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    Aleksandri Andrevich Baranov

    Encyclopedia Arctica 15: Biographies

    001      |      Vol_XV-0066                                                                                                                  

    (Hector Chevigny)


            Aleksandr Andrevich Baranov (1747 - 1819), first Governor of Russian

    Colonies in Alaska. The primary source material on Baranov's early life

    consists almost entirely of his own reminiscences about it, dictated late

    in his life to his biographer, Kyrill Khlebnikov. His origins were humble

    in the extreme. The village of Kargopol, where he was born to the store–

    keeper, Andrei Baranov, lies near the old Finnish border in the former

    Government of Olonyetz. The region was sparsely settled and very backward.

    Such places as Kargopol were called "deaf villages," so seldom did they

    bear news of importance. The name "Baranov" shows Tartar influence.

    Aleksandr Andrevich was the oldest of four children; there were a brother,

    Pyotr, and two sisters, Avdotya and Vassilissa. Aleksandr was small of

    build and frame, fair-haired, and said to be quick of mind and clever with

    his hands. His expression was mobile and alert, his disposition friendly

    and gregarious. The family was of the mestchannin , or small trader class,

    only a grade from the peasant class.

            Where and how Baranov got his early education is not known, but he

    seems to have understood writing and ciphering when, at fifteen, he ran

    away to Moscow. There he became apprentice to one of the German merchants,

    who in the 18th century formed an important section in Russian commercial life.

    There is scant evidence as to the type of business in which Baranov found

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    EA-Biog. Chevigny: A.A. Baranov

    himself except a taunt levelled at him in later years that in Moscow he had

    been a "ribbon clerk." The Spanish Encyclopedia states, without giving

    source, that after some years he returned to Kargopol as the representative

    of a Moscow textile house. There is no doubt that he understood textiles

    very well. In Moscow, too, he learned to speak German and schooled himself

    in other directions, particularly in the Russian classics. He was married,

    but there is no record of children by this Russian wife and his will made

    no provision for any. It would seem that, on going to Siberia, about 1700,

    he left this wife behind. In Irkutsk, with the financial aid of partners,

    he established a factory for the making of glass. But although this venture

    was very successful, Baranov apparently was still unsatisfied and, keeping

    an active interest in this business, with his brother Pyotr he went into the

    far northern reaches of the Anadyr to establish a post for the buying of furs

    from the Chukchi natives. Their principal post they established at Ishiginsk

    on the Sea of Okhotsk.

            Siberian economy at the time rested almost wholly on furs. The tremendous

    quantities of tea, an article of food that had come almost as necessary to the

    Russians as bread, were purchased entirely with furs from the Chinese. Hard

    money was almost nonexistent, and in any event the Chinese preferred the furs,

    which the wealthy used as articles of clothing. To satisfy the demand, the

    promyshlenniki , or Siberian backwoodsmen, within a century and a half had

    almost exterminated such valuable animals as the sable. By 1740 the economic

    situation became so desperate that to maintain the tea trade the merchants of

    Irkutsk had had to purchase furs from the Hudson's Bay Company in London. The

    return of the men from Bering's expedition from the north Pacific islands with

    a fortune in sea otter and fox skins pointed the way to a solution. In 1746,

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    EA-Biog. Chevigny: A.A. Baranov

    the Siberian hunters began abandoning the backs of their Mongol ponies for

    the decks of hastily constructed vessels of every description in which they

    put out in search of the sea otter that abounded in large numbers on the

    shores of the Aleutian Islands. Then, as now, the pelt of the sea otter

    was the world's costliest, a single fine skin bringing three hundred gold

    rubles in worth of trade with the Chinese. With the discovery of the Aleu–

    tian Islands as a fur field, the pressure of hunting lessened over the reaches

    of northern Siberia, the animals multiplied again, and, as Baranov shrewdly

    suspected, he found neglected wealth in the Anadyr. The Baranov vrothers

    traded powder, shot, and other commodities for sable skins, and in the summer

    of 1790, after approximately one year of operation, prepared to take their

    rich stock of furs over the Stanovoi Mountains and down the Lena River to

    Irkutsk. On the way, Baranov learned a lesson in trading he was never to

    forget. He and his brother were waylaid by the Chukchi and the very powder

    and shot he had sold these natives were used to rob him of the success of

    his efforts.

            Perhaps seeking help in retrieving his property, Baranov went to the

    village of Okhotsk to see the military commander of the district, Ivan Koch.

    Koch was a German physician who had entered the Russian military service and

    eventually rose to the rank of Quartermaster General. He had an official

    problem to which Baranov seemed to be the answer. Although the Bering Expe–

    dition of discovery and exploration had been authorized by Peter the Great,

    Russian claims to land beyond the eastern borders of Siberia had never been

    formally extended by subsequent sovereigns. The merchants of Irkutsk, many of

    whom had important investments in fur-hunting enterprises on the Aleutians and

    even on the American mainland, and the hunters themselves, had repeatedly

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    EA-Biog. Chevigny: A.A. Baranov

    importuned St. Petersburg for formal recognition of the region as Russian.

    The need had become acute, for the presence of the hunters on the islands

    had awakened the cupidity of European chancellories and of late years a

    rash of Spanish, French, and British exploring expeditions, notably Captain

    Cook's, had been sent into north Pacific waters. But the Empress Catherine II,

    the Great, always refused to take action. She maintained that Russia and

    Siberia together were far too uncolonized and unsettled to consider annex–

    ing foreign soil. The most she was willing to do was to free the merchants

    completely of the formerly prohibitive taxes on foreign trade and allow them,

    under the doctrine of laissez faire, which she had adopted as a conscious

    policy, to trade in foreign waters. She stated her position in 1769 when she

    decreed, "It is for traders to traffic where they will. I renounce forever

    all possessions in ... America."

            Upon learning of the visit of Captain Cook to the northwest coast, a

    wealthy Irkutsk merchant, Grigorii Shelekhov (q.v.), decided to take on

    himself the task of extending Russian jurisdiction, more or less forcibly,

    by planting a permanent colony, something which other trading corporations

    had not done. In 1784, he established the village of Three Saints Bay

    on Kodiak Island, and Fort Alexander on Cook's Inlet. But the overseers he

    had left in charge had proven unsatisfactory and now, in August of 1790,

    Shelekhov was in Okhotsk to superintend the dispatching of his supply ship,

    Three Saints , to his colony; he hoped also to find a new colonial manager.

    The need for a reliable man was rendered desperate by the rumor that the

    Swedes, who were at war with Russia, were sending a frigate into the Pacific

    to attack the Russians on the Aleutians. Commander Koch had a responsibility

    for the overseas Russians without the formal authority, in view of the Imperial

    failure to clarify the situation, and he also sought a man with the intelligence

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    EA-Biog. Chevigny: A.A. Baranov

    to function as his representative under these ambiguous circumstances.

    Shelekhov had once before offered Baranov the post of manager at Three

    Saints Bay, but Baranov had then refused. Now, however, as he was without

    money, deep in debt, and being importuned by both Shelekhov and Koch.

    He agreed to go to America for a period of five years, the salary con–

    sisting of the revenue from ten shares in the Golikov-Shelekhov Company

    of Irkutsk.

            The Three Saints , on which Baranov went to see for the first time in

    his life, sailed August 31, 1790. (All dates given are New Style.) She was

    a baliot, broad of beam, with a rudder half as long as her keep and propelled

    by a single square gaff mainsail and auxiliary gibs. Shelekhov had built

    her in 1783 as the flagship of his three-vesseled fleet, and had himself

    sailed in her to found his colony. With Baranov went fifty-two new Company

    employees — the custom was to sign for a period of years and strictly on

    shares — together with a load of supplies that included several domestic

    animals. It was late in the season for navigation in this region, the

    Bering Sea's fall storms were already on them, progress was slow against

    a succession of head winds, and then it was discovered that the water casks

    were of such poor construction much of the supply was gone. They did not

    sight Unalaska until October 7. It was necessary to put in a t Koshigin

    Harbor to replenish water. That night a williwaw blew up, the old galiot

    dragged her anchor and went on shore. The sea pounded her to pieces.

