The purchase of Alaska was called Seward's Folly because it was considered to have been a mistake. The U.S. Secretary of State at the time, William H. Seward, arranged the deal for the United States to purchase Alaska from Russia. The sale was conducted for only $7 million dollars. Russia was eager to sell the land, as it was largely undeveloped and did not seem to hold much value. Additionally, Alaska was very far from Western Russia where the majority of the Russian population resided.
While many considered the purchase of Alaska to be a mistake, and the purchase of Alaska was barely approved by the U.S. Senate, it turned out to hold great value. The discovery of gold in Alaska was the first sign of its actual value. The later discovery of oil in Alaska further established the true value of "Seward's Folly."