Seward's Day and Seward's Centennial year.

Author:Pilkington, Steve
Position:Alaska This Month

Seward is a significant name in Alaska. This month, as well as this year, are special times for celebrations of Alaska's history and especially in the town carrying the famous diplomat's name. Whether you are a historian at heart, or simply like to know why you get a day off from work, Seward's Day celebrates an interesting event.

On March 30, 1867, Secretary of State William H. Seward agreed to purchase Alaska for $7.2 million and signed an agreement with Baron Edouard de Stoeckl, the Russian minister to the United States. It sparked a typically Alaskan controversy. Few Americans outside of Alaska could understand what possible use or interest to the country the 586,000 square miles of land would offer. Hence, the agreement was widely known as "Seward's Folly" or "Seward's Icebox" or even Andrew Johnson's "polar bear garden." In 1896, the great Klondike Gold Strike was announced and the perception of Alaska's uses to the country changed.

Seward's Day is celebrated on the last Monday of March, this year falling on March 31, and is a federal and state holiday. In the city of Seward, the Seward's Day Pioneer Luncheon will be held March 30 at the Elks Lodge. The city also has other celebrations planned this year to commemorate its own anniversary.

Seward was founded in 1903. A special event at the historic Van Gilder Hotel will help raise money for the city's centennial. Surrounded by the special Victorian atmosphere of the hotel...

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