    There was nothing to do but make friends with the natives and dig in for

    the winter.

            The hardship [ ?] was extreme, for most of the supplies had been lost

    and the winter storms were of such severity that even seals could only in–

    frequently be killed. But Baranov employed the time learning the Aleut

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    EA-Biog. Chevigny: A.A. Baranov

    tongue and, when the weather cleared, learning to handle a bidarka and

    studying the technique of hunting sea otter. A Russian had been sent to

    Three Saints village with five Aleuts in bidarkas to tell of the plight

    of the new manager, but when in the spring nothing had been heard it was

    decided to wait no longer but to construct three large walrus hide baidars

    in which to attempt the rest of the journey to Kodiak Island. Baranov,

    however, kept in mind the instructions of Koch to explore whenever possible

    and sent a baidar commanded by Botcharov, who had been skipper of the

    Three Saints , northward instead of southward along the island chain to

    investigate Bristol Bay.

            The fact that Baranov was already middle-aged told on him, and the

    rigors of the long trip to Kodiak in the open boats were made worse by the

    fact he began running a continuous fever. Camp sites had to be selected

    cautiously because of the unknown character of the natives, there were only

    wet beached on which to sleep, and the only food was clams and such fish as

    they could cook over cautious fires. Baranov was very ill when, on July 8,

    1791, he reached Three Saints village and took command. It was freely pre–

    dicted that he "would not last long in this climate."

            Factors other than the climate were against him. The two remaining

    Shelekhov vessels, the galiot St. Michael Archangel , and the sloop God's

    Friend Simeon
    , badly needed replacement. The site of the colony of Three

    Saints Bay had been arbitrarily picked and needed changing to a location where

    timber was more plentiful. Shelekhov had been consistently stingy with supplies

    and seldom kept promises he had made. Furs were getting scarce for the reason

    that, as usual, no one thought of establishing a conservation policy, and it

    was necessary to go farther and farther afield in search of them. Moreover,

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    EA-Biog. Chevigny: A.A. Baranov

    on Cook's Inlet, and close to Shelekhov's Fort Alexander, the Lebedev–

    Lastotchkin Company had established a rival post, Fort St. George, and war

    had broken out between the men of this company and the Shelekhov men.

    This was serious for reasons beyond the additional difficulties it imposed

    in the way of carrying on operations; strife among the white traders raised

    grave issued, too, with the native tribes.

            The greatest difficulty confronting Baranov, however, was the smallness

    of the number of men at his command and their low caliber. The more able

    and experienced seafaring traders and backwoodsmen, who were accustomed to

    signing for only one trading voyage and returning whenever they had their

    catch of furs, did not want to sign for the long periods in America demanded

    by a colonial enterprise. At Three Saints Bay and Fort Alexander together

    there were no more than 150 Russians. Morale was low because of the failure

    of Shelekhov in many instances to keep various promises. Moreover, the old

    Shelekhov lieutenants were jealous of the unusual authority given Baranov

    and contemptuous of his abilities. The old skippers, Botcharov and Izmailov,

    refused to teach him anything about navigation, and old promyshelenniks like

    Samoilov conspired to thwart his authority. Nevertheless, Baranov established

    strict discipline, instituting, among other measures, the regulation of

    relations between hunters and the native women. The presence of Aleut girls

    in the colony was demanded for reasons other than sex; the Russians had found

    that the native dress was the best method of outfitting, particularly on the

    chase, and only feminine fingers could do the extremely delicate needlework

    needed to waterproof the garments. The children remained the property of

    the mothers. And Baranov took stern measures to stamp out venereal disease,

    isolating known cases and doctoring them with a solution of mercury salts

    and alcohol.

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    EA-Biog. Chevigny: A.A. Baranov

            He made arrangements for his own domestic comfort by accepting the gift

    of a girl of Eskimo stock from a chief who came to visit him from the Bristol

    Bay country. There is some confusion in the record of this woman with the

    daughter of another native chief be eventually took to wife and who bore

    him two children.

            In the spring of 1792, with that enormous energy that was his great

    characteristic, he threw himself into plans for an advance on the conquest

    of America. He planned to begin the building of a new outpost that summer,

    on Prince William Sound, find a site for still another on the southern

    coast, and make the biggest drive for furs in the history of the region.

    A tidal wave that swept away part of Three Saints village also swept aside

    what opposition he may have had to moving the main colony to higher and

    better-timbered ground. He chose the site of old Chiniak, calling the new

    village St. Paul. This is the present town of Kodiak. But he was unable

    to complete the construction of St. Paul before the summer months were on

    him and he had to turn his attention to larger issues.

            His plans revolved around the use of the Aleuts as his main source of

    man power. There has been much bitter controversy over the use of the Aleuts

    in Company operations, and it is commonly supposed that the idea originated

    with Baranov. For centuries it had been the custom, which originated with

    the Cossacks, to extract tribute in furs from native tribes when conquering

    new lands. This tribute was kn wo ow n as the yassack, the Tear's property.

    The early ships coming to the Aleutians had carried one or more official

    designated to take the yassack , which was usually done forcibly, and around

    this fact revolved most of the darker episodes in the earlier history of these

    events. Prompted by reports of the cruelties attending the gathering of

    yassak , Express Catherine abolished the practice, instead granted the merchants

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    EA-Biog. Chevigny: A.A. Baranov

    the privilege of using the labor of [ ?] natives. Perhaps in Catherine's

    mind there was no contradiction between her earlier refusal to extend her

    authority over the Aleutians and permissions such as this, and it all illus–

    rates the ambiguity of the situation. Shelekhov, on the strength of this

    decision, harbored various schemes for putting the Aleuts to work, and it

    is probable that the suggestion they be used in force originated with him.

    Baranov's contribution consisted of the extent to which the natives were

    used and the ingenuity with which he deployed them. To the charges that

    he had exploited the natives, often sending them on dangerous missions to

    save the lives of his Russians, Baranov replied that if he had been sent

    enough Russians and of a caliber he could trust, he would have gladly dis–

    pensed with the services of the Aleuts. He never sent Aleuts to face dangers

    alone. Each artel of eight canoes was commanded by a Russian, and the natives

    were paid for the furs they caught on shares, as the Russians were paid.

    Their coin was articles of iron, which they greatly prized.

            Perhaps because he troubled to learn their language and could grasp

    their point of view, Baranov was tremendously popular with the Aleuts, who

    called him "Nanuk" (Great Hunter). He inspected Kodiak Island, taking a

    census of the population to calculate the strength of the force he could levy.

    He bargained with the elders of each village and eventually was promised

    1,200 men and 600 canoes as his summer's force. The tidal wave reduced this

    levy to 900 men and 450 canoes. Four hundred of the canoes, in groups of

    two hundred, respectively comman d ed by Kulikalov and Purtov, were sent to

    hunt the southern coast as far as Yakutat and explore for a future colony

    site. Baranov reserved the remaining fifty canoes as his own force for

    the exploration he planned of Prince William Sound. Baranov himself, per–

    haps to gain experience, perhaps because it gave him further mobility, more

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    EA-Biog. Chevigny: A.A. Baranov

    probably because he distrusted old Izmailov, rode the rear seat of a

    bidarka. He explored Nuchek Island in Prince William Sound, visited

    the villages of the Kenai and Chugach natives to make friends and to

    distribute the copper plated bearing the imperial coat of arms which

    he had been instructed by Koch to distribute and which were meant to

    be shown by the native chiefs to the commanders of foreign vessels when

    they appeared in these waters. One chief with several villages under his

    domination and called by the Russians Grigor Razkazchikov, offered to

    cement the alliance Baranov offered by marriage with his daughter, a

    Kenaitze girl of great beauty. Just when this offer was accepted is not

    clear, but this was the "Indian Princess" who became Baranov's wife under

    the name of Anna Grigoryevna. The villagers under Chief Razkazchikov

    subsequently became Baranov's firmest allies.

