After the Crimean War, the Russian Empire was in a difficult financial situation and feared that it would loose Russian America (nowadays the territory of the U.S. state of Alaska) in a future conflict, especially to Britain. By the 1860s, Tsar Alexander II considered ridding itself of the Russian American colony. The territory was sold to the United States for $7.2 million on 30 March 1867.
The purchase was made on the initiative of U.S. Secretary of State William H. Seward, and increased the size of the U.S. by nearly 20 percent. Buying Alaska proved to be a very good move for the United States, because major discoveries of gold were made there during the 1880s and 1890s. Nowadays, petroleum is Alaska’s richest mineral resource.