• Back to Encyclopedia Arctica homepage


    Encyclopedia Arctica 12: Alaska, Geography and General

    001      |      Vol_XII-0887                                                                                                                  
    EA- Geography Alaska: History

    (Hector Chevigny)


            Promyshlenniki was the term applied to the fur traders in the 19th cen–

    tury Russian commerce in Alaska and the Aleutians, deriving from the term

    applied to the Siberian frontiersmen. A correct equivalent might be the

    French-Canadian term, "coureurs des bois."

            In the mid-16th century, the infant Russian Empire emerged as Tear Ivan

    Vassilievitch (The Terrible) threw off the last of the Tartar yoke. Confront–

    ing Tear Ivan was still the task of subduing the vans of plunderers which

    through the war years had enjoyed almost unlimited freedom of movement, par–

    ticularly in the southern section of Muscovy. They were composed of all breeds

    and nationalities of mid-European but had adopted Cossack titles, customs, dress,

    and modes of warfare. In 1573, the hetman Yermak Timofiev, contrary to an ukase

    of the tear opening the Volga to European trade, attacked a party of English

    merchants, causing the tear at last to send an army to punish him and his follow–

    ers. At the head of some 650 mounted followers, composed of Poles, Ukrainians,

    and many other nationalities, including a sprinkling of genuine Cossacks from

    the region of the Caspian, Timofiev fled across the Ural Mountains and into

    Siberia, which was then under Mohammedan hegemony. But the Mohammedan strong–

    holds had become old and effete, no match for these fierce, trained fighters.

    Yermak took the khanate of Isker, in 1581, driving the Khan, Khutchum, for safe–

    ty to the steppes. Yermak thereupon offered the tear the domain of Siberia,

    promising conquest in its entirety. Ivan accepted, adding the jewel of Siberia

    002      |      Vol_XII-0888                                                                                                                  
    EA- Geography Alaska: History Chevigny: Promyshlenniki

    to the Muscovite crown and forgiving Yermak for all his crimes. Yermak fell

    in a subsequent battle, but his men pressed on to initiate the most extraordin–

    ary march of conquest and colonization in the history of the white race. The

    oppressive measures of the Tsar Boris Godunov, Ivan's successor, caused many

    more searchers for freedom to go over the Urals, and these were added to by

    official troops. When fortunes in furs and fossil ivory were added to the in–

    centives, the tide swelled until, in 1639, less than a century after the erup–

    tion of Yermak and his men, Russians stood on the shores of the Pacific and

    founded the village of Okhotsk.

            On this march these men intermarried with the Tartar, Buriat and Yakut

    women they encountered, and this was the ancestry of the promyshlenniki. The

    promyshlennik was the Russian pathfinder, trader, trapper. Crude, harsh, im–

    petuous, fearless, he was perhaps the most rugged individualist known. Like

    his American counterpart, freedom from restraint was his aim, and the far ocean

    his unconscious goal. Toward that sea he pushed his frontier with incredible

    speed, conquering the remaining Mussulman strongholds and tribes encountered

    on the way in a fraction of the time it took the French and English to cover

    less than a tenth the same distance under virtually the same circumstances, from

    the Atlantic to the Mississippi in America.

            The course of the promyshlenniki is an expression of the ancient force that

    had motivated many of Russia's actions — the need for seaports. The promysh–

    drive was eastward, then southward, toward the along the Amur River to

    the sea. Poyarkov's boats descended the Amur, in 1643; in 1649, Khabarov occupied

    the river's course. The resistance of the Chinese, however, forced a retreat,

    and the tear at Moscow, to whom the promyshlenniki continued owing allegiance,

    forbade further encroachment on the Chinese Empire. The trade in tea, to which

    003      |      Vol_XII-0889                                                                                                                  
    EA- Geography Alaska: History Chevigny: Promyshlenniki

    Muscovy had become addicted, silke, nankeens, medicines and many other articles

    had become endangered. The Treaty of Nertchinek, in which Jesuits functioned

    as diplomats for the Chinese Emperor, settled the issue by stipulating two

    points of entry for Russians to the Chinese Empire. Trade could be carried

    on only through these places, one of which was Fortress Mai-Mai-Cheng. Irkutsk,

    because of its proximity to this point, became Siberia's commercial metropolis.

            Frustrated by this cloture of what seemed their object, the promyshlenniki

    turned from the Amur as a direction to the northeastward, toward the maritime

    provinces and the Sea of Okhotsk, as well as the Anadyr and further Arctic


            As they advanced, the promyshlenniki built, usually at the juncture of

    rivers, palisaded forts (ostrogs), which later became the towns of Siberia.

    Their names — Omsk, Tomsk, Irkutsk, and so on — derived from the nearby

    streams. Using these ostrogs as operational bases, they sortied in pairs or

    in bands, usually mounted on shaggy Mongol ponies, searching for the skins for

    which the Chinese paid so well on the border. Cossack titles, customs, dress,

    and modes of warfare continued to dominate; as a remnant of this fact, the prom–

    are sometimes referred to as Cossacks, and the term "Cossack" con–

    tinued for many years to be applied to the Siberian mounted police. They prac–

    ticed democracy of a sort, electing and deposing leaders, on a basis of merit,

    by vote.

            In 1706, the hetman Atlassov conquered the peninsula of Kamtchatka. This

    was the end of the promyshlennik march, for there was no longer vast land over

    which to wander in search of furs and barbarous battle. Unlike their American

    prototypes, however, they gazed speculatively across the ocean and wondered what

    lay over those dark Pacific waters. They eagerly listened to all the native tales

    004      |      Vol_XII-0890                                                                                                                  
    EA- Geography Alaska: [ Hisotgay ?] History. Chevigny: Promyshlenniki

    that, not far away, there were islands and another mainland, a bolshaya zemlia.

    At the ostrog of Anadyrsk, in 1711, promyshlenniks made excited depositions

    thtt they had talked to natives inhabiting the extreme northeast cape who claimed

    their reindeer took them across the ice in winter to a large island on which

    were other natives who spoke their language and had many furs of rare kinds.

            Many writers have seen somhat mystic meanings in the swift Siberian con–

    quest of the promyshlenniki and their urge to wander. Parallels are seen in the

    differences between the European and the Russian concepts of heaven, between the

    Latin coelum and the Muscovite nyebo. There would indeed seem to be something

    almost apocalyptic in the promyshlennik urge to wander, wander forever over the

    vast plain toward the horizon. It has been said that in trying to penetrate

    China they were, in some deeply atavistic way, attempting to return to the home

    of remote forebears. However this may be, there were economic factors that

    pulled them across the Pacific at last — their own killing of the Siberian fur–

    bearing animals with which Russia's enormous trade in tea became entirely fin–

    anced. The tales of the natives about the probability of another land across

    the Pacific always stressed furs, and furs were the immediate object of the wander–


            One curious fact should be noted. Although the wanderers felt allegiance

    to the tear at Moscow, Moscow itself cared little about them. According to the

    ancient Cossack custom, each band continued to take, forcibly, from the native

    tribes they encountered, a tribute in furs, yassack, in the name of the tear,

    but except for the acceptance of this tribute there was little recognition or

    directional force from Moscow. As with the spearmen of the American frontier

    movement, there was little impulse to set up civilization or to pull a past

    culture after them. That was left to later immigrants. At Moscow, for that

    005      |      Vol_XII-0891                                                                                                                  
    EA-Alaska History. Chevigny: Promyshlenniki

    matter, there was hardly an administrative center in the western sense, and

    this was not radically to change until the accession of Peter the Great. He

    was deeply interested in what went on in Siberia, and specifically with the

    possibilities of its ports. Peter had caught one fever from the western kings —

    to locate the Northwest Passage. On the eve of his death he dictated orders,

    adding marginal notes in his own handwriting, instructing Vitus Bering to build

    ships at Okhotsk, sail in them and find out for certain, among other things,

    if Kamtchatka joined America and whether there were foreign vessels or towns

    along the American coast. Peter was dead and the ancient apathy had redescend–

    ed on Moscow, when Bering's men returned without him but with a half million

    rubles' worth of furs they had gathered on the Pacific islands. The reports of

    the scientists of the expedition were put away to gather dust,but this confirma–

    tion of the wealth to be found across the Pacific waters revitalized the promysh–

    movement. Furs had become so scarce that the merchants of Irkutsk had

    had to send to London for then from the Hudson's Bay Company to keep up their

    trade balances with the Chinese. With whoops of joy, the traditional Mongol

    ponies were abandoned and all sorts of craft were built in which men advanced

    across the Pacific. Many were little more than crude structures of green boards

    lashed together with leather thongs.

            In the dim pages of what history has been preserved, we note that the first

    to follow Bering's men's path was one Bassov, sergeant of a military promyshlennik

    company on Kamtchatka. He formed a partnership with a Muscovite merchant. They

    built a vessel lashed together with thongs, gathered a promyshlennik crew, win–

    tered on Bering Island, returned with 1,600 sea-otter skins, 2,000 seal skins,

    and 2,000 arctic fox skins. The first gold rush of Alaska was on. As in gold

    rush everywhere else in the world, the boldest, hardiest, and often the least

    006      |      Vol_XII-0892                                                                                                                  
    EA-Alaska History. Chevigny: Promyshlenniki

    scrupulous were the first to join. The dangers were extreme, loss of life

    heavy, the hardships beyond belief, the profits, if a ship returned, incredible.

    This new generation of seagoing promyshlenniki true to their heritage, delight–

    ed in going as far as possible. In 1745, the Aleutian Islands were reached.

            The old custom of forcibly ectracting yassack was carried on with the

    Aleut natives. The Aleuts paid tribute apparently without demur, at first.

    Perhaps the promyshlenniki were irritated, there was so little trouble in getting

    it. Certainly the barbarities [ of ?] the firstcomers meted out have few possible

    explanations in ordinary motives. The natives of Attu long remembered the

    atrocities their forefathers underwent at the hands of the officers of the ves–

    sel Yevdoika , the first Russians they were to see. Even the Cossack, Shekhardin,

    was shocked at what he witnessed on this occasion. The old court records of

    Irkutsk contain the trial of the promyshlennik commander, Pushkarev, who caused

    the suicide of twenty Unimak Island women. At the trial it was testified that

    he had slain every male islander he could find and had strangled one of the girls

    to death with his own hands. The old promyshlennik motto was, "God is high in

    His heaven, and the Tear is far away." Obviously, as on every frontier, the

    psychopaths were to be found here too.

            On the appointment of the Siberian Governor-General, Dennis Ivanovich

    Chicherin, by Catherine the Great, a change took place. This capable, honest

    and far-seeing official was interested in what went on in the Pacific, for the

    reason that the fur trade needed protection and because the exploits of the

    promyshlenniki at sea were, from the seamanship standpoint, so remarkable that

    they were worthy of note for their very daring. Almost forgotten in the larger

    importance of the Bering expedition is the fact that, eighty years before him,

    a promyshlennik named Deshnev, starting from the Kolyma River, sailed around the

    007      |      Vol_XII-0893                                                                                                                  
    EA-Alaska History. Chevigny: Promyshlenniki

    northesast extremity of Asia through the Strait which Bering rediscovered. At

    this late date, it is difficult to imagine the hardihood of those early Rus–

    sian navigators. In the early days of the Aleutian trade, few instruments were

    used and no charts at all. The title "Morekhod" (navigator) became one of great

    respect. Such skippers emerged as Izmailov, Botcharov and Pribylov. They ex–

    plored assiduously, keeping more or less careful records, eventually working out

    the charts. For many years their work was the only paper basis for navigation

    in the Aleutian region. When, in 1914, Captain Thomas Moore took the Alaska

    Steamshop Company's liner, The Cordova , 1,000 miles out of her course to the

    rescue of the survivors of the Revenue Cutter, Tahoma , which had hit a reef off

    Aguttu Island, the only papers available for his guidance at the U. S. Govern–

    ment offices on land were copies of the old Russian polyconic charts. Chicherin

    encouraged these developments, in hopes of interesting the Empress in the Pacific

    and the meaning of its trade to Siberia. He sent one particularly intrepid

    promyshlennik to the court to tell personally what he had experienced and of

    the vast extent of lands being added to the Russian crown. Her Majesty abolish–

    ed the old custom of vassack , which put an end to much of the brutality attend–

    ing the fur traffic, and at various times she permitted exploring expeditions

    to sail under her auspices (notably the Billings Expedition), but, except for

    this, attempts to turn her attention from preoccupation with European affairs

    were without success. (See REZANOV, SHELEKHOV).

            Catherine's lack of interest was expressed as a definite policy toward the

    Pacific. She stated this policy unmistakably in the ukase of 1769 when she

    wrote, "....I renounce forever all possessions in...America." It was a repudia–

    tion of the claims of Bering. Catherine did not approve of colonial expansion

    to foreign shores. When called upon by George III of England for troops to help

    008      |      Vol_XII-0894                                                                                                                  
    EA-Alaska History. Chevigny: Promyshlenniki

    quell the American Revolution, she tartly observed that the affair was England's

    fault. But one other act of hers did preserve the North Pacific to Russian ex–

    pansion. Until her day, the merchants in foreign trade were taxed to such an

    extent that the profits had to be extraordinarlly high to justify more than very

    limited investments. Catherine, enamored of the French liberals and their writ–

    ings, adopted explicitly the doctrine of laissez-faire and released the merchants

    to pursue their own courses without interference. The ukase of 1769 also states,

    "....it is for traders to traffic where they please." This, in Russia, was a

    revolutionary doctrine. The merchants of Irkutsk, who had grown wealthy as

    entrepreneurs in the China trade, immediately made heavy investment in the Paci–

    fic trade, forming pools, partnerships and insurance firms by which larger and

    better ships were built, in which the promyshlenniki could penetrate farther

    toward America and under safer conditions. Shipbuilding at Okhotsk became a

    regular trade. (See GALIOTS.)

            Europe for 35 years remained largely in ignorance of these Russian enoroach–

    ments. An English clergyman, Coxe, in St. Petersburg was shown copies of re–

    ports of the remarkable promyshlennik exploits in the Pacific, wrote, "An Account

    of the Russian Discoveries between Asia and America." The book, perhaps because

    it appeared under European, and therefore respectable, auspices, threw the St.

    Petersburg court into an uproar. The empress ordered it translated at once,

    although the original reports were in her own files. Sauer states, "The court...

    was astounded at the discoveries already made by its own roving subjects...the

    amazing extent of the dominions now acknowledging the sovereignty of Russia be–

    came now the fashionable topic of conversation at court." Still Catherine was

    not moved. Europe, however, was. The expeditions of Cook, Laperouse, and four

    under Spanish auspices were directly motivated by the suspicion that the promysh–

    expedition had imperial aims behind it.

    009      |      Vol_XII-0895                                                                                                                  
    EA-Alaska History. Chevigny: Promyshlenniki

            There was one more result of profound, if seldom noted, importance. Spain's

    fear that the promyshlennik advance, rumors of whoch were coming southward along

    the American coast, might threaten her domain resulted directly in the determin–

    ation to occupy and colonize California. The viceroy of Mexico, in an effort

    to find the means and manpower with which to meet what seemed an immediate threat,

    asked the cooperation of the Church. The Franciscan Order agreed, in return for

    the promise to support its mission activities with military personnel. Mission

    San Diego was founded, in 1769, and other missions established at the rate of

    more than one yearly steadily northward until establishment of Sonoma.

            With the establishment, by a merchant firm, the Golikov-Shelekhov Company,

    of the first permanent Russian settlement in America, in 1784, the decline of

    the promyshlenniki movement, as a more or less pure expression of the wandering

    instinet, began. A guiding spirit, the corporation, entered in. When, in 1799,

    the Russian-American Company, the counterpart of the East India Company, was

    established as the one corpo t ration with authority to do business in the Pacific,

    the end was in sight. " Promyshlenniki " became a term applied to the employees

    of the Company, the men who did the actual hunting and trading. The term sur–

    vives in Soviet terminology, but it has come to have a meaning quite different

    from that indicated by these events.

    010      |      Vol_XII-0896                                                                                                                  
    EA-Alaska History. Chevigny: Promyshlenniki


    Berkh, V. N. Khronologiskava istorva otkrytya Aleutskikh ostrovov ili

    podvigi Rossiiskavo kupechestva
    - (Chronological history

    of the discovery of the Aleutian Islands, or the exploits

    of the Russian commercial companies.) St. Petersburg, 1823.

    Coxe, Rev. Wm. Account of the Russian Discoveries between Asia and America,

    to which are added the conquest of Siberia and the trans–

    actions between Russia and China.
    London, 1787.

    Golder, F. Guide to Materials for American History in Russian Archives .

    Washington, D.C., 1917.

    ----. Russian Expansion in the Pacific . Cleveland, 1914.

    ----. The Pacific Ocean History . New York, 1917.

    Kaidanov, N. Sistematicheskii Katalog Dielom Gosudarstnavo Kommertz

    - (Systematic Catalogue of the affairs of the

    Imperial College of Commerce.) St. Petersburg, 1884.

    Krashennikov, S.P. The History of Kamtchatka and the Kurilski islands . London,


    Langsdorff, Dr. G.H, von Bemerkungen auf ein Reise um die Welt , Frankfort, 1812.

    Lewis and Dryden Marine History of the Pacific Northwest . Portland, 1895.

    Markov, A. Russkii na vostotchnam okeanye - (The Russians on the

    Eastern Ocean.) Moscow, 1849.

    Sauer, M. An Account of a geographical and astronomical expedition...

    stretching to the American coast. Performed by Commodore

    Joseph Billings in the years 1785-94
    . London, 1802.

    Tikmenyev, P. Istoricheskove Obozrenve obrazovanva Rossiisko-Amerikanskoi

    Kompanii i deistvii eya do nastoishchnavo vremenii

    (Historical Review of the formation of the Russian-American

    Company and its proceedings down to present times.) St.

    Petersburg, 1863.

    ----. Materialui dlya istorli russkikh zaselinii no beregam Vostotchnavo

    . (Materials for a history of the Russian settlements

    on the Eastern ocean.) Press of the Ministry of Marine,

    St. Petersburg, 1861.

    Turner, R.J. Russian expansion to America. Papers of the Bibliographical

    Society of America
    , Vol. XXV, Chicago, 1931.

    Wickersham, J. A Bibliography of Alaskan History, 1724-1924 . Cordova, 1927.


    Hector Chevigny

    The Russian American Company

    001      |      Vol_XII-0897                                                                                                                  


            The expansion of the Russian Empire across the Pacific to Alaska and down

    the American coast as far south as parallel of latitude 54° 40′ north had its remote

    beginnings in the design of Peter the Great to determine the relation of northeastern

    Asia to northwestern America. To achieve this a series of expeditions were was carried

    out between 1719 (the date of the expedition of Yevreinov and Luzhin) and 1741, (the

    date of Bering's second expedition) when the outlines of the northwest coast of

    America began to take shape in a cartographical sense.

            The return of the survivors of the Bering expedition in 1741 synchronized

    with the beginning of a new regime which was unfavorable for the carrying on of

    exploration. The court of the Empress Anne had been dominated by German favorites

    and her death was the signal for a reaction against all foreigners. The Academy of

    Sciences staffed exclusively by non-Russians was one of the first victims of this

    anti-foreign bias and its usefulness temporarily came to an end. Fortunately the

    expedition of 1741 on its return brought back skins of an animal — the sea otter —

    hitherto unknown to Russians. The fabulous prices they brought at the Chinese market

    at Kiakhta provided a private incentive to further exploration just when public

    interest had begun to languish. It should be noted that the Russian Government at

    this time exercised practically a monopoly of the fur-trade throughout Siberia,

    however difficult to enforce owing to the remoteness of the country and the venality

    of its officials. As soon as word got round in fur-trading circles of the profit

    to be made from this new source , adventurers swarmed to the little coastal town of

    Okhotsk, the point of departure for these fresh fields.

            Between the second expedition of Bering in 1741 and the date of the

    establishment of a private monopoly in the North Pacific (1799) not less than one

    hundred ships were to set out for these regions. Some of them were wrecked and their

    002      |      Vol_XII-0898                                                                                                                  
    crews perished; some failed owing to the hostility of the natives; some came back

    loaded with pelts whose sale might enrich the backers one hundred percent or better

    on their investment; even the members of the crews shared in the profits.

            Few of the men who manned the ships were experienced mariners; in many

    cases they had not even been to sea before. They had merely exchanged the calling

    of trapper for that of deck-hand. The ships were of the crudest. Worst of all , the

    instruments for navigation were lacking; even had the ships possessed them, none of

    the officers were trained in their use. Moreover, exploration was secondary to profit

    and accurate records of the voyages were not thought of. It was late when the

    companies recognized the need for these, not only as a guide for other expeditions,

    but also as evidence of achievements in discovery to which they might appeal in

    soliciting the government's support or assistance.

            In 1762 the accession of a new sovereign — the Empress Catherine II —

    marked the beginning of a new era. Catherine assumed the task of carrying to

    completion the work of exploration begun by Peter , and to implement this project, she

    arranged during the first years of her reign, three important expeditions; that of

    Admiral Chichagov from Archangel, in the years 1764-1766, whose object was to pass

    from European coastal waters around the northern coast of Asia into the Pacific; that

    of Lieutenant Sind which sailed from Okhotsk in 1767 returning in 1768; and an ex–

    pedition of two ships under command of Captain Krenitsyn and Lieutenant Levashev,

    respectively, which sailed across the Pacific in the years 1768-1769 as far as the

    Alaska Peninsula. Though none of these made history they commanded the services of

    trained navigators and set a new standard in nautical skill. Facilities were at

    this time provided for the training of pilots in the east whose services were at the

    disposal of the fur-trading companies.

            The ending in 1762 of the monopoly of the Chinese trade gave private

    trading a new lease of life. As a result, larger and more permanent companies took

    the place of the loose associations who which , since their financial resources were slight,

    003      |      Vol_XII-0899                                                                                                                  
    must needs make a quick profit without an eye to the future. To extend their

    operations over a lengthy period and wait years for the returns was impossible.

    The new groups commanded the backing of such men as the Demidov family, the munition

    makers of Tula. At once the American fur-trade took on a new character.

            By 1770 the various groups of the Aleutian chain of islands had been visited

    and located with some degree of accuracy. The ill-treatment received at the hands of

    the Russians provoked serious native risings. But the primitive armament of the

    Aleuts was no match for the firearms of the Russians and they were cowed into sub–

    mission. The Alaska Peninsula had been reached in 1759; Kodiak discovered in 1764.

    The depletion of the sea-otters in the Aleutians drove the promyshlenniki on. As they

    extended into these new fields their operations were bound to arouse Spanish appre–


            The government of Spain had learned only slowly of Russia's expansion across

    the Pacific to the American mainland. The expeditions of Bering were a state secret

    and it was only when publication abroad of some of the results, by persons who had

    left the employ of the Russian government, had forced their hand, that the Russian

    account first saw the light of day in 1761. It was at this time that Spain , having

    revived the Family Compact, re-established after the elapse of some years diplomatic

    relations with the court of St. Petersburg and instructed its ambassador there to

    secure information of Russian discover ie ei s and designs. These enquiries confirmed

    Spanish fears for their exclusive monopoly of western America, hitherto uncontested.

            The Viceroy was directed to buttress Spain's claims by the despatch of

    expeditions to map the coast. At the same time Spain moved northward by land from

    her Mexican possessions and occupied Upper California. Though representatives of

    both powers were approaching one another across the vast distances , they were not to

    meet till 1788. By this time the threat to Spanish dominance came from an entirely

    different quarter.

    004      |      Vol_XII-0900                                                                                                                  

            During the eighteenth century the maritime power of Great Britain had

    appeared in the Pacific but it was not until the last quarter that it appeared in the

    north. By that time efforts to solve the mystery of the northwest passage from the

    east had failed and it was felt that the solution might be more easily found if the

    attempt was made from the Pacific.

            Captain James Cook who had had wide experience in the south Pacific was now

    charged by the Admiralty with the express task of establishing the practicability of

    a passage around the northern coasts of the continent of America as a commercial

    route; as well as exploring the coastline from latitude 60° (north) to the extreme

    limit possible. He did not succeed in his primary object of passing from the Pacific

    into the Atlantic but he did map in broad outline the northwest coast of America and

    confirmed its conjectured separation from Asia.

            Perhaps of especial significance was his meeting with the Russians at

    Unalaska. Here he exchanged geographical information with the factor, Gerasim

    Ismailov. His curiosity was satisfied on the subject of Russian exploration in

    Bering Sea and the Russians in turn learned for the first time of the existence of

    Prince William Sound, a great body of water of untapped fur resources to the east.

            After Cook's death in Hawaii in 1778 his ships returned to the north. At

    the very time the English were struggling for a second time with the ice near the

    entrance to the Arctic Ocean, the last of three Spanish expeditions was feeling its

    perilous way through the Alaskan waters. Lieutenants Ignacio Arteaga and Juan

    Francisco de Bodega y Quadra in two ships , -- the Princesa and Favorita , entered Prince

    William Sound and Cook Inlet and planted the flag of Spain to signalize taking formal

    possession in the name of the King of Spain. Though they met neither Russian nor

    Englishman the crude cross they left on Nuchek Island with its sonorous Latin phrases

    served formal notice of Spain's determination to enforce her claims.

            By 1780 there had been great changes in the situation in the far east while

    a new generation of traders had arisen to cope with it. Of these perhaps the most

    005      |      Vol_XII-0901                                                                                                                  
    noteworthy were Grigorii Ivanovich Shelekhov, a merchant of Ryl'sk, Ivan Larionovich

    Golikov from Kursk, Lebedev Lastochkin of Yakutsk, Ivan Lapin of Solikamsk, Ivan

    Shilov, Yakov Protasov, Afanasii Oryekhov (the last four old-timers in the fur-trade).

            They had in their service a number of able and experienced pilots — Gerasim

    Ismailov, Stepan and Potap Zaikov and some Greeks, attracted perhaps into the Russian

    service by Catherine's pro-Hellenic policy, such as Izot Kuzmich Lenshi, Evstrat

    Delarov, and Peloponisov, newly arrived from the Levant. The nautical skill of the

    latter was badly needed. Competition among these groups was keen, costs of operation

    high as it became necessary to go farther and farther afield for fur, but profits

    also were high. What wonder therefore that each began to manoeuver to oust his rivals;

    or, if that were not possible, to combine with them for joint operations ? With

    financial backing , they began to work for permanent monopolies and, for this purpose

    it became necessary to court official favor.

            In general the government was averse to granting such privileges. Catherine

    had , perhaps from her reading and her correspondence with the savants of the enlighten–

    ment, come to favor individual enterprise , at least for the fur-trade. She had

    abandoned the state mono mp po of the China trade in 1762. She had promoted the estab–

    lishment in 1765 of the Free Economic Society . Whether this was a mere pose or not,

    the fact was that down to 1766 at least, there had been no assumption of sovereignty

    over the Aleutian Islands or the adjacent mainland of America. Yassak , the traditional

    tribute to which the Siberian natives were liable, had , however, been levied by special

    persons designated to accompany the expeditions. Further, ships returning from

    America were called on to pay ten percent of the value of their catch; from time to

    time exclusive but purely temporary monopolies of the hunting rights in certain areas

    had been granted. But the barbarities practised by the promyshlenniki outraged the

    empress' feelings of humanity. In a decree of March 3, 1766, we find a statement

    of the discovery and annexation of six islands in the Aleutian chain — probably the

    Andreanof Islands ( Polnoe Sobranie Zakonov , St. Petersburg, 1830, ff.). Other decrees

    warned the traders against ill-treatment of these "new subjects" of the Russian Empir [ ?] .

    006      |      Vol_XII-0902                                                                                                                  
    Catherine's keen interest in the far east is amply attested by the zealous

    enquiries which she prosecuted, by her correspondence with the governors and by the

    expeditions she promoted in these years. After 1767 she became more and more pre–

    occupied with other matters — the legislative commission of 1767, the first Turkish

    War, 1768-1774, the first partition of Poland, the Pugachev revolt, and the diplomatic

    complications arising out of the American Revolution. In the eighties we find her

    attention again directed to the east.

            In 1781 Grigorii Shelekhov formed a partnership with Ivan Golikov then living

    in Irkutsk under sentence of exile for malfeasance of monies. This arrangement did not

    exclude other partnerships. Shelekhov held stock also in the company of his arch-rival

    Lebedev Lastochkin. But it was obvious that the business was narrowing down to a few

    powerful groups with strong financial backing. Some bold methods were called for to

    forestall rivals. Shelekhov decided that the occupation of permanent posts and the

    backing of the government would enable him to outstrip his rivals. To this task he

    addressed himslef with characteristic energy.

            In the spring of 1783 , accompanied by his resourceful wife, he sailed with

    three ships to America. The expedition, overtaken by bad weather, was scattered and

    Shelekhov decided to winter on Bering Island. The following spring with two of the

    vessels he pressed on to Unalaska where he left an agent. He proceeded to the east.

    Putting into a bay on the northeast side of Kodiak Island , he built a post to which he

    gave the name of Three Saints . During the following winter he exerted himself energet–

    ically to winning over the natives and acquiring their confidence. If we can believe

    his own story , he imparted some education in addition to instructing them in the truths

    of the Christian religion. This seems to have been all part of his scheme to impress

    the government with the civilizing and Christianizing role of his company in America

    with a view to securing official favor. Pressing matters forced his return in 1786.

