What was the public opinion about the purchase of Alaska in 1867, and how did it relate to the start of the US as a global power?
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Secretary of State William Seward's decision to purchase Alaska was controversial. Public opinion during the period was influenced by newspapers, which sneered at what they called "Seward's Folly" or "Seward's Icebox." They saw no reason to purchase the land from Russia. On the other hand, there were many interested parties in the region. Many mining companies were well aware that Alaska was rich in minerals, and joined logging companies and others who were eager to profit from the region. The Western Union telegraph company also looked forward to setting up lines connecting Alaska to the United States. Many others were interested in the fishing grounds in Alaskan waters. So there was a substantial amount of support for the measure, though investment never really took off until the discovery of gold fields in the region in the 1890s. Modern historians take a number of views of the purchase, viewing it alternately as the beginning of US imperialism, as a shrewd foreign policy decision that eliminated a source of conflict with Imperial Russia , or in terms of the effects of the purchase on indigenous peoples in the region.
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