            However, attempts this summer (1792) to settle the question of another

    post were cut short by an event of apparently minor significance, but which

    gave Baranov's thinking a whole new direction and, in a subtle but definite

    way, had a profound influence on the future economic history of Boston and

    its shipping. A Calcutta merchantman, a schooner named Phoenix , fearing

    she might be the long awaited Swedish frigate sent to destroy them, Baranov

    concealed his fleet. But, on perceiving that she could only be a trader,

    he went on board. Her master was Captain Hugh Moore, an Irishman from

    England, her first mate, Joseph O'Cain of Boston. Both these men at

    first had taken Baranov, because of his dress, for a native Aleut, but

    on learning that he was a European they entertained him royally. Communi–

    cation was established through the halting German Baranov had learned in

    his youth. He had been enjoined by Shelekhov to be cautious and suspicious

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    of relations with foreigners, but by his own account he decided to meet

    the frankness of these new friends with frankness, and astonished them

    with his exposition of the poverty of his resources. As his men helped

    repair the vessel, Moore, O'Cain, and Baranov feasted and drank — the

    New England rum on board was very much to Baranov's taste — and discussed

    trade affairs the world over. Baranov heard for the first time of the

    great King of the Hawaiian Islands, Kamehameha, and of his encouragement

    of foreign trade with his islands. He learned that if he could only have

    a ship like the Phoenix it would be entirely possible to keep himself and

    his entire colony supplied with all the food and luxuries needed by

    trading with the king. He learned, too, of the tremendous advantage of

    selling furs directly at Canton over the cumbersom business of sending the

    furs overland halfway across Siberia to sell them to the Chinese at Irkutsk.

    He also had confirmation of the belief that the southeastern coast of Alaska,

    along and below the region of Sitka, was many times richer in sea otter than

    the region in which he was operating.

            Other advantages were to come in the future from this meeting. [ ?] First

    Mate O'Cain was destined to return and to establish with Baranov a trade

    relation which kept him supplied with necessaries and luxuries when nothing

    forthcame from Russia, and which also led to a firm policy of friendship with

    the Yankee shipmasters generally. In parting, the three friends exchanged

    gifts. Baranov, out of his poverty, could only give fur clothing of Aleut

    workmanship. In turn, because Baranov had expressed a strong wish to have

    an English interpreter, Hugh Moore presented him with his own cabin boy, a

    Bengalese named Richard. Richard was destined to remain Baranov's faithful

    bodyguard and servant throughout many dangerous situations and vicissitudes

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    EA-Biog. Chevigny: A.A. Baranov

    for twenty-five years.

            Resuming his exploration of Prince William Sound, during a night's

    encampment of Mantague Island Baranov and his men were set upon and alomost

    wiped out by a war party of Tlingits from the Yakutat region. The attack

    was beaten off, but Baranov now knew first hand the cha r acter of the natives

    inhabiting the southern coast. This opinion was confirmed by Kulikalov

    and Purtov on their return with their canoe fleets. They had a good catch

    and they reported it was true that the southern coast was many times richer

    than this in sea otter, but the fear of the Aleuts for the Tlingits was such

    that they seldom landed and the explorations had not been made as far south–

    ward as had been hoped. Baranov saw that even the mass use of the Aleuts

    would not answer all his problems unless he could also have ships, if only

    to convoy and protect the canoe fleets on long voyages.

            He had almost decided to leave part of his Russians on Nuchek Island

    to winter there and build a new fort, despite the fact he was not altogether

    satisfied with the location, when his attention was forcibly distracted by

    a new outbreak of hostility on Cook's Inlet between his men at Fort Alexander

    and the men of the Lebedev-Lastotchkin Company. The latter had planted

    a second post on Cook Inlet, calling it Fort St. Nicholas. Baranov wasted

    more of the summer in an effort to restore peace, then discovered that he

    had been outwitted. The moment he had turned his back on Prince William

    Sound, Amos Balushin, a Lebedev lieutenant, had taken a force overland

    across Kenai Peninsula and, after crossing to Nuchek Island, there preempted

    the location by beginning the construction of an outpost, Fort Constantine.

    It was obvious that except for the catch of furs made by the huge canoe

    fleet — which, however, had not been large enough to justify the expense of

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    the new method — the summer's efforts had been fruitless. Baranov had

    not only gained no new ground, he had lost to his opponents.

            Total discouragement, however, was prevented by hearing that at Kodiak

    a new vessel, built by Shelekhov, had put in with supplies from home. She

    proved to be a surprise. A small packet, named the Eagle , she had been built

    at Okhotsk for Shelekhov by a curious character the Russian records name

    Yakov Egorevich Shiltz. This proved to be James Shields, English adventurer,

    who was certainly experienced as a shipbuilder and who, for reasons best

    known to himself, had served with the Russian Army. With four cronies,

    also of English ancestry, he had taken Shelekhov's contract to build him

    a new vessel, had agreed to sail her to America, teaching her navigation

    to the crew on the way, them to return hdme. Letters to Baranov from

    Shelekhov were clear in their instruction to send Sh ei ie dls and his English–

    men back home at the first opportunity because of the great expense they

    entailed on the Company. Baranov, however, immediately conceived other

    plans for Shields, comprising the learning of navigation at the English–

    man's hands and the building of a ship which would match Captain Moore's.

            Shields was not an easy man to manage. There is reason, on the fact

    of the record, to think that he came close to not sailing Shelekhov's vessel

    to Kodiak at all, but to taking her instead to Canton, and probably it was

    the ingrained Englishman's healthy fear of the penalty for piracy that made

    him keep his contract. He met Baranov's refusal to let him return to Russia

    with physical violence. As one witness puts it, "The rolled on the floor

    like a couple of muzbiks ." He agreed to stay, however, when Baranov painted

    a glowing picture of the wealth to be gained by trading for furs on shares.

    The agreement finally arrived at with Shields and his sailors was so generous

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    EA-Biog. Chevigny: A.A. Baranov

    that, Baranov knew, it would cause Shelekhov to write some very angry,

    although futile, protests. With the new men brought by the Eagle , con–

    struction of St. Paul village was completed, and Baranov hastened to lay

    plans for the building of his wonderful schooner. Shields chose Resur–

    rection Bay on the mainland as the shipbuilding site, a winter camp was

    established there, and the keel laid.

            It is difficult to understand the drive impelling Baranov to construct

    this vessel. He had gone to America out of necessity in the first place and

    against what would normally have been his will. By contract he had only two

    more years to remain. Selfishly, he would have been better advised to drive

    for more furs by which to profit from his shares. Instead, he all but bank–

    rupted the Shelekhov colonial venture to finish his beloved schooner. He

    named his dream the Phoenix. Her keel was to be seventy-three feet, with a

    length of seventy-nine feet in the top deck and a depth of thirteen and one–

    half feet. She was to be schooner rigged. Against Shield's better judgment,

    Baranov insisted on two decks and a third mast. The labor problem alone was

    formidable; the Russians, with some justice, held that they had not come to

    America to do peasant labor but to hunt furs. At least one mutiny had to be

    put down. Resurrection Bay stands in direct path of the fearsome gales off

    the Gulf of Alaska and winter there was extremely unpleasant, a fact not

    helped by the action of the Lebedev men in cutting off their food supplies.

