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Another America: Russian mental discoveries of the North-west Pacific region in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 February 2012

Martina Winkler
Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster, Domplatz 20–22, 48143 Münster, Germany E-mail:


This article explores Russian perceptions of ‘America’ as they emerged in the eighteenth century when traders, explorers, and scholars approached the North American continent from the Pacific side. It argues that these perceptions were fundamentally different from the European mental discovery of America via the Atlantic. Rather than imagining a ‘new world’, the protagonists saw the north-west American coastline as a part of the North Pacific basin, which, in turn, was considered a part of the Russian empire. Only in the early nineteenth century did Russian geographic and cultural concepts change, becoming more similar to those of Europeans and to contemporary ideas of continents and global structures.

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2012

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1 Miller, Gwenn, Kodiak Kreol: communities of empire in early Russian America, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2010, p. xGoogle Scholar. To a contemporary journalist, Russian America is ‘oxymoronic-sounding’: see Gerald Warner, ‘Russia sabre-rattles over the Arctic – and Alaska is Sarah Palin territory’, Daily Telegraph, 14 May 2009, (consulted 26 August 2011). Of course, most ‘serious’ publications do not express this sentiment as clearly as the children's section on the Fort-Ross-State Park's website: ‘Why in the world did the Russians come here? After all, California is a long way from Russia! In fact from the Company's headquarters in St Petersburg to Fort Ross it is 5,610 miles! That is more than two times the distance from New York to Fort Ross’ ( (consulted 27 July 2010)).

2 See Lewis, Martin and Wigen, Karen, The myth of continents: a critique of metageography, Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1997Google Scholar. Among scholars, Fernand Braudel was a notable exception, when he focused on the Mediterranean sea. More recently, the concept of Pacific studies has suggested other approaches to geography. See Braudel, Fernand, La Méditerranée et le monde méditeranéen à l’epoque de Philippe II, Paris: Livre de Poche, 1949Google Scholar; Matsuda, Matt, ‘The Pacific’, American Historical Review, 111, 2006, pp. 758–80CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

3 For instance Bitterli, Urs, Die Entdeckung Amerikas: von Kolumbus bis Alexander von Humboldt, Munich: C.H. Beck, 1991, p. 24Google Scholar and passim.

4 Becker, Seymour, ‘Russia and the concept of empire’, Ab Imperio, 3–4, 2000, p. 332Google Scholar.

5 In this article, the Library of Congress transliteration of Russian is followed.

6 O’Gorman, Edmundo, The invention of America, Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1972 (first published 1961)Google Scholar. Zerubavel, Eviatar, Terra cognita: the mental discovery of America, New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1992Google Scholar.

7 A considerable part of this research originates from cold war times or earlier: Rogger, Hans, ‘America in the Russian mind: or Russian discoveries of America’, Pacific Historical Review, 47, 1978, pp. 27–51CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Rogger, Hans, ‘Amerikanizm and the economic development of Russia’, Comparative Studies in Society and History, 23, 1981, pp. 382–420CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Barraclough, Geoffrey, ‘Europa, Amerika und Rußland in Vorstellung und Denken des 19. Jahrhunderts’, Historische Zeitschrift, 203, 1966, pp. 280–315CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Boden, Dieter, Das Amerikabild im russischen Schrifttum bis zum Ende des 19. Jahrhunderts, Hamburg: de Gruyter, 1968Google Scholar; Fredriksen, O. J., ‘Virginia tobacco in Russia under Peter the Great’, Slavonic and East European Review, 2, 1943, pp. 40–56Google Scholar; Laserson, Max, ‘Alexander Radishchev: an early admirer of America’, Russian Review, 9, 1950, pp. 179–86CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Bailey, Thomas, America faces Russia: Russian–American relations from early times to our day, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1950Google Scholar; Griffiths, David, ‘Soviet views of early Russian–American relations’, Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, 116, 1972, pp. 148–56Google Scholar; Blakely, Allison, ‘American influence on Russian reformist thought in the era of the French Revolution’, Russian Review, 52, 1993, pp. 451–71CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Hannah Goldman, ‘American slavery and Russian serfdom: a study in fictional parallels’, PhD thesis, Columbia University, 1955.

8 Boden, Das Amerikabild; Otten, Fred, ‘Zur Tradierung des Namens Amerika in Russland’, Die Welt der Slaven: Halbjahresschrift für Slavistik, 23, 1978, pp. 91–7Google Scholar.

