Political map of the Arctic & the Far North 30 March 1867 (Alaska Purchase): While the British worried about the Americans in British Columbia, the Russians had come to accept that they could not defend isolated and sparsely populated Russian America against either nation. Although the Russians had started negotiations to sell the colony to the United States in 1859, talks were disrupted by the American Civil War, before finally being concluded in 1867 when US Secretary of State William Seward (William H. Seward) agreed to the purchase of what would soon be known as the territory of Alaska (Alaska Purchase) for $7.2 million.