Seward’s Folly at 150

150 years ago yesterday, the United States concluded the treaty transferring Alaska from Russia to the United States. On April 9 (the second anniversary of Appomattox), the Senate ratified the deal.

On April 18, 1867, Major General Lovell Rousseau led a contingent of soldiers to Sitka to take possession of the new territory. The Kentucky-born General Rousseau was an Army of the Ohio/Army of the Cumberland veteran, commanding a division at Perryville, Stones River, and Tullahoma.

Often derided as “Seward’s Folly,” Alaska has since proven to be an increasingly important territory of the United States. Alaska became the 49th state admitted to the Union in early 1959.

An excellent write-up of how Seward and the Russians got to talking is here at the Mystic Stamp Company.

4 Responses to Seward’s Folly at 150

  1. Great idea to use the Mystic Stamp write-up for the history. As a collector, I find stamps a helpful trigger for learning more history. …. George

    1. I appreciate that, George. Mystic Stamp is a font of information. I’m reminded of what FDR said abut how he learned geography: “It’s amazing what you can learn if a stamp collector really studies his stamps.”

  2. Although Kentucky born, he spent substantial time in Indiana before the war, where he practiced law, met his wife, and served in both the state house and state senate. As a Hoosier, I’m required to point that out. Also, at Perryville he was in the same I-Corps as my direct ancestor.

    However, what I like most about Rousseau was his passion. Most notably, after his honor was questioned in Congress and he was not provided with an apology, he proceeded to beat Iowa congressman Josiah Bushnell Grinnell in the east portico of the capitol building. We think things are tense now, but got nothing on those chaps!

    1. All great points. Rousseau was definitely passionate, and it helped his leadership on the battlefield. On a personal note, I had a relative in Rousseau’s Division at Perryville.

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