What were the arguments in opposition to the purchase of Alaska?

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Public opinion was generally supportive of the United States' purchase of Alaska from Russia in 1867. The United States was becoming an increasingly important player on the international stage and the purchase of such a large, strategically significant piece of territory symbolized America's developing status as a great power.

However, not all were convinced. Some regarded the purchase of Alaska as a waste of taxpayers' money. Opponents christened the deal "Seward's folly" after the Secretary of State William H. Seward. To them, Alaska was nothing more than a gigantic icy wasteland, with little in the way of strategic or economic value. Aside from the cost of buying Alaska, the U.S. government would now be required to spend additional sums on administering and defending the new territory despite the fact that few if any Americans would choose to settle there. And all this unnecessary expense—so opponents believed—would be wasted on a frozen wilderness with nothing to offer but fur-bearing animals, which had in any case already been hunted to within an ace of extinction.

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