9 Boden, Das Amerikabild, p. 79.

10 Laserson, ‘Alexander Radishchev’; McConnell, Allen, ‘Radishchev's political thought’, American Slavic and East European Review, 17, 1958, pp. 439–53CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

11 Dvoichenko-Markov, Eufrosina, ‘A Russian traveler to eighteenth-century America’, Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, 97, 1953, pp. 350–5Google Scholar.

12 Bolkhovitinov, Nikolai, ‘The American Revolution and the Russian empire’, in Morris, Richard, ed., The impact of the American Revolution abroad, Honolulu, HI: The Minerva Group, 2002, p. 93Google Scholar.

13 Lakier, Aleksandr, A Russian looks at America: the journey of Aleksandr Borisovich Lakier in 1857, Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1979Google Scholar.

14 This is not to suggest that Russian expansion has not been researched intensely. A small but highly inspired group of historians and anthropologists has developed fascinating insights on the economic, political, social, religious, and environmental history of Russian America. However, the question of mental discovery, in particular concerning the concept of ‘America’, has not been addressed systematically. For recent research on Russian America, I give only a few titles from the field: Nikolai Bolkhovitinov, ed., Istoriia Russkoi Ameriki 1732–1867 (The history of Russian America, 1732–1867), 3 vols., Moscow: Institute of World History of the Russian Academy of Sciences Centre for North American Studies, 1997–99; Black, L., Russians in Alaska 1732–1867, Fairbanks, AK: University of Alaska Press, 2004Google Scholar; Kan, Sergei, ‘Russian Orthodox missionaries at home and abroad: the case of Siberian and Alaskan indigenous people’, in Geraci, Robert and Khodarkovsky, Michael, eds., Of religion and empire: missions, conversion, and tolerance in tsarist Russia, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2001, pp. 173–201Google Scholar; Smith, Barbara, ed., Russian America: the forgotten frontier, Tacoma, WA: Washington State Historical Society, 1990Google Scholar; Grinev, Andrei, The Tlingit Indians in Russian America, 1741–1867, Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 2005Google Scholar; Jones, Ryan, ‘Empire of extinction: nature and natural history in the Russian North Pacific, 1739–1799’, PhD thesis, Columbia University, 2009Google Scholar; Vinkovetsky, Ilya, Russian America: an overseas colony of a continental empire, 1804–1867, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

15 Hölzle, Erwin, Russland und Amerika: Aufbruch und Begegnung zweier Weltmächte, Munich: Oldenbourg, 1953, pp. 21ffGoogle Scholar. See also Boden, Das Amerikabild, pp. 11–12.

16 Bolkhovitinov, Nikolai, The beginnings of Russian–American relations, 1775–1815, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1975, p. 148CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

17 Igler, David, ‘Diseased goods: global exchanges in the Eastern Pacific Basin, 1770–1850’, American Historical Review, 109, 3, 2004, p. 694CrossRefGoogle Scholar; see also idem, ‘The Northeastern Pacific Basin: an environmental approach to seascapes and littoral places’, in Sackman, Douglas Cazaux, ed., A Companion to American Environmental History, Oxford: Wiley and Sons, 2010, pp. 579–94CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

18 See, for instance, Kupperman, Karen, ‘International at the creation: early modern American history’, in Bender, Thomas, ed., Rethinking American history in a global age, Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2002, pp. 103–22Google Scholar; Richardson, Brian, Longitude and empire: how Captain Cook's voyages changed the world, Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2007Google Scholar.

19 For enlightening information as to the origins and social structure of this group, see Black, Lydia, ‘Promyshlenniki … who were they?’, in Frost, Orcutt J., ed., Bering and Chirikov: the American voyages and their impact, Anchorage, AK: Alaska Historical Society, 1992, pp. 279–90Google Scholar.