    Moreover, Baranov risked the enormous prestige in which he was held by the

    Aleuts. The iron in which he had paid off the natives for their labor he

    now requisitioned and, in terms of this metal, mortgaged the future pay of

    the Aleuts for years ahead. Lumber was the only commodity for shipbuilding

    existing in any abundance. Every demand for a new item caused Baranov to

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    perform miracles of ingenuity. He milked the native trees for pitch, which

    he mixed with moss in order to get calking. He used the local mountain ash

    for hardwood. For paint, he [ ?] experimented with a mixture of hot whale oil

    and red ocher from iron deposits. It proved to adhere admirably to the

    wood and also to be waterproof, but it was found impossible to control the

    shading, and when finally the painting was completed, the vessel presented

    a curious patchwork appearance. The enterprise, however, indirectly solved

    one nagging problem. [ ?] Baranov

    had feared to settle the traders' war on Cook Inlet by a show of force, be–

    cause he did not wish more reports of violence than were necessary to reach

    Russia. But when the activities of the Lebedev men threatened the finishing

    of his wonderful Phoenix , he lost his temper, went to Cook Inlet and boldly

    put the Lebedev commander in irons. This action coincided with the putting

    down of the mutiny among his men. Tikhmenev's history of these events con–

    tains in full the speech Baranov is said to have made to his men after the


            On September 16, 1794, the Phoenix was launched with only her deck work

    and cabins unfinished. It was thought that these would be added on the

    vessel's first trip to Okhotsk. There is one ironical note about her sailing

    to St. Paul under the patchwork canvas which had been put together from old

    clothing and sails that could be mustered in the colony. Shields navigated

    her but Baranov cautiously took a bidarka.

            The Phoenix was destined never to sail to Hawaii or any other glamorous

    place, but did do excellent duty on the Okhotsk to Kodiak run for years.

    Nor was Baranov ever to sail in her himself or, for that matter, see the world,

    either. He could never dare to turn his back on the colony. Shelekhov sent

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    more men, but to seek recruits he had to turn from the backwoodsmen and

    scour the cities, getting the dissolute and the incompetent and often

    convicts of the worst type who, in return for service in Russian America,

    received reprieve from exile. In 1794, too, the first priests of the

    Orthodox Church ever to come to a mission field outside of Russia came

    to Kodiak from Valaam Monastery under the leadership of the Archimandrite

    Iosaph Bolotov. Promised support in their activities by Shelekhov, a

    promise not adequately kept, they held Baranov responsible both for the

    fact they had to support themselves in the colony and for the character

    of colonial life. "An almost French licentiousness reigns here," the

    Archimandrite wrote in description of the Russians' relations with the native

    women. Other new arrivals this same year included 35 serfs and their

    families bought by Shelekhov from a bankrupt Russian estate. Shelekhov had

    represented to the government that he wished them to be the nucleus of an

    experiment in conducting an agricultural colony he meant to found at Yakutat.

    In secret instructions to Baranov, he ordered that they be used as ordinary

    laborers about the already established posts. The selling of serfs was a

    matter hedged with heavy restrictions. By imperial decree their sale was

    forbidden outside the empire and they could be used only for agriculture,

    a measure intended to prevent their use as slave labor in mines and elsewhere.

    It was obvious to what lengths Shelekhov was going in his efforts to get men.

    Baranov refused to be a party to the dangerous deception which might have

    condemned them all to penal servitude if discovered. He insisted that the

    new outpost be established at Yakutat with the serfs as a nucleus, even though

    Yakutat was unadapted for agriculture and inhabited by the dangerous and warlike

    Tlingits. The serfs attempted mutiny on discovering their destination, but

    017      |      Vol_XV-0082                                                                                                                  
    EA-Biog. Chevigny: A.A. Baranov

    Yakutat was eventually established. The sorry end to this was written in

    1805 at the complete massacre of the Yakutat colony by the Tlingits.

            No more ships were to come from Russia for three years; news was to

    come only fragmentarily. The colony had to subsist without luxuries

    until Joseph O'Cain returned in the ship, Enterprise , to keep his promise

    to bring Baranov goods from Boston. Shelekhov died in 1795 but they

    weren't to hear about that until long after it happened, or about the fact

    that Empress Catherine died in 1796 and that [ ?] her son, the Mad Tsar,

    Paul, was only with the utmost difficulty prevented from wiping out the

    company of merchants, whom he hated, and recalling the Russians from


            Perhaps it was as well these events at home were not known. Baranov's

    term of service was up and he remained, despite lack of replies to his pleas

    to be relieved, out of a sense of duty. Then other binding influences came

    to hold him. His Kenaitze wife bore him his first and only son, Antipatr,

    in 1797, and in 1802 his daughter, Irina, was born. Children by the native

    women were the strongest influence making Russians permanent residents in

    America. Since the native custom held the children to be the property of

    the mothers, there was much trouble when fathers returning to Russia attempted

    to take their offspring with them. Even had he wished to go against his own

    expressed opinions in this matter, Baranov still had a wife living in Russia,

    and these children, if taken there, would have been illegitimate. The trap

    had sprung on him. Any joy he might have had in his children was destroyed,

    as much as lay in their power to destroy it, by the priests. Father Nektar

    and others, having learned the Aleut tongue, after a time made considerable

    headway Christianizing the Aleuts and succeeded in strongly attracting

    Baranov's wife to the faith. The record is not clear as to precisely what

    018      |      Vol_XV-0083                                                                                                                  
    EA-Biog. Chevigny: A.A. Baranov

    happened, but it would seem that on one occasion Anna Grigoryevna attempted

    to kill her baby son, perhaps having been told she was living in sin with

    Baranov. He records that for a time he had to take the child from her.

    Then, however, some rationalizing of the situation was achieved, as shown

    by the fact that Anna remained his consort through the years. The children

    were eventually legitimitized by special ukase of Tsar Alexander I.

            In 1795, Shields completed the building of two small sloops, Dolphin

    and Olga . The latter became Baranov's private vessel, Shields having

    taught him navigation. That summer, with only his trusted lieutenant, Ivan

    Kuskov, and Richard, his Bengalese servant and constant companions, as crew,

    he undertook to sail to the vicinity of Sitka to explore for a site for a

    new post. Shields, who in the Eagle convoyed the bidarka fleet of 500

    canoes on its summer hunt, was supposed to meet him, but they missed each

    other and Baranov penetrated the Tlingit stronghold of Sitka, threading its

    intricate waterways alone with his crew. Four years later, in 1799, he

    advanced with his Russians and his Aleuts to found Fort St. Michael at Sitka.

            It was accomplished in the face of the usual difficulties — few men,

    poor equipment, lack of ships — together with an added hazard, the resent–

    ment of the neighboring Tlingits. Despite a few horrific episodes of

    repellent aspects, for the most part the relations of the Russians with the

    native tribes had been serene. In some respects it was a notably better

    history than has been the case with other European colonizers. The Russians

    at least recognized no color line and did not regard the natives as an

    inferior race. Their mixed-blood children were under no social stigma.

    Perhaps, if the Tlingits had not been conditioned to hate all white men

    through their contacts with the foreign shipmasters, the history of their

    019      |      Vol_XV-0084                                                                                                                  
    EA-Biog. Chevigny: A.A. Baranov

    relations with the Russians might have been happier for both. Since 1790,

    trading vessels had been coming in numbers, the Yankees yearly gaining over

    the British. Some of the shipmasters had been both treacherous and cruel;

    one Captain Henry Barber, for example, was notor i ous for inviting natives

    aboard to trade, then holding them for large ransoms in furs. The Indians

    of the Queen Charlotte Islands had retaliated by burning several ships and

    enslaving the crews. The Sitka Tlingits saw no reason to view the Russians

    in any better light. Any fort built among them would have to be a redoubt

    strong enough to withstand siege and guarded at all times against surprise attack.

            Nevertheless, it was imperative from the Russian point of view that a

    foothold be gained at Sitka. This was not only the center of the rich fur

    ground but the focal point of foreign trading expeditions. The activities of

    the foreign traders were flooding Canton with furs. This had a depressing

    effect on the Russian's market at Irkutsk. It was advisable to try to take

    over this trading with the foreigners, if only to control this aspect of the

    situation. But there was still another reason. The British brought a good

    deal of rum to the natives, and both British and Yankees brought firearms

    and ammunition. Baranov had never forgotten the factor that condemned him

    to life in America. The selling of powder and shot to natives always elicited

    his most severe punishments. Weapons in the hands of the Tlingits were a

    constant menace to peace, for the northern colonies had forever to be on the

    alert against their war parties.