            The third ship, the St. Michael , under Delarov which had become separated

    from his three years before had not been heard from. Shelekhov, therefore, left

    007      |      Vol_XII-0903                                                                                                                  
    Samoilov in charge of the new post and instructed another pilot, Bocharev, to prosecute

    the exploration of the American mainland to the east. This he did. During the course

    of that year (1786) Delarov finally turned up and took over full responsibility. in accordance with

    Shelekhov's instructions . full responsibility.

            Shelekhov and his wife reached O khotsk on their return in the later autumn

    of 1786. After a delay on Kamchatka occasioned by matters requiring attention he was

    off by land for Yakutsk and thence by the S o i berian post road for St. Petersburg.

    Conditions at this time seemed peculiarly propitious for his undertaking. Catherine

    was just returning from her triumphal progress through the new Taurid province. At

    Kiev she seems to have met Golikov who had received from his partner a map and an

    account of his g v oyage to the east; her interest was aroused and the prospect of secur–

    ing imperial favor seemed bright. Other factors at this time were propitious. An

    Englishman, William Coxe, once resident in Russia had written an account of Russian

    discoveries in the Pacific (see bibliography) which had come to Catherine's attention.

    This notice prompted him to urge on the monarch further explorations in the east.

    In this he had been seconded by Peter Simon Pallas, an influential member of the

    Academy of Sciences. Their joint efforts succeeded. Catherine accepted the recommen–

    dations and authorized an expedition under command of Captain Joseph Billings, a

    former shipmate of Captain Cook e . His task was to carry to completion the work begun

    by Peter and to fill in the blank spaces on the map of the coast of northeastern Asia.

            The Empress was also entertaining another project , first conceived by

    Professor Leonhard Euler some years before. This was to detach from her fleet in the

    Baltic a squadron to circle the globe and back up Russia's claims in the Pacific.

    The project was recalled by a suggestion from another quarter. An English naval

    officer , at that time on half-pay, addressed a letter to Count Vorontsov, the Russian

    ambassador in London, urging that Russia send to the east a naval force under his

    command to impose Russian authority. This proposal was accepted. Four vessels were

    to be made ready to sail from Kronstadt the following year. Captain James Trevenen,

    008      |      Vol_XII-0904                                                                                                                  



            the naval officer in question , was to assume command with a Captain Mulovskii as his


            These various projects were influenced by the arrival in St. Petersburg of

    the afterwards famous South American revolutionary Francisco Miranda. The latter

    had met the Russian ambassador at Constantinople, Count Y.I. Bulgakov. Impressed

    by the Spaniard, he Miranda had encouraged a journey across the Black Sea to the Crimean city

    of Kherson, where he met the Governor , A.I. Vyazemskii ; , and secured an introduction

    to the all-powerful viceroy, Potemkin. Miranda was thus enabled to meet Catherine on

    her return from her journey through the Taurid province. The monarch's interest was

    at once engaged. She listened intently to Miranda's accounts of Spanish America ,

    O o f Spanish weakness and disaffection of the population. She seems to have encouraged

    Miranda to hope for Russian intervention and aroused Spain's anger and distrust at the

    somewhat ostentatious display of favor and protection she extended the South American

    rebel. Did she seriously contemplate challenging Spanish power in the Pacific? We

    have no means of knowing.

            As a result of the outbreak of war with Sweden the following winter s and

    shortly afterwards with the Ottoman Empire, the Russians could scarcely spare any of

    their naval forces; nor could Catherine afford to risk Spanish hostility since

    Russian vessels operating in the Mediterranean needed Spanish bases. So these far–

    flung schemes of empire had to be laid aside. Catherine was thereafter distracted

    by the French Revolution and schemes for the final partition of Poland.

            Shelekhov's hopes of securing imperial sanction or even active support for

    his schemes in the east were dashed. Despite the strongly worded recommendation of

    Governor Jacobii , he was refused a loan from the state coffers or the grant of a

    monopoly. Swords, medals were bestowed on the partners as a mark of imperial favor

    but the empress refused to go beyond these rather polite gestures.

            A step which turned out to be more decisive in the fortunes of the Shelekhov-

    Golikov company was the decision to employ an experienced trader as the instrument

    009      |      Vol_XII-0905                                                                                                                  
    of their policy. The establishment of permanent posts meant a complete break with

    the past and since precedent was henceforth no guide, few of the older hands could

    be recruited for this purpose. Shelekhov turned therefore to an acquaintance of some

    years. Alexander Andreyevich Baranov a merchant of Kargopol had been engaged for

    many years with his brother in trade with the Chukchi. After some official hesitation

    they had been authorized to establish a post in the heart of the Chukchi country at

    Gizhiginsk. The Baranov brothers had high hopes for this new venture and Alexander

    rejected Shelekhov's first offer. But the worst official fears regarding the enter–

    prise of the Baranov brothers were realized. The Chukchi fell on the post and looted

    it; a glass business at Irkutsk seems also to have failed. Baranov finding himself

    in financial straits was more ready to listen to Shelekhov's offers, supported now by

    the Governor of Irkutsk, Jacobii. In the hope of recouping himself Baranov this time

    accepted. He undertook the management of the American posts for a limited period. He

    was to be given not only a fixed salary but a share in the company's operations.

            In the spring of 1790 he left Okhotsk in the company's vessel, the Three

    for his distant post. They put into Unalaska. Here during a storm, the ship

    was wrecked and supplies lost. The winter was passed amid the greatest privations

    from lack of food. In the spring despite illness Baranov set out in a baidar manned

    by Aleuts, crossed to the American mainland, explored the northern shore of the

    Alaskan Peninsula, then ran across the Gulf of Alaska to Kodiak. He arrived in the

    harbor of Three Saints in June, 1791, to relieve Delarov. The latter at once

    returned to Okhotsk and St. Petersburg where a sinecure in the company's service was

    granted him.

            Baranov had before leaving received full instructions as to future plans and

    policies. His task was no less than to make good the foothold of the Russian company

    in the new world. He had not only to carry on the principal business of fur-trading;

    he had also to introduce farming; he was to build churches and to help to prosely–

    tize the natives. The means placed at his disposal were of the slenderest. He was

    010      |      Vol_XII-0906                                                                                                                  
    supplied with a far from numerous band of employees of indifferent caliber. The

    missionaries sent out from the monastery of St. Valaam were monks whose ascetic

    training ill-fitted them for dealing with the native people. He was called on to

    meet the challenge of the Lebedev-Lastochkin company on the mainland.

            Following the receipt of intelligence from Cook's expedition of a great

    inlet not yet reached by Europeans the Lebedev-Lastochkin company had some time

    subsequent to 1786 built a post on Cook Inlet to trade with the natives there. The

    crews sent out were undisciplined. Having easy access overland to Prince William

    Sound which Baranov had marked out for himself they occasioned some anxiety by their

    steady encroachments. Finally the establishment of a second post brought matters to

    a head. The new agent, Konovalov was quarrelsome and violent. A reign of terror on

    Cook Inlet threatened to spread to Prince William Sound. Baranov's warnings to

    Shelekhov went undeeded. Shelekhov was indeed a shareholder in the rival company.

    Baranov finally took matters in his own hands, arrested the offending factor and

    sent him back in irons to Okhotsk to stand trial. Baranov's energetic action proved

    salutary, even though Konovalov got off scot free. There was no more trouble.

    Within a few years the Lebedev-Lastochkin interests withdrew and left the field to

    the Shelekhov-Golikov group.

            On instructions, Baranov selected a site on Prince William Sound where he

    located shipyards and began the building of a ship. The task was under direction of

    an Englishman, Shields by name, in the company's employ. Native lumber was used

    and even some of the other needed materials were secured locally. Finally in 1793

    the vessel was launched. She was given the name Phoenix and was in the company service

    on the run between Okhotsk to Kodiak until lost in 1802.

            Another project that engaged Baranov's attention was the establishment of

    a farming colony on Yakutat Bay. For this purpose the laws governing transfer of

    peasants was stretched to allow the company to buy some from their landlords and to

    transport them to this distant region for a start in agriculture. But the site

    011      |      Vol_XII-0907                                                                                                                  
    chosen was quite unsuitable; the native Kolosh threatened; and after suffering

    unheard-of privations, the settlement was attacked and wiped out.

            Nor were the attempts to Christianize the Indians attended with greater

    success. The monks were dependent for support entirely on the company and Baranov

    apparently grudged the food and supplies needed for this purpose. The strange

    surroundings, the ill-will they met from Baranov and the company, along with the

    distrust of the natives combined to depress them. Want of experience and tactlessness

    defeated the efforts. Their want of understanding of the native mind led them to

    identify the adoption of purely formal observances with the acceptance of Christianity.

    At least one missionary met martyrdom and little success was gained until the arrival

    of Veniaminov a quarter of a century later.

            A year prior to Baranov's appointment there had been a sharp clash between

    the English and Spanish on the northwest coast. After an interruption of ten years

    Spain had in 1788 renewed her naval activity in the Pacific. An expedition commanded

    by Don Estevan Jose Martinez had pushed northward to Prince William Sound and had made

    actual contact for the first time with the Russians at Kodiak and Unalaska. The

    officers were informed or at least they were so told by their interpreter that the

    Russian Government proposed the following year to occupy Nootka Sound. Martinez was

    directed the following year to forestall this move but on arrival he found the

    English in possession. The Spanish had force on their side; the English vessels became

    prizes and their crews prisoners. When news of this incident reached London it all

    but provoked war. Pitt demanded satisfaction. Only after prolonged negotiations and

    severe tension was the matter settled. Spain accorded recognition formally of Britain's

    right of possession though both powers agreed to evacuate the site.

            The final implementing of this treaty was entrusted to an expedition under

    Captain George Vancouver already under orders for the Pacific. Vancouver failed to

    meet Baranov though he did visit one of the Lebedev-Lastochkin posts on Prince

    William Sound.

    012      |      Vol_XII-0908                                                                                                                  

            The explorations of Vancouver gave Baranov much less cause for concern

    than the continual presence of English and American trading vessels along the coast.

    English ship-owners trading to India and China had learned from Cook's crews of the

    profits to be made from the pelts of sea-otter that abounded in the north Pacific.

    This led them to divert their vessels into the fur-trade. The first ship had

    arrived from Macao in 1785 and, thereafter not a year passed without at least one

    English vessel appearing on the coast. After 1789 American competition was added.

    This invasion seriously reduced the income of the Russian American Company.

            As the industrial revolution spread in England the superior quality and

    cheapness of English goods made it more and more difficult for the Russians to meet

    the English on equal terms. In addition to these vexations Baranov was being con–

    tinually plied with fresh injunctions from his employers and censured for what he

    did or left undone; was plagued by incompetent or insubordinate help; harassed by

    the rival Lebedev-Lastochkin Company; and all the time hunger stared his garrisons

    in the face; want of supplies hampered the fur-trade. And to complete the picture

    the outbreak of war in 1796 rendered communication by sea hazardous. Baranov came

    to realize if he and his men survived it must be through their own efforts.

            Meanwhile Shelekhov had died in 1795 with his dream of a monopoly of the

    American fur-trade unrealized. But his resourceful wife Natalia and his son-in-law,

    Nikolai Petrovich Rezanov, from a post of vantage within the administration, con–

    tinued with the help of Golikov to work towards this end. The interest of the church

    was engaged by playing up the missionary side of the company's enterprise. Court

    was paid to the reigning favorite, Platon Zubov. Catherine's death in 1796 might

    well have proved fatal to the scheme had not Rezanov shown himself a master of court

    intrigue. The choleric emperor Paul was placated and finally brought round. Within

    less than a year all the fur-trading companies were put under the control of the

    College of Commerce. On September 8, 1797 the Shelekhov-Golikov Company was merged

    with the Myl'nikov group under the name of the Commercial American Company. Two years

    013      |      Vol_XII-0909                                                                                                                  
    later — July 8, 1799 — a merger of existing companies was approved by the so-called

    "Act of the American United Company." A formal charter was issued on December 27,

    1799 to the "Russian American Company under the all-highest protection." All inde–

    pendent groups disappeared. The new organization was granted a monopoly of the fur–

    trade along the shore of northeastern Asia (without fixing exact limits) and along the

    northwest coast of America as far south as the fifty-fifth degree of north latitude.

    The privileges granted and the responsibilities imposed were to remain in force for a

    period of twenty years.

            Two or three points in the charter are worth noting. The Russian Empire

    now for the first time put forward an unequivocal claim to possession of a part of

    North America. Secondly, yassak , the tribute levied on the Siberian natives and which

    had been intermittently exacted from the Aleuts, was now as a result of strong

    recommendations made against it by naval officers, absolutely suppressed. On a third

    matter the charter was silent. From an early date in their relations with the Aleuts

    the Russian traders had adopted the practise of requiring the natives to do their fur–

    hunting for them. This practise was adopted by Baranov and continued to be followed,

    but there was no statutory sanction of this till the charter of 1844 was issued.

            Baranov did not hear of these events till 1802. He had expected to be

    relieved at any time yet he did not slacken in his zeal on behalf of his employers.

    The inroads of English and American traders of which he had once made light was now

    beginning to trouble him. Reversing his original stand he decided on a bold move;

    nothing less than to build a new post four hundred miles to the south and east of

    Kodiak among the dangerous Kolosh in the heart of Alexander Archipelago. Previous

    reconnaissances made had pointed to Norfolk Sound as the best site. In the spring

    of 1799 a flotilla of three hundred baidars and one of the company's ships proceeded

    south and disembarked on Sitka Island. Here despite some coldness on the part of the

    natives, he located and began the construction of new St. Michael post. The native

    Kolosh acquiesced somewhat sullenly but Baranov exerted himself to reconcile their

    chiefs to the situation by advantages that they would derive from the presence of the

    014      |      Vol_XII-0910                                                                                                                  

            When this had apparently been accomplished Baranov sailed back to Kodiak

    leaving his subordinates to finish construction and to begin trading operations. The

    threatening attitude of the Koniags required his presence on Kodiak and here all

    Baranov's firmness and tact were required to restore tranquility and security.

            In the summer of 1800 the new company suffered a cruel blow in the loss of

    the fort at Sitka and the massacre of most of its garrison. As always Baranov was

    short of competent help. His departure for Kodiak was somewhat premature hence the now

    reduced garrison had to do double duty — to guard the fort and to labor in the forest

    cutting the timber needed for building. Inevitably the less fit were left behind to

    guard. The native Kolosh, who were kept informed by the Kolosh women who came and

    went through the lines, planned to attack the post and overcome the garrison leaving

    the working parties to be dealt with later. The plan succeeded. They assembled in

    overwhelming numbers and rushed the fort before measures of defence could be taken.

    The hastily constructed blockhouse on which the Russians had counted for last ditch

    defense easily fell to them. The lower storey was carried by assault; and by firing

    the building, the garrison in the upper storey were forced to jump to the ground

    where they were quickly disposed of. A handful of survivors escaped to the forest

    whence they were able ultimately to escape in English and American ships then cruising

    among the islands. The unsuspecting hunting parties of Aleuts were then ambushed as

    they returned. One party on the way from Yakutat was in sufficient force to beat off

    an attack. They secured a truce and returned to Kodiak.

            A fresh calamity overtook the Russians in the spring of 1801 in the loss

    at sea together with her commander of the vessel Phoenix , Baranov's pride and joy.

    Baranov was all but crushed. Signal honors from the state failed to rouse him from

    his depression. The expectation of momentary relief gave him no incentive to action

    and he merely brooded. Finally in 1803 the news of the Peace of Amiens and the projected

    015      |      Vol_XII-0911                                                                                                                  
    despatch of naval forces from Kronstadt roused him to an effort. Assembling a

    flotilla of baidars to be supported by the company vessels he set out for a rendez–

    vous in Norfolk Sound to attempt the recovery of Sitka.

            On his arrival Baranov found the Russian ship Neva commanded by Lieutenant

    Lisianskii who had sailed from the Baltic with Krusenstern and had been detached from

    the Hawaiian Islands when news of the loss of Sitka was conveyed to them. Lisianskii

    and the factor joined forces. The frontal assault on the Kolosh positions, however,

    broke down and Baranov was wounded. The Indians were finally dislodged by the more

    deliberate methods of bombardment. They evacuated the island to the Russians. A

    site was selected for the post in the neighborhood of the old post. New Archangel

    thus superseded the former St. Michael. From here the Russian American Company

    dominated the northwest coast for the next sixty-three years.

            Yet fresh difficulties were arising to plague the Russians. At the renewal

    of the war in 1803 Russia aligned herself with England, Austria and Sweden in the

    Third Coalition and was henceforth involved on one side or another in the titanic struggle.

    She could henceforth ill spare naval forces for the hazardous task of reinforcing

    and supplying these distant posts on the Pacific. Baranov was left to his own devices.

    His first experiment was to buy part of the cargo of an American ship the Juno ,

    offering Captain O'Cain in exchange the services of Aleut hunters to catch otters

    along the California coast. This experiment proved successful and became a regular

    practise. But to avoid friction with the Spanish authorities, the Russians kept in

    the background.

            Meanwhile Rezanov had come out with Krusenstern on a mission to Japan. After

    the failure of his mission he returned to Petropavlovsk and thence sailed to Kodiak

    and Sitka. Here in accord with his instructions he assumed control. The low state

    of supplies led him to embark on a new venture to find some source in more southerly

    latitudes from which to draw on for their posts. Sailing in the Juno (engaged for the

    trip) he tried but failed to enter the Columbia River in search of a suitable site for

    016      |      Vol_XII-0912                                                                                                                  
    a farming settlement. His more immediate object, however, was to secure badly

    needed supplies from the Spanish presidios in California. He anchored in San

    Francisco Bay. On disembarking he explained his quest to the Spanish authorities

    and applied for permission to purchase supplies. Despite an unpromising beginning

    the deal was finally completed. The embargo was probably circumvented out of

    sentimental considerations, Rezanov having become betrothed to the daughter of the

    Spanish commandant. But when Rezanov died in 1807 all attempts to repeat this success

    were doomed to fail.

            By this time diplomatic recognition of the United States by Russia was

    being arranged. The consular agent, Dashkov despatched to America in anticipation of

    more formal recognition was instructed to endeavor to induce American shippers to

    undertake the supply of these posts. Astor at that time engaged in the China trade

    at once responded and a cargo was assembled for Sitka. But his purpose to get a

    monopoly of the business was refused. Astor lost interest and decided to build his

    own post on the west coast at the mouth of the Columbia River.

            The outbreak of war between France and Russia and between Great Britain

    and the United States in 1812 put an end to this arrangement. Not only did Astor

    lose his fort to the British Northwest Company in 1813 but American ships could no

    longer sail with supplies for Sitka. The Russians tried one more experiment, a

    project long contemplated of undertaking farming operations themselves in California.

    In 1812 Kuskov in the Chirikov landed at Bodega Bay in northern California and some

    twenty miles further north chose a location on the Slavyanka River for farming. To

    this settlement the name of Fort Ross was given. Eventually the crops raised here

    went far to meet the needs of the northern posts for food. Its small scale industries

    likewise catered to the demands of neighboring Spanish settlements.

            A similar venture made on the Hawaiian Islands ended in failure. In 1814

    communication between the Baltic and the east had been resumed with the arrival of the

    Suvorov under Captain Lozarev. Lozarev and Baranov clashed. Lozarev sailed away

    017      |      Vol_XII-0913                                                                                                                  
    leaving Baranov fuming with impotent rage. But the ship's doctor who was left

    behind made some impression on Baranov and it occurred to the latter that he might

    be just the man to send to the Hawaiian Islands, to carry out the long contemplated

    design of finding in these islands a base of supplies as well as a source of commodities

    suitable for trade. But Scheffer's espousal of the cause of one of the king's

    rebellious vassals threatened complications with Great Britain, the protecting power,

    and he was speedily disavowed. Hostility of the king and the natives was the

    immediate result and Scheffer was fortunate to escape with his life. Russian property

    was attacked, Russian buildings burned and lives lost. Russia thus completely lost

    her hold.

            After the termination of the wars with Napoleon two vessels were despatched

    from Kronstadt to the Pacific and in November 1817, the Suvorov under Captain Hagemeister

    and the Kutuzov under Captain Ponafidine dropped anchor before Russian headquarters

    in Sitka. Hagemeister had instructions to inspect the books and records of the

    company; he was then to inform Baranov that he was to be superseded. Hagemeister

    decided to name Yanovskii his successor, a choice perhaps influenced by Yanovskii's

    recent marriage to Baranov's daughter. The painful step was taken and Baranov's long

    reign was over. He survived but a short time. On his voyage back to Kronstadt he

    died and was buried at sea.

            The years that followed brought profound changes for the company. The

    charter of 1799 issued for a period of twenty years was about to expire. A committee

    of officials was named to review the activities of the company and , to recommend whether

    or not the charter should be renewed. The work of this committee brought to

    attention the encroachments of foreign, especially American, traders, about which

    Baranov had been concerned and which had already been the subject of sharp but quite

    fruitless exchanges between St. Petersburg and Washington. Pending renewal of the

    charter the Russian Government on September 4, 1821, issued an ukaz (notified to the

    governments concerned) proclaiming that along that part of the coast of both continents

    018      |      Vol_XII-0914                                                                                                                  
    claimed by Russia — from Bering Strait south on the Asiatic coast as far as 45° 50′

    and on the American side as far south as 51° north latitude foreign ships should not

    engage in trade or approach land within one hundred Italian miles.

            This claim advanced by Russia went far beyond the customary three-mile limit

    of territorial waters as recognized in international law. For all practical purposes,

    as John Quincy Adams saw, it proposed to turn the north Pacific into a mare clausum .

    Great Britain as the leading maritime power was bound to resist it, as was the United

    States. But Britain had another motive for challenging it. Both Cook and Vancouver

    had staked out a definite though still indefinite claim to a part of the northwest

    coast, a claim tacitly recognized by Spain in the Nootka Sound affair. The Northwest

    Company now had a post at the mouth of the Columbia and was active in the interior and

    was about to merge its interests with the Hudson's Bay Company. She was bound to lodge

    a strong protest on behalf of this powerful company against the extension southward of

    Russia's claims.

            The United States was less concerned whether the limits of Russian occupation

    should be 51° or 55° north latitude. The treaty of 1818 had admitted her interests

    as equal with that of Great Britain to the west of the Rocky Mountains and to the north

    of Spanish territory, though serious claims had not at that time been advanced by her

    to anything beyond the 49th parallel of latitude. But owing to these prior committments

    interests of the two countries therefore did not quite coincide.

            A further complicating factor at this time was the revolt of 1821 in Spain.

    This ultimately led the powers of the Quadruple Alliance to summon the Congress of

    Verona. At that congress England opposed intervention in Spain. When the further

    question of restoring by force the Spanish colonies in America to their allegiance,

    Britain went further than mere abstention. Canning expressed willingness to make

    common cause with the United States. But the contemplated co-operation broke down

    over the question of the recognition of the new governments. President Monroe there–

    upon issued his resounding challenge to all the European powers but coupled it with a

    019      |      Vol_XII-0915                                                                                                                  
    warning to all that further acquisitions on the American continent would be resisted.

    The British Foreign secretary thereupon took umbrage at what seemed a wanton flouting

    of British claims, gave up the joint negotiations. Each power proceeded separately

    to settle its own score.

            The result was each country wr i u ng from Russia i a n implicit disavowal of the

    claim to a mare clausum . It was admitted that all parts of the north Pacific were open

    to the subjects of either country for trading and fishing — so long as they did not

    resort to any Russian post without first securing permission. On the question of

    the territorial extent of Russian claims, the United States Ambassador Middleton having

    agreed to 54° 40′ as the southern limit, it was inevitable that Great Britain should

    conform by withdrawing from this part of the coast also.

            The company now went through a strange transformation. It was more and more

    assimilated to a branch of the government. The chief factors (and many of the minor

    officials) were henceforth drawn from the ranks of naval officers; its posts garrisoned

    by Russian troops. Its board of directors now became the preserve of retired generals

    and admirals. After the Decembrist rising of 1825 the implication of Ryleyev and

    other officers in that conspiracy left the company under a cloud and it was jealously

    watched by the Emperor and his chancery.

            After the amalgamation of the Hudson's Bay Company and Northwest Company

    the new organization under the leadership of the chief factor, Sir George Simpson,

    became very active on the Pacific. In common with United States' traders, their

    ships enjoyed the run of the coastal waters and the Hudson's Bay Company built a post

    at Fort Naas on the Naas River and had access to Sitka. In 1834 the energetic Dr.

    MacLoughlin sent Peter Skene Ogden north to avail himself of the right (granted by the

    Treaty of 1825) to navigate the rivers crossing the coastal lisiere to establish a

    post in the interior. But the Russians who were already settled at the mouth of the

    Stikine refused Ogden permission to pass. In the face of this refusal and the menacing

    bearing of the natives, Odgen withdrew and MacLoughlin lodged with the directors in

    020      |      Vol_XII-0916                                                                                                                  
    London a huge bill for damages against the Russians.

            Meanwhile in 1835 United States as well as British ship captains were

    warned that the privilege of trading at Sitka was at an end. No protests were of

    any avail and American ships gradually withdrew from the coast.

            When the bill of the Hudson's Bay Company was duly presented by Lord Durham,

    the British Ambassador in St. Petersburg, circumstances disposed the Russians to be

    conciliatory. As early as 1834 the company in their annual meeting had taken the first

    step towards finding an approach to the hinter land from the Mackenzie River. A

    Hudson's Bay man named McLeod had been authorized to ascend the Liard River from

    Fort Simpson. By this means the Dease Lake had been discovered and crossing the height

    of land, McLeod had reached the Tanzilla and the Stikine. Campbell who followed up

    McLeod's discoveries gave final proof of the breaking of the Russian blockade by

    sending a pencilled note down river through the Russian lines by Shekes, the chief

    of the Tsimshean Indians.

            Other factors besides the circumvention of their lines by the British

    company disposed the Russians to come to terms. The Emperor Nicholas stood in great

    need of Britain as an ally in dealing with Mehemet Ali, the truculent Khedive of

    Egypt. When therefore Simpson on behalf of the Hudson's Bay Company offered to lease

    the coastal strip from latitude 54° 40′ north to Cape Spencer, N o i cholas directed that

    the offer be accepted. The incident that had occurred at the mouth of the Stikine

    River was thus considered closed.

            On February 6, 1839 representatives of the two companies met at Hamburg and

    agreed that this coastal strip should be leased for ten years to the English company

    for an annual rental of two thousand land-otter skins. Further sti up pu ulations were that the

    Russians had the right to purchase an additional two thousand of the catch west of the

    mountains. The Hudson's Bay Company for its part undertook to furnish the Russian posts

    with the goods they required, delivery to take place where they requested.

            The company obtained two advantages by this move; first they were secured

    021      |      Vol_XII-0917                                                                                                                  
    for the future in the matter of supplies for the northern posts; secondly they were

    free to turn their attention to the Yukon valley a hitherto untouched source of fur.

    With the Hudson's Bay Company undertaking farming operations in the Puget Sound area

    for their benefit, there was no longer any reason for the retention of Fort Ross and [ ?]

    the neighboring ranches . Indeed, it was now an encumbrance rather than an asset. With

    the arrival of increasing numbers of United States citizens on the west coast its

    retention threatened to embroil Russia with that country. Only the weakness of Spain

    had enabled the Russian company to establish it in the first place. When the Mexican

    Government took over from Spain the chance of a friendly settlement was less remote

    since no Mexican Government could surrender Mexican territory and hold office. In

    1836 Wrangel, the outgoing chief factor, had been authorized to attempt to negotiate

    a settlement with Mexico. His efforts failed and there was nothing left but to give

    up the holdings, the only title to which was a vague Indian grant.

            So in 1841 the company made a virtue of necessity and sold the stock and

    movables to John Sutter who transferred them to his settlement at New Helvetia on

    the Sacramento. The fort was dismantled and the land allowed to revert to Mexican


            While retreating in the south the Russians were able to advance elsewhere,

    Russian explorers competed with navigators of other nations for honors in Arctic

    exploration to learn the secrets of the northern ocean; an expedition in 1815 was led

    by Kotzebue, Wrangel led another in 1820. Lütke a third in 1826. When he became

    governor, Wrangel began the exploration of unmapped parts of the Alaskan shores of

    Bering Sea. In 1833, at his direction, Teben'kov took an expedition north to recon–

    noitre the mouth of the Kvikhpak (Yukon) River. Suitable anchorage for ships was

    found, not in the delta but behind an island in Norton Sound and here he erected

    Mikhailovskii Redoubt (modern St. Michael). Missionaries of the Orthodox Church,

    inspired now by the zeal of Veniaminov, Bishop of Kamchatka, the Aleutian and Kurile

    Islands, moved into the Yukon valley and founded a mission at Ikogmute. A trading post

    was built at Nulato. In 1843 Lieutenant Zagoskin of the Imperial Navy was commissioned

    022      |      Vol_XII-0918                                                                                                                  
    to explore the Yukon and its main tributaries. Instead of entering the Yukon Valley

    by the delta he followed a route well known to the natives from the head of Norton

    Cound by way of Unalakleet River to the Yukon at Kaltag. He ascended the Yukon to

    Nulato. The first year, the Koyukuk was explored for some two hundred miles; and the

    Yukon to Ikogmute. The next year passing by an old Indian trail across country to the

    Kuskokwin, he traversed that river some three hundred miles, before leaving the Yukon

    by the delta, and finally reaching St. Michael.

