William H. Seward
Just about two years after Lewis Powell sliced Secretary of State William H. Seward’s throat on assassination night, a recovered Seward made an excellent bargain with Russia.
Seward, who stayed on as secretary of state in Andrew Johnson’s administration after President Lincoln’s death, purchased Alaska on this day in 1867.
Critics attacked him for paying $7.2 million for 586,412 square miles they dubbed “Seward’s icebox.”
Seward died in 1872, when Alaska’s principal industry was the lucrative seal fishing industry. He didn’t live to see the Klondike Gold Rush of 1896.
As Americans realized Alaska was rich in gold, copper and oil, Seward’s move was hailed.