20 ‘1787 zapiska Shelikhova o privilegiiakh ego kompanii (Shelikhov's communication on his company's privileges, 1787)’, in Andreev, Aleksandr, ed., Russkie otkrytiia v tikhom okeane i severnoi Amerike v XVIII veke (Russian discoveries in the Pacific and North America in the eighteenth century), Moscow: Gosudarstvennoe izdatel’stvo geograficheskoi literatury, 1948, pp. 223–6Google Scholar; ‘Raport A. I. Chirikova v Admiralteistv-kollegiiu o plavanii k beregam Ameriki (A. I. Chirikov's report to the Admiralty Board on his voyage to the shores of America)’ (7 December 1741), in Narochnitskii, Aleksei, ed., Russkie ekspeditsii po izucheniiu severnoi chasti Tikhogo okeana v pervoi polovine XVIII v: sbornik dokumentov (Russian expeditions to investigate northern areas of the Pacific in the first half of the eighteenth century: a collection of documents), Moscow: Nauka, 1984, 1989, pp. 222–31Google Scholar; Carl Merck, ‘Das sibirisch-amerikanische Tagebuch aus den Jahren 1788–1791’, ed. Dittmar Dahlmann et al., Göttingen: Wallstein, 2009. Of course, indigenous peoples were not only called by the general name of ‘amerikantsy’ but also classified in local, tribal, and cultural groups. This terminology was mostly coined in accordance to information that the Russians got from the indigenous people themselves.

21 ‘Iz doklada Rumiantseva Aleksandru I (From Rumiantsev's report to Alexander I)’ (1807), in Bashkina, Nina, ed., Rossiia i SShA: Stanovlenie otnoshenii, 1765–1815 (Russia and the USA: the formation of relations, 1765–1815), Moscow: Nauka, 1980, pp. 297–80Google Scholar; ‘1788 Doklad kommissii o kommertsii (Report of the Commission on Commerce)’, in Andreev, Russkie otkrytiia, pp. 269–79.

22 Polnoe sobranie zakonov Rossiiskoi Imperii (Complete code of the Russian empire's laws), No. 3266 (1719).

23 For this, see Fel, Sergei, Kartografiia Rossii XVIII veka (Cartography of eighteenth-century Russia), Moskva: Izdatel’stvo geodezicheskoi literatury, 1960, pp. 81–97Google Scholar; Shaw, Denis, ‘Geographical practice and its significance in Peter the Great's Russia’, Journal of Historical Geography, 22, 1996, pp. 160–76CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Postnikov, Aleksei, ‘Development of mapping methods in Russia in the eighteenth century’, Imago Mundi, 37, 1985, pp. 63–80Google Scholar; Aust, Martin, ‘Vermessen und Abbilden des russländischen Raumes nach der kulturellen Revolution Peters des Großen’, in Behrisch, Lars, ed., Vermessen, Zählen, Berechnen: die politische Ordnung des Raums im 18. Jahrhundert, Frankfurt am Main: Campus, 2006, pp. 27–44Google Scholar.

24 Fisher, Raymond, ‘Finding America’, in Haycox, Stephen, ed., An Alaska anthology: interpreting the past, Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press, 1996, pp. 3–20Google Scholar; idem, Bering's voyages: whither and why, London: C. Hurst & Company, 1977.

25 Bucher, Gudrun, ‘Von Beschreibung der Sitten und Gebräuche der Völcker’: die Instruktionen Gerhard Friedrich Müllers und ihre Bedeutung für die Geschichte der Ethnologie und der Geschichtswissenschaft, Stuttgart: Franz Steiner, 2002, p. 20Google Scholar.

26 Fisher, ‘Finding America’, p. 13. For the debate on the actual aims of the first Kamchatka expedition, see Urness, Carol, Bering's first expedition: a re-examination based on eighteenth century books, maps, and manuscripts, New York: Garland, 1987Google Scholar.

27 In fact, Baranov seems to have tested several arguments in order to convince Emperor Paul of the necessity of a Russian colony in America. The (novel) ceremonies of taking possession were tailored according to western European models. In a similar way, the images of ‘Baranov's song’ were borrowed from western European concepts of the ‘New World’. See Baranov, Aleksandr, ‘Pesn’ia (Song)’, in Fedorova, Svetlana, ed., Russkaia Amerika v ‘zapiskakh’ K. T. Khlebnikova (Russian America in the ‘notes’ of K. T. Khlebnikov), Moscow: Nauka, 1985, pp. 221–2Google Scholar.

28 ‘Zamechaniia imperatritsy Ekateriny II na doklad (Catherine II's comments on the report)’, in Andreev, Russkie otkrytiia, pp. 281–2.

29 This character of Russian expansion has been documented in detail. See, for instance, Khodarkovsky, Michael, Russia's steppe frontier: the making of a colonial empire, 1500–1800, Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2002Google Scholar; Kusber, Jan, ‘Entdecker’ und ‘Entdeckte’: zum Selbstverständnis von Zar und Elite im frühneuzeitlichen Moskauer Reich zwischen Europa und Asien’, Expansionen in der Frühen Neuzeit (Zeitschrift für Historische Forschung, Beiheft 34), 2005, pp. 97–115Google Scholar.