            A route was sought into the middle Yukon valley by way of the Copper River.

    Overland routes were also opened from Cook Inlet to the Kuskokwim. But the Hudson's

    Bay Company shortly established a post at the junction of the Yukon with the Percupine

    and the Russians were never able seriously to challenge them in the interior.

            The results were scarcely commensurate with the effort involved. The in–

    crease in the furs of land animals thus obtained could hardly be adequate compensation

    for that of the sea-otter whose furs had been the foundation of the company's early

    prosperity and which were now becoming a mere memory.

            It was at this juncture that the whole international situation began rapidly

    to change. Great Britain in the Chinese War of 1840-41 and the Treaty of Nanking

    (1841) which concluded it, had opened the eyes of the world to the weakness of the

    Celestial Empire. The lesson was not lost on Russia.

            It is true the company's charter was, in 1844, renewed for a period of

    twenty years. But that same year decisions of the highest importance for the future

    of Russian dominion in America were taken at the Russian capital; on the one hand to

    forego for all time hopes of expansion on the American mainland; on the other to press

    southward as opportunity presented itself into the long-coveted Amur valley which had

    exclusively belonged to China since the Treaty of Nerchinsk in 1689. The Russian

    American Company's services were enlisted and in 1846 a new port of Ayan was occupied

    by them far to the south of Okhotsk. In 1847 Count Nikolai Nikolaievich Murav'ev

    was named governor-general of eastern Siberia with secret instru s c tions to prepare the

    way for this advance. The exploration of the coast was begun; posts were occupied at

    023      |      Vol_XII-0919                                                                                                                  
    the mouth of the Amur; while the Holy Synod undertook a special mission to the

    Gilyaks on the lower Amur. On the eve of the Crimean War troops and supplies for

    Russian posts on the Pacific were despatched through Chinese territory in open

    violation of Chinese sovereignty.

            Meanwhile in America events of the deepest significance followed one another

    in rapid succession — the Mexican War, the annexation of California and the discovery

    of gold. The insatiable demands of the gold fields enabled the company to unload its

    shopworn stock of goods at Sitka and at San Francisco at the highest prices. They

    organized a company — the American Russian Company — to act as their agent at the

    latter port. And having opened up a vein of coal they were able to supply two of the

    prime necessities — fuel in winter and ice in summer. But this transitory success

    could not offset the constantly recurring deficits of the company. It could only

    postpone a reckoning.

            The Crimean War brought a new crisis. On its approach it was evident that

    Russia could not guarantee the security of the company's posts. The Russian home

    fleet was certain to be immobilized by a blockade of the Baltic. When the Hudson's

    Bay Company offered to neutralize the posts of both companies on the west coast of

    America, the Russians made haste to accept, but while the American posts were left

    alone the posts of the company on the Asiatic coast were attacked. Reinforcements

    sent by Murav'ev to Petropavlovsk saved that post but Ayan was captured. Russia's

    impotence to retain her American possessions in the face of British sea power was

    apparent and the accession of a new monarch, Alexander II, in 1857, prepared the way

    for disposing of them on the best terms possible.

            Negotiations set on foot in 1859 were brought to a halt by the outbreak of

    the civil war. In spite of this an incalculable series of events hastened rather

    than deferred the change. In the midst of the war the threats of Great Britain and

    France to intervene against Russia in the affairs of Poland and fear of the North

    that these powers would recognize southern belligerence and possibly independence

    gave the United States and Russia a common interest. Visits of Russian warships to

    024      |      Vol_XII-0920                                                                                                                  
    American waters was taken as a proof of this solidarity. The end of hostilities

    was seized as an opportunity to reopen negotiations for the sale of their American


            Stoeckl, the Russian ambassador was authorized to invite an offer from the

    United States Government. He returned home in the winter of 1866-67 to receive his

    government's instructions. These indicated the precise limits of the area to be

    covered by a cession and the price to be asked. On his return things quickly moved

    to a climax. There was some haggling over the price and the method of payment. But

    by March 30, all obstacles had been overcome and on the early morning of that day

    Seward and Stoeckl sat down in the former's rooms and drafted a treaty embodying the

    chief points of agreement. No information about the contemplated arrangement leaked

    out till it was an accomplished fact. Senate ratification was obtained on April 9;

    that of the Tsar was obtained by cable in an unprecedented move. Formal possession

    was taken of the territory by representatives of the United States Government in a

    ceremony held at Sitka on October 18, 1867.

            The obtaining of a h H ouse appropriation presented some difficulty. Interested

    persons brought forward a claim against the Russian government and were able to hold

    up the money grant but eventually the opposition weakened and the bill went through.

    In the ensuing publicity there were hints of jobbery resorted to to secure passage

    of the bill and there is evidence that some of the money from the sale found its

    way into the hands of persons whose support was necessary. But generally the trans–

    action found general approval.

            By the terms of the treaty of cession the United States was to pay Russia

    $7,200,000.00, the money to be paid over in New York. All public property was turned

    over to the United States government; the company records at Sitka became the property

    of the State Department. The Orthodox Church was free to continue its ministrations

    to the natives. Russian troops were to be withdrawn and Russian subjects and employees

    of the company were free to return to their native land for a period of three years.

    025      |      Vol_XII-0921                                                                                                                  
    The Russian government assumed the company's obligations. The former employees of

    the company were pensioned off and the property of the company to which the United

    States Government could lay no claim was disposed of. The affairs of the Russian

    American Company were then wound up.

    026      |      Vol_XII-0922                                                                                                                  




    Andrews, Clarence Leroy. Story of Alaska , Caldwell, Idaho, 1938.

    Bancroft, Hubert Howe. The History of Alaska , San Francisco, 1890.

    Bancroft, Hubert Howe. History of the Northwest Coast , 2 v., San Francisco, 1884.

    Berkh, Vasilii Nikolaevich. Khronologicheskaya Istoriya Otkrytiya Aleutskikh Ostrovov ,

    St. Petersburg, 1823.

    Burney, James A. A Chronological History of North-eastern Voyages of Discovery, and

    of the Early Eastern Navigations of the Russians , London, 1819.

    Clark, Henry W. Alaska. The Last Frontier , New York, 1939.

    Coxe, William. Account of Russian Discoveries Between Asia and America , London, 1780.

    Subsequent editions 1780, 1787 and 1803.

    Doklad Komiteta ob ustroistvye Russkikh Amerikanskikh Kolonii , St. Petersburg, 1863.

    Essig, E.O. The Russians in California , San Francisco, 1933.

    Golder, Frank A. Bering's Voyages , 2 v., New York, 1922-25.

    Hildt, J.C. Early Diplomatic Negotiations of the United States with Russia , Baltimore,


    Hudson's Bay Company. Certain Correspondence of the Foreign Office and of the Hudson's

    Bay Company copied from the Original Documents. London, 1898

    by Otto C. Klotz , Ottawa, 1899.

    Jochelson, Waldemar. History, Ethnology and Anthropology of the Aleut . Washington, 1933.

    Khliebnikov, Kiril Timofeyevich. Zhiznopisanie A.A. Baranova, glavnogo pravitelya

    rossiiskikh kolonii v Amerike , St. Petersburg, 1835.

    Materialy dlya istorii zaselenii po beregam vostochnago okeana . 4 parts in 1 vo.

    Supplement to Morskoi Sbornik , (Nos. 1-4, 1861)

    Okun' S.B. Rossiisko-Amerikanskaya Kompaniya . Leningrad, 1939.

    Pilder, Hans. Die russich-amerikanische Handelskompanie bis 1825. Berlin and Leipzig,


    Politovskii, V.G. Kratkoe istoricheskoe obozryenie obrazovanii i deistvii R.K. K-a .

    St. Petersburg, 1861.

    Polnoe Sobranie Zakonov Rossiiskoi Imperii . 44 v. St. Petersburg, 1830, ff.

    027      |      Vol_XII-0923                                                                                                                  




    Sarychev, Gavrilo. Puteshestvie Flota Kapitana Sarycheva po syeverovostochnoi Sibiri

    . . . s 1785 po 1793 god . 2 v in 1 and atlas, St. Petersburg, 1802.

    ----- -----. Puteshestvie Kapitana Billingsa... v 1791 god . St. Petersburg,


    Sauer, Martin. An Account of a Geographical and Astronomical Expedition to the Northern

    Parts of Russia . . . in the years 1784-1794. London, 1802.

    Shashkov, S.S. Rossiisko-Amerikanskaya Kompaniya . St. Petersburg, 1898.

    Shelekhov, Grigorii Ioanovich. Rossiiskago Kuptsa imenitago ryl'skago Grazhdanina

    Grigor'ya Shelekhova Stranstvovanie s 1783 po 1787 god

    . . . St. Petersburg, 1791.

    ----- -----. Rossiiskago Kuptsa Grigor'ya Shelekhova Prodolzhenie

    Stranstvovaniya . . . v 1788 god . St. Petersburg, 1792.

    Simpson, Sir George. Narrative of a Journey Around the World during the Years 1841

    and 1842 . 2 v. London, 1847.

    Stejneger, Leonhard Hess. Georg Wilhelm Steller, the Pioneer of Alaskan Natural

    History . Cambridge, Mass., 1936.

    Thomas, Benjamin P. Russo-American Relations . Baltimore, 1930.

    Tikhmenev, P. Istoricheskoe Obozryenie obrazovanii Rossiisko Amerikanskoi Kompanii .

    2 v. St. Petersburg, 1861-63.

    Tompkins, Stuart Ramsay. Alaska: Promyshlennik and Sourdough . Norman, Oklahoma, 1945.

    United States Embassy, Russia, "Papers relating to the cession of Alaska," (enclosures

    Nos. 2 and 3 to Despatch No.2115 of December, 1936 from the United

    States Embassy at Mos cow), 1856-57 (sic! 1867). Photostatic re–

    productions of copies on file in the Archives of the Department of

    State, Washington, D.C.

    Veniaminov, I. Zapiski ob ostrovakh Unalashkinskago Otdyela . 3 v. in 2. St. Peters–

    burg, 1840.

    Zavalashin, D.I. Rossiisko-Amerikanskaya Kompaniya , Moscow, 1865.

    History of the Fur Seal

    Unpaginated      |      Vol_XII-0924                                                                                                                  
    EA-Alaska: History

    (Fredericka I. Martin)




    Nomenclature 2
    General Description 2
    Living Habits 3
    Sealing Today 7
    Sealing Before 1867 10
    Sealing After 1867 21
    Interregnum Leasing Systems 22
    Land Sealing 1870-1892 24
    North American Commercial Company, 1890-1910 30
    Russian Sealskin Company, 1892-1902 32
    Pelagic Sealing 34
    Bering Sea Controversy 35
    Bering Sea Commission 39
    Paris Award 42
    Western Bering Regulations 43
    Indemnities 44
    Post Award Negotiations 44
    Domestic Seal Controversy 46
    The North Pacific Sealing Convention 47
    Sealing Holiday 48
    Sealing on Land after 1917 49

    001      |      Vol_XII-0925                                                                                                                  
    EA-Alaska: History

    (Fredericka I. Martin)



            Order Pinnipedia. Family Otariidae (Eared Seals). Northern species

    Callorhinus ursinus. Sub species: Callorhinus alascanus , Alaskan or Pri–

    bilof; C. ursinus ursinus, Commander Islands or Russian; C. curilensis or

    C. ursinus mimicus (Tilesius), Kuril, Robben, or Okhotsk fur seal.

            The fur seal is a gregarious, polygamous migratory, carnivorous (fish-

    eating), amphibious marine mammal, possessing a commercially valuable under–

    fur. Descended from a terrestrial bearlike land ancestor, it is more

    accurately a sea bear, morphologically more like today's land bear than a

    true seal. Its regression toward complete aquatic existence is unfinished.

    The infant seal is still a land animal for the first few weeks of life. So,

    to propagate the species, all seals must come ashore for about one-third of

    each year. Once a resident of the Antarctic as well as of the Subarctic,

    only the three norther herds — Pribilof, have survived excessive exploitation.

    The Pribilof herd ( Callarhinus alascanus ), the largest (about 80% of the

    survivors), possesses the most valuable fur; its members are distinguished

    from those of the other herds by a larger head, thicker neck, more even,

    dense underfur, and minor color variations. Its foreflippers are only pitted

    at the site of former nails while Commander seals have vestigal claws on all

    flippers. The behavior and habits of the three herds are almost identical,

    but as they travel separate migration routes, it is believed they never

    002      |      Vol_XII-0926                                                                                                                  
    EA-Alaska: History. Martin: History of the Fur Seal

    mingle or interbreed. Their chief enemies are storms, killer whales, and




            The fur seal is often sea bear or sea cat. Baby seals are pups, then

    yearlings. Two-year-old females are virgins; after mating that season and

    giving birth the next, they are cows; also dubbed "clapmatches" for their

    swift flight. From 2 to 5 years males are bachelors, congregate in groups

    called pods on hauling ground from which they are herded on drives to the

    killing field. At 5 the male is a half-bull; a 7 a bull who keeps his

    wives in a harem; if unmated but holding a harem sits on the rookery, the

    breeding seals' beach, he is an idle bull. For dominance of his harem, the

    bull is also a beachmaster; the patch of thick hair on his neck is a wig –

    also the market name for bull furs. Russian and Aleut names are still used

    in literature and, except for the period of Japanese ownership of the Kuril

    and Robben seals, on all seal islands. Russian terms are:- fur seal morzhoi

    (sea cat; bull sikatch (strong); half-bull polasikatch ; cow matka

    (mother); pup kotik (kitten); bachelor holostiak . Russian influence seems

    to have eradicated the Aleut generic name, but the Aleuts still call a bull

    adaq (father), a cow anadaq anadaq (mother), a pup lakudaq lakudaq (child).


    General Description

            Superficially resembling a hair seal, the fur seal has a longer neck,

    can move its more pointed head freely, and turn its hind flippers forward

    for swift, agile land locomotion. All species have vestig i al claws on their

    hind flip p ers. The Okhotsk seal has whitish underfur and a broader head

    than the Russian. Its peculiar guard hairs necessitate a special process

    003      |      Vol_XII-0927                                                                                                                  
    EA-Alaska: History. Martin: History of the Fur Seal

    in dressing its fur. Differences in size and color between the three

    varieties are minor, but there are marked individual variations within

    each herd. The average bull weighs from 400 to 500 lb., and about 6 ft.

    long; its shoulder girth is about 4 ft. It is dark brown, sometimes almost

    black. The Alaskan bull's underfur is yellowish; its general color some–

    times rusty brown. All varieties have a man on the back of the neck. A

    cow weighs between 70 and 80 lb., is about 4 ft. long, and about 30 inches

    around the shoulder. Her fur is gray (the Alaskan cow's more splotched

    with rufous or cream-color patches) and lighter on the undderbody. Bachelors

    are predominately gray, are about 4 ft. long, and a little over 2 ft. around

    the shoulders. At birth a pup weighs about 10 lb., is a little over 30

    inches long, and has short, black hair. At about 4 months old it weighs

    about 35 lb., and has a new thicker gray coat.

            A rapid swimmer, fur seals can lope quickly, with a hopping movement,

    but not for very long on land. If guided slowly, with many stops to rest,

    they can travel miles. Lacking sweat glands, they die quickly if overheated.

    Their skins, if not immediately salted, become stagy and the hair falls out

    in patches. The arch conservatives of the animal world, they show no

    intelligence, only mechanical obedience to instincts become inflexible

    and unbreakable.


    Living Habits

            The three herds have similar migration and breeding habits. All winter

    they remain at sea, feeding on their favorite squid and herring. The west–

    ern herds' feeding grounds are not well established. Both proceed south

    in fall between the islands and the Asiatic coast, keeping close inshore to

    the former, to the northern waters of the Sea of Japan. They have been

    004      |      Vol_XII-0928                                                                                                                  
    EA-Alaska: History. Martin: History of the Fur Seal

    sighted below 36° latitude N. Most cross between the Japanese islands of

    Honshu and Hokkaido (Yezo) and return vis a Pacific route. Pribilof males

    of all ages winter in the North Pacific and Gulf of Alaska. Females go

    directly through midocean to southern California in autumn, arriving in

    December. Turning back in February, they travel more slowly fairly close

    to the islands that flank the continent. Migration studies to date,

    mainly of Pribilof seal travels, show few deviations in time schedules or

    routes. The seals land nowhere during their travels, only upon their

    breeding islands. There is some dispute between early investigators who

    claimed yearlings landed in June and July and later investigators who

    insisted they landed in late summer. Still others think they remain at sea.

            First at the breeding island in late April and May, the bulls, fat

    and vigorous after their winter's rest and good feeding, pick out harem

    sites, but go back and forth to the seal freely until the females begin

    to arrive in May. Noisy but not serious battles are in constant progress

    but even the bull who loses his station will not fight too fiercely to

    oust the usurper.

            After the first cows arrive, not even the idle bulls at the rear of

    the rookery, who get no mates usually until the virgins come in late summer,

    will leave their stations to bathe, eat, or sleep. The cows continue to

    arrive throughout June and most of July, about the middle of the latter month

    being the climax of the season. Within 48 hours after landing, a cow bears

    a single pup and is usually ready to mate within another 48 hours. Possess–

    ing a double-horned uterus, insemination of one horn is possible before the

    other is healed.

    005      |      Vol_XII-0929                                                                                                                  
    EA-Alaska: History. Martin: History of the Fur Seal

            Once mating begins, bulls attempt to seize as many mates as they can

    get without crossing the invisible but strictly observed boundaries of

    their harems, stealing them from their neighbors. Pregnant cows are

    bitten, thrown, and trampled on while males battle for them. An average

    harem holds about 35 cows. Those nearest the water, where bulls have

    the first chance to seize new arrivals, are the largest. Some may con–

    t ain over a hundred cows. As soon as a female has been impregnated, she

    may go to sea to feed and return to hurse her young. Pribilof cows swim

    from 150 to 200 miles southwest to feed, as do the bachelors; Bering Island

    cows swim (to feed) a much shorter distance to the northwest; Copper Island

    ones, not very far to the southeast. Where Okhotsk cows feed is not known.

            Rookery battles are continuous and deadly serious throughout the weeks

    of mating. Fighting follows exact rules. Bulls, holding their foreflippers

    tightly against their bodies to protect them, lunge at each others' shoulders,

    trying to tear each others' flippers off. Their short sharp teeth rake and

    slash the skins and blubber in that area but they rarely penetrate to vital

    muscles, or bite off a flipper. Wounds bleed copiously because the layers

    of blubber are well supplied with blood vessels. Despite the savagery,

    there are only a few deaths a season. After six to eight weeks of uninter–

    rupted harem duties, a bull retires, his skin hanging loosely around his

    shrunken frame. Until it is time to migrate, he recuperates, feeding at

    sea and coming back to sleep in the soft grassy areas behind the rookeries.

    No longer a bristling, ferocious contender for females, he is nervous,

    ready to scuttle off to sea at the slightest alarm.

            Although to propagate the species the whole herd forsakes the sea,

    adults display little affection or interest in a pup. From the moment he

    is born, he is on his ow wo n and even has to teach himself to swim. Only his

    006      |      Vol_XII-0930                                                                                                                  
    EA-Alaska: History. Martin: History of the Fur Seal

    resilient fat enables him to stand incredibly rough trampling by the older

    harem inmates, bites and fliper blows from mother and stepfather (a pup

    born in his own father's harem must be most rare), or neighbors; he is

    rarely injured even when a bull sits down on him. For several days, until

    the rocks cut the drying cord, he drags his placenta around. Soon he

    ventures from his harem, joins up in pods with other infants and, at the

    end of a month, begins his swimming lessons in the tidal pools. At first

    only about two days elapse between nursings, but, as his stomach grows to

    hold more milk, his mother makes more leisurely journeys and just before

    migration he nurses only about once every five days.

            On land pup play seems strangely like practice for adult duties.

    Sea sport is definitely training for the winter ahead. Persistently pups

    advance into the waves, are tossed back and try again until they can keep

    afloat and moving. As soon as possible, the pods practice where sand beaches

    can cushion their fall when tossed ashore. After learning to swim, they

    practice breaching and play follow-the-leader water games. By October

    they have their thick new coats and teeth and must leave their birthplace.

    The mortality from storms and killer whales is high, about 40% the first

    winter, almost half that the next two. As the only seals to eat on land, the

    pups are the only ones ever found with food, milk only, in their stomachs.

    All other seals digest their food and evacuate at sea, a habit which keeps

    their beaches surprisingly clean.

            Segregated on their hauling grounds, adjacent to the rookeries, the

    bachelors carefully avoid short cuts across harems on their way to and from

    the sea because bulls mercilessly punish trespassers. Their fur is the

    finest, most evenly developed, not yet scarred from mating battles. They

    007      |      Vol_XII-0931                                                                                                                  
    EA-Alaska: History. Martin: History of the Fur Seal

    have no defense against man except flight. Although the sex ratio n is

    believed to be equal, because they are polygamous a certain proportion

    of young males are superfluous and can be killed without affecting the herd

    in the least. Their gregariousness makes them vulnerable, also. Hunters

    can get between them and the sea, startle them into flight directly inland

    where, after a rest, they can be prodded and driven by easy stage to con–

    venient and clean grassy places to be clubbed and stripped of their furs.

            All of the fur seals' characteristics and habits — rigid adherence

    to the ancient migration routes and destinations, plygamous mating, the

    segregation of the finest furred surplus males, their lack of defensive

    organis — make them as easy to handle as domestic animals without the

    expense of providing food, shelter, and constant custodial care.


    Sealing Today

            No data are available about sealing methods in use on the Asiatic

    seal islands. Pribilof sealing is under the direct management of the

    Division of Alaska Fisheries, Fish and Wildlife Service, Department of the

    Interior. The Fish and Wildlife Service has a contract with the Fouke Fur

    Company of St. Louise whereby the company acts as agent to process and

    auction the dressed skins. The Service manages driving, killing, and skin–

    ning the seals, supervises the Fouke Fur Company's initial salting and

    curing on the islands and the shipment of skins to that agent's St. Louis

    factory, and governs the American Aleut residents of the islands.

            The Fouke Fur Company's contract of 1939-49 gave it the exclusive

    right to dress and dye all Pribilof skins for $13.50 a skin and 3 1/ 4 2 % of

    all sales for expenses and services in connection with the two public auctions

    008      |      Vol_XII-0932                                                                                                                  
    EA-Hist. Martin: Fur Seal

    held each year in spring and fall. On the islands the company manages

    salting, blubbering, drying, and packing of skins, importing and train–

    ing many laborers for these duties. The company also advertises widely

    to promote the popularity of sealskins.

            The actual killing of fur seals is limited by law to the resident

    American Aleuts. Only males, chiefly three and some four-year-old bachelors,

    are killed between early June and the end of July. At dawn (Reef Peninsula

    seals only are driven in the evening because of the long distance to the

    killing ground where they are permitted to rest all night before being

    killed) the sealers begin to round up the pods of bachelors. Running

    between a pod and the sea, shouting and festiculating, they frighten the

    seals who run inland to escape them. Permitting them to rest at intervals,

    the sealers herd them on to the killing field. Death results almost in–

    stantaneously after a blow on the head from a sealer's club. To make

    certain, each seal is stabbed immediately. The bodies are measured before

    skinning; the pelts spread on the grass to cool; then removed by truck to

    the washhouse, washed and steeped in brine for ten days before they are

    flensed. About a quarter of the skins are shipped before they are blubbered.

    Washed and dried, the blubbered skins are salted again before shipment.

            At the St. Louis plant, skins are inspected and graded upon receipt.

    Less than 0.05% are rejected. Blubbered skins are washed several times

    and dried on hoops. Before the guard hairs are removed, they are soaked

    in cold water, then subjected to high dry heat in special cockles to loosen the

    stiff hair. Overheating at this time will ruin the furs. Then a dull knife

    drawn over a tightly stretched pelt cuts out the majority of the guard hairs

    but does not cut the short, silky fur. Shorter guard hairs are removed later

    in a special machine where air blows the fine fur flat while scissors cut

    009      |      Vol_XII-0933                                                                                                                  
    EA-Alaska: History. Martin: Fur Seal

    the stubby short hairs off close to the leather. The skins are tanned

    with a mixture of seal oil, other fats, and soaps. To remove all grease,

    they are tumbled vigorously in a container of sawdust. Then they are dyed,

    either black or Matara or Safari brown. The stiff, hard leather side of

    the skin, which once detracted from the sealskin's popularity, is now

    shaved quite thin; the pelt is much lighter and more supples but retains

    its durability. Processing a fur takes about 60 days. Between 6 and 8

    skins are required to make a coat. One advantage of the processing mono–

    poly is the uniformity of the furs.

            Seal oil and meal are produced from the carcasses at a small by-products

    plant on St. Paul Island, run by the Service. The oil is sold; part of the

    meal is used to feed Pribilof foxes; the reindeer is sometimes used in

    federal fish hatcheries.

            The present safeguards to perpetuate the herd have been practiced long

    enough to prove their reliability. In addition to prohibiting the killing

    of females and limiting killing to three- and four-year old males, a reserve

    of potential breeding males is guaranteed yearly by terminating sealing by

    the first of August. The quota is determined by the same time limitation;

    all bachelors rounded up before the closing date are killed. An annual

    enumeration of the herd is obligatory. At the height of the breeding season

    in mid-July, from elevated runways built across the breeding beaches,

    officials actually count the conspicuous bulls, establishing the number

    of harems (and idle bulls) very exactly on small rookeries, quite accurately

    on larger ones. The normal annual increase of pups (the rate of increase

    established as 8% by actual counting of pups between 1917 and 1922) is

    assumed to have occurred if the preceding winter has not been abnormally

    stormy or the beaches show no obvious shrinkage. The number of cows is

    010      |      Vol_XII-0934                                                                                                                  
    EA-Alaska: History. Martin: Fur Seal

    estimated at the same rate. This system, like all previous ones, still

    depends largely upon the judgment of official observers. Quotas depend

    in part upon this computation.

            Beyond the islands the Coast Guard boats as well as Fish and Wildlife

    Service vessels are charged with observing traveling seals, especially

    during migration, and arresting illegal hunters. Since the seals do not

    travel in groups, such supervision cannot be very strict. Skins taken by

    any native peoples at sea, in accordance with their aboriginal rights,

    must be certified and stamped by a government official before they can

    legally be sold. Very few such pelagic skins are taken.


    Sealing Before 1867

            Until the middle of the eighteenth century, northern fur seals, safe

    from land hunters on their breeding islands far from aboriginal settlements,

    were hunted only at sea, chiefly during migration by littoral tribes.

    Thus the Asiatic herds were hunted on their spring and fall travels by

    Ainus and Kamchadals; the Alaskan seals on their northward spring migration

    by a dozen tribes from Cape Flattery to the Aleutian Islands, and in spring

    and fall by the most expert of all sea hunters, the Aleuts, who may also

    have hunted them on their islands. Hunting on land began after the

    Russians' successive discoveries of seal islands, and sealing both on land

    and at sea remained their almost exclusive monopoly until 1867.

            The earliest Russian promyshlenniki (fur hunters) in Kamchatka

    named the fur seals "sea cats" and probably appropriated the Kamchadals'

    sealskins along with other furs; after 1715 they acquired Kuril pelagic

    pelts in the same way. As long as more profitable furs were available,

    however, they had no incentive to hunt seals, for the only sealskin buyers,

    011      |      Vol_XII-0935                                                                                                                  
    EA-Alaska: History. Martin: Fur Seal

    the Chinese, shaved off all hair to use the tough, durable hide as leather,

    mainly for luggage wrappings, and paid only a few kopaks a skin.

            The islands of the second largest herd were accident accidentally

    discovered when Vitus Bering's vessel was wrecked on the larger of the

    Commander Islands in the late autumn of 1741. The next spring the sur–

    vivors watched the arrival and mating of the Commander Island fur seals,

    the first known observers of the animal's unique habits. The expedition's

    scientist, Georg W. Steller, studied them so closely that his on-the-spot

    observations, posthumously published in De Bestiis Marinis in 1751, are

    the classic natural history of the fur seal, amended only in minor details

    by subsequent investigators. But his description of the sea bear interested

    only naturalists. It was the $30,000 received for 900 sea otter pelts they

    brought back which inspired practical Siberian traders and hunters to launch

    dozens of crude shitiki (small ships, literally sewn together with sinews

    or willow withes) to seek otter and fox in the dangerous North Pa [ ?] ific.

            Russian sealing, after the discovery of the Commander Islands, falls

    into four distinct periods, roughly outlined by incomplete, far-too-low

    statistics of seal killings and exports, particularly those of Commander

    and Kuril hunting. During the first period, from 1746, when Emilian Bassov

    first brought 2,000 pelts to Siberia on the Capitan , to 1760, the promyshlenniki

    considered the fur seal useful only for food and oil during their hunting

    voyages and probably brought back no more than 20,000 skins of those killed

    for food. As more profitable furs grew scarce, the shrewdest traders, par–

    ticularly the Labedev Lastochkin Company and other firms in which Ivan Shele–

    kov owned shares, experimented with large shipments of cheap sealskins and

    handled at least 100,000 between 1760 and 1786; the majority of these were

    012      |      Vol_XII-0936                                                                                                                  
    EA-Alaska: History. Martin:Fur Seal

    Commander Island pelts, the remainder the Aleuts' and Kuril Islanders'

    pelagic skins.