            Nevertheless, there was no open opposition from the Tlingits when the

    site of the new fort was selected, and, indeed, the chief of the Sitkans

    apparently agreed to cede it on the offer of purchase. Construction was

    completed by Easter of 1800. The main building was an immensely strong

    two-story fort in frontier style, measuring 50 by 70 feet in ground space,

    020      |      Vol_XV-0085                                                                                                                  
    EA-Biog. Chevigny: A.A. Baranov

    and with the upper story jutting out 2 feet over the lower. Two sentry

    towers could give clear awareness of any approaching attack from any direction.

    Cook houses, barns, and other outbuildings were also erected; and all were

    enclosed within a palisade of logs. The men had built in an atmosphere of

    the utmost tension, for from all sides came rumors that the various tribes

    of the Tlingit conferacy had been severely critical of the Sitkan chief for

    permitting them to build, and there was every other evidence of unremitting

    hostility. The Russians, however, hoped by precept and example to allay

    suspic i ons in future years. In June, Baranov returned to Kodiak, leaving

    Medvednikov in command of 50 of his most able Russians, together with 400

    Aleut males and 50 women.

            Baranov intended this to be his last major work on behalf of the Company.

    He had no supplies from home for two years, but there had been news which

    was all bad. Such wealth as he had had in Russia was gone. One of his former

    partners in the glass factory in Irkutsk had misappropriated the funds and

    Baranov was in debt. His brother, Pyotr, still had the trading business in

    Anadyr but it amounted to little. Baranov was still supporting his Russian

    wife, and it was high time he looked after his personal interests, unless,

    as he expressed it, he expected to die in poverty. Tsar Paul, the news ran,

    was still unfriendly to the Company, and in Irkutsk there had been only dis–

    organization since the death of Shelekhov. Baranov's requests to be replaced

    went unanswered. In 1802, he still had no answer; there had been no ship from

    Russia for four years. Everyone believed the Company had actually been dis–

    solved. The second visit of Joseph O'Cain with a ship the previous year had

    been, except for the trading with the Yankees at Sitka, the colony's only

    source of civilized clothing, food, and such luxuries as tea and sugar.

    021      |      Vol_XV-0086                                                                                                                  
    EA-Biog. Chevigny: A.A. Baronov

            Then came startling news. One Ivan Banner, who had been delayed by

    shipwreck, came with documents announcing the formation of the Russian–

    American Company. In 1799, Nikolai Rezanov, a young nobleman who had

    married a Shelekhov daughter, had persuaded unstable Tsar Paul to sign

    the charter for a new corporation modeled to an extent on the design of the

    British East India Company. All of Shelekhov's old dreams were comprised in

    this charter; the Company was to be controlled by merchants but was, in

    effect, Imperial Russia's instrument for colonization and development as

    well as exploitation. All existing trading companies in the Pacific had

    to merge with the new corporation or go out of business. The Company could

    maintain a navy, a standing army, make treaties to a limited extent, and its

    jurisdiction extended from the Siberian coast to America and southward to an

    undetermined degree. Baranov was appointed Governor ( glavnui pravityal ),

    given a substantial share of stock in the new company, and was awarded the

    cross of St. Vladimir.

            As Banner had been on his way with this news, other tremendous events

    had taken place. Tsar Paul had been assassinated. The new Tsar, Alexander I,

    was a friend of Rezanov and had not only confirmed the charter granted by his

    father but had given it additional powers and had himself, together with other

    members of the imperial family, bought stock in the Russian-American Company.

    There was now no longer question about imperial intentions in the Pacific.

    But any elation that Baranov might have felt about all this and the recognition

    at long last given him for his efforts was wiped out in the news that came

    to him two months later, in July. Captain Henry Barber, the very shipmaster

    whose trading activities had caused the greatest amount of hostility among

    the Tlingits, came into St. Paul harbor with the only survivors of the Fort

    022      |      Vol_XV-0087                                                                                                                  
    EA-Biog. Chevigny: A.A. Baranov

    St. Michael garrison. The place had been surprised, burnt to the ground,

    and all but a handful of its people massacred. To complete the sorry

    episode, Captain Barber demanded and received of Baranov a huge ransum in

    furs for the survivors.

            The retaking of Sitka became for Baranov an obsession beside which the

    building of the Phoenix had been a mere whim. But his best men had been

    lost, morale was shattered among those who remained, and even if the men

    had been willing most of their armament had been lost at Sitka. In the

    midst of his scheming came word that by special ukase, the tsar had lifted

    him forever from the low class in which he had been born and granted him

    minor nobility with the title of Collegiate Councilor. There would now

    be no having to stand, cap in hand, before higher authority. His gratitude

    was boundless, and to the directors of the Company he wrote that he intended

    to reward his imperial benefactor with the retaking of his property or die

    in the attempt.

            Succor once more came in the form of Joseph O'Cain, who arrived in his

    own vessel, the O'Cain , with the news that he had formed a partnership with

    the Winships of Boston who also intended, if Baranov approved, to form a

    business alliance with the Russians that would keep them dependably supplied

    and effect a line of communication between Russian America, Hawaii, and

    Canton. O'Cain had for sale, in addition to the necessaries of life, the guns,

    cannon, and ammunition Baranov would need for the retaking of Sitka, but

    Baranov had no furs with [ ?] which to buy. The disaster to Sitka had dis–

    organized hunting for two years. The resourceful O'Cain suggested an

    arrangement that was to become the principal method of hunting furs on the

    American coast for the next twenty years. He would convey a fleet of bidarkas

    and their Aleuts for a winter of hunting along the California coast; half the

    023      |      Vol_XV-0088                                                                                                                  
    EA-Bigo. Chevigny: A.A. Baranov

    catch would be the Company's. Spanish law forbade encroachments of any

    kind along California, but Baranov consented, stipulating that only Russian

    overseers could give orders to the Aleuts, that the Aleuts had to be paid,

    and that in the event of loss of any man his family had to becompensated

    at the rate of $250 Spanish. The following year O'Cain returned with the

    crew of Aleuts intact and a profit of $80,000 Spanish as the Russians' share,

    more than enough to buy the cargo and equipment Baranov needed for the

    retaking of Sitka.

            There had been news that Rezanov would visit the colonies in person,

    coming in one of two frigates that for the first time were carrying the

    Russian colors around the world. Baranov, however, did not wa ti it for this

    possible assistance but, in September of 1804, gathered his flotilla of

    two schooners, two crude new sloops, and several hundred canoes at Yakutat

    for the advance. By good fortune, one of the two frigates reported on the

    way, the Neva, arrived on the scene, and Captain Lisianski offered the

    services of his crew and his guns. Baranov was determined to banish the

    Tlingits from Sitka Island. After a prolonged siege and various attack, one

    of which Baranov led in person and in which he was wounded, the site of

    Sitka village was taken and here, on an elevated eminence some distance

    from the old location, Baranov determined to plant his new post. He called

    it New Archangel.

            Once more an achievement was to be his last. When Rezanov came, in

    1805, Baranov insisted upon being relieved of his command, and Rexanov wrote

    to the directors there was no doubt that the old man wished this. There is

    reason to think that Baranov planned to visit Boston, among other places, as

    the guest of his friend O'Cain. News of the death of his Russian wife told

    024      |      Vol_XV-0089                                                                                                                  
    EA-Biog. Chevigny: A.A. Baranov

    Baranov that now there was no further bar eventually to having his children

    educated in Russia. The decree of legitimatization acknowledged the noble

    blood of his Indian wife, titling her the "Princess of Kenai." This

    guaranteed the education of his children in the nobles' schools. He retired

    to Kodiak, to await the results of Rezanov's return visit to St. Petersburg

    and also the return of O'Cain, who had gone to Canton to sell furs for him.

    He left New Archangel in command of Ivan Kuskov, entrusting to his most

    able lieutenant the task of building the strongest and largest redoubt that

    could be made of wood. Once more, however, there were disappointments.

