The (almost) Russian-American Telegraph


Seward replied almost effusively three days later, apparently reacting favorably to Western Union’s proposal and indicating that he would take the matter up with the Russian ambassador. What he didn’t say was more important. At that moment he was near the climax of secret negotiations with the Russian ambassador for the United States to purchase Russian America, thus wiping out any interest by Russia in Western Union’s proposal. Two days later, at 4 A.M. on March 30, 1867, Seward signed the treaty purchasing Russian America for $7.2 million. Unquestionably news about construction of the telegraph line, failure though it was, contributed to American awareness of that remote territory and helped win Senate ratification of the treaty a bare ten days later.