            The third period opened when Lebedev Lastochkin's pilot, Gerasim

    Pribylov, deliberately searched for and discovered the Alaskan seals'

    breeding islands in 1786-87. There followed thirteen years of fiercely

    competitive, fantastically wasteful exploitation of the Commander and

    Pribilof herds. All companies hunted them. A do [ ?] en outfits killed over

    a million Pribilof seals; the Commander herd's losses were never reported.

    The few known shipments,15,000 skins, could have been only a small part.

    This influx was absorbed, for a time, by Chinese traders at the border

    city of Kiakta because, although the Russians did not know it until 1797,

    sealskin had become a fur. A Chinese artisan had discovered how to pluck

    out the coarse guard hairs without damaging the dense, velvet underpelage

    and the new dyed fur had won popularity.

            Competitive sealing ended in 1799 and the Russian American Company's

    monopoly began. Reluctantly the Chinese agreed to exchange five rubles

    worth of tea for a prime seal pelt. The insenate seal slaughter continued

    long after the fourth period opened. By 1817, at least another 1,499,856

    Pribilof pelts had been taken. Hunting on the Commander Islands was less

    constant; only 15,000 skins shipped, 1799-1826. Since these islands and

    the Kurils were under the Okhotsk office until 1823 and 1830, respectively,

    possibly many pelts were taken directly to Siberia and not included in

    colonial records. Colossal waste also prevented immediate glutting of

    the market. From 1786-1817, at least one and a half million skins cut by

    careless skinners or rotted after hasty curing, were burned or thrown into

    the sea; thousands of food skins were thrown away; several shiploads were

    lost at sea. Although the Russians learned it belatedly, from 1790 to 183 6 5

    013      |      Vol_XII-0937                                                                                                                  
    EA-Alaska: History. Martin: Fur Seal

    millions of antarctic sealskins reached southern Chinese ports. So, in

    1802, the Kiskta merchants refused Russian peltry, not even accepting all

    otter furs. Alarmed by this and news of a half-million pelts stored at New

    Archangel (most worthless, later destroyed), the directors forbade further

    Pribilof sealing, an order that was ignored. For Chandellor Rezanov, in–

    vestigating Russian America, found 15 Russian and some Aleut hunters still

    sealing on St. Paul in 1805, killing about 100,000 a year. Rezanov was

    appalled by the herds' losses (90% of the herd since 1794, the hunters

    estimated) and irrational waste, especially the yearly discarding of

    30,000 food skins. After the winter meat was dried, the skins were spread

    out to dry or were smoked. Dampness, scarcity of driftwood, and incompe–

    tence made waste inevitable, but, unable to import salt, such curing was

    used for four more decades. Rezanov insured a Zapusk (literally a-time-for–

    growing) for the seals by taking men away, ordering the others to get

    walrus ivory. Sealing was resumed on St. George in 1808, and within the

    next two years on St. Paul. Probably food killing continued throughout

    the other islands. Rezanov also recommended transferring a small sealing

    party from the Commanders to the Kurils to hunt otter. Apparently no

    further sealing was done on the Commanders until 1811.

            The missionary-historian Veniaminov called the years 1817-38 on the

    Pribilofs, the "Period of Diminution" - 578,224 skins were taken. Tikhmenev,

    official historian of the Russian American Company, published (1862)

    statistics of sealskin shipments from New Archangel for the period of the

    company's second charter (1821-42), a total of 458,502. Actually a steady

    decline continued, despite efforts to check it, until after 1835. Scarcity

    of Priblof seals necessitated temporary resumption of Commander hunting in

    1817-19, and, after these islands were transferred from the jurisdiction

    014      |      Vol_XII-0938                                                                                                                  
    EA-Alaska: History. Martin: Fur Seal

    of the Okhotsk office to the Atka Island district, the both islands

    were permanently colonized — Bering Island by 110 Andeanof Island Aleuts

    and Creoles under the Russian foreman, Senkov, in 1826, and Copper Island

    by Aleuts from Attu Island two years later. That year, the Kuril Islands

    were also transferred to the Atka district. By 1836, in addition to 99

    Ainus, [ ?] there were 104 Kodiak natives and 9 Russians in the Commanders.

    When the Pribilof catch was lowest, 1827-1841, the Commander Island take

    was 150,000, and for the next two decades only 31,181. Ignoring official

    warnings that the Chinese would refuse gray pup skins and preferred bull

    pelts, despite the very coarse hair, to small skins, Commander hunters

    regularly shipped small grays. Perhaps because irregular supplies made

    them dependent on local animals, they killed only their favorite food.

    Often Pribilof "annual" supply boats from Sitka were two or three years

    late, probably even less punctual at the more remote Commanders until

    after 1854. Thereafter ships from Sitka stopped regularly at the Commanders

    and at the Kurils for furs and then continued on to the Okhotsk port of

    Ayan instead of returning to New Archangel.

            By 1817 the steadily waning Pribilof catch inspired belated efforts

    to carry out Rezanov's recommendation to cultivate the herds, not merely

    prevent extermination. Managers were ordered to record seals killed,

    skins shipped, estimates of the remaining seals. To stop waste from

    careless handling, skins were graded as best and common with a lower pay

    rate for the latter. Reduced quotas, reserves of young males for breed–

    ing purposes, outright zapusks were ordered from time to time, though

    the latter were not always observed. For instance, in 1830 from St.

    Petersburg the directors ordered a 12-year zapusk on all seal islands,

    015      |      Vol_XII-0939                                                                                                                  
    EA-Alaska: History. Martin: Fur Seal

    but sealing continued, so the order may have been countermanded in the next

    mail. St. George had one total zapusk , not even food killings for two

    seasons, 1826-27. Ignoring the scarcity of mates, St. Paul promyshlenniki ,

    thought reserved males became spiritless adults and obeyed the regulation

    only because a scrupulously honest manager, Kasyan Shayashnikov, followed

    instructions and strictly supervised the killings. But as soon as the herd

    increased, orders from distant superiors soon reduced its numbers. In

    1835 sealing was again severely restricted.

            Probably that year (1835) the experiment of saving females begin —

    perhaps at the suggestion of Manager Shayashnikov. It is obvious from

    Veniaminov's discussion of seal preservation that the female's fertility

    was being studied. Veniaminov depended upon Shayashnikov for his sealing

    data, including observations that the sex ratio at birth seemed equal and

    that a percentage of the males were superfluous for propagation because

    of the seals' polygamous habits. The next logical steps were to recognize

    that females were never superfluous and to protect their lives. Shayashnikov's

    1837 memo, seen by an American a half century later, listed only bachelors

    and young grays. In 1842, Governor Etholin told Sir George Simpson of the

    Hudson's Bay Company that killing was restricted to three- and four-year-old

    males — an indication that the experiment had already become a fixed policy.

            Statistics for some of these years indicate deliberate restraint

    rather than continuing decreases, as many students of sealing assume. The

    1834 Pribilof catch was 15,751. Beginning the next season and until 1838

    it was roughly 6,500 a year, two-thirds from St. Paul. By 1842, St. Paul's

    catch was 6,255, St. George's only 500. The next year St. Paul's increased

    to 16,034, St. George's to 2,001, and from that year the herd grew steadily

    larger. The quota was increased rapidly without interfering with the

    herd's expansion, which was affected only by natural calamities beyond the

    016      |      Vol_XII-0940                                                                                                                  
    EA-Alaska: History. Martin: Fur Seal

    power of man to control. Except for skins of Commander Island pups and

    Pribilof food pups, most skins shipped after 1935 were those of superfluous

    three-year-old males. By 1860 it was thought safe to take 60,000 skins on

    St. Paul but a natural disaster limited the take to 48,000. The previous

    spring the ice pack, blown back upon the islands after the bulls arrived,

    prevented other seals from landing. As a result cows calved at sea, and

    their pups drowned. For weeks after the ice receded again, thousands of

    dead pups were washed ashore. In 1863, the Russians began to kill 70,000

    St. Paul bachelors yearly without damaging the herd. Pribilof shipments

    from 1842-1867 amounted to 571,612 — nearly half of which were killed in

    the last three seasons. Yet once more, as after the discovery, the herd

    numbered several million animals.

            The history of Kuril and Sakhalin sealing is even more obscure than

    that of Commander hunting. Probably the Okhotsk herd was hunted chiefly

    at sea throughout Russia's domination of the region. The Kodiak settlers

    knew the location of the rockery on Srednoi Rocks but were not accustomed

    to killing seals on land. But the Ainus, previous to the settlement of

    the Russians, had visited Mushir each June to kill sea lions — presumably

    fur seals also — for food. Earthquakes as well as Japanese competition

    interfered with Kuril otter hunting. How much pelagic sealing was affected

    is unknown. As elsewhere, long zapusks were ordered on the Kurils; a long

    rest period, 1850-1869, improved on the sea otter catch and presumably the

    seal catch also.

            Even less is known about Sakhalin sealing. In 1852, during the Crimean

    War, American whalers took advantage of the interruption of Russia's European

    trade and killed 60,000 fur seals on Robben Reef. But the Russians may not

    017      |      Vol_XII-0941                                                                                                                  
    EA-Alaska: History. Martin: Fur Seal

    have known a rookery existed there although the island appeared on a Russian

    map in 1802. So, news of the whalers' success may have inspired the order

    for Aleut hunters to explore the coast of Sakhalin for good hunting grounds

    in 1853. The outcome of that exped i tion is not known.

            Pelagic sealing by primitive methods was not confined to the Okhotsk

    and Commander seals passing the Kurils. Throughout the Russian period,

    Aleuts and Kodiak Islanders sealed at sea near their home islands, except

    when the Pribilof herd was so decimated that migrating seals were scarce.

    Probably such pelagic skins were included with Pribilof shipments, for there

    is no evidence that separate records were kept. At New Archangel in 1850

    the Russians paid the Tlingit (Kolosh) hunters three times as much for their

    pelagic skins as their own native hunters, from 1 1/2 to 3 rubles for a prime

    skin, to counteract the Hudson's Bay Company's competitive price of $1.50.

            Even if the statistics of Russian sealing were complete and accurate,

    they would not reveal the fur seals' importance as a colonial asset. With–

    out them the Russians would never have established a secure foothold in

    Alaska or maintained a colony there until 1867. Throughout their occupation,

    the fur seals helped feed and clothe the colonists from St. Michael in the

    North to the capital at Sitka. Manager Baranov tried to make hats, gloves,

    and socks from their fur, apparently by weaving it, but the shortness of

    the hair spoiled his experiments. Small skins were part of the ottar

    hunters' pay. Pup skins were shipped to St. Michael to be traded to the

    Eskimos for more marketable furs, the officials being charged with con–

    vincing the Eskimos that seal fur coats made more attractive garments.

    Seal oil burned in the lamps of New Archangel, kept the ships and machinery

    in the workshops running smoothly. But the animal's abundance and fixed

    018      |      Vol_XII-0942                                                                                                                  
    EA-Alaska: History. Martin: Fur Seal

    abode were the characteristics that gave the Russians a measure of economic

    security, made the Pribilof Islands a dependable bank, the seals legitimate


            When the administration in Russia failed to send supplies regularly

    or fill colonial orders or sent half-empty ships to pick up peltry, Baranov,

    the company's first Chief Manager, disobeyed stringent orders, bought food

    and merchandise from visiting foreigners and paid them off with sealskins.

    Shrewd English and Yankee skippers, realizing that only a desperate crisis

    would induce the Russians to buy their goods, asked extortionate prices or

    fixed the sealskin's barter value ridiculously low. Unprofitable as such

    transactions were financially, they were cheap as long as there were seals

    to keep Russian America going. Chancellor Rezanov came to discipline

    Baranov but, confronting the hunger and scurvy at Sitka, lauded his initia–

    tive and advised the company's directors to permit their managers to trade

    with foreigners when they deemed it necessary. So Baranov continued to

    operate many projects with sealskin currency. He shipped them to the

    Sandwich Islands to exchange for salt and sandalwood; he persuaded foreign

    skippers to take his pelts to Canton and bring back goods he needed. Fre–

    quently their exchange value was poor, and some skippers dealt shabbily

    with Baranov. For instance, the skins Captain O'Cain took to Canton were

    so damaged by rot he could get only 80 kopeks for a skin. A Captain Bennet

    took his sealskin pay from Sitka to Okhotsk where frightened officials

    paid his price rather than let him proceed to Canton. When the English

    skipper, Captain Piggott, tried the same trick, Okhotsk officials refused

    to buy them but at Petropavlovsk a minor clerk gave him 15 rubles a piece

    for skins he had accepted at the rate of 2 1/2 rubles. The company refused

    to recognize the clerk's purchase and demanded he pay 35,000 rubles, the

    019      |      Vol_XII-0943                                                                                                                  
    EA-Alaska: History. Martin: Fur Seal

    cost of their purchase and transportation in its vessel from Petropavlovsk

    to Okhotsk.

            Baranov also bought three ships from Yankee captains for sealskins;

    extensive repairs were necessary on all, and one was never able to make

    a voyage. Sealskins helped him cement a temporary alliance with Astor's

    traders against British competition. Pledging not to trade in each other's

    territory or to sell firearms, Astor was to bring goods to Sitka and, if

    necessary, collect his pay in sealskins at the Pribilof Islands directly.

    Again the Yankees outwitted the Russians. Captain Ebbetts, an Astor em–

    ployee, took Baranov's sealskins to Canton but made him pay dearly for

    the goods he brought back. Because supplies brought on the Beaver were

    too high, Baranov could afford to take only half for which he gave Skipper

    Sowle a draft on the Pribilof bank for 124,000 rubles worth of sealskins.

    There was little more sealskin trade during Baranov's rule.

            Tikhmenev estimated that the value of sealskins exported to Canton

    or sold to foreign traders, 1797-1821, was 3,647,002 rubles. During the

    second charter, the directors permitted Governor Muraviev to buy goods

    with sealskins, but the Pribilof bank was failing. After a few transactions,

    foreign skippers were paid with letters of credit drawn on the General

    Administration. There was a brief period later when the Spanish in

    California accepted sealskins for their flour.

            From time to time the fur trade at Kiakta was interrupted. In 1849

    internal Chinese troubles led to suspension of trade there and when the

    Russians carried their skins to western Chinese border towns such as Chugu–

    chak, opened by special treaty in 1851, the merchants were not experienced

    fur dealers and refused to trade. In 1853, Kiakta was reopened. Then in

    020      |      Vol_XII-0944                                                                                                                  
    EA-Alaska: History. Martin: Fur Seal

    1862, in order to damage the British-Chinese trade, Russia revoked the

    tariff on tea. Since their main export went into Russia freely, the

    Chinese merchants had less need to take sealskins. The Russians made

    one desperate effort to transport their skins overland to Peking them–

    selves; but the expenses were exorbitant, and the prices obtained for

    the furs were small. They developed two new markets, in London in 1843,

    and in New York the next year, but the demand was small, about 20,000

    skins a year for each. The remainder were absorbed by the domestic

    market and China. Before the increasing quota made the need to find

    new outlets acute, the government sold Alaska to a customer who knew

    little about the region except its fur seals and sea otters.

            The conduct of seal killing changed little during the Russian monopoly.

    Surrounding a group of seals, hunters drove them inland from the beach to

    a convenient spot to kill them, clubbed them on the head, and skinned them.

    When the killing of females was forbidden, the only change was the selection

    of pods of bachelors to drive. Because it was difficult to carry sealskins

    over the rough terrain, they often drove the seals long distances. Some–

    times they forced the animals to carry their furs twelve miles from North–

    east Point to the harbor on St. Paul. Men and animals plodded slowly

    along, resting frequently and camping out several nights. The greatest

    innovation was salting skins. On the long trip to the new markets of

    London and New York, smoked and air-dried skins did not keep well. Salted

    skins, however, were not damaged by delays or changes of temperature. A

    salted skin cost less to cure, only 1 ruble 73 kopeks, while, because of

    fuel costs, a smoked one cost 3 rubles 75 kopeks. Salting entailed much

    extra and heavier labor for the sealers but their pay, 75 kopeks after 1836

    021      |      Vol_XII-0945                                                                                                                  
    EA-Alaska: History. Martin: Fur Seal

    for killing and curing a skin, was not raised.

            As long as Russia and China remained the chief markets, the majority

    of the skins were dried but when the quota was increased in 1864 to 70,000

    skins, the Chief Manager ordered 25,000 to be dried, the rest salted.

            The Russians had killed over four million fur seals by 1867 — prob–

    ably counting pups, cargoes lost at sea, discarded skins nearly five

    million. After years of groping, they had found a way to take their furs

    and keep their herd. The Pribilof beaches were crowded with seal life,

    and the Commander herd had waxed strong again when the Americans entered

    northern sealing in 1867.


    Sealing After 1867

            The Pribilof seal herd, its islands transferred to the United States

    as part of the Alaska Purchase, was a major, unpublicized asset that affected

    the decision to buy the territory. Efforts of Senator Cole of California

    to negotiate, through Secretary Seward and the Russian Minister, a lease

    of Russian America for Californian merchants who wanted to get seal and

    otter furs, ended in Seward's buying the region for the nation. Americans

    hurried to obtain sealskins. Shrewed, resourceful Hayward Hutchinson, an

    eastern shoe merchant, accompanied General Rousseau to Sitka for the

    transfer ceremonies, and as a member of the official party, met Prince

    Maksutov before other American merchants could land from waiting vessels.

    He bought the former Russian company's Pribilof property, their few wooden

    and native-style buildings, sealing gear and skin boats. He hired many

    retiring employees, Russians and Creoles, for high wages. Then he returned

    to San Francisco, organized Hutchinson, Kohl and Company, and made ready

    to have his agents and ships at the Seal Islands in the spring. Other

    022      |      Vol_XII-0946                                                                                                                  
    EA-Alaska: History. Martin: Fur Seal

    merchants, unable to buy a claim to the sealing business, prepared to

    seal anyway. Some obtained permission from the Army or Customs Office

    at Sitka to land and trade with the Aleuts.

            Interregnum Leasing Systems. Neither law nor government authorities

    protected the Pribilof and Commander islands in 1868, and both were thor–

    oughly despoiled by sealskin seekers. Four traders installed themselves

    on the Pribilofs, banded together for the season, and warned off latecomers

    by a show of armed force. So the former Russian Vice Consul Pflugel, of

    Honolulu, went on to the Commanders, and was soon joined by other traders,

    chiefly Americans. The violence done seals and sealers on the Russian

    Islands exceeded the damage on the Pribilofs and continued two more summers.

    Many females and young seals were killed.

            First at the Pribilofs was the antarctic sealing firm, Williams and

    Haven of New London, with a veteran of southern sealing, Captain Ebenezer

    Morgan in command. Soon Parrot and Company, Taylor and Bendel of San Fran–

    cisco, and Hutchinson, Kohl and Company arrived, the latter with proof it

    owned the Russians' property and with former Russian officials who were

    able to direct the sealers in Russian or Aleut. These traders brought no

    laborers to kill seals, only goods to trade for skins and labor, including

    much liquor. United against competition, they also agreed to divide the

    season's skins, 50% to Hutchinson's company because of its investment,

    equal division of the remainder between the others. While they drove the

    sealers to kill and skin seals at 30¢ a piece until overcome by fatigue,

    the traders lived merrily with the sealers' women. All emulated Hutchinson's

    method of staking a claim. They built salt houses and sheds but Captin

    Pomeroy, Hutchinson's agent, erected 18 more buildings on St. Paul alone.

    023      |      Vol_XII-0947                                                                                                                  
    EA-Alaska: History. Martin: Fur Seal

            The Pioneer Trading Company, with a Sitka permit to trade for sealskins,

    dropped three seamen and hunting gear at Garden Cove, St. George. Discovered

    killing females, the incumbent persuaded the angry Aleuts to tie them up,

    neck and heels, and lock them in the salt house for the night. By morning,

    the Aleuts, realizing the novices could not identify cows, regretted their

    compliance, released the men, and offered to kill seals for them as compen–

    sation. But the other traders managed to send the seamen off the island

    and soothed their captain's anger with sealskins when he returned for them.

            Because many ski ns sn were shipped via Honolulu, the old antarctic sealing

    port, the total export was never known. An estimate of 365,000 is probably

    too low. The Aleuts tried to protect cows. When Captain White of the

    Revenue Marine, without authority to deal with sealing, visited the islands,

    he ordered the traders to respect their selection of young males but there

    are indications that about 40,000 females were killed, most of them at

    Northeast Point, St. Paul, where killing ended before the last seals mi–

    grated only because the salt supply was exhausted.

            That fall (1868) Hutchinson and Morgan went to Washington to try to

    induce Congress to lease the islands to a single company, naturally to the

    one which, with other associates, they were organizing, the Alaska Commercial

    Company. On July 27, 1868, Congress had prohibited killing fur-bearing

    animals in the Territory. Then the Treasury had sent Special Agent McIntyre

    to investigate rumors of unlawful sealing, but he had to wait all winter for

    a boat from Sitka. Meanwhile, the traders removed their furs without

    interference. Congress made the Pribilofs a special reservation, March 3, 1869,

    and prohibited killing except for Aleut food until further information was

    available. In May, Captain White of the Revenue steamer Lincoln landed a

    024      |      Vol_XII-0948                                                                                                                  
    EA-Alaska: History. Martin Fur Seals

    Revenue lieutenant and regular soldiers on each island and read the first

    American laws to the assembled sealers. Special Treasury Agents, McIntyre,

    Charles Bryant, and Colonel Frank Wiker, also some Customs officers, in–

    spected the islands and made proposals for handling the business. Although

    Wiker (fired as soon as he filed his report), Indian Commissioner Collyer,

    and General Davis, Commander of the Territory, reported excessive killing

    (the latter said 85,000), their findings were ignored. Hutchinson's and

    Morgan's companies were permitted to buy the food skins, at 40¢ each,

    that season.

            The fight to obtain a monopoly continued until late June, 1870.

    Hutchinson and other lobbyists for his company demanded that their invest–

    ments be protected, threatened damage suits for enormous losses if their

    claims were not recognized, predicted an uprising of the settlers if their

    work contract (with Hutchinson, Kohl and Company, obtained by the Creole

    Captain Archimandritov, whom the sealers feared) were not honored. Their

    threats and claims were more persuasive than the arguments of other commer–

    cial groups, opponents of monopoly, or those who argued that the Aleuts,

    as inhabitants, held title to the seals and islands.

            Land Sealing 1870-1892 . July 1, 1870, Congress passed an act to pro–

    tect the fur seal from extermination, introduced by the company's advocate,

    Senator Cole of California. It contained a peculiar clause. Enjoining

    the Secretary of the Treasury to lease sealing rights for 20 years for

    100,000 seals a year to responsible parties, he was to remember the interests

    of the "parties hitherto engaged in the trade." Because of this stipulation,

    the half million dollar offer of a group of California merchants was rejected.

    The franchise was awarded to the Alaska Commercial Company (which had submitted

    025      |      Vol_XII-0949                                                                                                                  
    EA-Alaska: History. Martin: Fur Seals

    two rent bids and an offer to pay more than the highest bidder) for

    $55,000 a year, $2.65 1/2 tax on each skin it accepted, and some support

    to the sealers. (See Pribilof Islands, History)

            Then Hutchinson completed his transactions begun in Sitka with

    Prince Maksutov. February 18, 1871, Hutchinson, Kohl, Maksutov and Company

    secured a 20-year lease to seal on the Commander and Robben islands. Their

    agents, arriving unexpectedly at the Commanders that summer, found the San

    Francisco Ice Company in possession and were able to buy its enormous stocks

    of trade goods very cheaply. Russian law required that at least one Russian

    subject belong to a foreign firm within Russian borders. So when Maksutov's

    name was withdrawn, the company paid a Siberian merchant for the use of his

    name and the firm became Hutchinson, Kohl, Philippeus and Company, nominally

    Russian with an office in Petropavlovsk, flying the Russian flag on its ships.

    In 1872, Hutchinson, Kohl and Company and the controlling shares of its

    Russian affiliate were absorbed by the Alaska Commercial Company. Russian

    sealing operations were then directed from its San Francisco office. Links

    were also forged with the London firm, Lampson and Sons, to whom most north–

    ern sealskins were shipped for resale to furriers. After processing and

    dyeing, the majority were shipped back to the United States where the lessees'

    advertising was making sealskin a fashionable and expensive fur. As long

    as London remained the fur seal processing center, the United States

    collected duty on imported dressed skins as well as the company's regular


            A Russian government officer was posted on each Commander Island to

    make certain the company fulfilled its contract, to supervise the killings,

    to keep accounts of skins shipped, and pay the sealers their earnings. The

    026      |      Vol_XII-0950                                                                                                                  
    EA-Alaska: History. Martin: Fur Seal

    lessees determined the annual quota. They paid a yearly rent of 5,000

    rubles, a tax per skin of 2 silver rubles (then about $1.33); after 1877,

    the tax was reduced to 1.75 rubles for the first 30,000 skins. For this

    number the sealers were paid 1 ruble a piece, for all additional skins

    only 1/2 ruble. The company also contributed toward the sealers' sup–

    port and, as on the Pribilofs, voluntarily built cottages (most were

    larger than Pribilof houses) for them. Unlike American sealers, the

    Russian Aleuts received full title to them. The contract admitted duty–

    free American goods for sale to the sealers at San Francisco retail prices

    plus a fixed percentage to cover transportation and storage. The company

    kept an agent-storekeeper on each island and a supervisor near each rookery

    to accept skins the sealers brought to the slat house - not supervising

    the killing but only the salting, packing, and shipping. In 1871, the

    catch was only 8,100. Because the long lawless killing had been so drastic,

    the average take until 1880 was about 30,000 skins; from 1880-1889 the

    catch was about 45,000. Commander and Robben island shipments were so often

    shipped together that the exact Commander catch is not clear. The combined

    1872-1891 shipments were 803,978.

            On Robben Island, where camping sealers drank rain water, there were

    only summer quarters: huts for the sealers and a salt house, two good

    cottages for officers and non-Aleut laborers. In 1870 Captain Daniel

    Webster (probably still working only for William and Haven before the

    Alaska Commercial Company merger was completed), in the bark Mauna Loa ,

    with the schooner John Bright as tender, had nearly wiped out the Robben

    Island seals, killing the cows and leaving only 800 infant pups. When

    the new lessees' agents inspected the rocks in late 1871 and found only

    027      |      Vol_XII-0951                                                                                                                  
    EA-Alaska: History. Martin: Fur Seal

    2,000 seals, they postponed killing. In 1873 they began to take about

    2,700 seals a year. To prevent more raid, a ship patrolled the coast and

    a few Aleuts remained on land until the seals left. But, whenever the

    ship was absent, American, English, and Japanese raiders, waiting off

    Sakhalin Island for an opportunity to land, were able to get furs. Usually

    several ships worked together, paying the sealers to signal when the coast

    was clear and to help get skins. Unable to protect these seals, the

    lessees finally killed femal e s and pups as ruthlessly as the raiders.

    Until the Aleut and Kodiak hunters, removed to Kamchatka from the Kurils

    after Russia ceded them to Japan in 1875, were resettled on the Commanders,

    the Hutchinson interests had not known about the Kuril rookeries. But

    Captain Sandman came to look for the seals at the wrong season in 1881;

    la [ ?] er that year other vessels got 8,000 from the Srednoi Rocks. Thereafter

    raiders took a few hundred skins each year until 1895 when the catch became

    too small to attract them. Mushir, Raikoke, and Makanruru rookeries were

    also decimated by Americans, English, and Japanese raiders in the early


            After taking only 23,000 Pribilof seals in 1870, the Alaska Commercial

    Company filled its quota except when it wanted to avoid market prices, al–

    together 1,997,337 skins, netting an average profit of over a million dollars

    a year. Empowered by law to conduct the actual killings company agents

    determined the time and place of sealing. Treasury agents, not instructed

    to attend seal killings regularly were required specifically to check the

    lessees' count of sealskins before they were shipped and were supposed to

    inform the Secretary of the Treasury of any company practice contrary

    to the law. Lacking experience and having no function on the killing field,

    028      |      Vol_XII-0952                                                                                                                  
    EA-Alaska: History. Martin: Fur Seal

    they were the Treasury department's sole source of information about the

    seals for most of the first lease.

            In 1872, Henry Wood Elliott, made an Assistant Treasury Agent at

    the request of the Smithsonian Institution in order to study the scarcely

    known fur seals, surveyed the rookeries and devised a system of counting

    seals. Because they crowded together on the beach, he divided the rookery

    area by a coefficient of 2 square feet, the space he estimated that an

    average seal required. He found there were 3,193,420 breeding seals in

    1873 and estimated the non-breeding seals as roughly as 1 1/2 millions.

