Happy Alaska Day!
October 18 marks the anniversary of when formal transfer of the Territory of Alaska from Russia to the United States. And it was a pretty good deal, too - just $7.2 million. The sale price was approximately 2 cents an acre and enlarged the United States by 586,000 square miles.
Alaska was originally a Russian territory, but the Russian Empire was strapped for cash and looked to sell Alaska. William Seward, the Secretary of State, negotiated with the Russians and on March 30, 1867 signed the Alaska Purchase Treaty. It was widely panned, and ultimately dubbed "Seward's Folly." Today, March 30 is celebrated as Seward's Day in Alaska.
Once the treaty was signed, it took about five months for the formal transfer of power. On October 18, 1867, the Russians handed over the Territory of Alaska to the United States in Sitka, which was the largest city and had served as the capital, as the US Flag flew over it for the first time. Sitka remained the capital until 1906, when it was moved to Juneau. It would take more than 90 more years for Alaska to be admitted as the 49th state in 1959.
Alaska Day is an officially recognized state holiday.