Excerpts from the article in the March-April, 2020 issue of Alaskan History Magazine:
When the United States purchased Alaska from the Russian Empire in 1867, one of the best real estate deals in history was sealed, but the U.S. government also inherited a few headaches, not the least of which was a contentious disagreement over the geographic boundaries between the southeastern part of the territory of Alaska and the province of British Columbia, which had recently joined the newly formed Canadian Confederation, whose foreign affairs were still under British authority.
In 1871 the Canadian government requested a survey to determine the exact location of the border, but the United States rejected the idea as too costly because the border area was very remote and sparsely settled, and there was no economic or strategic interest in conducting a survey there. That was challenged with the Cassiar gold rush in 1862 and the Klondike gold strike in 1897 intensified the pressure to survey the border.
The Canadian and American representatives favored their respective governments’ territorial claims, and the Canadians, outraged by what they considered a betrayal by their colonial government, refused to sign the final decision, but the question had been put to binding arbitration, the decision took effect, and the resolution was issued on October 20, 1903. You can read the entire article, and many others, in the March-April issue.
For more information:
• Statement of Facts Regarding the Alaska Boundary Question, Compiled for the Govt. of British Columbia (1902)
• The Alaska Boundary Line T. C. Mendenhall (1900)
• Alaska-Canada Boundary Dispute by Murray Lundberg, at ExploreNorth
• The Alaska Boundary Dispute: A Critical Reappraisal, by Norman Penlington (1972)
March-April, 2020 issue, Vol. 2, No. 2, postpaid
The March-April, 2020 issue of Alaskan History Magazine features a wide range of Alaskan history, from some of the first photographs of Alaska by Eadweard Muybridge, to the earliest settlers at Valdez, and an adventuresome lady musher who blazed trails where today’s Alaska Highway crosses the northern landscape. Also Dr. James Taylor White on the U.S. Revenue Cutter Bear, and Luther Sage “Yellowstone” Kelly, an Indian scout who helped write Alaska’s history.