    In 1874, together with Lieuten [ ?] nt Washburn Maynard (each separately com–

    missioned to investigate the lessees' fulfillment of their contract) he

    [ ?] repeated his surveys with more accurate instruments. Lieutenant Maynard

    thought Elliott erred on the side of moderation, that the total that year

    was about 6,000,000. He recommended annual surveys but no more official

    counts were made during the first lease. In 1886, Chief Agent Tingle

    voluntarily made a partial survey using Elliott's system with a larger

    "average" seal. He announced St. George had a million more seals. Assit–

    ant Agent Loud thought — or so he said later — that there had been a

    serious decrease.

            Elliott's fur seal monograph was printed as a Tenth Census Report in

    1880, and as a separate publication two years later. In 1886, slightly

    revised, it was a major part of his Our Arctic Province or Alaska and the

    Seal Islands
    . Acclaimed as the sole seal authority, he lectured and wrote

    about Alaska and the seals. He defended the leasing system as the best

    means of protecting the fur seals, and the Alaska Commercial Company as

    the most reliable lessees. His insistence that Alaska would never be more

    029      |      Vol_XII-0953                                                                                                                  
    EA-Alaska: History. Martin: Fur Seal

    than a source of furs and his lavish praise of the lessees caused the

    latter's foes to label him the company's hired press agent. Actually he

    was so absorbed by the fur seals that he was blind to other Alaskan re–

    sources. His liking for Hayward Hutchinson made him confident of the

    company's probity. He also assumed that as long as the Aleut sealers

    visited their relatives at Unalaska, no lessees could hide illegal [ ?]

    practices. He placed no reliance upon Treasur e y agents, only on the sealers'


            When Aleut gossip and serious charges from other quarters brought the

    company before the House Ways and Means Committee in 1876, Elliott's stal–

    wart defence helped stifle the gossip he relied upon so heavily and clear

    the company's reputation. In 1879 the sealers warned Agent Otis the seals

    were disappearing. A newcomer s , he consulted experienced company employees

    and rejected the Aleuts' notion.

            Quietly a new kind of hunter had begun to kill seals at sea, the

    pelagic sealer. But the losses ifnlicted at sea were ignored by island

    officials, even though, after 1879, the danger was constant that such

    sealers would raid the beaches. Before that year there had been a few raids,

    undetected until skinned carcasses, broken clubs, or blood on the rocks were

    found after they left. The company installed a telephone line between

    Northeast Point and St. Paul village in 1880, to summon help if raiders

    landed; sentries guarded the rookeries and Otter Island until the seals

    left in the fall; revenue cutters patrolled the sea. Whenever they had to

    refuel at Unalaska, schooners inevitably appeared and shot seals not far

    from the islands. But the seals' custodians saw no gaps on the Pribilof


    030      |      Vol_XII-0954                                                                                                                  
    EA-Alaska: History. Martin: Fur Seal

            Secretaly, in 1889, the company sent a journalist, Theodore Williams,

    to investigate the extent of pelagic sealing. It did not want to bid too

    high to renew a lease that might be worthless in a few seasons, for the

    local company employees knew that the Probilof herd was shrinking fast.

    Superintendent McIntyre wrote confidentially to the company directors

    that the seals were getting less, but they did not relay his report to

    the Treasury Department. When sealing was over that fall, Agent Goff

    finally [ ?] pprized the Treasury that ths seals were vanishing, that the

    lessees had taken at least 50,000 under-aged seals (skin weight 4 lbs.,

    not 7) in order to fill their last quota. He proposed a shorter killing

    season, prohibition of pup killings, and a quota of 50,000 for the next


            North American Commercial Company 1890-1910. Despite Goff's report,

    before it could be fully investigated, the Secretary of the Treasury

    awarded another 20-year lease this time to the North American Commercial

    Company, set a maximum quota for the first year of 60,000 subsequent

    quotas to be determined by the herds' condition. The rent was increased

    to $60,000 [ ?] a year; the tax per skin to $9.62 1/2; the commitments to

    the sealers were not only increased but were defined most precisely to

    insure a decent standard of living. Immediately after the award, ex–

    Treasury agent Tingle accused President Liebes of being part-owner of a

    pelagic schooner. The charge, if proven, would automatically have cancelled

    the lease. But he quickly retracted his charge (nearly 20 years later

    Elliot exhumed that proof) and became the company's general superintendent.

            In May, Tingle and other employees of the ne s w lessees arrived and took

    possession of the buildings they had bought from their predecessors.

    031      |      Vol_XII-0955                                                                                                                  
    EA-Alaska: History. Martin: Fur Seal

    Elliott, too returned. Shocked at Goff's news, he had helped persuade

    Congress to authorize a special investigation and had secured the assign–

    ment. He was hor r ified by the "wreck and ruin" of the almost empty seal

    beaches, grass growing where thousands of seals had massed in 1874.

    According to his seal count system, only a "scant" fifth of the herd re–

    mained. He did not believe sea hunters alone could have caused such havoc.

    The records showed the number of drives to fill the quota had been increas–

    ing year after year. He concluded that many young seals, rejected several

    times and forced to repeat the exhausting parade to the killing field again

    and again, must have been damaged by their excessive exercise. Because

    the Russians had described excess bulls as spiritless, he assumed such

    constantly driven seals became impotent.

            By July 20th after the most thorough searching for bachelors and

    continual drives, the lessees had secured only a third of their quota,

    21,000. Agent Goff backed up by his own assistants and Elliott, ordered

    sealing stopped. Tingle blustered and threatened but he could not brow–

    beat the agents who felt safe from recriminatory measures as long as the

    fur seal authority agreed with them.

            Elliott returned to make his recommendations, and ceased to be a

    seal authority [ ?] in governmental circles. For he urged the immediate

    stoppage of land killing to demonstrate American interest in seals, not

    sealing profits for one company, and a joint Anglo-American commission

    to visit the islands quickly. The British had only to see the ruined

    herd, he felt, and they would be willing to regulate sea hunting. If

    necessary, he suggested, a mutual division of sealing proceeds might

    induce other nations to refrain from pelagic sealing. His castigations

    of the former lessees for over-driving and killing small seals were most

    032      |      Vol_XII-0956                                                                                                                  
    EA-Alaska: History. Martin: Fur Seal

    bitter. His quixotic proposal to stop commercial sealing angered the

    lessees and their political friends, including senators who owned stock

    in the company. Elliott's report was characterized as unsound by Secre–

    tary of the Treasury Foster and filed away unprinted. Goff was trans–

    ferred to a Canadian customs post. His assistants changed their opinions.

    To explain the suppression of Elliott's report, a rumor spread that, still

    loyal to or in the pay of the former lessees, he was trying to ruin their

    successors. Others gossiped that he had been hired by pelagic interests

    to stop land killing so the sea catch would be more profitable. Because

    his report was suppressed, these rumors could not be disproved.

            From 1891-1894 only 7,500 seals were killed while the problems were

    being investigated. By 1894 there was a new sight on the seal beaches,

    broad black bands of infant seals that had died from starvation.

            From then on year after year the pelagic catch of Pribilof seals

    was much larger than the land catch. The second lessees took only 342,651

    seals during their franchise. The pelagic catch for those 20 years was

    621,989. The government netted $2,920,877.15 from rent and taxes. The

    sum was meaningless because the fur seal had cost millions of dollars

    during that period. The total expense of commissions, trials, patrol

    boats, extra support to the sealers, indemnities for confiscated boats,

    etc., have never been collected from the budgets of so many government

    agencies: Congress, Departments of Treasury, State, Commerce, etc.,

    which dealt with one or more of the fur seals' problems.

            Russian Sealskin Company, 1892-1902. In 1892, Russia gave a ten-year

    contract for Commander and Robben sealskins to the Russian Sealskin Company

    but retained complete management of sealing and government of the sealers.

    The government agent set the quota each year, personally directed the

    033      |      Vol_XII-0957                                                                                                                  
    EA-Alaska: History. Martin: Fur Seal

    driving, killing, skinning, salting (the company's agent supervised the

    salting of skins only), bundling, and delivering to the ship. The govern–

    ment maintained the doctors and teachers; each community supported its

    dependent members from its sealing income. The company paid the regular

    high merchants' fees for the privilege of providing all store goods but

    only articles the government agent ordered. Otherwise the company's

    sole local function was to inspect salting and receive skins on board

    its ship. It paid 10.38 gold rubles per skin to the government, 1 1/2

    rubles apiece to the sealers, depositing at least half the money for the

    expected quota in advance each spring. It could reject skins but, since

    the government would then sell them to rival traders, it never exercised

    that privilege. Governed by a single authority, life was easier for the

    Commander sealers than for their distant American Pribilof cousins. Their

    sealing pay was higher: 75¢ a skin, the American only 50¢. Copper Islanders

    made xtra money from sea otters; Bering villagers had salmon to dry and

    export. Nearly all skins were shipped to London and sold as the Copper

    Island catch. But complete statistics are available only until 1896, by

    which time the Russian Sealskin Company had taken from the Commanders

    149,857 skins and almost 3,000 more confiscated from raiders within

    territorial waters.

            Raids had been frequent but more numerous on Robben Island. The

    results of an attempt to seal there in 1891 were so poor that raiders

    skipped the next season; they took 1,500, 1,000, and 1,300 skins respec–

    tively, the next three years. As soon as the company's ship or the

    Government patrol left in the fall, raiders braved autumn storms for a

    few skins. Returning unexpectedly in 1891, the company's steamer surprised

    and seized two steamers from Yokohama, flying the British flag. A crew

    034      |      Vol_XII-0958                                                                                                                  
    EA-Alaska: History. Martin: Fur Seal

    left there in October 1895 by the British Saipan was arrested by the patrol

    and, after a trial, put to work on the streets of Vladivostok. The patrol

    ship Yakut's officers were involved in a scandal in 1893-94. There was a

    court martial; the captain resigned; an officer committed suicide. Although

    their offense was not made public, it was believed they had hauled salt from

    Vladivostok for foreign dealers. Raiders took at least 53,000 male and

    female seals from Robben Island between 1878 and 1895 while the authorized

    companies got only 33,319 males.

            Pelagic Sealing . Primitive pelagic sealing did not harm the northern

    herds. But sea hunting had jeopardized the seals' very existence less than

    15 years after civilized man, with more deadly weapons and longer, faster trans–

    port, and turned to this ancient method of hunting. At first only the

    Pribilof herd was endangered.

            The first known pelagic hunter, a Canadian trader, Hugh Mackay, carried

    three Indian hunters and their canoes to the seal routes off Vancouver

    Island on his sloop Ino in 1868, a trip so profitable that he built a

    special schooner, the Favorite , to carry more the next season. Contemporary

    pioneers — even Vancouver Indians operated their own schooners — found

    the new hunting too profitable to publicize and attract competition. Only

    sixteen schooners are known to have been operating regularly off the North–

    west Coast before 1880. Simultaneously, captains who had raided Pribilof

    rookeries on their way home from unsuccessful whaling trips, between 1872

    and 1876, sought means to enter the increasingly profitable sealskin business

    since the American monopoly system barred them from land hunting. Until

    1880 the average take, known in London as the Northwest Catch (bullet and

    spear holes were conspicuous proof of origin) was generally less than 6,000

    035      |      Vol_XII-0959                                                                                                                  
    EA-Alaska: History. Martin: Fur Seal

    pelts. Then it began to soar rapidly. Within a few years pelagic seal–

    ing became a heavily capitalized maritime industry, employing many seamen

    and hunters and supporting shipbuilding and outfitting firms in Victoria

    and other Canadian ports used by American and Canadian schooners because

    of the ample labor supply and nearness to seal routes. A large fleet

    (34 schooners in 1883, at least 119 in 1889) pursued seals from Cape

    Flattery in February to and around the Pribilof Islands in summer. Before

    the new sealing was generally recognized as a distinct industry, it had

    become a vital part of Canadian economy, a source of profit to many Ameri–



    Bering Sea Controversy

            As long as sealing was confined to the Pacific Ocean, no American

    official interference was contemplated. Warned by the San Francisco Customs

    Office in 1872 that ships in South Pacific ports were outfitting to seal near

    the Pribilofs, Secretary of the Treasury Boutwell replied that Alaskan seals

    could not lawfully be protected by a marine league beyond American shores.

    Ten years later when so many schooners were hunting in the Bering Sea,

    Acting Secretary French decided that, according to the wording of the Alaska

    Treaty of Purchase, all waters north of the Aleutian Chain and east of 163° W.

    longitude were American. This concept of the eastern Bering as a mare clausum ,

    a private American sea, inspired precipitate action four years later. With–

    out prohibiting American citizens, without knowing how serious the consequence

    of sea hunting had been, and without prior discussion with Canada or Great

    Britain, the Revenue Cutter Corwin arrested an American and three Canadian

    schooners and convoyed them to Sitka for trial. In his summary, Judge Dawson

    (after consultation with the Attorney General and Alaska Commercial Company's

    lawyers) defined the eastern Bering as American waters and charged the jury

    036      |      Vol_XII-0960                                                                                                                  
    EA-Alaska: History. Martin: Fur Seal

    to find the hunters guilty if convinced they had sealed within that area.

    The sealers were sentenced and fined, the ships condemned for public sale.

            At once the shocked Canadians asked England to stop American inter–

    ference with one of their valuable industries. While Secretary of State

    Bayard's replies to England's sharp notes postponed explanations until he

    received the court transcript and the Corwin's report, Cleveland's Cabinet,

    disagreeing over the validity of or ability to uphold a claim to Bering Sea

    sovereignty, studied means to protect the seals without inviting war with

    England. No constructive course was discovered. Instead, without explana–

    tion or apology, the prisoners and their boats were freed by Presidential

    proclamation the following February. Lord Salisbury asked [ n ?] if the release

    meant an end to interference. American replies were noncommittal. Then

    three more Canadian schooners were seized.

            During the ensuing correspondence, England cited John Adams' successful

    thwarting of the Czar's attempts to exclude other nations' trading and

    hunting ships from the North Pacific in the early 1820's. Embarrassed by

    this precedent, Bayard, still without openly claiming Bering Sea jurisdiction,

    argued it was not a branch of the Pacific but a separate sea, and contended

    that Canadian sealing was contra bonos mores , harmful to American interests.

    Approaching the problem more reasonably, in the late summer of 1888, Bayard

    invited England, Japan, Russia, and other European countries to discuss

    regulating marine exploitation. Disinterested European powers declined.

    Lord Salisbury's prompt acceptance and request for American proposals sur–

    prised Bayard, who had none to offer until the next February. His major

    proposition was a closed season from April to November above 50° N. latitude

    and from the Pacific coast to 180° W. longitude, during which signatories

    037      |      Vol_XII-0961                                                                                                                  
    EA-Alaska: History. Martin: Fur Seal

    would restrain their subjects from sealing. So cooperative was Salisbury,

    suggesting only one minor change, that formal ratification seemed certain.

    Confidentially, to avoid domestic controversy during a presidential cam–

    paign year, Bayard promised to molest no sealers until agreement was reached.

    Arguing that previous orders to the Bering Patrol had not been cancelled,

    the Canadians rejected Salisbury's suggestions to stop their sealers by

    refusing clearance papers. Before Bayard could convince them cutters

    could not [ ?] act without new orders, Canadians were sealing in the Bering-

    without interference. Only Americans were seized that season.

            Salisbury's reasonable attitude was largely due to several thousand

    London fur-workers's dependence upon sealskins; their steady pay then, in

    the midst of a serious depression was 3 a week. But domestic interest had

    to be sacrificed for colonial good will. Under Canadian pressure, Salisbury

    abruptly terminated negotiations in July and refused to reopen them. Bayard

    as hastily broke off the talks with Russia and Japan. To induce England to

    resume talks, Bayard offered, if owners posted bonds, to halt the sale of

    condemned schooners, but arousing only fresh argument over the amount of

    the bonds. Meanwhile the schooners deteriorated and the expense of guard–

    ing them increased. Discussions were awkward because Canadian ownership

    was nominal; the rightful owners were American. Although not unlawful

    for Americans to seal (only luckless ones caught hunting in the Bering Sea

    were punished), those avoiding public criticism by registering their

    schooners as Canadian we [ ?] e reluctant to confess ownership. The schooners

    were sold, March 1889.

    Convinced that Salisbury dare not oppose Canadian opinion, Ministew

    Phelps advised the State Department either to let the Pribilof herd be

    038      |      Vol_XII-0962                                                                                                                  
    EA-Alaska: History. Martin: Fur Seal

    exterminated or to arrest sealers until heavy losses forced the Canadians

    to accept hunting restrictions. Fur seals born on American soil, he argued,

    were American property, even if they spent two-thirds of their lives at

    sea, and were entitled to the same protection as American citizens. More

    and more American opinion swung to this viewpoint. Congress reviewed the

    problem in 1888-89, and, after bitter argument over Bering Sea sovereignty,

    rushed through an inocuously worded bill the last night of Cleveland's

    term, ordering a presidential proclamation to restrain hunting in the

    Bering Sea within the "domain of the United States." The vague phrase

    increased British suspicion, already roused by the false rumor that Presi–

    dent Cleveland had unlawfully signed the bill in the early hours of

    Inaugural Sunday.

            "Domain" was defined only when the cutters Rush and Bear began to

    board schooners in the Bearing Sea, seizing sealskins, hunting gear, some–

    times the salt, and ordering the vessels to Sitka. Naturally captains

    disobeyed but, without gear, could not hunt and had to sail home. Canadians

    celebrated the first arrivals' courageous defiance before realizing the new

    tactic effectively stopped sealing without troublesome litigation and

    expense. Actually an expedient adopted by captains too shorthanded to

    spare officers for convoy duty, it frightened the sealers more than out–

    right seizures. Angry Canadians at public meetings called for war against

    the aggressor, castigated Lord Salisbury, and demanded England seek arbi–

    tration to prove their right to kill seals at sea. Hastily Sir Julian

    Pauncefo o te asked the new Secretary of State, Mr. Baline, to invite

    discussions. Welcoming negotiation, Blaine delined to [ ?] initiate talks.

    He asked for an immediate suspension of sealing before another summer's

    039      |      Vol_XII-0963                                                                                                                  
    EA-Alaska: History. Martin: Fur Seal

    hunting made discussion pointless. During delays caused by Canadian insist–

    ence that the United States as the aggressor state her case first, and her

    stubborn demand for equal representation with England at conferences, seal–

    ing was not interrupted.

            Persuaded by Salisbury, the Canadians finally yielded and proposed

    closed sessions in the Bering Sea during May and June and October and

    November (when the fewest seals were there) and no hunting within ten

    miles of the Pribilof Islands at any time, a perfect hunting schedule for

    them, which Blaine rejected. Finally, before submitting to arbitration it

    was gareed that a joint commission should investigate seal habits. More

    bitter notes were exchanged before this was settled and specific disagree–

    ments defined for arbitration. Confident their status as seal owner would

    be recognized by impartial judges and anxious for a quick settlement, the

    United States reluctantly permitted England to submit four points about

    Bering Sea sovereignty as the major dispute and, dependent upon their

    settlement, the contention that Pribilof seals were either American property

    or entitled to American protection at sea because of birth on American soil.

    A modus vivendi for one year, extended for two more, was adopted June 18,

    1891, prohibiting Pribilof sealing except 7,500 for Aleut food, and hunting

    in the Bering east of 163° W. longitude; this was amended later to provide

    that the loser would compensate the victor for sealing losses during the

    interruption. While land killing was suspended hunters took more seals in

    the Pacific, and for the first time they invaded the western Bering and

    Okhotsk seas and brought back 10,119 pelts of Asiatic seals.


    Bering Sea Commission

            Sir George Smyth Baden-Powell and Professor George Mercer Dawson, a

    040      |      Vol_XII-0964                                                                                                                  
    EA-Alaska: History. Martin: Fur Seal

    Canadian geologist, were appointed by the British, and Professor Thomas Cowin

    Mendenhall and Dr. Clinton Hart Merriman by the United States, to inves–

    tigate the Pribilof herd. After a season's study, the Commission met in

    Washington in February 1892, and agreed in a 1 1/2-page joint report only

    that the Pribilof herd faced extermination, not upon the agents of destruc–

    tion. Until the Commission's findings and Elliott's 1890 report were

    available, American officials had regarded pelagic hunting as a potential

    threat of extinction, completely unaware that its consequences were calami–

    tous long before Agent Goff's revelation arrived. Fear of future losses

    and resentment that unauthorized persons dared lay hands on national

    property had prompted the 1886 seizures. Regarding the true status, the

    officials had been misled by market figures and Treasury agents' reports.

    According to the former, the total pelagic catch 1870-1889 was only 277,858,

    less than three years's land take. During the same period the lessees had

    taken 1,997,357, and Pribilof agents had reported yearly that the herd was

    either flourishing or increasing. No one had realized that most seals killed

    at sea were not recovered. The hunters themselves estimated that from 6 to

    10 sanks for each one they hauled aboard, although Canadians soon denied

    admitting such proportions and insisted the rate was one to one. The

    consequences of killing females had been ignored. Hunters, even if willing

    to spare cows, could not distinguish age or sex of swimming targets. Chief

    victims of spring Pacific hunting were always gravid females; each death

    a loss of two seals. In summer, killing a gravid nursing mother in the

    Bering meant a triple loss because the nursling starved on its beach.

            Only Pribilof observers could have reported the loss of over a million

    seals. Both Treasury and Alaska Commercial Company agents had concealed the

    041      |      Vol_XII-0965                                                                                                                  
    EA-Alaska: History. Martin: Fur Seal

    constantly increasing difficulty of filling quotas which island records

    showed plainly. St. Paul's quota, generally 75,000 (some years more) had

    been taken in 35 drives to 69 hauling grounds from 1877 to 1881. Each

    year thereafter more drives were made until in 1889, 74 drives to 100

    hauling grounds and the killing of 50,000 under-sized males had been

    necessary. Aleut efforts to point out the danger in 1879 had been dis–

    counted by Agent Otis because company employees disagreed and the Aleuts'

    explanation of the seals' disappearance, the smell of a new refining plant,

    seemed ridiculous. The Alaska Commercial Company, keenly aware of the

    truth, because it bought so many skins at one post that they were labeled

    the Sand Point Catch, had persuaded Otis to try to prohibit pup killings.

    Unable to present a reasonable excuse for denying the sealers' their

    favorite food without exposing seal losses, the lessees' dropped the

    matter when the Aleuts protested vigorously.

            The long separate report of the British Commissioners emphasized

    such official negligence and the 129,530 pups (inevitably many were females)

    killed for food 7% of the land catch for the two decades. It contained

    affidavits that extra skins had been taken and that the Aleuts had traded

    skins with visitors illegally. The British had requested — and received —

    Elliott's suppressed report. They cited his indictment of the lessees'

    sealing practices, ignored his condemnation of pelagic sealing.

            Unable to assemble equally devastating proof of pelagic consequences,

    the American Commissioners could only deny evidence of malpractice and

    neglect and insist sea hunting alone had ruined the herd. American pre–

    tensions of concern for their seals had been seriously weakened also by

    the award of another twenty-year lease. American diplomatic efforts were

    042      |      Vol_XII-0966                                                                                                                  
    EA-Alaska:History. Martin: Fur Seal

    continually handicapped by the need to protect the monopoly's interests.

    Officials were badgered by the lessees's political friends. Exploitation

    of an alleged national resource for the benefit of one company was impossible

    to defend, especially when the evidence of previous neglect and mishandling

    was so patent.

            Public speeches by all commissioners, in language less restrained than

    their reports, kindled fresh animosity on both sides of the Atlantic. So

    bitter were relations between the disputing nations that eminent international

    objective observers as well as prominent men in both countries advocated

    extermination of the fur seal to remove the cause of such enmity. Neither

    side heeded proposals for sharing proceeds of properly conducted land kill–

    ing advanced by Thomas Huxley, Elliott, and others. In this tense atmos–

    phere, the seal case went to arbitration.


    Paris Award

            The Arbitration Tribunal (7 judges - 2 each for the disputants —

    three neutrals, French, Italian, Swedish) opened final hearings in Paris

    April 12, 1893, and delivered their Award in favor of Great Britain July 8th.

    The court ruled the Bering Sea was not a mare clausum. Beyond territorial

    limits, nations must adhere to international maritime laws. The judges

    agreed with the British that the seals were ferae naturae and as wild

    animals could not be considered private property. After hearing the

    evidence of American neglect and poor stewardship, they ruled the United

    States had no special rights as protector of the fur seal. To prevent

    extermination they set up hunting regulations, subject to review every five

    years, based on the inadequate, contradictory testimony they had heard.

    043      |      Vol_XII-0967                                                                                                                  
    EA-Alaska: History. Martin: Fur Seal

    They prohibited nets, explosives, and firearms, except shotguns, in the

    Pacific during the open season. Sealers were to obtain a special shipping

    license, use only sailing vessels, fly a special flag, hire only certified

    marksmen as hunters, and keep daily records. Copies of each season's

    hunting records were to be exchanged by the governments each fall to serve

    as the basis for revision of unsatisfactory regulations. Aboriginal seal–

    ing rights were safeguarded. But the fur seals were delivered over to

    their sea hunters by judges unaware that bachelor and gravid, nursing cows

    swam as far as two hundred miles from their islands to feed in summer.

    The closed season began too late to protect migrating seals, especially

    the gravid cows. During the first season under the Award, sealers enjoyed

    their highest Pribilof catch, 61,838 recovered seals. England, unmoved

    by the excessive total, would not discuss revision.

            Western Bering Regulations. The newly-attacked western herds lacked even

    the pretense of protection. When Canadian and American sealers sailed west

    into Japanese and Russian seal island waters during the modus vivendi, they

    brought back 33,736 skins in 1892 and 67,593 in 1893. Russia proclaimed

    a thirty-mile safety zone around Robben and the Commander Islands and a

    ten-mile zone from her Siberian coast. Within those limits (contrary to

    international law as both the United States and England protested when their

    nationals were caught sealing) Russian patrols arrested sealers. By separate

    treaties with the United States and England in 1893-94, in exchange for

    their recognition of these zones, Russia restricted her yearly land kill

    to 30,000 - a quota soon made farcial as, in 1894, the Asiatic pelagic

    catch soared to 93,149. The next season it dropped to 42,806, the next

    to 29,162, and continued to fall. Neither nation gave Russia permission

    to halt their nationals, so far beyond the reach of their own patrol boats.

    044      |      Vol_XII-0968                                                                                                                  
    EA-Alaska: History. Martin: Fur Seal

    Japan, resenting the destruction of her Kuril rookeries within a few

    seasons, encouraged foreigners to use her flag and ports, and subsidized

    her own subjects to participate in sealing, but she frequently evinced a

    willingness to desist as soon as other nations would. Meanwhile Japan–

    ese registered vessels, not subject to the Award, hunted unmolested

    within the sixty-mile zone.

            Indemnities . Having lost the decision at the Paris Tribunal, the

    United States had to compensate Canadian sealers for their alleged losses

    during the modus vivendi and, after prolonged negotiation, settled all

    Canadian claims in 1898 for $473,151.26.

            In 1903 at the Hague, Russia was ordered to pay the United States

    $50,000 for the arrest and seizure of the James Hamilton Lewis in 1891

    after the crew had landed and killed seals. A co-owner of the vessel

    was Isaac Liebes, President of the North American Commercial Company.

            Post Award Negotiations. A second Anglo-American commission studied

    the fur seals in the summers of 1896 and 1897 and unanimously condemned

    pelagic sealing as the sole force destroying all the Pacific herds.

    Dr. David Starr Jordan directed a most comprehensive investigation of

    the Alaskan and Asiatic seals, their islands and pelagic sealing. D'Arcy

    Thompson's objective and thorough [ ?] tudies definitely located the Pribilof

    seals' summer feeding grounds from 150 to over 200 miles from the islands.

    The Commander seal' feeding grounds, while not so well mapped, proved

    much closer to their islands — Bering Island animals going to the north–

    east, Copper Island seals heading south. The proof that the 60-mile zone

    was a convenience to hunters, a death trap to gravid, nursing cows, led

    to no changes. British scientific opinion had changed but Canadian

    political emotion and economic interests (her fleet in 1897 was 41 vessels

    045      |      Vol_XII-0969                                                                                                                  
    EA-Alaska: History. Martin: Fur Seal

    carrying 149 hunting boats and 288 canoes) had not and she continued to

    adhere to the Award. Consequently England refused to attend an International

    Fur Seal Conference in Washington in 1897 where delegates from Japan, Russia,

    and the United States agreed to suspend the next year's sealing while formu–

    lating better conservation regulations, if, before that date, Great Britain

    agreed to join them. England would not. Another attempt the next year to

    settle seal problems along with the Alaskan Boundary claim and other issues

    also failed despite an American offer to buy the Canadian pelagic industry

    outright. December 29, 1897, the United States finally forbade her citizens

    to seal north of 35° N. latitude, including the Bering and Okhotsk seas,

    prohibited the import of or passage through her borders of pelagic skins

    in any condition (raw or in garments). At Jordan;s suggestion, cows were

    branded to spoil the market value of their fur.

            Nothing deterred the sealers; neither the new prohibitions nor the

    increasing difficulty of finding seals. Americans continued to hunt under

    the Japanese flag. As the yearly catches diminished, impatient sealers

    raided both the Commanders and Pribilofs more frequently. Many were cap–

    tured, imprisoned, and fined; some were wounded and killed in pitched battles,

    but still reckless raiders tried to fill their salt bins on land. On the

    Commanders they even stole provisions. As lawlessness increased, fewer

    Indian and even fewer white hunters could be persuaded to sign on. Most

    ships, after 1890, carried a white captain, sometimes officers, and a

    Japanese crew. This was the era of the Sea Wolf as Jack London, who had

    shipped on sealing schooner, described it — the closing chapter of a unique

    and wasteful fur hunting.

