Partitioning the North Pacific
the Arctic 1859.0813
Alaska Purchase, Rupert's Land Act, Amur, Opening of Japan (13 August 1859)
Historical Map of the Arctic & the Far North
Russian expeditions and settlers had been infiltrating China's Amur region since the late 1840s. After the Crimean War exposed the vulnerability of Russia's Pacific possessions to naval attack, the Tsar agreed to back these settlements to consolidate power in the Far East. Taking advantage of China's embroilment in the Second Opium War, the Russians managed to persuade the Chinese to cede first the land to the north of the Amur River then, after negotiations between the Chinese and the Allies briefly broke down, the land to the south (Primorye).
Following the French capture of the fortifications on the Malakoff, the Russian military was forced to evacuate the key Black Sea port of Sevastopol, Crimea, on 8 September 1855, bringing an end to the nearly one-year siege and signalling Russian defeat in the Crimean War. The following day, the Allies moved in to occupy the city.
Treaty of Paris
The Russian Empire signed the Treaty of Paris with the French Empire, the United Kingdom, the Ottoman Empire, and the Kingdom of Sardinia, bringing an end to the Crimean War. By the terms of the treaty, the Black Sea was made neutral territory, closing it to all warships and prohibiting fortifications and armaments on its shores. This weakened the power of Russia, which also had to cede land in Bessarabia to Moldavia.
Second Opium War
When the Chinese government seized the British-registered cargo ship Arrow on suspicion of piracy, the British responded by bombarding Canton. The French joined the British the following year after the execution of one of their missionaries, and together the two European powers forced China to sign a peace treaty in 1858. When the treaty fell through, the Allies returned and occupied Peking (Beijing), forcing the Chinese to come to terms.
Fraser Canyon Gold Rush
Discoveries of gold on Thompson and Nicoamen Rivers, both off the Fraser River in New Caledonia - soon to be renamed British Columbia - led to a gold rush in the region. Although the rush was largely over by 1860, it prompted a population boom in the area, led to the founding of British Columbia, and encouraged further prospecting inland.
Treaty of Aigun
The Russian Empire and the Chinese Empire of the Qing Dynasty signed the Treaty of Aigun, reversing the 1689 Treaty of Nechinsk. The treaty ceded land north of the Amur River to Russia and made Primorye a jointly administered Russian-Chinese condominium.
Colony of British Columbia
Responding to an influx of gold miners, British Colonel Richard Clement Moody, Commander of the Royal Engineers, Columbia Detachment, founded the Crown Colony of British Columbia to replace what had been the District of New Caledonia. Moody became first Lieutenant-Governor of the new colony, founding its capital city of New Westminster after facing down rebellious American miners.
Due to uncertainties over the exact line of the 1846 Oregon Treaty, the San Juan Islands - between Vancouver Island and the North American mainland - had ended up claimed by both the United States and the British Empire, with settlers from both nations residing there. On 15 June 1859, an American farmer shot a British-owned pig on the islands after it had invaded his garden, sparking an international incident as US soldiers from Oregon and British warships from Vancouver Island moved in. However, when word of the crisis reached Washington and London, the situation was defused and left to arbitration.
The British explicitly assigned governance of the North-Western Territory - the previously unorganized part of continental British North America - to the Hudson's Bay Company as an organized territory. Nonetheless, the territory continued to be virtually uncontrolled.