United States and American History: 1867
About the history of the United States in 1867, biography of Horatio Alger, America purchases Alaska in Seward's Folly, Buffalo Bill Cody.
--Abilene, Kans., prospered as a result of J. G. McCoy's decision to establish a cattle yard there. McCoy saw the town's advantage: It was a gathering point from which Texas beef, driven north on the cattle trails, could be shipped by railroad to stockyards in meat-packing Chicago.
--"Ragged Dick" became the new American folk hero. Dick's neurotic "father," Horatio Alger, Jr., who had become a minister after an abortive fling in Paris, based the Ragged Dick Series on his experiences as chaplain for the Newsboy's Lodging House in Manhattan. Invariably, Alger wrote of newsboys or bootblacks who, through virtous effort, achieved the twin goals of riches and success. Although his "Horatio Alger" hero was perpetuated in some 120 books for boys, Alger had really wanted to write books for adults.
--A real-life financial success was Jay Gould who, at the age of 32, made a name for himself on Wall Street by printing and selling counterfeit stock in the Erie Railroad. When his fraud was discovered, Gould and his partner, Jim Fisk, slipped away to New Jersey with $6 million in cash.
Mar. 30 Alaska natives learned that 2 foreign countries had bought and sold their entire property without consulting them. Secretary of State Seward, paying slightly less than 2cent per acre, had purchased Alaska from the Russians. Total price: $7,200,000.
"Seward's Folly," as his purchase was called, had its beginnings in the late evening hours of March 29. The Secretary was called upon at home by the Russian Minister, Baron de Stoekl, who relayed the news that Czar Alexander II was willing to sell his North American territory. Seward, who had been playing whist, began negotiations immediately, going down to his office to reopen it just before midnight. The treaty of cession was finished at 4 A.M.
The Senate ratified Seward's treaty in June. But the House did not authorize money for the purchase until July 27--it was reluctant to ease its drive for more economy in Government after the huge expenditures during the war.
The exact amount of money involved was shrouded in secrecy. Charges of bribery and secret deals were leveled, some accusers claiming that $5 million had been agreed upon and an additional $2,200,000 was unaccountably missing. Another theory: The Russians were being secretly reimbursed with some of the money for Russian fleet expenses during an 1863 demonstration of friendship in U.S. ports. These appearances, at New York and San Francisco, had been tacit warnings to England and France not to recognize the Confederacy, an action they had been considering.
The Alaska transaction was handled by the Riggs National Bank. In 1911, a memorandum was reportedly written by Franklin Lane, President Wilson's Secretary of the Interior, who claimed he had been a party to the deal in his youth while working in the Riggs bank. Lane said he had been handed 2 U.S. Treasury warrants: the 1st for $1,400,000, to purchase Alaska, and the 2nd for $5,800,000 to pay for the Russian fleet expenses.
No evidence to support the 2-warrant theory has ever been found. The warrant of record, said to be the original warrant, is dated July 29, 1868, for the amount of $7,200,000 payable to Edward de Stoekl.
Oct. In the next 8 months, railroad supplier Bill Cody Killed 4,300 buffalo, earning for himself the name "Buffalo Bill."
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