known, the expediency of the purchase, though admitted by some intelligent persons, was questioned by the greater number.
The New York Tribune took ground against the acquisition.1 Sumner
's correspondence shows the conflicting opinions,—the purchase being approved by Professor Spencer Baird
of the Smithsonian Institution, G. V. Fox
, Commander John Rodgers
, M. C. Meigs
, Louis Agassiz
,2 Thaddeus Stevens
, W. Beach Lawrence
, and John M. Forbes
, but disapproved by George S. Boutwell
, B. R. Wood
, and Moses Pierce
of Norwich, Conn.
With rare exceptions, generally those of officers of the navy and of the coast survey, incredulity as to the value of the territory prevailed in the eastern and middle sections of the country.
To them it was an unknown land, as yet without a name, except that of ‘Russian America
occupied in executive session, April 9, three hours in the explanation and defence of the treaty, speaking with a single sheet of notes before him;3
and the ratification was carried by thirty-seven yeas to two nays, the negative votes being those of Fessenden
At the request of the senators, Sumner
wrote out his speech for publication, and the injunction of secrecy was removed.
The work of amplifying his original speech with details and authorities consumed six weeks,—the greater part of his time until his return to Boston
in the last of May.
He was assisted in obtaining materials by Professor Baird
, Julius E. Hilgard4
of the coast survey, George Gibbs
an old friend of his student days, and C. C. Beaman
, his secretary.
No description of the territory both modern and complete existed.
was obliged to grope among books and pamphlets, largely in foreign languages, some in the Russian
, which were translated for him; and all these materials needed to be classified and arranged, as well as enlivened with comments which would attract public interest.
The result was a marvel,—an essay or book rather than a speech, which sets out all that was then known of ‘Russian America
;’ its fisheries, furs, timber, minerals, physical features,