    046      |      Vol_XII-0970                                                                                                                  
    EA-Alaska: History. Martin: Fur Seal


    Domestic Seal Controversy

            Few attempts to stop pelagic sealing by reparations and international

    cooperation were made after 1898, but in the United States various Con–

    gressional Committees (House Ways and Means, House Committee on Expendi–

    tures in the Department of Commerce and Labor, Senate Committee on Terri–

    tories and Conservation of National Resources) held almost continuous

    hearings until 1914 on fur seal issues. These were instigated wholly or

    in part by Henry W. Elliott, who accused the North American Commercial

    Company of illegal sealing practices to get even their small quotas —

    of killing females and yearlings and deliberately leaving enough blubber

    on small skins to have the market weights appear those of older seals.

    He advocated a zapusk to permit the Pribilof herd to recuperate and then,

    after such demonstration of real concern for the seals - not merely for

    the proceeds of sealing — to open negotiations to outlaw pelagic sealing.

    He also proposed that the fur seals should be managed solely by the govern–

    ment. On August 4, 1903, a party of Senators, headed by Senator Dillingham,

    saw three females killed in a drive and doubted the contention of local

    officials that the cows' presence was an unusual accident due to the

    lateness of the season. Powerful political opponents continued to argue

    Elliott's opinions were only crafty strategems designed to turn Pribilof seals

    loose for the pelagic hunters' benefit. Violent abuse did not halt his

    efforts. In 1909, Dr. William Hornaday, Director of the New York Zoologi–

    cal Society, an official of the Camp Fire Club of America, entered the

    fight on Elliott's side. The Camp Fire Club backed their efforts. The

    conservationists won their long battle April 21, 1910, when Congress

    047      |      Vol_XII-0971                                                                                                                  
    EA-Alaska: History. Martin: Fur Seal

    ended the leasing system and transferred management of the Pribilof

    Islands — the seal herd and the Aleut sealers — to the Bureau of Fisheries,

    Department of Commerce and Labor, which had replaced the Treasury Department

    as overseers of commercial sealing July 1, 1903.


    The North Pacific Sealing Convention

            Simultaneously all resistance to outlawing pelagic sealing in exchange

    for sharing proceeds of land killing, collapsed. Several years of turmoil,

    with reckless Japanese hunters seized within the three-mile limit, arrested

    or killed on the seal islands, had intensified Japan's willingness to co–

    operate. Canada's fleet was only 5 vessels although her subjects and

    American citizens still owned shares in Japanese registered vessels. For

    some seasons, sea hunting could still profit a few sealers. The history

    of the antarctic seal, hunted mercilessly until the lone survivor of many

    subspecies was killed, might have become the northern fur seal's history

    also. But the Canadian public, like the American and British, wearied

    by endless wrangling over seal profits and sickened by accounts of seal

    foetuses ripped alive and crying from their dead mothers (Kipling's White

    and Jordan's Matka helped outlaw sealing) had turned against pelagic

    hunting as a business.

            The Convention to protect the fur seal (and sea otter) of the North

    Pacific was signed by Russia, Japan, Great Britain, and the United States

    on July 7, 1911, and became effectual Dec. 15, 1911, for a period of 15

    years. If no signatory withdrew then, it was to continue indefinitely

    until one party gave a year's notice of intention to abrogate it. Signa–

    tories promised to restrain their subjects from sealing anywhere in the

    Pacific north of 30° N. latitude, to refuse aid to pelagic ships, and to

    048      |      Vol_XII-0972                                                                                                                  
    EA-Alaska: History. Martin: Fur Seal

    import no sealskins not certified as lawfully land-killed furs. Aboriginal

    sealing rights were confirmed. Each nation owning seal islands was to

    regulate land killing according to its own judgment. When the Kuril herd

    totaled 6,500 animals, Japan could begin commercial killing and pay 10%

    of the [ ?] annual proceeds to the other three signatories. Russia, when

    h [ ?] r Commander herd reached 18,000, and the United States were to deliver

    15% of their proceeds to Canada and Japan. In the event of future seal

    residence on her territory, Canada pledges to share 10% with each of the

    others. To facilitate the immediate recompenses of their ousted sealers,

    the United States immediately paid and advance of $20,000 on future sealing

    proceeds to Canada and Japan, and agreed upon means of compensation in case

    land killing was suspended.

            Sealing Holiday. Nine days after the Bureau of Fisheries took over

    the Pribilof Islands in 1910, [ ?] Commissioner Bowers announced resumption of

    commercial killing, a shock to Hornaday and other conservationists, who,

    accepting Secretary Nagel's implied promise to give the herd a recupera–

    tive period, had not insisted such respite to be made mandatory. Although

    there was to be no sealing on the western islands until their herds had

    recuperated, American officials denied that a respite would benefit the

    130,000 remaining Pribilof seals. They contended it was their duty to

    take advantage of high market prices. Unknown to the conservationists,

    Secretary of Commerce and Labor Nagel and representatives of the St. Louis

    furrier, Funsten Brothers & Company, were discussing means to permit the

    latter to process and market seal furs as an agent for the government.

            Hearings began again before the House Committee on Expenditures

    in the Department of Commerce and Labor, as the conservationists rushed

    049      |      Vol_XII-0973                                                                                                                  
    EA-Alaska: History. Martin: Fur Seal

    to the seals' rescue. August 15, 1912, Congress reprieved the seals for

    five years, allowing small kills for Aleut food; denominated Pribilof

    Aleuts as the only legal seal killers; appropriated funds to replace the

    sealing bonus. None of the dire consequences redicted by Fisheries'

    officials at the hearings happened. No nation, angered by postponement

    of sealing proceeds, withdrew from the Convention. No pel ga ag ic sealers

    were tempted to hunt the larger number of seals at sea. Young seals were

    not killed on the rookeries because more bulls fought more viciously to

    share the same number of cows. At the holiday's close in 1917, the herd

    had increased to 468,692. The Committee (hearings continued until 1914)

    also asked the Attorney General to prosecute the North American Commercial

    Company for malpractice, including the illegal killing of 128,000 year–

    lings, but the prosecution was blocked by the unwillingness of the

    Department of Commerce and Labor to cooperate.


    Sealing On Land After 1917

            Before sealing was resumed, in 1917, the Bureau of Fisheries gave

    Funsten Bros, & Co. a 5-year contract to process and auction all Pribilof

    sealskins. The Funsten Company had tried to buy the famous and secret

    dye formula belonging to George Rice and Company, one of the two leading

    London fur seal dressers. Failing, it hired specialized Rice employees

    and brought them to St. Louis. Rice sued the United States and Funsten

    Bros. & Co. for loss of their vital business secret and was awarded

    damages by an American court. Forbidden by the court to use the Rice

    formula, Funsten Brothers submitted one which was approved by the Bureau

    of Standards. In 1921, Funsten Brothers was re-incorporated as the Fouke

    050      |      Vol_XII-0974                                                                                                                  
    EA-Alaska; History. Martin: Fur Seal

    Fur Company which has continued to function as the dresser and auctioneer

    of sealskins to date.

            Beginning in 1917 and continuing until 1926, Elliott instigated another

    series of Congressional hearings on bills to require the measurement of

    sealskins on the killing field, and an annual enumeration, to make mandatory

    the sale of raw, salted skins, and to prohibit any form of monopoly in

    connection with any phase of handling seals. He feared the revival of the

    leasing system he had helped to outlaw. He also contended that the govern–

    ment would derive more income from the sale of raw skins directly to

    furriers than by paying an agent to dress and market them as finished

    furs. As proof he compared the sales figures for raw skins before the

    seal holiday and dressed ones sold in the early 1920's. Net profit on

    12,940 salted skins, taken 1910, sold in London, 1911, was $280,000; on

    12,000 pelts taken 1911, sold 1912, was $270,194. At two sales conducted

    by the Fouke Fur Company in October, 1922, and May, 1923, a total of

    35,313 skins grossed $1,106,000 but netted the government only $260,000.

    Elliott's age and ill health, the retirement and death of Congressmen

    concerned about the nation's fur seal industry, interrupted the hearings

    in 1926; they were not resumed.

            The Pribilof seal census for 1946 topped 3 1/2 million, irrefutable

    proof that regulated [ ?] land killing was superior to indiscriminate

    pelagic sealing and of the value of the North Pacific Sealing Convention.

    From 1912-1914 (inclusive) the sealskin take was 1,036,337; the gross

    sales price $24,276,386.56. For slightly more than a million skins

    taken after 1918, and for Pribilof fox furs, seal meal and oil, the govern–

    ment's net return amounted to $2,364,336.12. The small net income is due

    to reductions for convention obligations, maintenance of the sealing plant

    051      |      Vol_XII-0975                                                                                                                  
    EA-Alaska: History. Martin: Fur Seal

    and compensation to sealers (averaging 60¢ a skin), some rations and

    social services (the most moderate portion of expense), and contractual

    obligation to the Fouke Fur Company.

            Except for two objections, Canada was satisfied with the Convention

    terms, receiving up to 1941, $1,757,411.34, almost half as much as the

    United States for the same period. In 1925, she criticized the Fouke

    Fur St. Louis sales but her dissatisfaction was eased in 1933 when she

    began to take skins instead of cash and to sell them, sometimes in London

    and sometimes at the St. Louis auctions. The recent increase of her share

    of skins had induced her to promote a domestic sealskin industry and


            In the early 1930's Canadian fishing interests accused Alaskan seals

    of destroying a million dollars worth of salmon daily during spring migra–

    tions. Research performed by Canadian scientists disproved their claim

    in 1935.

            Sealing on the western islands had not been so successful. The

    Commander her's recuperation was affected by many circumstances — diffi–

    culty of guarding seals at sea in the less traveled waters, the heavy

    annual levy on the herd passing close inshore to the Kuril Islands by

    Japanese as well as Ainu hunters, and the civil unrest after 1917, just

    when the herd's five year zapusk ended. That year, although the herd was

    below the requisite 18,000, 800 seals were killed. The next four years

    Siberian warfare prevented regular supervision by a single authority.

    Although the Aleut sealers were armed and vigilant, and Japanese gonboats

    visited the region and arrested some raiders, Japanese boachers constantly

    sealed offshore and raided the beaches. Some fur trading is alleged to

    052      |      Vol_XII-0976                                                                                                                  
    EA-Alaska: History. Martin: Fur Seal

    have taken place between the sealers, out off from regular supplies, and

    visiting seamen, including Japanese patrol boat crews. Lacking specific

    data, American fisheries experts guessed the Commander had might have

    reached the 100,000 mark by 1941. Even if true, since the herd at its

    peak was half the size of the Pribilof herd, the increase would be extremely

    low. Powerless to check migration casualties, the Soviet Union was forced

    into the role of a theoretical supporter of the Sealing Convention, unable

    to declare sealskin dividends to the other signatories.

            Upon slightly more valid evidence American officials also speculated

    that while most Kuril rookeries remained empty, the Robben Island herd

    was nearly 50,000 strong in 1941. In 1918 Japan made a small token

    delivery under the Convention which increased each year from 56 to about

    300 a year, a total of 3,387. Her revenue from the Pribilof herd under

    the convention, before she abrogated it, amounted to almost a million dollars.

            Soviet inquiries in 1946 about improved sealing methods directed to

    the authorized American seal agencies, government and private, indicated

    renewed interest in sealing, but whether inspired only by the improved

    condition of the Commander Island herd or by the postwar return of her

    former seal islands, is not yet certain.

            Sea Protection Today . After 29 years of amnesty for the seals at sea,

    Japan served notice on October 23, 1942 of withdrawal from the Convention

    on the ground that Pribilof seals were destroying her fisheries. Although

    aware of Japan's political manipulation of fisheries on other occasions,

    the State Department asked the Fish and Wildlife Service to investigate.

    Congress appropriated funds to study routes and feeding habits of migrating

    seals. Scientists branded and tagged 10,000 St. Paul seals in 1941 for

    053      |      Vol_XII-0977                                                                                                                  
    EA-Alaska: History. Martin: Fur Seal

    identification in other localities. Before the Black Douglas could begin

    pursuit of traveling seals, the year expired and Japan announced that

    pelagic sealing under government auspices would begin shortly. But the

    aggressive intent behind her withdrawal was demonstrated six weeks later at

    Pearl Harbor. It was 1942 before the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture and

    Forestry authorized a company to begin sealing for furs for soldiers'

    clothing, oil, and meat for food.

            In December, 1942, the United States and Canada ratified a provisional

    treaty, adhering as closely as possible to the original Convention but

    increasing Canada's share of Pribilof proceeds to 20%. It provided that

    in an emergency (such as Japan's seizure of the Pribilof Islands) the two

    governments, after consultation, might re-enter pelagic sealing, either

    together or separately or by sharing skins of separate ventures. Fortunately

    no crisis forced them to resort to sea hunting, and the Pribilof herd sur–

    vived the war without damage.


    Fredericka I. Martin

    The Alaska Commercial Company (1868-1940)

    001      |      Vol_XII-0978                                                                                                                  
    EA- Alaska: History

    (Alyce Finnie)


            On October 18, 1867, a Baltimore merchant named Hayward M. Hutchinson

    stepped ashore from the steamer John L. Stephens at Sitka, Alaska. This was

    the day of the transfer of ownership of Alaska from Russia to the United States,

    and when the ceremony was over Hutchinson had already purchased from the Russian

    American Company, through Prince Maksutouff, its general manager, its ships,

    houses, and all its property on the Pribilof Islands.

            Returning to San Francisco, Hutchinson brought about the organization

    of a group of men and the necessary capital to develop this enterprise. The

    Alaska Commercial Company was formed on January 31, 1868, and comprised: Louis

    Sloss, president; Lewis Gerstle, vice president; Simon Greenewald, Hayward M.

    Hutchinson, Albert Boscowitz, William Kohl, A. Wasserman, Gustave Niebaum, and

    John F. Miller.

            In 1870 the company obtained a twenty-year lease from the United States,

    giving it the exclusive right to take seals on the Pribilof Islands. It also

    took over the assets of the original company, Hutchinson, Kohl & Company, for

    $1,729,000. These assets consisted of merchandise in Sitka, Kodiak, Karluk,

    Nushagak, St. Paul Island, St. George Island, Unalaska, Unga, and other stations,

    $200,000; furs on hand in different places, $870,000; buildings, $80,000; wharves,

    boats and fixtures, $20,000; coal and salt, $34,000; goodwill, $300,000; steamers

    Alexander , Constantine and Fideliter , $195,000; fishing vessels and barges,

    $30,000. With this equipment, stores and other property, and the government

    002      |      Vol_XII-0979                                                                                                                  
    EA-Alaska: History. Finnie: The Alaska Commercial Company

    lease, the Alaska Commercial Company was ready for business.

            The lease provided for taking 100,000 seals a year, and the payment as

    follows: annual rental, $55,000; tax on each seal taken, $2.62-1/2; tax on seal oil,

    55 cents a gallon (none was ever taken). The lease also provided that the com–

    pany should maintain a school for natives eight months in the year; supply the

    natives employed in their operations 25,000 dried salmon, 60 cords of firewood,

    salt and barrels for preserving seal meat. The natives were paid $350 to $450

    a year and worked under their chiefs. Widows and orphans of the native commun–

    ity were supported at the expense of the company, and free medical care was

    given. These conditions gave to the Pribilof natives advantages unequalled by

    any other native group employed commercially at that time.

            On February 18, 1871, Hutchinson, Kohl & Company, an affiliate of the

    Alaska Commercial Company. leased the Behring, Copper and Robben islands of the

    Komandorekie group for 20 years, with the exclusive privilege of taking fur

    seals. For this they were to pay the Russian Government 5,000 r o ubles annually,

    and an additional payment of two roubles for every skin taken, while a payment

    of 50 copecks in silver per skin had to be made to the natives. The number of

    skins to be taken was fixed by the local Russian authorities, but a minimum of

    1,000 skins per annum was established. A Russian vessel carrying the Russian

    flag had to take the skins away from the islands. At least one Russian partner

    was necessary and his name had to be included in the firm. This eventually be–

    came the Hutchinson, Kohl, Philippeus (the St. Petersburg representative) & Co.,

    and the Alaska Commercial Company became its sole and exclusive agent.

            The Alaska Commercial Company operated the following trading posts and

    stations in Alaska and the Yukon Territory: Afognak, Akutan, Andreafsky, Anvik,

    Atka, Attu, Belkofsky, Bergman, Bethel, Battles, Biorka, Chandalar, Chernofsky,

    003      |      Vol_XII-0980                                                                                                                  
    EA-Alaska: History. Finnie: The Alaska Commercial Company

    Chignik, Circle City, Cleary, Coldfoot, Dawson, Dikoman, Douglae, Dutch Harbor,

    Eagle City, Fairbanks, Fort Hamlin, Fort Yukon, Forty Mile, Georgetown, Golorin,

    Hamilton, Holy Cross, Hope, Hot Springs, Homer, Iditarod, Iliamna, Katniak,

    Kaltag, Karluk, Kashega, Katmai, Kenai, Khik, Kodiak, Kokrines, Kotlik, Kuekokwim

    River, Kusiloff, Nakushan, Marshal, McGrath, Morzhovoi, Nelson Island, Nenana,

    Nome, Nulato, Nushagak, Nutchik, Fort Graham, Rampart, Red Wing, Richardson,

    Ruby, Russian Mission, St. George Island, St. Michael, St. Paul Island, Sanak,

    Seldovia, Selkirk, Sixty Mile, Sunrise, Susitna, Takotna, Talkeetna, Tanana,

    Togiak, Turnagain Arm, Tyoonik, Umnak, Unalakleet, Unalaska, Unga, Uyak, Wise–

    man, Woenezineki, Yukon River.

            The Company operated posts in Siberia as well, at: Petropavlovsk, Bhering

    Island, Copper Island, Robben Island, and Vladivostok.

            In 1901 competition among the various business organizations along the

    Yukon Valley became so severe that profit had become impossible. Therefore,

    a merger was formed consisting of the Alaska Commercial Company, the Internation–

    al Mercantile Marine Company, and the Alaska Goldfields, Ltd. These were the

    principal companies doing both a mercantile and transportation business on the

    Yukon. The only large company not included was the North American Trading and

    Transportation Company, controlled by the Cudahy family of Chicago.

            Two corporations were organized, the Northern Commercial Company, to conduct

    all mercantile activities; and the Northern Navigation Company, which was pure–

    ly a transportation company. The assets, including land, merchandise and floating

    property, were turned over to these new corporations. Each had the same incor–

    porators; Leon Sloss, Isaac Liebes, George H. Higbee and William Thomas, all of

    San Francisco.

            Subsequently the Northern Navigation Company was sold to the White Pass &

    Yukon Railway; and the Northern Commercial Company was sold to former employees,

    headed by Volney Richmond, and known as the Northern Commercial Company of Seattle.


    Alyce Finnie

    H. Liebes Company

    001      |      Vol_XII-0981                                                                                                                  
    EA-Alaska: History

    (Alyce Finnie)


            H. Liebes Company was founded in San Francisco by Herman Liebes, who

    came there from Germany in 1863. San Francisco was still booming because of

    gold mining, and the town was jammed with men wanting to spend their newly–

    found wealth. Herman Liebes met Charles Behlow, also from Germany, and, both

    having had some experience with the fur business, they opened a little fur

    store 12 x 15 feet in size, the front part of which was occupied by a restaur–

    ant. The little fur business prospered, and everyone in San Francisco wanted

    a sealskin coat and muff.

            This naturally led the Liebes interests to Alaska. They had an interest

    in the Alaska Commercial Company, which had a license as exclusive agent for

    the collection of the fur seals on the Pribilof Islands. This lease lasted for

    twenty years, from 1870 to 1890.

            Besides the seal interests, H. Liebes entered the trading field in Alaska,

    outfitting ships in San Francisco, grub-staking fur trappers and Eskimos through–

    out Alaska, and shipping back quantities of furs, the first pick of which were

    manufactured in San Francisco, the balance being sold to the central fur markets

    such as Leipzig and London.

            In 1893, H. Liebes formed the Cape Smyth Whaling and Trading Company in

    partnership with Charles Brower, who had established himself at Barrow, Alaska.

    This company dealt mostly in trading for whalebone until 1908, when the revolu–

    tion in sorsets and the disappearance of buggy whips made whalebone obsolete,

    002      |      Vol_XII-0982                                                                                                                  
    EA-Alaska: History. Finnie: H. Liebes Company

    so the Cape Smyth Whaling and Trading Company turned to fur exclusively. In

    the early decades of the century the company's post at Barrow was host to the

    many exploration parties that made the Arctic Coast of North America familiar

    to the rest of the world. Among them were Stefansson, Amundsen, Rasmussen,

    and Wilkins.

            In 1923 the company sent north its largest trading vessel to date, the

    schooner Arctic of 570 tons, the first commercial vessel to carry radio and

    an operator in Alaskan waters.

            H. Liebes retained an interest in the Cape Smyth Whaling and Trading

    Company until 1933, when it was taken over by Arnold Liebes until 1943, when

    he in turn sold out to Charles Brower.

            In 1898, when gold was struck in the Klondike, H. Liebes Company establish–

    ed a number of trading stations in the Yukon and Alaska, beginning with Dawson

    and extending through 7,000 miles of the Yukon River and its tributaries. These

    trading posts were owned and operated by a corporation called the Alaska Explor–

    ation Company, a British corporation with headquarters in San Francisco. The

    Alaska Exploration Company was finally merged with the Northern Commercial



    Alyce Finnie

    The Alaska Boundary

    001      |      Vol_XII-0983                                                                                                                  
    EA-Alaska: History

    (D. M. LeBourdais)


            The Alaska Panhandle is a long, narrow coastal strip entirely exclud–

    ing Canada's Yukon Territory and the Province of British Columbia north

    of 54° 40′ north latitude from access to the sea. The presence of this

    barrier still causes some irritation and a considerable amount of incon–

    venience to Canadians; but before the boundary between Canadian and

    American territory was finally determined in 1903, it constituted a situa–

    tion that might at any time have burst into open violence. Indeed, it is

    probable that only the long tradition of peace between the two countries

    prevented the Alaska Boundary controversy from resulting in armed conflict;

    certainly, feeling was strong on both sides. Even yet, many Canadians have

    not quite reconciled themselves to what they believe to have been an unfair

    deal when the final settlement was made.

            The first European to sight the shores of Alaska was Vitus Bering, a

    Dane in the employ of Russia, who, on July 17, 1741, caught sight of the

    volcanic cone of Mount St. Elias, rising more than 19,000 feet above the

    sea. He had previously — 1728 — sailed through the strait that now bears

    his name, but, because of fog, had failed to see any land to the eastward.

    Bering died in 1741 on one of the Shumagin Islands; and late in the same

    year, Cherikoff, his second-in-command, made the first landfall in South–

    eastern Alaska, when he landed at Sitka, on Baranof Island. Out of these

    002      |      Vol_XII-0984                                                                                                                  
    EA-Alaska: History. LeBourdais: Alaska Boundary

    voyages grow the Russian fur trade along the Alaskan coast and Russian

    claims to territory in North America.

            In 1778, Captain James Cook explored the coast of Northwest America

    from about 44° north latitude to Prince William Sound and the inlet in

    latitude 60° now named after him, surveying considerable portions of it,

    and taking formal possession in the name of the British sovereign. Follow–

    ing Cook came other British navigators — Hanna in 1785, Portlock and

    Dixon in 1786, Meares in 1787, 1788 and 1789, and Vancouver in 1793 and

    1794. These expeditions, as well as the overland journey of Alexander

    Mackenzie in 1793 and the activities of other fur traders, established

    the British claim to the coast of Northwest America.

            Of all the explorers, none has left such an enduring mark on the maps

    as Captain George Vancouver, R.N. Following two years' work surveying the

    southern part of the coast along what is now the State of Washington and

    the Province of British Columbia, he continued northward in 1793, survey–

    ing the channels and indentations as far as 56° 31′ north latitude; while

    the following year he proceeded as far as Cook's Inlet, which he proved

    beyond doubt could not be part of a possible northwest passage. No signs

    of Russian occupation were seen on the mainland south of Prince William Sound.

            In 1799, Emperor Paul I of Russia granted a monopoly for twenty years

    to the Russian American Company of the trade, hunting and fishing on all

    the coastal territory claimed by Russia in Northwest America, setting as

    the southern limit thereof the 55th parallel of north latitude, and on

    "the chain of islands extending from Kamschatka to the north, to America

    and southward to Japan." Like his royal cousin Charles II of England, who

    in 1670 granted similar rights including, in addition, actual ownership

    003      |      Vol_XII-0985                                                                                                                  
    EA-Alaska: History. LeBourdais: Alaska Boundary

    of the country, over an area the nature and extent of which was not only

    unknown to him but to anyone else, Paul was not averse to making a present

    to court favorites of territory to which his title, to say the least, was

    quite shadowy.

            Paul's successor, Alexander I, followed this on September 4, 1831, with

    an imperial ukase renewing the monopoly of the Russian American Company,

    and for its greater protection prohibited foreign vessels from approaching

    the coast of Northwest America nearer than 100 Italian miles, and at the same

    time extended the southern limit of Russian territorial claims to 51° north

    latitude. Ships of several countries, especially British and America, had

    continued to trade along the coast despite the monopoly of the Russian

    American Company. They sold their furs in the Port of Canton, China, from

    which Russians, whose only alternative was the long overland journey to

    St. Petersburg and Moscow, were excluded.

            Although no government had seen fit to challenge the right of the Russian

    government to grant a monopoly to the Russian American Company, the ukase of

    1821 was taken more seriously: the British government considered it an attempt

    to interfere with the right of its subjects to roam the seas in pursuit of

    trade wherever they wished to go; it would in effect convert the North Pacific

    into Russian territorial waters. British diplomatic machinery was immediately

    set in motion; and the United States government also took action.

            The United States and Russia came to an agreement on April 5-17, 1824.

    Articles III and IV of the treaty are the only ones having a direct bearing

    on the matter under discussion:

    004      |      Vol_XII-0986                                                                                                                  
    EA-Alaska: History. LeBroudais: Alaska Boundary



            It is moreover agreed that, hereafter, there shall not be formed

    by the citizens of the United States, any establishment upon the

    northwest coast of America, nor in any of the islands adjacent,

    to the north of fifty-four degrees forty minutes of north lati–

    tude; and that, in the same manner, there shall be none formed

    by Russian subjects, or under the authority of Russia, south of

    the said parallel.



            It is nevertheless, understood that during a term of ten years,

    counting from the signature of the present convention, the ships

    of both powers, or which belong to their citizens or subjects,

    respectively, may reciprocally frequent, without any hindrance

    whatever, the interior seas, gulfs, harbors, and creeks, upon

    the coast mentioned in the preceding article for the purpose of

    fishing and trading with the natives of the country.

            The Russians did very well by the treaty. For the first time they

    secured official recognition from one of the countries possibly concerned

    of their claim to the coast as far south as 54° 40′ north latitude, a

    limit which they were later to get Great Britain likewise to accept; but,

    also, by agreeing to a period of ten years beyond which her citizens

    could not trade in territorial waters claimed by Russia, the United States

    acknowledged the right of Russia to place a check upon the activities of

    American citizens.

            George Canning, who at the time was British Foreign Secretary, was most

    anxious to have it definitely understood that Great Britain could not recog–

    nize Russia's claim to jurisdiction over any part of the ocean; but he was

    also interested in providing a face-saving formula for the Emperor. Conse–

    quently, in the negotiations, emphasis was laid upon the need for arriving

    at a determination of the territorial limits of the respective countries on

    the Northwest coast of America. The negotiations continued from November 1821

    to February 16-28, 1925, varying from time to time as to details and descrip–

    tive terms, but holding fairly closely to one central idea — that Russia

    005      |      Vol_XII-0987                                                                                                                  
    EA-Alaska; History. LeBourdais: Alaska Boundary

    should have a coastal strip beginning at 54° 40′ north latitude.

            So concerned were the British negotiators to have the freedom of the seas

    established that they failed to press their claim to territory far beyond

    the southern limit stipulated by the Russians, thus nullifying the work of

    Cook, Vancouver, and other British navigators. It is true that maps of the

    region varied considerably — although it is evident that Vancouver's

    charts were considerably relied upon — and there was a great dearth of

    information in high diplomatic circles both in London and St. Petersburg

    concerning the locale. Furthermore, there was probably a greater dearth

    of appreciation on the part, at least, of the British negotiators, of the

    value, then or in the future, of the lands whose boundaries they were deter–

    mining. Count Nesselrode, the Russian Foreign Minister, and M. de Poletica,

    formerly Russian Ambassador at Washington, were the principal Russian nego–

    tiators; while the British case was presented by Sir Charles Bagot, British

    Ambassador at St. Petersburg, and his successor, Mr. (later Sir) Stratford

    Canning. Having made what at this distance would seem to be an unnecessary

    concession in the acceptance of 54° 40′ north latitude as Russia's southern

    limit, including all of Vancouver's Prince of Wales Island, these two

    diplomats carried on the most protracted negotiations, producing in the

    end a treaty the terms of which were so indefinite as to result later in

    serious differences of opinion.

