Posts Tagged ‘Russia’

When the U.S. and Russia Played Let’s Make a Deal

Alaska Purchase Research Topic via ProQuest eLibrary

The discussion of recent U.S.-Russia relations is a good opportunity to share the history of relations between the two countries with your students.  A significant event in this history is the Alaska Purchase which occurred 150 years ago when the relationship between the two countries was perhaps more allied than it is now.  Considered a “folly” by some at the time, the acquisition of Alaska added over 586,000 square miles of new land to the growing United States.

Russia had been a player in the Alaskan territory since the mid-1700s.  By the mid-1800s, Russia was having financial difficulties after its defeat in the Crimean War, and the territory had become a burden.  Russia decided to put the unprofitable and indefensible territory on the market.  The United States seemed the only potential buyer.  In March 1867, armed with instructions to accept no less than $5 million for Alaska, the Russian minister to America, Edouard de Stoeckl, was surprised when Secretary of State William Seward came in with just that for a first offer.  By the time negotiations were over, the U.S. offer was up to $7.2 million.  On March 30, 1867, the United States became the proud owner of a seemingly barren land.

U.S. Secretary of State William H. Seward [Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons]

Tsar’s Ratification of the Alaska Purchase [Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons]











Not everyone was as enthusiastic about the deal as William Seward was.  He was a proponent of territorial expansion and could see the potential in Alaska’s natural resources that skeptics who referred to the deal as Seward’s Folly or Seward’s Icebox could not.  The deal, though, was a good one for the U.S. averaging to less than two cents per acre.  It remains the second-largest land deal ever.  In 1880, Seward’s vision would be vindicated when gold was discovered paving the way for population growth, new towns, and statehood.

Your students can learn more about the Alaska Purchase and the major players by starting with eLibrary.  One excellent resource is the book, The Alaska Purchase.  It covers everything from Alaska’s “discovery” by the Russians to its statehood in 1959.  Consider this lesson from the Library of Congress for your students to dig deeper into using primary sources.

Fun Fact:  While you cannot see Russia from Sarah Palin’s home in Wasilla, you can see it from Little Diomede in the Bering Strait.  The island is 2.5 miles from its Russian counterpart Big Diomede.  You can also see Russian mainland from the top of St. Lawrence Island about 37 miles away as well as some Siberian mountains from Cape Prince of Wales, the westernmost point of the American mainland.

eLibrary’s editor‐created Research Topics give content, context and pathways beginning users need to start researching U.S.-Russia relations and other topics.

Don’t have eLibrary? Free trials are available.

SKS Spotlight of the Month: Winter Olympics

For the first time in Russia’s history, the country will host the Winter Olympics. On February 7, the opening ceremonies of the 2014 Games will take place in Sochi, a Russian resort city that is known for its warm summers and mild winters.

2014 Winter Olympics on stamps <br \> by http://www.irkps.ru/images/sochi.jpg, via Wikimedia Commons [Public Domain]

2014 Winter Olympics on stamps
http://www.irkps.ru/images/sochi.jpg, via Wikimedia Commons [Public Domain]

The city has been preparing for the 2014 Winter Olympics since the 2007 announcement that it had been selected to host the Games. More than $51 billion has been spent so far, making these Games the most expensive in Olympic history. The preparations have also been mired in controversy, such as the large amount of construction waste produced during building and the Olympic Committee’s handling of Russia’s “anti-gay” law.

Despite difficulties, the 2014 Winter Olympics promise to deliver what all Olympic Games do–spectacular feats of athletic prowess amid incredible competition. Join SKS and its January Spotlight of the Month in celebrating the Winter Olympics. Quiz yourself on the International Olympic Committee and its new president, Thomas Bach. Meet Olympians, learn about Winter Olympic history, explore winter sporting events, and engage yourself with the grandeur and triumphs of the Winter Olympics.

SIRS Discoverer Spotlight of the Month: Winter Olympics

2014 Winter Olympics on coins <br \> http://www.sostav.ru/news/2012/02/22/talisman_sochi_2014/, via Wikimedia Commons [Public Domain]

2014 Winter Olympics on coins
http://www.sostav.ru/news/2012/02/22/talisman_sochi_2014/, via Wikimedia Commons [Public Domain]

In February, the 2014 Winter Olympics will take place in one of the warmest cities of Russia–the resort town of Sochi. It is one of the few places in Russia that has warm summers and mild winters, and Olympians and other visitors to the city will be treated to the beautiful coastlines of the Black Sea and the scenic beauty of the Caucasian Mountains.

It has to be cold and wintry for the Winter Olympics because the featured sporting events take place on snow and ice, such as skiing, ice skating, curling, and hockey. Olympians train for years–even decades!– to become good enough to compete at the Olympic Games. Most work for hours a day, becoming stronger and improving their skills.

Visit SIRS Discoverer’s January Spotlight of the Month to learn more about Sochi and the 2014 Winter Olympics. Meet some Olympians, read about Winter Olympic history, and find out what events will take place during the games. You can also follow the journey of the Olympic torch, which began 123 days before the opening ceremonies on February 7. It was lit in the ruins of the Temple of Hera in Greece, and on its way to Sochi, even went to outer space!