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Why Did Russia Give California To The Americans - Alternative View
Why Did Russia Give California To The Americans - Alternative View
Video: Why Did Russia Give California To The Americans - Alternative View
Video: The Real Reason Russia Sold Alaska To The United States 2023, February

By the middle of the 19th century, Russia had every reason to strengthen its presence in America, taking possession of California. Having left the coveted lands, the Russians opened a direct path to their settlement by the Americans.

Help Alaska

The winter of 1805-1806 for the Russian colonists in Alaska was cold and hungry. In order to somehow support the settlers, the leadership of the Russian-American Company (RAC) acquired the ship "Juno" loaded with food from the American merchant John Wolfe and sent it to Novoarkhangelsk (now Sitka). However, there was not enough food until spring.

To help "Juno" was given the newly built tender "Avos", and on two ships the Russian expedition sailed to the warm shores of California to replenish food supplies.

The expedition was headed by the tsarist chamberlain Nikolai Rezanov. After an unsuccessful diplomatic mission to Japan, he strove to prove himself in a difficult enterprise from the best side.

The expedition's goals were not limited to one-time aid to those in need in Alaska: they were aimed at establishing strong trade relations with California, which belongs to the Spanish crown. The task was complicated by the fact that Spain, acting as an ally of Napoleonic France, was by no means eager to make contacts with representatives of the Russian Empire.

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Exhausting patriotism

Displaying his outstanding diplomatic talents and personal charm, Rezanov managed to win over the Spanish authorities, but questions about the supply of food did not get off the ground. And then love intervened in big politics.

At a reception at the commandant of the San Francisco fortress, Jose Arguello Rezanov, he meets his 15-year-old daughter Concepcion (Conchita). After a short conversation between the 42-year-old commander and the young beauty, sympathies arise, which very quickly develop into strong feelings. Moreover, Conchita agreed to the offer of a hand, despite the prospect of permanently settling in a cold northern country.

Largely thanks to Concepcion, it was possible to reach an agreement with the authorities, and by the summer of 1806, much-needed goods in abundance flowed into the holds of Russian ships. Rezanov promised to return to his beloved, and she promised to wait for him faithfully.

However, they were not destined to meet again. On the way to St. Petersburg, the commander fell ill and soon died, and Conchita, without waiting for her betrothed, devoted her service to God. We will never know if it was true love or if it was the calculation of a far-sighted politician. However, too much was then decided on the fertile Californian shores.

In his instruction to the ruler of Russian America, merchant Alexander Baranov, Rezanov wrote that using his experience of trade in California and the consent of local residents, he would try to convey to the government the benefits of such an enterprise. And in his farewell letter, he left the following words: "Patriotism made me exhaust all my strength with the hope that they would understand correctly and properly appreciate."

Fort Ross

The efforts of the Russian diplomat were appreciated. What he did not have time to convey to the government, he succeeded in Baranov. The merchant equips two expeditions led by RAC employee Alexander Kuskov to establish a colony in California. In 1812, the first Russian settlement was founded 80 kilometers north of San Francisco.

Formally, this area belonged to the Spaniards, but Indian tribes ruled there, from which land was bought for mere trifles - clothing and tools. But the relationship with the Indians was not limited to this: later the Russian settlers began to actively involve them in household work in the colony.

In the period from April to September, a fortress and a village were built here, which received the name Fort Ross. For such wild places, the settlement seemed to be an unprecedented center of culture and civilization.

A profitable trade exchange gradually developed between the Russians and the Spaniards. The Russians supplied goods made in Alaska from leather, wood, iron, receiving furs and wheat in return. Also, the Spaniards acquired from the colonists several light ships built at the fort's shipyards.

The Russian economy flourished. Cattle breeding took root here, vineyards and orchards were planted. Colonist-built windmills and imported window panes were a completely new phenomenon for California. Later, for the first time in these places, systematic observations of the weather were introduced.

The fate of the Russian colony

After the death of Kuskov in 1823, the fate of Fort Ross was taken care of by the head of the Chancellery of the Russian-American Company Kondraty Ryleev, in particular, he was busy with influential Russian officials about the affairs of the fort. Ryleev's plans for "Russian California" went beyond the agricultural land supplying Alaska.

In 1825, Ryleev signed a decree of the RAC on the construction of new Russian fortresses in California for the further development of the territories: "Mutual benefits, justice and nature itself require that," wrote the head of the RAC Chancellery. However, Alexander I rejected the company's offer, advising to leave this venture and not leave the colonists "from the borders of the merchant class."

Count NS Mordvinov offers the RAC a compromise option: to buy out serfs from Russian landowners with poor land and settle them in fertile California. And indeed, soon the possessions of the Russian settlers expanded noticeably and began to reach up to the borders of modern Mexico.

But by the mid-1830s, California's fur population had declined markedly, and Alaska had found another source of food supply - Fort Vancouver. The Russian authorities finally cooled off to the project, and in 1841 Fort Ross was sold to a Swiss citizen of Mexico, John Sutter, for 42 857 rubles.

However, a political motive is also found in the loss of Russian California. Mexico, which claimed these lands, agreed to the Russian colonies in California in exchange for the recognition from St. Petersburg of its independence from Spain. Nicholas I did not want to spoil relations with the Madrid court. In 1847 the last Russians left California, and in 1849 the time of the "gold rush" came.

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