Flora and fauna are generally visible in the treasures of mother earth whereas, mines and minerals need to be dug out, in other words they need to be discovered. To simplify, what is overt is known to all. But what is covert needs to be discovered. “No great discovery was ever made without a bold guess.” said Isaac Newton. That brings me to the story of Alaska. The purchase of Alaska or the sale of Alaska was, United States’ acquisition of Alaska from the Russian Empire. Alaska was formally transferred to the United States on October 18, 1867, through a treaty ratified by the United States Senate and signed by President Andrew Johnson.
History corroborates that Russia had established a considerable presence in North America during the first half of the seventeenth century, but few Russians ever settled in Alaska. In the aftermath of the Crimean War, Emperor Alexander II of Russia began exploring the possibility of selling Alaska, as it would have been difficult to defend it from Britain and other countries in the event of any future war. After the end of the American Civil War, U.S. Secretary of State William Seward entered into negotiations with Russian minister Eduard de Stoeckl for the purchase of Alaska. Seward and Stoeckl both agreed to a treaty on March 30, 1867. The treaty was approved by the United States Senate by a wide margin despite clashes between President Johnson and Congress over the sanity of its purchase.
The purchase of Alaska added 586,412 square miles (1,518,800 km2) of new territory to the United States for the cost of $7.2 million. Say 2 cents per acre. Reactions to the purchase in the United States were mostly positive, as many believed possession of Alaska would serve as a base to expand and facilitate American trade into Asia. However, some opponents labelled the purchase as “Seward’s Folly“, or “Seward’s Icebox,” as they contended that the United States had acquired useless land mass that’ll not be of much use to the US in times to come.
But Seward could prophesy. Or he could measure the future potential of Alaska and its future usefulness in the opportunities arising in the US. He knew Alaska’s potential and could visualise how USA will benefit with Alaska’s resources and strategic position in the globe. Over the decades, exploration led to the discovery of gold, oil and rich minerals, along with the world’s most abundant fisheries. And so decades later, Seward was posthumously vindicated.
In the summer of 1899, gold was finally struck around Nome in west Alaska. That brings me to the point: Check what lies underground. For what lies underground could just be another gold mine just as Alaska. And on hindsight when we look back we find both, the Secretary of the State, William Seward and the United States of America, look like outright heroes, as compared to the Russian minister Eduard de Stoeckl and Russia itself who look pale in front of them.
In world history there have been many instances even after 1867 (when America purchased Alaska), where countries have divested their territories in settlement of disputes, and rogue countries have grabbed territories of civilised countries, names of which are pretty obvious and are available in history texts. And why go anywhere else. Even India, was partitioned on the ground of religion, which the citizenry of India has not been able to reconcile to even after seventy years. But the case of Alaska was truly different where an Emperor on the possibility of a future war divested Alaska-then part of the North American Continent for a pittance without studying what lies underground.
This conveys an important lesson to our posterity and that is, underground is as important as over ground. Metaphorically also, what lies in our innate conscience is equally important to your external personality.
By Kamlesh Tripathi
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GLOOM BEHIND THE SMILE
(The book is about a young cancer patient. Now archived in 7 prestigious libraries of the US, including, Harvard University and Library of Congress. It can also be accessed in MIT through Worldcat.org. Besides, it is also available for reading in Libraries and archives of Canada and Cancer Aid and Research Foundation Mumbai)
ONE TO TANGO … RIA’S ODYSSEY
(Is a book on ‘singlehood’ about a Delhi girl now archived in Connemara Library, Chennai and Delhi Public Library, GOI, Ministry of Culture, Delhi)
AADAB LUCKNOW … FOND MEMORIES
(Is a fiction written around the great city of Nawabs—Lucknow. It describes Lucknow in great detail and also talks about its Hindu-Muslim amity. That happens to be its undying characteristic. The book was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival of 2014)
REFRACTIONS … FROM THE PRISM OF GOD
(Co-published by Cankids–Kidscan, a pan India NGO and Shravan Charity Mission, that works for Child cancer in India. The book is endorsed by Ms Preetha Reddy, MD Apollo Hospitals Group. It was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2016)
TYPICAL TALE OF AN INDIAN SALESMAN
(Is a story of an Indian salesman who is, humbly qualified. Yet he fights his ways through unceasing uncertainties to reach the top. A good read not only for salesmen. The book was launched on 10th February, 2018 in Gorakhpur Lit-Fest. Now available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha)
RHYTHM … in poems
(Published in January 2019. The book contains 50 poems. The poems describe our day to day life. The book is available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha)
(Published in February 2020. The book is a collection of eight short stories. It is available in Amazon, Flipkart and Notion Press)
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