    Rezanov was killed crossing Siberia, O'Cain was lost at sea. The Napoleonic

    wars were raging in Europe and the Company directors wrote it was doubtful

    when a competent successor could find his way to America. Brooding under

    the feeling that these events might be a sign on the part of Providence

    showing it was wrong for him to try to leave, Baranov reluctantly returned

    to New Archangel in 1808 to carry on as Governor.

            The structure built by Kuskov was America's only true castle, even

    though built entirely of wood. It had bastions and papapets guarded by

    60 guns that commanded the harbor entrance, and surmounting it was the

    governor's residence. Various shipmasters brought articles of fine furniture,

    including a piano, and one of Baranov's prides was his library. It was a

    collection to have astonished anyone, for in it were the books Rexanov had

    brought to America with the idea he would found a university at Kodiak,

    and several items of great artistic value which Rezanov, who had meant to

    comprise in his journey to the Pacific the task of opening Japan to trade,

    had brought as gifts to the Mikado from the Tsar. The household consisted

    of Baranov, his wife, his two children, his nephew Ivan Kiglinov who

    025      |      Vol_XV-0090                                                                                                                  
    EA-Biog. Chevigny: A.A. Baranov

    functioned as his secretary, a German governess for Irina, his servant

    Richard, and one Abram Jones, a young Bostonian whohad come to New Arch–

    angel as sailor on an O'Cain vessel but remained as tutor to Baranov's


            Baranov seldom left his castle. He had become quite bald, his long

    years of privations had taken their toll in the form of arthritis, and

    his sight was dimming. He received [ ?] the shipmasters in a fine office,

    and tales of his banquets were told all over the trade world. It is from

    this period in Baranov's life that Washington Irving took the word portrait

    he presents in Astoria . But that there was considerable truth in the stories

    was attested to by Captain John Ebbets who said, apropos of the drinking

    that was insisted upon at the banquets, "It is as much as one's health is

    worth to do business with him." Baranov had always used liquor in great quantities,

    maintaining that it fortified him against the climate, but there is no

    evidence that his drinking had ever interfered with his ability to conclude

    a bargain. Indeed, it was said, ruefully by some, that Baranov's ability

    to stay sober was the real secret of his success as a trader. Nor did Baranov

    ever deny anyone else the privilege of drinking, if the supply was available.

    A feature of life in the old days at St. Paul had always been the barrel in

    which kvass-yeast kept in a state of fermentation a concotion of sugar,

    cranberries, whatever local fruits were available, rye, meal, flour, and

    water; everyone had always been welcome to partake of this, which was looked

    on as a preventative for scurvy. So there is little doubt that, now there

    was a plentiful supply of such favorite beverages as New England rum, life

    at New Archang e l, particularly when there were visitors, was a merry one.

            The significant position of New Archangel in world trade at this period

    is now largely forgotten by historians. It is no exaggeration to call it the

    026      |      Vol_XV-0091                                                                                                                  
    EA-Biog. Chevigny: A.A. Baranov

    only city of importance on the western coast of North America. It must be

    borne in mind that San Francisco and other Spanish settlements were closed

    by Spanish law to trade. This left New Archangel, except for Honolulu, the

    only major port-of-call on the American side of the Pacific. New Archangel

    had a shipyard, presided over by a master-builder named Lincoln who had

    entered Baranov's service, into which vessels could put for repairs. A

    foundry supplied even some of the California missions with their bells.

    It was a pivotal point in the trade with the Orient on which Massachusetts

    had found freedom from the monopoly of shipping by the British East India

    Company. For, from the Russians, they could buy furs with which to buy the

    tea from the Chinese that New England had come to value fully as much as

    the Russians.

            Nevertheless, Baranov hoped for the end of the Napoleonic wars and

    to be relieved of his command. He did not feel adequate to the task of

    heading the Russian-American Company. Rezanov's plan had been on an order of

    statesmanship that he did not feel competent to fulfill, and the orders from

    the directors called for expansion into areas where he did not feel he had

    the diplomacy to tread. But in the absence of anyone of any greater ability

    he did the best he could. He initiated the drive to penetrate southward

    along the west coast of America to Mexico, by ordering expeditions to explore

    the mouth of the Columbia River and to look for a site for an outpost even

    in California. He was not quick enough in the first instance, however, and

    John Jacob Astor and his company established Astoria on the site which

    Rezanov had had in mine on the Columbia River. There was more success in

    California; after his preliminary survey, Ivan Kuskov established, two miles

    north of San Francisco, the famous Fort Ross, in 1812.

            Hawaii was next on the agenda as a site for a foothold. Baranov was on

    027      |      Vol_XV-0092                                                                                                                  
    EA-Biog. Chevigny: A.A. Baranov

    excellent terms with King Kamehameha, who looked on him as a brother king

    in the Pacific and had repeatedly sent him valuable presents and tokens of

    affection and esteem. It was important that much be accomplished during

    the period when Europe was busy with Napolean. The preoccupation of Europe

    with the task of defeating the French dictator meant that in the Pacific

    Russia could seize the advantage without too much interference or notice

    being taken.

            In 1809, however, an event occurred which, because it finally robbed

    Baranov of initiative and gave him at long last a sense of futility, in

    large measure was the real reason for the Russian failure to male full use

    of the opportunity in the Pacific. It has been noted that the men sent to

    Baranov were seldom of good caliber. They had often been drawn from the

    Siberian convict class. Now there was a new element, political offenders,

    revolutionists. Baranov discovered a plot in the New Archangel garrison to

    seize control of several ships and depart for the south seas. The plot

    also called for the assassination of Baranov together with his children.

    It was accompanied by manifestos and other pronouncements of a kind Baranov

    had never seen. They accused him of being a cruel despot, an arbitrary

    ruler, and an exploiter of human souls. The old man felt that at New Archangel

    they all lived in ease and luxury, and he had come to look upon himself as

    a kindly father to the Company's people. He was heartbroken and never fully

    recovered from the discovery of the opinion in which he was held by some.

    He became listless and indifferent to the pressure of the need for action.

    Had it not been for Kuskov's personal ambition to be the commander of an

    important post, Fort Ross would probably not have been founded, at least

    not at that juncture.

    028      |      Vol_XV-0093                                                                                                                  
    EA-Biog. Chevigny: A.A. Baranov

            Financially, the Company was doing very well. The sea otter were

    now largely coming from the California coast, caught by the Aleuts in

    their canoe fleets, convoyed by the Yankees who also functioned on shares.

    There was much friction with the Spanish government over this, and often

    there were captures of Aleuts and Russians with internment at Santa Barbara

    and other missions. But this meant that one more fur area was being depleted.

    It was imperative that the Company develop other resources. Even through

    Baranov's gloom there penetrated the obvious necessity of establishing in

    Hawaii, in order to have a trading station there and a permanent post on

    the Canton trade route.

            He came out of his lethargy in 1813. Two men, sent by the Company to

    succeed him, had both died on the way. One had been his old friend General

    Ivan Koch; Bornovolokov, the second, went down with the Neva . Seemingly

    they all died, when they set out to take him away — Rezanov, O'Cain, and

    now there were these new deaths. There was no doubt in Baranov's mind the

    will of God kept him in America. Soem of his old energy returned. Because

    of the War of 1812, between the United States and Britain, many Yankees

    shipmasters were willing to sell their vessels, to prevent their falling into

    the bands of the British, and to go into his service. He instituted a

    vigorous direct trade with Canton, cultivated the Spanish in both California

    and the Philippines, and kept his eye out for the right man to perform the

    delicate task of establishing in Hawaii. He thought he found him in Dr. Georg

    Scheffer, a plausible young man of German birth who was somewhat of a linguist,

    a ship's surgeon, and had had various adventures about the world. He had lived

    in Moscow, where he was said to have been a staff surgeon with the police

    department, and had been active at the seige of Moscow by Napoleon. Unfor–

    tunately, it proved a sorry choice.

