History & Celebrations Today – March 30

Celebrations Today – March 30

Holidays and observances

Celebrations Today – USA: March 30

National Doctors Day
National I Am in Control Day
National Pencil Day
National Take a Walk in the Park Day
National Turkey Neck Soup Day
National Knights of Columbus Founders Day
National Smoke and Mirrors Day
National Texas Love the Children Day
National Vietnam Veterans Day

Today in US History: March 30

Seward’s Folly

Portrait of Secretary of State William H. Seward
Secretary of State William H. Seward,
Brady National Photographic Art Gallery (Washington, D.C.), photographer, circa 1860-1865.
Selected Civil War Photographs

On March 30, 1867, Secretary of State William H. Seward agreed to purchase Alaska from Russia for 7.2 million dollars. Critics attacked Seward for the secrecy surrounding the deal, which came to be known as “Seward’s folly.” The press mocked his willingness to spend so much on “Seward’s icebox” and Andrew Johnson‘s “polar bear garden.”

Under the aegis of explorer Vitus Jonassen Bering, Russia established a presence in Alaska in the early eighteenth century. Russia initially approached the United States about selling the territory during President James Buchanan‘s administration, but the Civil War stalled negotiations. Seward, secretary of state under presidents Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson, supported American expansion and was eager to acquire Alaska. However, convincing skeptics that Alaska was an important addition to the United States was a challenge. Thanks to strong support by Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts, then chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, the Senate approved the treaty by a vote of 37-2 on April 9, 1867.  Nonetheless, the appropriation of money needed to purchase Alaska was delayed by more than a year due to opposition in the House of Representatives. The House finally approved the appropriation on July 14, 1868, by a vote of 113-48.

The discovery of gold in the late 1890s increased Alaska’s value as a U.S. possession and boosted its population. In 1912, the region was granted territorial status. During World War II, Japan invaded the Aleutian Islands of Agattu, Attu, and Kiska in 1942.  Although the islands were retaken by U.S. troops within a year, the threat to Alaska prompted the construction of the Alcan Highway and an increased military presence in the region.

Alaskans approved statehood in 1946 and adopted a state constitution in 1955. On January 3, 1959, President Eisenhower announced Alaska’s entrance into the Union as the 49th state.

Seward, Alaska, 1915
Seward, Alaska, 1915.
Taking the Long View: Panoramic Photographs, 1851-1991

The town of Seward, Alaska, located on the Kenai Peninsula at the head of Resurrection Bay, was founded in 1903 as a supply base for the construction of a railway to the Yukon Valley.

Today in History – March 30-External Links

Today’s Weather in History
Today in Earthquake History
This Day in Naval History
Today’s Document from the National Archives
Today’s Events, Births & Deaths –Wikipedia
Today in History by AP
On this Day -1950 to 2005 – Today’s Story–BBC
On This Day: The New York Times
This Day in History –History.com
Today in Canadian History – Canada Channel
History of Britain that took place On This Day
Russia in History –Russiapedia