            This treaty, establishing, as was intended, for all time the boundary

    between Alaska and British North America, merely added to the uncertainties

    that had previously existed. These uncertainties, however, did not become

    evident for many years, since no development or settlement was undertaken

    on the mainland by either country. By the time the question had become a

    006      |      Vol_XII-0988                                                                                                                  
    EA-Alaska: History. LeBourdais: Alaska Boundary

    crucial one, Russia had disappeared from the picture and the United States

    had taken her place through the purchase of Alaska in 1867.

            In 1867, The Dominion of Canada had just been formed, consisting of

    four provinces along the eastern seaboard, extending westward to the Great

    Lakes. The vast area beyond the lakes to the Rocky Mountains was still the

    hunting and trading preserve of the Hudson's Bay Company, under charter from

    King Charles II in 1670, while the company also held under lease trading

    rights (to expire in 1859) beyond the mountains to the western limits of

    British territory. Not till 1869, was the Hudson 's Bay 's Company's title

    finally extinguished. British territory on the Pacific Coast, adjoining

    the newly-purchased American Territory of Alaska, had become the Colony of

    British Columbia in 1859, but did not become a province of Canada till 1871.

    After its formation, the new province was mcuh more concerned with the

    question of a railway to Eastern Canada than with its northwestern boundary;

    but from time to time consideration was given to the need for arriving at

    some definite understanding with the United States in that regard.

            For the Province of British Columbia to make the necessary representations

    to the United States required a long and round-about process. The matter must

    in the first instance be taken up with the appropriate department of the

    federal government at Ottawa; from there it would go to the Colonial Office

    in London, to be passed on to the Foreign Office, which would discuss the

    matter with the appropriate American officials. The reply would then follow a

    reverse course, probably reaching the British Columbia government long after

    some sort of tentative working arrangement with local American officials in

    Alaska had become imperative. Nevertheless, the Canadian government made

    repeated requests to have the boundary determined, but Congress as steadily

    007      |      Vol_XII-0989                                                                                                                  
    EA-Alaska: History. LeBourdais: Alaska Boundary

    neglected to take the necessary action.

            Occasions for conflict occurred in the early eighteen sixties, after

    richer placer diggings had been discovered in the Caribou district of British

    Columbia, attracting gold seekers from all over Canada, the United States,

    and many places beyond the seas. These had overflowed into Omenica and

    Cassiar. In the latter region, the nearest way in and out was by way of the

    Stikine River, which reached the ocean through territory in dispute. When no

    outstanding gold strike was made in Assiar, the number of prospectors dwindled

    and with them went most of the tension over the location of the boundary. But

    the undecided boundary was a source of embarrassment for other reasons.

            On September 6, 1876, one Peter Martin, alias Bricktop, was convicted

    at Laketown, in the Cassiar district of British Columbia, on two indictments,

    one for an escape from custody, the other for an assault on an officer in

    the execution of his duty, and sentenced to three months in prison and a

    further term of one year. Since there was no suitable prison in the district,

    the convicted man was taken in a canoe down the Stikine River to board ship

    at Wrangel, Alaska, for transport to the jail at Victoria, B.C. there to

    complete his sentence. On the way down river, the party landed for lunch and

    while there Martin made a break for liberty, claiming that he was now in

    United States territory and could not be legally held. He was at length

    overpowered, but in the attempt to recapture him he assaulted one of the

    constables, and at Victoria was tried on this further charge and given an

    additional sentence of twenty-one months.

            In due course, through diplomatic channels, a request came from the

    United States government for Martin's release on the ground that he had been

    illegally transported threugh United States territory and that the second

    008      |      Vol_XII-0990                                                                                                                  
    EA-Alaska: History. LeBourdais: Alaska Boundary

    alleged offense had been comitted on United States territory and thus beyond

    the jurisdiction of Canadian courts. The case was the subject of diplomatic

    correspondence, back and forth, for more than a year, and in the end Martin

    was released.

            Article VI of the Treaty of 1825 provided that "the subjects of His

    Britannic Majesty from whatever quarter they may arrive, whether from the

    ocean or from the Interior of the Continent, shall forever enjoy the right

    of navigating freely and without hindrance whatever, all the rivers, and

    streams which in their course to the Pa [ ?] ific Ocean, may cross the line of

    demarcation upon the line of coast described in Article III of the present

    Convention." But the rights granted under that article were impaired by

    the Treaty of Washington in 1871 which stipulated only the right of navigation

    for commercial purposes. The Canadian government therefore did not have the

    right to transport prisoners down the Stikine River.

            In 1897, gold was discovered on the Klondike River, a tributary of the

    Yukon River, and thousands of prospectors and others flocked into the region.

    The nearest and most convenient point of entry was by way of Skagway, an

    American community at the head of Lynn Canal, in the area which, at the

    ciplomatic level at least, was still in dispute between the Canadian and

    United States governments. As a matter of convenience, however, and without

    prejudice to existing claims, the boundary was tentatively established at the

    summits of the Chilkoot and White passes, the principal routes into Yukon


            It now became imperative that the location of the Alaska Boundary be

    definitely determined. Under the terms of a protocal signed May 30, 1898,

    Great Britain and the United States appointed a commission, commonly referred

    to as the High Joint Commission, which sat in Washington and Quebec from

    009      |      Vol_XII-0991                                                                                                                  
    EA-Alaska: History. LeBourdais: Alaska Boundary

    July of that year until the following February without accomplishing

    anything. The British commissioners proposed, however, that the matter

    be submitted to three arbitrators, one appointed by each country and the

    third appointed by these two, following the procedure adopted a few years

    earlier in the Venezuela arbitration proceedings. The American commissioners

    refused, suggesting in turn a board of "six impartial jurists of repute,"

    three to be appointed by each country. This the British commissioners

    declined for reasons that were, so many Canadians claim, amply justified

    by subsequent events. The High Joint Commission then tossed the question

    back to the diplomatic level.

            Two years later the United States again suggested to Great Britain

    that the Alaska boundary question be submitted to a commission of "six

    impartial jurists of repute;" but the British government, while agreeing

    to six arbitrators, objected to the even number on each side, and suggested

    in turn that at least one of the arbitrators on each side should not be a

    citizens or subject of the country concerned, or of any state or power

    directly or indirectly under the protection of the United States or Great

    Britain. However, finally, much against the inclination of the Canadian

    government, a treaty was signed on January 24, 1903, between Great Britain

    and the United States under which the interpretation of the Ango-Russian

    treaty of 1825 should be left to a commission consisting of "six impartial

    jurists of repute," three to be appointed by each country.

            One reason given for the obduracy of the United States was that it

    was claimed the Senate would refuse to ratify the treaty if, from the

    composition of the commission, it should appear that there was any chance

    at all that the United States case should not be upheld. As evidence of

    010      |      Vol_XII-0992                                                                                                                  
    EA-Alaska: History. LeBourdais: Alaska Boundary

    of this, Secretary of State John Hay complained to the British Ambassador,

    Sir Michael Herbert, that thirteen treaties signed by him had been turned

    down by the Senate:

            Of course, if the commissioners were indeed "impartial jurists," there

    could be no saying as to what the verdict might be: certainly it could not

    be guaranteed in advance. The difficulty was overcome by the appointment

    by the President of commissioners who, except for one, were not jurists of

    repute, none of whom was impartial. The commissioners were: Elihu Root,

    Secretary for War, and Senators Henry Cabot Lodge, of Massachusetts, and

    George Turner of Washington. Secretary Root was a member of the government

    whose case he was asked to try; Senator Lodge was well known to be an uncom–

    promising advocate of the undiminished American claim; while Senator Turner

    represented the one state in the Union which, more than any other, claims

    a direct interest in Alaskan affairs. Consequently, satisfied that the

    United States case was in good hands, the Senate ratified the treaty without

    further delay.

            The Canadian people and government were indignant at the appointments.

    Sir Wilfred Laurier, then Premier, strongly urged the British government

    not to proceed with the case, but the latter was anxious to maintain

    amicable relations with the United States and, of course, was less concerned

    than the Canadian government. Lord Landsdown, the British Foreign Secretary

    did, however, facetiously suggest that perhaps the British government might

    retaliate by appointing, on its side, three County Court Judges!

    Fi Finally the Canadian government grudgingly accepted the situation

    and nominated Lord Alverstone, Lord Chief-Justice of England , Mr. Justice

    Armour, of the Supreme Court of Canada, and Sir Louis Jette, Lieutenant–

    011      |      Vol_XII-0993                                                                                                                  
    EA-Alaska: History. LeBourdais: Alaska Boundary

    Governor of Quebec, a former judge of the Superior Court in that province,

    thus fulfilling the stipulation that they should be jurists of repute.

    Before the Commission met, Mr. Justice Armour died and his place was taken

    by Mr. (later Sir) B. Aylesworth, an outstanding member of the Ontario bar,

    later to become Minister of Justice for Canada.

            The commissioners were to act as judges. They were to decide upon

    the evidence presented to them just what, in their opinion, was the intention

    of the framers of the Anglo-Russian treaty as far as it was possible to do so.

    They were not to set aside the wording [ of a ?] of the treaty and substitute

    something else. They were not given the power to compromise; and the conven–

    tion under which they were appointed provided that each member should "sub–

    scribe an oath that he will impartially consider the arguments and evidence

    presented to the tribunal and will decide thereupon according to his true


            The pertinent sections of the treaty which the tribunal was called upon

    to interpret were as follows (translation from the original French):

            "III. The line of demarcation between the possessions of the

    High Contracting Parties, upon the coast of the continent, and the

    islands of America to the northwest, shall be drawn in the manner


            "Commencing from the southernmost point of the island called

    Prince of Wales Island, which point lies in the parallel of 54° 40′

    north latitude, and between the 131st and the 133d degrees of west

    longitude (meridian of Greenwich), the said line shall ascend to

    the north along the channel called Portland Channel, as far as the

    point of the continent where it strikes the 56th degree of north

    latitude; from the last-mentioned point, the line of demarcation

    shall follow the summit of the mountains ( la crete des montagnes )

    situated parallel to the coast, as far as the point of intersection

    of the 141st degree of west longitude (of the same meridian); and,

    finally, from the said point of intersection, the said meridian line

    of the 141st degree, in its prolongation as far as the Frozen Ocean,

    shall form the limit between the Russian and British possessions on

    the continent of America to the northwest.

            "IV. With reference to the line of demarcation laid down in the

    preceding article, it is understood:

    012      |      Vol_XII-0994                                                                                                                  
    EA-Alaska: History. LeBourdais: Alaska Boundary

            "First: That the Island called Prince of Wales Island shall

    belong wholly to Russia.

            "Second: That wherever the summit of the mountains ( la crete

    des montagnes
    ) which extend in a direction parallel to the coast,

    from the 56th degree of north latitude to the point of intersection

    of the 141st degree of west longitude, shall prove to be at the

    distance of more than ten marine leagues from the ocean, the limit

    between the British possessions and the line of coast which is to

    belong to Russia, as above mentioned, shall be formed by a line

    parallel to the windings of the coast, and shall never exceed the

    distance of ten marine leagues therefrom."

            The section of the coast of North America covered by the treaty just

    quoted is one of the most deeply indented in the world, and is studded with

    islands. The wording of the treaty left several points open to question.

    Did the boundary line out across the inlets, or did it follow the shorelines

    round their heads? In a region of jumbled mountain masses, which ones were

    "the mountains situated parallel to the coast?" What was meant by coast

    and what by ocean ? What was meant by Portland Channel , and where did the

    line run with respect to the four islands at the entrance to Portland Channel?

            The convention setting up the tribunal submitted seven questions

    for the decision of the commissioners:

    • 1. What is intended as the point of commencement of the line?
    • 2. What channel is the Portland Channel?
    • 3. What course should the line take from the point of commencement to

      the entrance to Portland Channel?
    • 4. To what point on the 56th parallel is the line to be drawn from the

      head of Portland Channel, and what course should it follow between these points?
    • 5. In extending the line of demarcation northward from said point on

      the parallel of the 56th degree of north latitude, following the crest of

      the mountains situated parallel to the coast until its intersection with the

      141st degree of longitude west of Greenwich, subject to the conditions that

      if such line should anywhere exceed the distance of 10 marine leagues from

      the ocean, then the boundary between the Russian and British territory should

      be formed by a line parallel to the sinuosities of the coast and distance

      therefrom not more than 10 marine leagues, was it the intention and meaning

      of the said Convention of 1825 that there should remain in the exclusive

      013      |      Vol_XII-0995                                                                                                                  
      EA-Alaska: History. LeBourdais: Alaska Boundary

      possession of Russia a continuous fringe, or strip, of coast on the mainland

      not exceeding 10 marine leagues in width, separating the British possessions

      from the bays, ports, inlets, havens, and waters of the ocean, and extending

      from the said point on the 56th degree of latitude north to a point where such

      line of demarcation should intersect the 141st degree of longitude west of the

      meridian of Greenwich?
    • 6. If the foregoing question should be answered in the negative and in

      the event of the summit of such mountains proving to be in places more than

      10 marine leagues from the coast should the width of the lisiere which was to

      belong to Russia be measured (1) from the mainland coast of the ocean, strictly

      so-called, along the line perpendicular thereto, or (2) was it the intention

      and meaning of the said Convention that where the mainland coast is indented

      by deep inlets forming part of the territorial waters of Russia, the width of the

      lisiere was to be measured ( a ) from the line of the general direction of the

      mainland coast, or ( b ) from the line separating the waters of the ocean from

      the territorial waters of Russia, or ( c ) from the heads of the aforesaid inlets?
    • 7. What, if any exist, are the mountains referred to as situated parallel

      to the coast, which mountains, when within 10 marine leagues from the coast, are

      declared to form the eastern boundary?

            The tribunal sat in London, at the Foreign Office, from September 3 to

    October 20, 1903. On the opening day, on motion of Mr. Root, Lord Alverstone

    was elected president and thenceforth presided over the sessions. Reginald

    Tower, British Minister-Resident at Munich and Stuttgart, was appointed secretary,

    with J. R. Carter and Joseph Pope as associate secretary; while John W. Foster

    and Clifford Sifton were recognized as official agents, respectively, of the

    United States and Great Britain. Representing the United States as counsel,

    were: Messrs. Jacob M. Dickinson, David T. Watson, Hannis Taylor and Chandler

    P. Anderson; and representing Great Britain: Sir Robert Finlay, Sir Edward

    Carson, Messrs. S.A.T. Rowlatt and J. A. Simon of the English bar; and Me [ ?] srs.

    C. Robinson, F. C. Wade, L. P. Duff and A. Geoffrion of the Canadian bar.

            Arguments of counsel began on September 15 and continued till October

    8. Both sides agreed concerning the first question: that the point of commence–

    ment of the line was the southernmost point of Prince of Wales Island. With

    respect to the second question, they were in agreement that the Portland

    014      |      Vol_XII-0996                                                                                                                  
    EA-Alaska: History. LeBourdais: Alaska Boundary

    Channel of the treaty was the Portland Canal shown on Vancouver's and sub–

    sequent maps; but they differed as to whether, at the entrance to the Canal,

    the line ran to the north or to the south of the four islands — Kannaghunut,

    Sitklan, Wales and Pearse — which separate the outlets of Portland Canal and

    Observatory Inlet from each other. The British contention was that the line

    should pass to the north of all four islands and proceed directly up that

    part of the Canal which was not under dispute; while the United States held

    that the line should pass to the south of the islands, along what the British

    called the entrance to Observatory Inlet, passing at an oblique angle between

    Pearse Island and that part of the mainland separating Portland Canal from

    Observatory Inlet, which terminates in Ramsden Point, thence up that part of

    Portland Canal upon which both were in agreement.

            Question four was difficult to answer because the head of Portland Canal

    falls some distance short of the 56th parallel and consequently could not

    form a conjunction with it. The United States argued that "the line should

    be drawn from the head of Portland Channel northeasterly along the same course

    on which the said line touches the mainland at the head of Portland Channel

    until it intersects the 56th parallel of north latitude." The British, how–

    ever, held "that the point in the 56th parallel to which the line should be

    drawn is the point from which it is possible to continue the line along the

    crest of the mountains situated parallel to the coast, and, accordingly, that the

    point at which the 56th parallel and the crest of the coast mountains coincide

    is the point in question." The British admitted the difficulty of "bridging

    the gap" between the head of the Canal and the point where the mountains

    parallel to the coast intersected the 56th parallel, and submitted that the

    most equitable means of doing so was to draw the line "direct on the arc of

    a great circle to that point of coincidence." This suggestion was made, of

    015      |      Vol_XII-0997                                                                                                                  
    EA-Alaska; History. LeBourdais: Alaska Boundary

    course, with the reservation that where the mountains were farther than

    10 marine leagues from the coast, the boundary line would be formed by a

    line parallel to the windings of the coast, from which it should never be

    more distant (though it might be less) than 10 marine leagues.

            With respect to the fifth question, the United States held that it

    was the intention and meaning of the treaty of 1825 that there should remain

    in the exclusive possession of Russia a continuous fringe or strip of coast on

    the mainland not exceeding ten marine leagues in width, "separating the British

    possessions from the bays, ports, inlets, havens and waters of the ocean, and

    extending from the said point on the 56th degree of north latitude to a point

    where such line of demarcation should intersect the 141st degree of longitude

    west of the meridian of Greenwich." The British contended that "the negotiators,

    though they were consciously ignorant of the true position of the mountains,

    had before them in Vancouver's map a representation of the continental shore

    line which they knew had been explored by him." They insisted that it was as

    patent to them as it is to us today that it would be impossible to trace a line

    following at 10 marine leagues the convolutions of the line forming the edge

    of salt water. On the other hand, it was as patent to them as it is to us

    to-day that to draw a line following the waving character of the general coast,

    neglecting the deep and narrow inlets, would be a perfectly feasible and

    business-like arrangement."

            With respect to the sixth question, the United States contended that

    if the fifth question were answered, as requested, in the affirmative, no

    answer was needed to this one; but in the event of a negative answer, the

    United States then requested that the decision of the tribunal be "that in

    the event of the summit of such mountains proving to be more than 10 marine

    016      |      Vol_XII-0998                                                                                                                  
    EA-Alaska: History. LeBourdais: Alaska Boundary

    leagues from the coast, the width of the lisiere , which was to belong to

    Russia, should not be measured from the mainland coast of the ocean, strictly

    so-called, along a line perpendicular thereto; but that it was the intention

    and meaning of the said convention that where the mainland coast is indented

    by deep inlets, forming part of the territorial waters of Russia, the width

    of the lisiere was to be measured from the heads of such inlets." On the

    other hand, the British contended that the line would "be measured from the

    line of the general direction of the mainland coast." It would "not be

    measured from the heads of the inlets of the kind referred to . . . "

            In dealing with the seventh question, the United States argued that

    "such mountains do not exist within ten marine leagues from the coast." The

    British contention was "that there are such mountains, and that they are to

    be found fronting the general coast of the mainland along the whole coast

    from latitude 56 degrees northwards."

            The wording of the Treaty of 1825 made it possible for different persons

    to interpret its meaning in different ways, depending largely upon individual

    points of view. Did mountains parallel to the coast mean that the line

    should run along the crest of the mountains nearest to the coast, as the

    British contended, or did it mean that such mountains must constitute a

    definite chain extending parallel to the sinuosities of the coast, as the

    American contended? The British produced a chart showing a line running

    from mountain peak to mountain peak, following the general trend of the

    coast, cutting across the deepest inlets. The Americans, on their part,

    contended that, although the whole region was a jumble of mountains, no

    well-defined range ran parallel to the coast; and they submitted a chart

    showing the boundary line at a uniform distance of 10 marine leagues from

    017      |      Vol_XII-0999                                                                                                                  
    EA-Alaska: History. LeBourdais: Alaska Boundary

    the shore, measuring from the heads of all inlets. They also produced

    charts tending to show that many of the peaks in the British line were

    in fact ends of ranges or spurs running at right-angles to the coast, in

    some cases foothills of higher mountains lying farther inland.

            Since the language of the treaty was so susceptible of double inter–

    pretation, it became necessary to establish, if possible, what had been in

    the minds of the negotiators. But this left much room for honest difference

    of opinion. The negotiations had extended over four years, having been begun

    by one British Ambassador and concluded by another, and demands on both sides

    had shifted back and forth from time to time. Positions at one time tena–

    ciously held had been withdrawn and others substituted. Sometimes the

    differences hinged upon variations in the accepted meaning of a term or terms.

    At one time the British had insisted that the line should run along the base

    of the mountains lying parallel to the coast. When the Russians objected

    that they might in some places be shut off from the land entirely, the British

    reluctantly agreed to shift the line to the crest of the mountains; but

    Secretary Canning explained to his Ambassador that in a previous attempt

    to define a boundary by a line of mountains, it had later been found that

    the mountains upon which reliance had been placed did not exist. In none

    of the correspondence was the question concerning whether the line should

    cross the inlets or go round them explicitly dealth with.

            The commissioners were asked, further, to take into consideration the

    subsequent actions of the parties to determine if possible whether such

    action might have some bearing on what had been in their minds at the time

    the convention was drawn. Here, too, there was much conflicting evidence.

    Previous to the transfer to the United States, so little had been done by

    018      |      Vol_XII-1000                                                                                                                  
    EA-Alaska: History. LeBourdais: Alaska Boundary

    either side in the way of use or occupation that not much could be deduced

    as to the treaty-makers' intentions. One thing was evident; the Russians

    had not made much actual use of the strip of territory for which they had

    so tenaciously negotiated in 1825, although they were on the alert for any

    trespass upon it. An incident of this nature occurred in 1834 which even–

    tually led to the leasing of a section of the lisiere by the Russian

    American Company to the Hudson's Bay Company.

            An expedition of the latter which sought to reach British territory

    back of the lisiere by way of the Stikine River, was forcibly prevented

    from doing so by officers of the Russian American Company, and following

    the negotiations which resulted from the Hudson's Bay Company's demand for

    damages, an agreement was made in 1839 between the two companies under

    which, for a period of ten years, a portion of the southern part of the

    coastal strip was leased to the Hudson's Bay Company. The limits of the

    strip were not defined otherwise than "the Coast exclusive of the Islands,

    and the Interior Country belonging to His Majesty the Emperor of Russia,

    situated between Cape Spencer forming the North West Headland of the

    entrance of Cross Sound and Latitude 54° 40′ or thereabouts, say the

    whole mainland coast and Interior Country belonging to Russia together

    with the free navigation and trade of the Waters of that Coast, and Interior

    Country situated to the Southward and Eastward of a supposed line to be

    drawn from the said Cape Spencer to Mount Fair Weather with the sole and

    entire trade or commerce thereof." The consideration was the delivery to

    the Russian American Company by the Hudson's Bay Company annually of two

    thousand seasoned land otter skins taken on the western side of the Rock t y

    Mountains, and the further undertaking on the part of the Hudson's Bay

    019      |      Vol_XII-1001                                                                                                                  
    EA-Alaska: History. LeBourdais: Alaska Boundary

    Company to sell, at a stipulated price, an additional two thousand land otter

    skins taken west side of the Rockies and three thousand from the eastern side

    of the mountains, as well as an undertaking to supply certain quantities of

    wheat, also at tipulated prices. This agreement was renewed from time to

    time up to the cession of Alaska by Russia to the United States. It is

    worthy of note that during the Crimean War, when Russia and Great Britain

    were at war in Europe, amicable relations subsisted upon the Pacific Coast

    between the two companies.

            After the sale to the United States, there was much to indicate that

    many representatives of the United States, although not all of them, held

    the view that the coastal strip consisted simply of an area thirty-five

    miles in width, measured from the heads of the inlets. This, the British

    argued, did not necessarily have any bearing upon what had been in the nego–

    tiators' minds forty-odd years before the Americans took over from Russia.

    The task of the commissioners was to determine, if they could, out of the

    maze of conflicting evidence and argument, what the negotiators had intended.

    If they could not do so they were not expected to render a decision. The

    matter would then revert to the field of diplomacy and a new treaty would

    have to be drafted — unless one of the parties should resort to a show of

    force, which in the past has more often than not been the deciding factor

    in such disputes.

            Indeed, there is evidence that the United States had already considered

    the possibility of such a solution. Previous to the sitting of the

    tribunal, President Theodore Roosevelt had dispatched troops to Alaska

    and in an undated letter to Secretary of State John Hay had declared:

            "... if there is a disagreement, I wish it distinctly understood, not

    only that there will be no arbitration of the matter, but that in my

    message to Congress I shall take a position which will prevent any

    020      |      Vol_XII-1002                                                                                                                  
    EA-Alaska: History. LeBourdais: Alaska Boundary

    possibility of arbitration hereafter, a position which will render

    it necessary for Congress to give me the authority to run the line

    as we claim it, by our own people, without any further regard to

    the attitude of England and Canada."

            He would follow the precedent set by Grover Cleveland in the Venezuela affair.

            There is little reason to doubt that the commissioners appointed by

    him were fully aware of his attitude; and there is evidence that the British

    Government, if not Lord Alverstone, was also aware of what might happen if

    the tribunal did not succeed in finding a verdict favorable to the United States.

    On October 2, while the tribunal was in session, Mr. Henry White, Secretary

    of the United States Embassy in London, under instructions from the Presi–

    dent, paid a visit to the Prime Minister of England, Mr. Arthur Balfour, at

    his home at Whittingehame, and made quite clear to him the President's de–

    termination to have a favorable decision. His report on this visit was made

    in a letter to Mr. Hay:

            "... I left no doubt upon his mind as to the importance of a settle–

    ment nor as to the result of a failure to agree.



            "I explained to him very fully the position of Alverstone, and

    intimated that I thought it would be very desirable that he should

    be told that the Government, without in any way wishing to influence

    him, was very anxious for a decision.



            "Whenever things seemed to be approaching a deadlock — as they

    did once or twice during the past week — I only attributed it to

    Lord Alverstone's very natural and proper desire to do the best and

    make all the fight possible for the Canadians on the question of the

    width of the lisiere, and I never for a moment doubted that the under–

    currents of diplomacy, and the force and quiet working of which you

    and I can appreciate, would bring about a decision in the end."

            When the decision of the tribunal was handed down on October 20, it

    became evident that "the undercurrents of diplomacy" had not failed to operate

    in the manner anticipated by Mr. Secretary White. With respect to the principal

    021      |      Vol_XII-1003                                                                                                                  
    EA-Alaska: History. LeBourdais: Alaska Boundary

    question: whether the line should cut across the inlets or follow round them

    into the hinterland, Lord Alverstone supported the United States contention,

    the two Canadian members dissenting. With respect to the question concern–

    ing the mountains parallel to the coast, the majority report effected a

    compromise. After declaring that it was impossible to discern any mountains

    parallel to the coast as contempated by the treaty, the United States com–

    missioners, with the concurrence of Lord Alverstone, selected arbitrarily

    certain mountain peaks farther inland than those the Canadians claimed were

    meant by the treaty-makers, and nearer the coast than the thirty-five-mile

    line argued for in the American brief. On the question of the outlet of

    Portland Channel, the decision was also a compromise: of the four islands

    in dispute the majority aware gave Pearse and Wales to Canada and Sitklan

    and Kannaghunut to the United States.

            Mr. Aylesworth and Sir Louis Jette, the two Canadians, refused to sign

    the report. This was not an exhibition of poor sportsmanship. While natur–

    ally sympathetic toward the Canadian case, they insisted that they had been

    prepared to act as judges and to arrive, as nearly as possible, at a decision

    based upon what they believed had been in the minds of the framers of the

    treaty. In connection with whether the line out across the inlets or followed

    the shore round their heads, Lord Alverstone had given his verdict in favor

    of the United States contention; it was a complete acceptance of the United

    States case, without modification or compromise. While they differed from

    him, they did not accuse him of acting in bad faith; they admitted that it

    was possible to arrive at such a conclusion from the evidence; he had exer–

    cised his right as a judge and had found for one of the two points of view

    presented to him.

    022      |      Vol_XII-1004                                                                                                                  
    EA-Alaska: History. LeBourdais: Alaska Boundary

            But when it came to the second and third major points, the situation

    was different. Here, they contended, he had not acted as a judge, he had

    joined with the United States representatives arbitrarily to render a ver–

    dict that supported neither case. The majority award not only ignored

    the arguments of both sides, but also ignored the wording of the treaty.

    There might have been some doubt, as, of course there was, concerning which

    of the two contentions was more nearly in line with the spirit of the treaty;

    but it was clear that the award with respect to these questions was tantamount

    to a re-writing of the treaty itself. Furthermore, Lord Alverstone had at

    first concurred with them as to the ownership of the islands and later,

    presumably after pressure had been put upon him, changed his opinion. In

    doing so, however, he had merely altered a few words in his previously-

    written memorandum, reversing its conclusion while leaving as before the

    arguments leading up to the conclusions. Consequently, the document, while

    in the main supporting the British case, unaccountably ended in favor of the

    position which its main arguments did not support. Moreover, the Canadian

    commissioners were not told of their colleague's change of opinion till the

    vote on the question was taken, when to their dismay, he cast the deciding

    vote against the position supported by the memorandum he had himself written,

    a copy of which was in their possession.