    029      |      Vol_XV-0094                                                                                                                  
    EA-Biog. Chevigny: A.A. Baranov

            The Scheffer expedition to the Hawaiian Islands was Baranov's only

    great failure. The mission should have been one of extreme delicacy.

    Kamehameha had always refused, despite his desire to maintain good relations

    with all the world and his encouragement of foreign shipping, to permit

    permanent foreign establishments on his islands. Both because Scheffer was

    a physician and Baranov's representative, however, the king received him

    cordially and granted him and his retinue grounds for an estate on Oahu Island.

    But Scheffer ambitiously believed he saw the opportunity for a direct con–

    tact between himself and the Russian Emperor, and after intriguing with

    the one chief on the islands whom Kamehameha had never altogether subdued,

    Kaukualii, Scheffer wrote to St. Petersburg asking for direct help to conquer

    the king. Long since, the king had placed himself under the protection of

    England's King George; Russia and Britain were at this time allies, and,

    naturally, all that could follow was immediate disavowal by the Russian

    foreign office not only of Scheffer but of any intention whatever, by the

    Russian-American Company or any other Russian instrument, to encroagh in

    the Hawaiian Islands. On the islands, Scheffer's shifty friend Kaumualii,

    deserted him on hearing this, and Scheffer and his Russians were forced to

    evacuate Kauai Island before a hostile force of natives who almost killed

    them all. The episode cost the Company more than a quarter million rubles,

    lost forever the opportunity for a foothold in the islands, and cost Baranov

    the friendship of the old king. More, it all gave certain enemies of the

    Russian-American Company the opportunity they had been seeking.

            Baranov's lowly birth, despite the august souce of the decree elevating

    him socially and officially, was never forgotten by those fortunate enough

    to have been born to a higher station. The need to humble himself to those

    of higher status than his in the complicated social hierarchy of Russian

    030      |      Vol_XV-0095                                                                                                                  
    EA-Biog. Chevigny: A.A. Baranov

    life had always been a heavy cross to Baranov and often a definite setback

    to his effectiveness as a leader. However, he came to believe that his

    achievements, if not his new rank, entitled him to respect and he brooked

    no more of what he had had to endure in former years. In 1814, the arrogance

    and insolence of Captain Lozarev, commander of the frigate Suvarov , which

    was in Company service and subject to Baranov's orders when in colonial

    waters, provoked a quarrel so violent that at one point both the frigate

    and the New Archangel bastions trained their guns on each other in prepara–

    tion for a real fight. Both sides preferred charges before the Admiralty

    in St. Petersburg, and although Lozarev was found guilty on a few counts,

    the episode, together with the Scheffer affair, wrote the bitter end

    to Baranov's career.

            The Navy had never been notably friendly to the Company. The feeling

    was strong about merchants heading an enterprise whose operations were

    largely maritime. Many of the higher officers of the Admiralty had seen

    service with the British, but they were also largely from the upper Russian

    classes and deeply ingrained with a sense of contempt for merchants. For

    example, in the writings of Admiral Krusenstern, who never saw the colonies

    but bitterly attacked them, we sense the dominant spirit. The Napoleonic

    wars gave enormous impetus to the development of the Russian Navy, but at

    the end of the war the navy personnel saw little future ahead for their

    training and talents, unless it was in the Pacific in Company service. From

    time to time there were official measures taken to make trained naval

    officers and navigators available to the Company, but few among the takers

    of the offer had been men of genuine ability and more often, like Lozarev,

    they proved more trouble than they were worth. What the Navy really wanted

    was to control the Company. The Lozarev affair brought their resentment into

    the open, and the Scheffer episode weakened the Company's position. It did

    031      |      Vol_XV-0096                                                                                                                  
    EA-Biog. Chevigny: A.A. Baranov

    seem as if the empire might be better served by men trained in official life.

            By the terms of its charter, the Company had to apply for renewal

    every twenty years. Knowing that the government planned an investigation

    of conditions in the Pacific before granting renewal, the Company directors,

    in 1818, ordered one of their own. Captain V. I. Golovnin, commander of the

    Okhotsk naval district, compiled one report for the government; it raked

    the ashes of the past as far back as Shelekhov's earliest days. Golovnin

    analyzed Shelekhov's early claims in order to show, he stated, the composi–

    tion of the merchant mind and the essential dishonesty which was its

    main component. The Company chose as its investigator another naval officer,

    Captain Leontii Hagemeister, for reasons now entirely beyond ascertaining.

            Perhaps the directors were playing politics with the Admiralty, perhaps

    they genuinely suspected that Baranov had been stealing from the Company.

    It is difficult now to decide from the record whether the intention to inves–

    tigate Baranov's personal affairs as well as his official acts was entirely

    Hagemeister's idea or the director's. Hagemeister stood well in official

    circles. He had seen Pacific service and had once been proposed as successor

    to Baranov. But once, at Hawaii, he had almost alienated King Kamehameha by

    his brusque manner, long before the Scheffer episode, and there are other

    evidences of his poorness at diplomacy. With the two frigates, Suvarov and

    Kutusov , he arrived at New Archangel in November of 1817. His chief officer

    was Lt. Simeon Ivanovich Yanovski, who had been under Lozarev at the time

    of the famous quarrel. Yanovski was a young man of excellent family whose

    ancestry was Polish; he seems to have had the polish and diplomacy that

    Hagemeister lacked. The colony was tense on their arrival, for the rumor

    was out that they had come to do Baranov damage if possible. Instead of

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    EA-Biog. Chevigny: A.A. Barnov

    broaching the subject of his mission at once, Hagemeister attempted to pump

    various old employees, adding the impression he thought Baranov a thier

    who had amassed millio sn ns and had deposited them in various banks about the

    world through his foreign shipmaster friends.

            A complication arose in the fact that an attachment sprang up quickly

    between Yanovski and Irina, Baranov's daughter, who was now of marriageable

    age and said to be very attractive. Hagemeister at length let his cat out

    of the bag but in such a manner as to prostrate old Baranov. Two months

    of inquiry had failed to revealanything of the kind he suspected, and per–

    emptorily he told the old man he was relieved of command, ordering him to

    produce his books of accounts forthwith. When he recovered, Baranov stated

    he was not a thief, had no fortune other than that represented by his Company

    shares and such property as he owned in America. As for the books, so many

    of them had been kept in the old days on so many different kinds of paper

    and by so many different bookkeepers, including himself, that it would take

    a long time and require his help in making the audit. There was nothing to

    do by but accept Baranov's offer.

            The date of this occasion is January 22, 1818. Baranov dearly loved

    his daughter, had brought her up with every care he could lavish on her.

    It is not too much to assume that the opportunity to have her marry so

    obviously desirable a man as Yanovski influenced him to take this cooperative

    attitude, even in the face of these otherwise insulting circumstances.

    The marriage took place in the church Baranov had had built at New Archangel

    and the couple left for a wedding trip to Kodiak and Alaska Peninsula, which

    Yanovski wished to explore. With the help of Kyrill Khlebnikov, the Company's

    chief accountant at Sitka, Baranov set to work to segregate the Company's

    colonial wealth. The task took eight months. As each item passed in review,

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    EA-Biog. Chevigny: A.A. Barnov

    old times came back to Baranov's memory and it is these reminiscences which

    Khlebnikov later made the basis for his short but definitive biography.

    Baranov's portrait was also painted at this time, by the painter Tikhanov,

    who was aboard a visiting Russian warship.

            In the twenty-eight years of his administration, the report showed,

    the original colony had expanded to twenty-four establishments. The north

    island establishments were: St. Paul village, four other stations on

    Kodiak, a sealing station on the Pribylof Islands, four other stations on

    Okamuk, Atka, Bering, and Unalaska islands. The north mainland stations

    were: Katmai, the three old forts on Cook Inlet, Resurrection Harbor,

    and Fort Constantine and Fort St. Helena on Prince William Sound. On the

    south mainland were two small forts near St. Elias, New Archangel with a

    small settlement nearby, and Fort Ross in California. The census showed

    391 men and 13 women of Russian blood, and 244 men and 111 women of mixed

    blood. Eight thousand three hundred and eighty-four male natives were

    available for Company service. One hundred and ninety-eight of the Russians

    were at New Archangel, 27 at Fort Ross with about 60 natives.

