On March 27, 2023, Alaska will once again celebrate Seward’s Day, a legal holiday that commemorates the day the Alaska Purchase treaty was signed. Named after then-Secretary of State William H. Seward, this day marks a pivotal moment in Alaska’s history and is an opportunity to reflect on the state’s journey to becoming a part of the United States.
Seward’s Day Date
Seward’s Day falls on the last Monday in March and will take place on March 27, 2023. This day is a paid holiday in Alaska, and many state, county, and city government offices will close, along with most schools and libraries. Private businesses can close at their own discretion.
Seward’s Day History
Alaska’s journey to statehood began with the Alaska Purchase treaty, signed by Secretary of State William H. Seward on March 30, 1867, and ratified by the U.S. Senate. The purchase price was $7.2 million, or about two cents per acre.
During the 18th century, Alaska was owned by the Russians, but by the mid-19th century, Russia was eager to sell the territory. The Crimean War had depleted Russia’s resources, and Alaska would have been difficult to defend in the event of a future war, particularly since neighboring Canada was under British rule.
The sale negotiations began in 1857, but the American Civil War interrupted the process. Following the Union win, Tsar Alexander II asked for another round of negotiations. Seward negotiated with Russian Minister Eduard de Stoeckl, and they agreed on a treaty on March 30, 1867, which led to the purchase and the subsequent renaming of Alaska from the Russian name “Alyaska” to “Alaska.”
Many people were in favor of the purchase, believing it would create a base for expanding trade in Asia. However, Seward’s political opponents coined the phrase “Seward’s Folly” or “Seward’s Icebox,” referring to Alaska as “useless land.” Despite the naysayers, Alaska would become a valuable addition to U.S. territory during the Klondike Gold Rush of 1896.
Today, Alaska remains the 49th largest U.S. territory and a popular tourist spot, known for its beautiful landscapes, wildlife, and outdoor adventures.
How to Observe Seward’s Day
There are many ways to observe Seward’s Day. Here are a few ideas:
1. Read up on William Seward: Learn more about the man behind the holiday. Seward was an abolitionist, a dedicated opponent of slavery, and was a prominent member of the Republican Party in its formative years.
2. Watch a special about Alaska: On Seward’s Day, many channels air history programs about different facets of Alaska. Tune in to your favorites, or find a special documentary you want to watch and settle down for some fun educational screen time.
3. Learn more about the transfer: Dig into documents and articles centering on Alaska’s transfer from Russia to the U.S. Find out more facts like those surrounding the sale and how the politics of the time influenced the outcome.
4. Visit memorials: Many memorials dedicated to Seward are found in Alaska and all over the U.S. Take some time to visit them and learn more about this critical period in Alaska’s history.
5. Explore Alaska’s natural beauty: Take advantage of the first days of spring to explore Alaska’s beautiful landscapes, wildlife, and outdoor adventures. From Denali National Park to the Kenai Fjords National Park, there are plenty of options to enjoy.
Seward’s Day Activities
There are several activities you can enjoy on Seward’s Day, including:
1. Dog sledding: Experience the thrill of dog sledding, a traditional Alaskan transportation method that has been used for centuries.
2. Fishing: Alaska’s abundant fisheries offer many opportunities to catch salmon, halibut, and trout, among other species.
3. Visit historic sites: Explore Alaska’s diverse history by visiting museums, historic sites, cultural centers, and more.
4. Attend a festival: Alaska is known for hosting numerous festivals and events that celebrate its history, culture, and heritage.
Importance of Seward’s Day
Seward’s Day is a reminder of the critical role that William Seward played in the purchase of Alaska and the state’s journey to becoming a part of the United States. Besides, it highlights the importance of diplomacy and negotiation in forging relationships between nations.
Seward’s Day celebrates Alaska’s unique history and highlights its strengths, including its natural beauty and cultural heritage. By observing this holiday, we acknowledge the determination and perseverance of the people who have contributed to making Alaska a better place.
Seward’s Day Participate Ideas
Here are some participate ideas for celebrating Seward’s Day:
1. Organize a picnic or potluck: Gather family and friends for a picnic or potluck, featuring traditional Alaskan dishes like salmon, moose, or halibut.
2. Attend a parade: If there’s a Seward’s Day parade in your area, participate in it, or organize one yourself!
3. Create an art project: Get creative and make an art project that reflects Alaska’s unique culture and history.
4. Share on social media: Share your Seward’s Day experiences on social media, using the hashtag #SewardDay and inspire others to learn more about Alaska’s history.
Quotes on Seward’s Day
Here are some quotes that reflect the spirit of Seward’s Day:
1. “Alaska is what happens when Willy Wonka and Christopher Nolan make a state together.” – Anthony Bourdain
2. “I came to Alaska looking for adventure and found sustenance in the land, the people, and rich cultural heritage.” – D. Yvette Wohn
3. “Alaska still has a frontier spirit, adventurous and pioneering. Alaska is at the forefront of environmental issues and sustainability.” – Joe Miller
4. “Alaska is a place where you can still live your wild and free dream.” – Amie Huguenard
Seward’s Day Captions, Message & Status
Here are some captions, messages, and statuses you can use to celebrate Seward’s Day:
1. Happy Seward’s Day! Let’s remember the role that diplomacy and negotiation played in Alaska’s history.
2. The purchase of Alaska was the best bargain ever! Let’s celebrate Seward’s Day and remember the importance of determination and a long-term outlook.
3. On this Seward’s Day, let’s take a moment to appreciate the natural beauty and cultural heritage of Alaska.
4. Happy Seward’s Day! Let’s honor William Seward and his important contribution to the purchase of Alaska.
5. Today, we celebrate the critical role that William Seward played in Alaska’s history. Happy Seward’s Day!
Here are some frequently asked questions about Seward’s Day:
1. What is Seward’s Day in Alaska?
Seward’s Day is a legal holiday in Alaska that commemorates the signing of the Alaska Purchase treaty.
2. Why is Alaska Day celebrated?
Alaska Day celebrates the formal transfer of the territory of Alaska from Russia to the U.S., which took place on October 18, 1867.
3. Is there school on Seward’s Day in Alaska?
Seward’s Day is a paid holiday, so all state employees, all state, county, and city government offices, and most schools and libraries will close. Private businesses can close at their discretion.
Seward’s Day is an important holiday that celebrates the unique history and culture of Alaska. By observing this day, we acknowledge the determination and perseverance of the people who contributed to making Alaska a part of the United States, and we honor the critical role of diplomacy and negotiation in forging relationships between nations.