Celebrating the purchase of Alaska

March 30, 2007 at 9:23 AM

JUNEAU, Alaska, March 30 (UPI) -- Alaskans on Friday marked the 140th anniversary of the United States' purchase of huge area that would become the 49th member of the United States.

It was on March 30, 1867, that the Russian ambassador to the United States and U.S. Secretary of State William Seward signed the treaty that stripped the Russian empire of Alaska.

While March is the month when Alaska celebrates its founding, the handover of the Alaskan territory didn't take place until Oct. 18, 1867.

Seward is honored as the founding father of the state of Alaska though he was severely criticized at the time for buying what was described as an "ice cellar" and a "park for polar bears."

When gold was discovered in nearby Canada, views on Alaska changed and the Russians regretted their decision to part with the territory they had held for 126 years, Itar-Tass said in an item on the sale's anniversary.

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