The Role of the Smithsonian Institution in the Purchase of Alaska

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This twenty-five page term paper is based on some thirty published articles and books, as well as on original documents in the Smithsonian Institution Archives. Glattfelder details how Senator Charles Sumner's influential congressional speech in favor of the purchase of Alaska relied upon information and assistance provided by the Smithsonian. Smithsonian Assistant Secretary Spencer Fullerton Baird had sent scientists, notably William Healey Dall, to accompany the Russian American Telegraph Expedition of 1865-1867, and collection specimens and observations of the region for the Smithsonian.


  • Baird, Spencer Fullerton 1823-1887
  • Dall, William Healey 1845-1927
  • Sumner, Charles 1811-1874
  • United States Congress Senate
  • Russian American Telegraph Expedition
  • Western Union Telegraph Expedition (1865-1867)


Smithsonian Institution History Bibliography


Term paper, Washington College

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Institutional History Division, Smithsonian Institution Archives, 600 Maryland Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20024-2520,




Scientific expeditions



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