            With respect to the mountains parallel to the coast, the majority

    award established a new line following the crests of mountains other than

    those advocated by the British, even though the United States had contended

    that no such mountains existed. The British case had claimed that, unless

    evidence was produced to the contrary, the judges were in duty bound to

    accept either one contention or the other. No evidence whatever was adduced

    023      |      Vol_XII-1005                                                                                                                  
    EA-Alaska: History. LeBourdais: Alaska Boundary

    by either side in favor of the line as established by the award, and no

    explanation of the reasons for establishing it were given. If, as in the

    case of the heads of the inlets, Lord Alverstone had supported the United

    States contention, his action, while not concurred in by his colleagues,

    could not have been attacked by them on the ground that it did not represent

    his true opinion. They felt, however, that they were justified in their view

    that he had been induced to compromise with the Americans in connection with

    this question, although they had no direct evidence, by the fact that the

    question of the ownership of the islands did have factual evidence.

            The treaty stated that "Commencing from the southernmost point of the

    island called Prince of Wales Island, ... the said line shall ascend to the

    north along the channel called Portland Channel ..." From that one would

    gather that the line ran from the southernmost tip of Prince of Wales Island

    to the mouth of Portland Channel, thence up that channel to its intersection

    with the 56th parallel. That was clear enough, aside from the fact that the

    channel did not quite reach the parallel; but the dispute arose over what

    constituted the entrance to the channel. The upper part of Portland Canal,

    as it is properly called, and Observatory Inlet, parallel to it to the eastward,

    both lead from a wide gulf or bay, the greater part of which is occupied

    by the four islands already referred to, lying end to end.

            Since the channel lying north of the islands was directly in line with

    that part of Portland Canal about which there was no dispute, and for other

    reasons, the British contention was that the boundary ran north of all four

    and that they all belonged to Canada. The United States contention was

    that the entrance to Portland Canal was that body of water termed by the

    British the entrance to Observatory Inlet, and that just after passing

    024      |      Vol_XII-1006                                                                                                                  
    EA-Alaska: History. LeBourdais: Alaska Boundary

    Pearse Island it turned sharply at right angles to pass between that island

    and Rasden Point and thence into what both sides agreed was the upper part

    of Portland Canal, thus giving the United States all four islands. Here

    again were two quite distinct claims, either of which might be argued

    as a fair interpretation of the treaty, but there was no evidence at all

    to support the conclusion of the majority that the line turned abruptly

    from one channel to the other between Wales and Sitklan islands.

            In his dissenting opinion, Mr. Aylesworth wrote: "The whole truth of

    the matter is simply this: that as to Portland Channel, the case of Great

    Britain before us has been demonstrated to be unanswerable. By unanimous

    vote of this Tribunal it has been so declared. It was therefore impossible

    to avoid awarding to Great Britain the islands called Pearse and Wales. It

    is equally impossible upon any intelligible principle for a Tribunal, acting

    judicially, to hold that Portland Channel, immediately on passing Wales

    Island, makes a turn at right angles to itself, and runs between the islands

    of Wales and Sitklan. The sole question presented to us for decision on

    this branch of the case was whether the Portland Channel of the Treaty lay

    north of the four islands or south of the four, and until today it has been

    uniformly admitted by everybody that all four of these islands belonged

    all together, either to Great Britain or the United States. Instead of so

    finding, the majority of the Tribunal have chosen to compromise with the

    plain facts of the case, and, while awarding Pearse and Wales Islands to

    Great Britain, have determined to make those islands valueless to Great

    Britain or to Canada by giving to the United States the islands called

    Sitklan and Kannaghunut. The latter islands are of the utmost consequence,

    for they lie directly opposite to, and command the entrance to, the very

    025      |      Vol_XII-1007                                                                                                                  
    EA-Alaska: History. LeBourdais: Alaska Boundary

    important harbor of Port Simpson, British Columbia.

            "Upon such findings of fact as those above described, and after a

    solemn adjudication that the Portland Channel of the Treaty lies to the

    north of Pearse and Wales Islands, the taking of the two important islands,

    Sitk l an and Hannaghunut, from Canada and giving them to the United States

    by a proceeding said to be judicial is 'according to my true judgment,'

    nothing less than a grotesque travesty of justice."

            His comment on the decision concerning the mountains is, in part, as


            "With reference to the seventh question, as the majority of the Tribunal

    has decided that the mountains which shall form the eastern boundary of the

    lisiere are to be sought inland at some place behind the head waters of

    every inlet, it is idle to express my views at any length.

            "Over and over again in the negotiations this 'lisiere de cote' which

    Russia was asking and England giving was spoken of by the Russians as a mere

    'point d'appui,' as extending inland only 'une tres petite distance,' as being

    only 'une etroite lisiere sur la cote meme,' or 'une simple lisiere du


            "Consistently with this understanding of the width of the lisiere,

    the mountains which were to form the inner boundary are always spoken of as

    being very near the sea. The only knowledge of these mountains the negotia–

    tors of the Treaty had was derived from Vancouver's travels, and Vancouver

    had seen the mountains only from his ships as these explored the coast.


    . . . . . . . . . .

            "Under such circumstances, it is difficult for me to understand how

    the Treaty, when it speaks of 'montagnes situees parallelement a la cote,'

    026      |      Vol_XII-1008                                                                                                                  
    EA-Alaska: History. LeBourdais: Alaska Boundary

    can refer to mountains miles inland, invisible from the sea, which lie far

    behind the seaward mountains, and which it is an admitted impossibility

    that Vancouver ever sar or the negotiators of the Treaty ever knew the

    existence of."

            Sir Louis Jette wrote with respect to the award concerning the line

    following round the heads of the inlets, "it seems to me impossible to

    arrive at the conclusion that the intention of the parties to this Treaty

    was that this strip of territory should be traced so as to run up the

    source of all the rivers, and to the head of all the inlets, which passed through

    this strip to reach the sea.

            "This, however, is the meaning which a majority of the Tribunal has

    given to this Treaty whereby the interpretation of the word coast which

    appears to me to be forced and untenable under the circumstances, they are

    led to say that Lynn Canal is the ocean, and that the coast of the ocean means

    equally the coast of Lynn Canal: I cannot accept this interpretation. My

    humble opinion, after having maturely considered the documents from which

    I have taken the quotations made above is that those who prepared and drafted

    this Treaty of 1825 never contemplated such a result. Consequently, leaving

    aside the learned distinctions which were pressed upon us as to the meaning

    of the word coast, to retain only what I believe was the intention of the

    parties, I still say that even if we were to consider Lynn Canal as an

    arm of the sea, the coast of Lynn Canal could not, even then, be considered

    the coast of the ocean:

            "There is in my country one of the largest rivers in the world, and

    I have often heard it said by some of my compatriots, when contemplating with

    pride the immense wheet of water at its mouth: 'Why, but this is the sea:'

    027      |      Vol_XII-1009                                                                                                                  
    EA-Alaska: History. LeBourdais: Alaska Boundary

            "However, it has not yet entered the mind of anyone to say: 'This is

    the ocean:'

            "It has been reserved for Lynn Canal to be raised to that dignity:"

            In a statement given to the London Times, the two Canadian commissioners

    declared: "We have been compelled to witness the sacrifice of the interests

    of Canada, powerless to prevent it."

            In discussing the award in the Canadian House of Commons, Sir Wilfrid

    Laurier expressed his regret that Canada did not herself posses the treaty–

    making power. Since then that power has been attained.

            Perhaps the most significant features of the whole dispute over the

    Alaska Boundary is that, although one of the parties to such a dispute may

    continue to feel that it has received less than justice in the settlement,

    it is still possible for amicable relations to be maintained between the

    winner and the loser.


    D. M. LeBourdais

    The University of Alaska

    001      |      Vol_XII-1010                                                                                                                  
    EA-Alaska: History

    (Charles E. Bunnell)


            The University of Alaska is a land-grant college, situated at 64° 51′ 21″

    north latitude, approximately four miles west of Fairbanks, farther north than

    any other institution of higher learning in the world. It is a small and

    relatively young institution, distinctive in many ways, and serves a large

    area through agricultural and mining extension work, in addition to its local

    campus activities.

            Historical : On May 3, 1917, the Territorial Legislature officially

    accepted grants of land, authorized by Congress in 1915, and monies for the

    benefit of State and Territorial Colleges of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts.

    The Legislature created a corporation under the name of "The Alaska Agricul–

    tural College and School of Mines," defined its duties and functions, and

    empowered the Governor of the Territory to appoint a Board of Trustees con–

    sisting of eight members in which was vested the government of the college.

            On July 4, 1915, the cornerstone was laid. In 1921, Charles E. Bunnell

    was elected as President of the college. The institution was opened on

    September 18, 1922, and continued as the Alaska Agricultural College and School

    of Mines until July 1, 1935, when by act of the Territorial Legislature, the

    University of Alaska was established to succeed to all the rights, powers,

    privileges, and duties of the college as above named.

    002      |      Vol_XII-1011                                                                                                                  
    EA-Alaska: History. Bunnell: University of Alaska

            During the thirteen years, 1922-1935, the Alaska Agricultural College

    and School of Mines awarded ninety-eight degrees, of which two were honorary

    doctorates. From 1936 to 1946, the University of Alaska awarded two hundred

    twenty-four degrees, including two honorary doctorates.

            During World War II over 80% of the physical plant of the institution

    (including its power plant, mess facilities) was rented to the Army for hos–

    pital and barracks purposes. Dormitory facilities for only 49 campus resident

    students were left available.

            The Campus: "College Hill" is an elevation from which the surrounding

    countryside presents a magnificent view. Across the broad Tanana Valley can

    be seen the length of the main Alaska Range, including Mt. McKinley. The

    main campus buildings consist of the original building, built in 1918, to

    which an east and west wing were later added; the Eielson Memorial Building;

    two frame dormitories for men; a reinforced concrete dormitory for women;

    library-gymnasium building, and power plant. The Library contains over

    20,000 bound volumes and 20,000 bulletins and pamphlets, and is by law con–

    stituted a depository for government publications. A Museum is maintained,

    which has approximately 75,000 catalogued specimens (an [ ?] an estimated 70,000

    additional specimens in storage) including anthropological, paleontological

    material; also a great deal of historical material, in the form of old

    publications and photographs of Alaska. As many specimens are on display

    as the limited space allows.

            Curricula; Curricula are offered which lead to degree in: Agriculture,

    Arts and Letters, Business Administration, Chemistry, Civil Engineering,

    Education, General Science, Home Economics, Mining (four or five-year curri–

    culum with options in Geological, Mining, and Metallurgical Engineering).

    003      |      Vol_XII-1012                                                                                                                  
    EA-Alaska: History. Bunnell: University of Alaska

    Pre-Medical and Pre-Nursing are offered. A Flight Training School has

    been established, offering ground school and training for a private pilot's

    license. Brief ten-week courses, "Short Courses," are offered on the campus

    in Mining and in Home Economica. Summer session was held for the first time

    in 1947.

            Extension Work : Throughout the Territory, extension work is offered in

    mining, agriculture, and home economics. From 1934 to 1939, extension work

    was done with fur-bearing animals, an Extension Veterinarian was then located

    at Juneau, who also inspected imported livestock, tested all dairy cattle for

    tuberculosis and other diseases, and assisted fur farmers in improving their

    mothods of production. Mining Extension courses cover five-week periods

    and are designed to give preliminary training in various phases at of geology

    and maining as a service to those who are unable to take up resident study

    at the University. During the past nine years, over six thousand students

    have been enrolled in these courses. Agriculture and Home Economics cooperative

    extension, organized in 1930 for work throughout the territory, has its main

    office at the University; district offices are maintained at Palmer for the

    Matanuska Valley, Anchorage for the Kenai Peninsula, Fairbanks for the Tanana

    Valley, and Petersburg for Southeastern Alaska. 4-H Club work for boys and

    girls has been organized (present figures not available; in 1944 there were

    86 clubs with membership of approximately 1,000). For adults, home demon–

    stration work in foods and clothing, crafts, and gardening is carried on in

    various towns and outlying villages.

            Minerals and Ore Assaying: The Bureau of Mines, in order to extend

    its work in Alaska, entered into a cooperative agreement with the college

    in 1928 whereby the work formerly done in the Bureau's experiment station

    004      |      Vol_XII-1013                                                                                                                  
    EA-Alaska: History. Bunnell: University of Alaska

    in Faribanks was carried on at the college. In 1935 the U.S. Geological

    Survey established a field office on the campus, which supplanted the

    Bureau of Mines functions, assisting miners in identifying minerals and

    assaying ore samples. Paul Hopkins, Associated Analytical Chemist, was

    in charge of the office, under the direction of Dr. Philip T. Smith,

    Chief Alaskan Geologist. In 1937, B. D. Stewart, Commissioner of Mines

    for the Territorial Department of Mines, established one of three offices

    at the University, to carry on that work. This office continues at the

    present time. Minerals are identified and samples of ore are assayed

    free of charge.

            History of Alaska Research: In May, 1936, the Rockefeller Foundation

    made a grant of $17,000 to the University of Alaska for the purpose of

    classifying and translating materials essential to the production of a

    history of the Territory. The grant was for a period of two years, July 1936

    to June 1938. Headquarters were established in Washington, D.C., where a

    vast amount of material was available.

            The staff of assistants was well-equipped for this assignment. Dr.

    Tikhon I. Lavrischeff, educated in Russia and the University of California

    (where his doctoral dissertation was "The History of Education in Alaska"),

    had been a priest in the Russian Orthodox Church at Cordova, and later a

    teacher. He was appointed as translator of Russian documents. The project

    was supervised by Cecil F. Robe, Professor of History; staff members in–

    cluded Warren R. Reid, Research Assistant, and Miss Hilja Reinikka, Secre–

    tary. The University was the first to make use of the million or more pages

    of records of the Russian Orthodox Church in Alaska. Other sources of

    material used were the records of the Departments of War, Interior, Commerce,

    005      |      Vol_XII-1014                                                                                                                  
    EA-Alaska: History. Bunnell: University of Alaska

    Treasury, and of the Coast Guard and Signal Corps. The untimely death of

    Dr. Levrischeff on December 5, 1937, was unfortunate; however, the work

    completed on the project has resulted in a valuable addition to the source

    materials for use in Alaskan history. The translations are now bound in

    fifteen volumes, 5807 pages of typing, awaiting opportunity and financing

    for continuation of this important project.

            Geophysical Research: Aurora Borealis: In 1929, the Rockefeller

    Foundation granted $10,000 to establish a station for the study of scientific

    observations of the Aurora. The photographic method, as devised by Dr. Carl

    Stormer, of Norway, was used to determine heights and situations. Veryl R.

    Fuller, Professor of Physics, supervised the project, constructed two

    short-wave transmitting and receiving sets with which the operators of

    two cameras, located about fifteen miles apart, were able to communicate

    while taking simultaneous pictures. (Complete reports were published in

    "Terrestrial Magnetism and Atmospheric Electricity" in December 1931 and

    June 1932. (Also see "Auroral Research at the University of Alaska,"

    Volume III of Miscellaneous Publications).


    Seismology: Since 1935, in cooperation

    with the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey, two tilt-compensated seismometes

    have been installed in the Eielson Memorial Building on the University

    Campus, recording horizontal components of g r ound motion (e.g., earthwuake).

    This northernmost station in North America provides data regarding all

    local seismic disturbances, and major ones all over the world.


    Second Polar Year : Cooperating with the

    Coast and Geodetic Survey, the Naval Research Laboratory, Weather Bureau of

    the United States, and with the Carnegie Institution, the University took

    006      |      Vol_XII-1015                                                                                                                  
    EA-Alaska: History. Bunnell: University of Alaska

    part in the second International Polar Year, conceived by the International

    Meteorological Organization conference at Copenhagen in 1929, for the pur–

    pose of magnetic auroral, radio phenomena, and meteorological observations

    at a network of stations in the arctic and antarctic latitudes. Thirty–

    four nations (120 stations) participated. $30,000 was appropriated for

    an observatory, and a station was requested near Fairbanks. The University

    of Alaska was already equipped for some phases of the research, and in the

    fall of 1932 buildings were constructed for magnetic observation and atmos–

    pheric and terrestrial electricity study. It was officially designated the

    College-Fairbanks Station. Observations of the ionosphere were started at

    that time. Prior to the closing of the program, arrangements were made

    whereby the investigation of the ionosphere would be continued by the Univer–

    sity, which work is still in progress.


    Cooperative Research : By 1940, the United

    States had launched a program of intensive scientific endeavor as a result

    of the situation in Europe, which program included the field of radio propa–

    gation Ionosphere apparatus had been in operation at Watheroo, Australia,

    and at Huancayo, Peru, since 1933. A third unit had been completed by the

    Department of Terrestrial Magnetism, Carnegie Institution of Washington;

    and it was agreed by all government agencies interested in radio that the

    unit be placed at the University of Alaska. This unit was fully automatic,

    and operated continuously over a frequency range of 16.0 MC to 0.516 MC.

    The Carnegie Institution appropriated $14,400 to set up the equipment.

    The general objective of the research was the study and correlation of

    solar-terrestrial relationships and the determination of diurnal and other

    cyclic variations in the ionization of the upper atmosphere. Although the

    007      |      Vol_XII-1016                                                                                                                  
    EA-Alaska: History. Bunnell: University of Alaska

    ionospheric program was considered of primary importance, the University

    group undertook other work also in 1941: Four signal-intensity recorder

    units were installed, to record the strength of signals from high-frequency

    broadcast stations in various parts of the world; a magnetic observatory was

    initiated; further auroral work was started. The basic staff, consisting

    of Ervin H. Bramhall, Stuart L. Seaton, Ernest Wolff, and Pierre S. Amand,

    maintained and operated the equipment, and tabulated and reduced results

    for the various interested agencies.

            During the summer of 1942, flumeters and search coils were installed

    to record the rate of change of the earth's magnetic flux (and were in

    operation until July 1946). In 1944 direction-finder equipment was in–

    installed and a project was undertaken to determine the possibility of

    finding bearing-error corrections.

            At the end of the war, the Carnegie Institution prepared to terminate

    its operation of field stations and observatories. The Central Radio Propa–

    gation Laboratory was organized, under the National Bureau of Standards, to

    continue the work, and contracted with the University of Alaska. The Carnegie

    Institution agreed to leave its equipment at the University if the institu–

    tion would accept the responsibility of operating the Observatory. Only

    the ionospheric and signal intensity project was continued for C.R.P.L.

    The U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey, however, desired that the continuity of

    the magnetic observation not be broken, and arranged that the University

    operate the magnetic observatory until such time as their own could be

    built. Work is expected to be finished on a permanent U.S.C.G.S. magnetic

    and seismological station on the campus by December 1947.

            Close cooperation with the U.S. Army was maintained, in furnishing

    aviators with radio propagation predictions and bearings.

    008      |      Vol_XII-1017                                                                                                                  
    EA-Alaska: History. Bunnell: University of Alaska

            Professor E. F. George, head of the Physics Department at the University,

    studied a supplementary problem, collisional frequency of free electrons

    with neutral air molecules and atoms in the ionospheric regions, and arrived

    at calculations important to the development of theories of radio wave pro–

    pagation. Results are published in the March 1947 issue of Proceedings of

    The Institute of Radio Engineering — "Electronic Collisonal Frequency in

    the Upper Atmosphere." Two sets of collisional frequencies (one for day and

    one for night) were computed by him.

            Federal Commun i cations Commission : The Federal Communications Commission

    selected the campus of the University as a suitable site for the erection

    and operation of a radio monitoring station and a direction finder. This

    station was in operation from 1941-1945.

            Geophysical Institute: Delegate Bartlett's Bill to establish a Geophysical

    Institute on the campus of the University was passed and signed by President

    Truman on July 31, 1946. Congress has not yet (August 1947) made the authorized

    appropriation available.

            Paleontology: Since 1929, an important collection of material of the

    Pleistocene period has been gathered, uncovered by the dredging operations

    near Fairbanks. Mr. Chils Frick, of the American Museum of Natural History,

    has underwritten the expense of the project, the work carried out in cooperation

    with the University of Alaska and the Fairbanks Exploration Company (U.S.

    Smelting, Refining, and Mining Company). Mr. Otto William Geist has been

    the chief field man since 1936, and is now continuing the work which was

    interrupted by the closing down of gold mining during World War II.

            Material found of skeletal material of the Pleistocene fauna includes:

    superbison, mammoth, mastodon, caribou, horse, camel, giant ground sloth,

    009      |      Vol_XII-1018                                                                                                                  
    EA-Alaska: History. Bunnell: Universit y of Alaska

    saber-tooth tiger, lion, three species of muskox, new species of sheep,

    Saiga antelope, and various species of small carnivores and rodents.

            Bones, and occasionally hide and hair, are well preserved in the

    frozen Pleistocene "muck." All important fossil specimens are shipped to

    the American Museum of Natural History for studying, cataloguing, and pub–


            Anthropology : The University of Alaska, together with various

    institutions as sponsors, has contributed in a major way to the scientific

    knowledge of existing arctic cultures, and to prehistory in Alaska, as it

    concerns the ancestors of present-day Eskimos and Indians, and some very

    early arrivals to this continent was who differed greatly from either existing


            In 1928, Otto William Geist made a survey of the Bering Sea region, and

    the area up to the Arctic Sea. Following this reconnaissance trip, Mr. Geist

    has spent nine seasons in the St. Lawrence Island field where his, and other,

    expeditions have been sponsored by the University. The ancient mound of

    Kukulik was the site of successful excavations (See Miscellaneous Publica–

    tions, Volume II). In 1931 collections of minerals, birds, mammals, petri–

    fied wood of the giant sequoia trees, were made, besides many artifacts of

    early Eskimo culture. Specimens were shipped to the American Museum of

    Natural History or to interested scientists for study. Dog skulls were

    described by Olaus J. Murie; human skeletal remains by Dr. Ales Hrdlicka;

    the largest collection of birds (several hundred) were forwarded to the

    Museum of Vertebrate Zoology at the University of California. Under a

    Public Works Administration grant of the Department of the Interior, work

    was carried on for the summers of 1934 and 1935 by an expedition of college

    010      |      Vol_XII-1019                                                                                                                  
    EA-Alaska: History. Bunnell: University of Alaska

    graduates and students. In 1934, Otto William Geist and Ivar Skarland

    made investigations on the Punuk Islands (see F.G. Rainey's "Eskimo Pre–

    history: The Okvik Site on the Punuk Islands," Anthropological Papers

    of the American Museum of Natural History). In 1937, Professors Froelich G.

    Rainey (University of Alaska) and Raymond W. Murray (University of Notre Dame)

    did further excavations at the Kukulik site, F. G. Rainey, Helge Larsen

    (Curator of Ethnclogy of the Danish National Museum), and J. L. Giddings

    spent the summer of 1930 at Point Hope (Ti ag ga ra) and began investigations

    of the extensive Ipiutak site, probably the earliest Eskimo culture yet

    discovered. F. G. Rainey spent the winter of 1940 at Tigara. In 1941-

    1942, village ruins of considerable antiquity were found and investigated

    by J. L. Giddings along the Kobuk River. In the summer of 1947, he returned

    to complete excavations of three sites, with special emphasis on relating

    dated Kobuk sites to the Christian calendar dates.

            Archaeological work in the interior of Alaska was done during the

    field seasons of 1936 and 1937 by F. G. Rainey, when he made surveys

    through the upper Tanana River, upper Copper River, and middle Yukon River, with

    the purpose of tracing migration routes through the interior, reported on

    relatively recent village sites and sporadic finds of material which probably

    antedates Athapaskan occupation.

            Since 1937, tree-ring dating has been applied by J. L. Giddings,

    Assistant Professor of Anthropology, in the fields of archaeology, geology, and

    oceanography. Ivar Skarland, Professor of Anthropology, has completed

    several summer's work in the field of physical anthropology, among the

    interior Alaska Athapaskans. Investigations in both fields was interrupted

    by World War II but is now being continued. In the summer of 1946, J. L.

    Giddings went down the Mackenzie River drainage from Fort Nelson in Aklavik,

    011      |      Vol_XII-1020                                                                                                                  
    EA-Alaska: History. Bunnell: University of Alaska

    for the purpose of collecting living tree samples. He then rounded the

    coast as far as H [ ?] rschel Island, where driftwood samples were taken and

    ocean current study was made.

            In June 1940, the first rock paintings in the interior of Alaska

    were found at Moose Creek Bluff, near Fairbanks. They were recognized by

    Thomas Campbell, Professor in Civil Engineering, and Ernie Lottsfeldt.

    J. L. Giddings photographed and described them.

            Biological Survey: In 1926 a reindeer station was established at

    the College by the U.S. Bureau of Biological Survey, which conducted

    experimental work of the reindeer investigations initiated in Alaska in

    1920 under authorization of an appropriation by Congress. Lawrence J.

    Palmer, Senior Biologist, maintained headquarters on the campus. Pastures

    and corrals were constructed. The project was particularly concerned with

    reindeer breeding and range and forage management. Experiments in cross–

    breeding were carried on with reindeer cows and caribou bulls, in an

    attempt to improve the strain (resulting "carideer" were from fifty to

    one hundred pounds heavier).

            Experiments were conducted in the crossing of mountain sheep with

    domesticated sheep. Research was discontinued when it was disclosed that

    the male cross-breeds were strile. Whereas domestic sheep are seriously

    affected, even blinded, by mosquitoes and gnats, the cross was apparently


            Vilhjalmur Stefansson aroused interest in the idea of domesticating

    the musk-ox for meat and clothing purposes, and assiting in preserving the

    species of arctic ovibos from extinction. The few remaining herds were

    then in Canada and Greenland. In 1927, Congress appropriated $40,000 for

    the project. Thirty-four head of musk-oxen arrived in November 1930,

    from Greenland, and were turned over to the Biological Survey at College,

    012      |      Vol_XII-1021                                                                                                                  
    EA-Alaska: History. Bunnell: University of Alaska

    Alaska. After three years, calving was reported for the first time. The

    herd remained here until the summer of 1936, when it was transferred to

    Nunivak Island, where it was believed that food conditions were good and

    that the numbers could increase.

            The Home Economics Department of the University has tested the wool

    of the musk-ox in making yarns and garments. It has been found to be easy

    to card and spin, has the appearance of brushed wool, and its qualities are

    superior to ordinary wool for many purposes.



            A monthly publication, the Farthest North Collegian, is an official

    publication of eight pages, printed in newspaper form, of general campus

    news and articles of educational interest, contributed by members of the

    student body and faculty. The Denali , yearbook of the University, is

    published by the Associated Students of the University of Alaska.

            A Bibliography of Alaskan Literature , 1724-1924. Volume I of

    Miscellaneous Publications of the Alaska Agricu t l tural College and School

    of Mines, by James Wickersham, 1927, published by the Cordova Daily Times

    Print, Cordova, Alaska (635 pages)... This comprehensive volume contains

    10,380 titles of histories, travels, voyages, newspapers, periodicals,

    public documents, etc., Printed in English, Russian, German, French, Spanish,

    etc., relating to, descriptive of, or published in Russian America or Alaska

    from 1724 to and including 1924.

            Archaeological Excavations at Kukulik...St. Lawrence Island, Alaska .

    Volume II of Miscellaneous Publications of the University of Alaska, by

    Otto William Geist and Froelich G. Rainey (301 pages) .... This volume was

    prepared under the direction of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs in

    013      |      Vol_XII-1022                                                                                                                  
    EA-Alaska: History. Bunnell: University of Alaska

    cooperation with the University of Alaska, published by the U.S. Government

    Printing Office, Washington, D.C., 1936....Investigations on St. Lawrence

    Island, the ethnological and archaeological research conducted by the Uni–

    versity from 1926-1935, analysis and description of some 50,000 specimens

    obtained at the Kukulik site. Appendixes: The Punuk Island Group, Bering

    Sea, Alaska (Otto William Geist); Notes on Geography and Geology of Western

    St. Lawrence Island (Olaus J. Murie); Dog Skulls from St. Lawrence Island

    (Olaus J. Murie); The Birds of St. Lawrence Island (Olaus J. Murie); Report

    on the Mollusks of St. Lawrence Island (H. J. Roekelman); Analyses of

    Mineralogical and Geological Specimens (Paul Hopkins and Maurice L. Sharp).

            Auroral Research at the University of Alaska . Volume III of Miscellaneous

    of the University of Alaska, by Veryl R. Fuller and Ervin H.

    Bramhall (130 pages).... A report of the work done during the years 1930-1934,

    in connection with the program of auroral research rendered possible through

    the generosity of the Rockefeller Foundation, following the recommendations

    of the American Geophysical Union, the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey, and

    the Department of Terrestrial Magnetism of the Carnegie Institution of Washington.

            Dendrochronology in Northern Alaska . Volume IV of the University of

    Alaska Publications , by J. L. Giddings, Jr. Copyright, 1942, University

    of Arizona (107 pages) .... A report of the research carried on by the

    University of Alaska with the cooperation of the Laboratory of Tree-Ring

    Research, University of Arizona, carried out during the years 1938-1941

    for the University of Alaska under the sponsorship of Childs Frick, Honorary

    Curator of Late Tertiary and Quaternary Mammals in the American Museum of

    Natural History. The Douglass system of cross-dating applied to the

    cone-bearing trees of Alaska and adjoining regions of the western arctic.


    Charles E. Bunnell

    Back to top