In 1867, Andrew Johnson’s radical Secretary of State signed a deal with Russia, buying “Seward’s Icebox” for $7.2 million. At that time, that worked out to roughly 2 cents an acre. In today’s dollars, William H. Seward would have bought Alaska for around 30 cents an acre.
Johanna Kinney, City Clerk in Seward, said they’ll be closing offices today to celebrate “Seward’s Folly.”
Kinney: “I think it’s an important day, and as it’s our namesake of our town, city offices and state offices are going to be closed in observance of Seward’s Day and William H. Seward and his foresight and wisdom in acquiring our great state of Alaska.”
The purchase was nicknamed “Seward’s Folly” at the time, and only passed Congress by one vote. It took another 30 years before the Klondike gold strike changed public opinion about the value of Alaska.