            The worth of New Archangel alone was two and one half million rubles.

    (To approximate this worth in terms of 1947 American dollars, these sums

    would have to be multiplied by about fifty.) The total worth of the

    Company in America was estimated at seven million rubles. Nine vessels

    had been built in America, 5 bought of foreigners, and 4 frigates purchased

    in Europe. In twenty-one years Baranov had received shipments worth two

    million eight hundred thousand rubles but had sold at Canton three million

    six hundred and forty-eight thousand rubles' worth in trade, and through

    Irktusk sixteen million six thousand six hundred and ninety-six rubles'

    034      |      Vol_XV-0099                                                                                                                  
    EA-Biog. Chevigny: A.A. Baranov

    worth. It was an impressive tribute to Baranov's ability as a business man.

    The net profit for the year 1817 alone was close to one and a quarter million

    rubles. Russian-American Company shares were quoted at 592.53, with a par

    value of 100. "In the cash accounts, involving millions," wrote Khlebnikov,

    "I found not one discrepancy." Of all the supply accounts, the only one

    showing discrepancy was the item of liquor.

            Of Baranov's reputed wealth in foreign banks there was not a trace.

    He was proven a poor man. He had given away, to Kuskov, to Banner, to other

    old friends and employees, as well as to the school at Kodiak, a good share

    of his earnings. His yearly income is difficult to estimate but it would

    seem to have come to about eight thousand rubles, and he had held on to

    little of it.

            The report was presented in September, 1818, to Lt. Yanovski, who had

    been appointed Baranov's successor. Hagemeister had named him, perhaps

    realizing that he himself could never, so long as the colony remained

    fiercely loyal to Baranov, govern in person.

            Perhaps the bitterest disappointment for Baranov was the realization

    that the Company had neither another post for him nor even a pension.

    Delarov, the Shelekhov manager he had replaced at Kodiak in 1791, had served

    as a director for many years, but Baranov seemed faced with the need to live

    on his meager savings. He aged rapidly in the weeks that followed as he con–

    sidered various plans and quickly changed his mind about each. For a time he

    thought of going to Hawaii to spend his last days with his distant friend the

    old king, Kamehameha, with whom he had resumed cautious friendly relations

    some time before. Then he thought of rejoining his brother, who was still

    an Anadyr trader. He thought of retiring to Ozerskoye redoubt, and then

    035      |      Vol_XV-0100                                                                                                                  
    EA-Biog. Chevigny: A.A. Baranov

    thought of living out his days on Kodiak. But it was necessary that Baranov

    leave America, if anyone, however well-intentioned, meant to govern success–

    fully. It was Capt. Golovnin, one of Baranov's severest critics, who

    solved his two most pressing worries. He promised to sponsor his son, Antipatr,

    at the naval cadet school in St. Petersburg, and prevailed upon the Company

    directors to do their duty and offer the old man at least an advisory post

    with an opportunity to reside in St. Petersburg where he could enjoy the

    honors due him.

            Baranov left America forever on December 1, 1818. Once he had made

    his decision to leave, such hurried operations were made to get him away

    that he could not even visit Kodiak. Anna Grigoryevna was there, sent there

    after the attempt to assassinate the family, but he could not go to see

    her. It seems strange that Baranov's children did not intervene in this

    somewhat cruel contravention of sentiment. Anna was provided for, however,

    with a pension. He boarded the Kutusov with his nephew, Ivan Kuglinov, and

    they sailed with Hagemeister in command.

            Perhaps fearing to have the old man meet Kamehameha at long last and

    decide after all to remain in Hawaii, something which would certainly have

    caused a disturbance, Hagemeister passed Honolulu without a stop and anchor

    was not cast until, after a ten-week passage, they touched Batavia. Here

    the frigate remained thirty-six days while Hagemeister attempted to

    establish commercial relations. The change in climate, the inactivity, had

    their effect.

            They buried Baranov at sea, in the Strait of Sunda between Java and

    Sumatra. The date, by the Russian calendar, was April 13, 1819.

            The name of Baranov survives only in the mountains and other geographic

    036      |      Vol_XV-0101                                                                                                                  
    EA-Biog. Chevigny: A.A. Baranov

    places named after him, and in the numerous legends which attach to it.

    No male descendants survived. Yanovski left America in 1821 and the

    prediction of the old monk, Father Herman, that his wife would not long

    survive St. Petersburg life, came true. Although she bore one or two

    ddaughters, she had but one son and he entered the church, becoming the

    Archmonk Christopher. Antipatr also failed to survive city life for

    long, dying unmarried.

            After Yanovski there were many governors at Sitka, mostly from the

    navy and each higher in rank than the last, until Prince Maksoutov was in

    command. But something vital had gone with Baranov. The Russian-American

    Company had two more charter renewals, but, although its neighbors prospered,

    it went progressively down hill, until it was decided it was a useless

    instrument both of business and empire, and all of its holdings were sold

    to the United States in 1867. During his lifetime, Baranov saw both

    the rise and wane of Russia's only colonial venture beyond the seas.

    037      |      Vol_XV-0102                                                                                                                  
    EA-Biog. Chevigny: A.A. Baranov


    Baranov, A.A. Misc. papers in Nat'l. Archives, Washington, D.C.

    Berkh, V.N. Khronologiskaya istorya 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.

    Davidov, G. Dvukratnoye Puteshestvye iv Ameriku Morskikh Ofitserov Khvostova

    i Davidova
    (Two Voyages of the Naval Officers Khvostov and Davidov

    to America), St. Petersburg, 1810.

    Golovnin, V.M. Obsor Russkikh Kolonii iv Severnoi Amerikye (Report on the

    Colonies in North America); Memories of a Captivity in Japan,

    London, 1824; Puteshetvye Ross. Imp. shlyupa Diani iz Kronshtata

    iv Kamchatku, St. Petersburg, 1819.

    Khlebnikov, K.T. Zhizneopisanye Aleksandra Andrevicha Baranova, glavnavo

    pravitelya Russkikh kolonii iv Amerikye
    (Biography of Aleksandr

    Andrevich Baranov, chief manager of the Russian colonies in

    America), St. Petersburg, 1835.

    Politovski, N. Kratkoye Istoricheskoye Obozrenye Obrazovanya i deistvya

    [ ?] Rossiisko-Amerikansko Kompani (Short Historical review of

    the formation and proceedings of the Russian-American Company),

    St. Petersburg, 1861.

    Tikhmenyev, P. Istoricheskoye Obozrenye Obrazovanya Rossiisko-Amerikanskoi

    Kompanii i deistvii eya do nastoishchnavo vremenii

    Review of the formation of the Russian-American Company and its

    proceedings down to the present times), St. Petersburg, 1863.

    ----.. Materialui dlya istorii russkikh zaselenii po beregam Vostotchnavo

    (Materials for a history of the Russian settlements on the

    eastern ocean), Press of the Ministry of Marine, St. Petersburg, 1861.

    Encyclopedia articles on Baranov exist in all major Russian encycl. works.

    English primary-sources are fragmentary but important, notably Vancouver's

    Voyages. First-hand portraits exist in D'Wolf, J., Voyage to the North

    Pacific and a journey [ ?] through Siberia
    , Cambridge, 1861.

            Two important bibliographies have been collated listing all source material:

    Wickersham, J. A Bibliography of Alaskan History, Cordova, 1927, and

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

    Washington, D.C., 1917.

            The Nat'l Archives at Washington contain many documents taken from Sitka in 1867

    relating to Baranov.

    Chevigny.,H. Lord of Alaska, is the only full-length biography of Baranov

    in English (Vikings, 1942).


    Hector Chevigny

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