Wednesday, October 18, 2006

America buys Alaska from Russians for US$7,200,000 1867

Larger in area than all but 18 of the world's nations, Alaska is derived from the Aleut Alyeska, meaning "great country", "mainland" or "great land". During the 18th century, Spaniards explored the coast and settled there – Cordova and Valdez.

U.S. Secretary of State William Seward (Seward’s Folly), urged the US to buy it, and while the transaction was completed on April 2, it wasn’t until October 18 that the hand over was completed. Or, if you go by the Julian calendar, Saturday, October 7, 1867 in Russia. Take your pick. That wasn’t the only problem Alaska had that day:

“Russia still used the Julian Calendar in 1867, and the world had not yet been divided into standard time zones; thus, there was no international date line, and the day began in the morning instead of starting at midnight. So, while the American day now ends with sunset in western Alaska, the Russian day then started with sunrise in "eastern" Alaska. Thus, Friday, October 6, 1867, the day before the physical transfer of ownership, was followed by Friday, October 18, 1867—which was Saturday, October 7, 1867 in Russia. The change in date was due to America bringing the Gregorian Calendar to Alaska, while the lack of change in day resulted from Alaska's shift from being the starting point of the Russian day to being the ending point of the American day.”

Get all that?

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