alaska von 1884 bis 1912 Alaska Territorium, Bezeichnung für Alaska… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Alaska State Capitol — Das Alaska State House ist das Staatskapitol von Alaska. Es befindet sich in der Main Street in Juneau, der Bundeshauptstadt von Alaska und beherbergt die Legislative Alaskas und die Büros des Gouverneurs und Vizegouverneurs von Alaska …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Alaska Commercial Company — The Alaska Commercial Company (ACC) is a company that operated retail stores in Alaska during the early period of Alaska s ownership by the United States. From 1901 to 1992, it was known as the Northern Commercial Company (NCC). In 1992, it… …   Wikipedia

  • Department of the Columbia — The Department of the Columbia was a major command (Department) of the United States Army during the 19th century. Formation On July 27, 1865 the Military Division of the Pacific was created under Major General Henry W. Halleck, replacing the… …   Wikipedia

  • Alaska State Capitol — The Alaska State House is the state capitol of Alaska. Located in the state capital of Juneau on Main Street, it houses the Alaska Legislature and the offices for the governor of Alaska and lieutenant governor of Alaska. HistoryIn 1792, the first …   Wikipedia

  • Alaska Territory — Der District of Alaska 1911, ein Jahr vor der Gründung des Alaska Territoriums Das Alaska Territorium (engl: Alaska Territory) war von 1912 bis 1959 ein den Vereinigten Staaten von Amerika zugehöriges bundesunmittelbares Gebiet. Es ging aus dem… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Department (country subdivision) — For other uses, see Department (disambiguation). Department (French: département, Spanish: departamento) is the name given to the administrative and political subdivisions of many countries. As a territorial unit, department was first used by the …   Wikipedia

  • Alaska political corruption probe — refers to a widespread investigation from 2003 to the present by the Public Integrity Section of the U.S. Department of Justice, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Internal Revenue Service into political corruption of lawmakers in the… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.