30 For the concept of ‘marvel’ as a key phenomenon of Spanish and Portuguese conquest, see Greenblatt, Stephen, Marvelous possessions, the wonder of the New World, Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1991CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

31 Processes of othering, imagining, and civilizing Siberia have been researched for the nineteenth century. See, for instance, Bassin, Mark, ‘Inventing Siberia: visions of the Russian east in the early nineteenth century’, American Historical Review, 96, 1991, pp. 763–94CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Weiss, Claudia, Wie Sibirien ‘unser’ wurde: die Russische geographische Gesellschaft und ihr Einfluss auf die Bilder und Vorstellungen von Sibirien im 19. Jahrhundert, Göttingen: V&R unipress, 2007Google Scholar.

32 Bolkhovitinov, Nikolai, ‘Kontinental’naia kolonizatsiia Sibiri i morskaia kolonizatsiia Aliaski: skhodstvo i razlichie (The mainland colonization of Siberia and the maritime colonization of Alaska: similarities and differences)’, Acta Slavica Iaponica, 20, 2003, pp. 109–25Google Scholar; Gibson, James, ‘Russian expansion in Siberia and America’, Geographical Review, 70, 2, 1980, pp. 127–36CrossRefGoogle Scholar. In contrast, Sergei Kan speaks of the Pacific venture as a ‘natural consequence’: Kan, ‘Russian Orthodox missionaries’.

33 In 2002 Ilya Vinkovetsky laid out the differences between the Siberian journey and the Pacific expedition: Vinkovetsky, Ilya, ‘Circumnavigation, empire, modernity, race: the impact of round-the-world voyages on Russia's imperial consciousness’, Ab Imperio, 1–2, 2001, pp. 191–210Google Scholar. See also Vinkovetsky, Russian America; Gibson, James, ‘Russian expansion in Siberia and America: critical contrasts’, in Starr, Frederick, ed., Russia's American colony, Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1987, pp. 32–40Google Scholar. For the methods of exploitation used on indigenous hunters, see Grinev, The Tlingit Indians; Luehrmann, Sonja, ‘Russian colonialism and the Asiatic mode of production: (post-)Soviet ethnography goes to Alaska’, Slavic Review, 64, 4, 2005, pp. 851–71CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

34 Steller, Georg, ‘G. W. Stellers Tagebuch seiner Seereise aus dem Petripauls Hafen in Kamtschatka bis an die westlichen Küsten von Amerika’, Neue nordische Beyträge zur physikalischen und geographischen Erd- und Völkerbeschreibung, Naturgeschichte und Oekonomie, 1793, pp. 129–236Google Scholar.

35 Polnoe sobranie zakonov Rossiiskoi Imperii (Complete code of the Russian empire's laws), No. 6291 (1732).

36 ‘Raport A. I. Chirikova’.

37 ‘Ukaz Ekateriny II admiratelstv-kollegii (Catherine II's decree to the Admiralty Board)’ (8 August 1785), in Divin, Vasilii, ed., Russkaia Tikhookeanskaia epopeia (The Russian Pacific epic), Khabarovsk: Khabarovskoe knizhnoe izdatel’stvo, 1979, pp. 363–7Google Scholar (emphasis added).

38 ‘Raport sibirskogo gubernatora F. I. Soimonova v Senat (The report of F. I. Soimonov, the governor of Siberia, to the Senate)’ (24 February 1758), in Divin, Russkaia Tikhookeanskaia epopeia, pp. 306–11; Shelikhov, G. I., Rossiiskogo kuptsa Georgiia Shelikhova stranstvovaniia iz Okhotska po Vostochnomu okeanu k Amerikanskim beregam (Voyages of the Russian merchant Georgi Shelikhov from Okhotsk across the eastern ocean to the shores of America), Khabarovsk: Khabarovskoe knizhnoe izdatel’stvo, 1971, pp. 58–9Google Scholar; ‘1786 Nastavlenie Shelikhova Samoilovu (1786 instructions of Shelikhov to Samoilov)’, in Andreev, Russkie otkrytiia, pp. 185–9; Merck, ‘Das sibirisch-amerikanische Tagebuch’, p. 225; ‘Instruktsiia A. A. Baranova svoemu pomoshchniku I. A. Kuskovu (Instructions of A. A. Baranov to his aide, I. A. Kuskov)’ (14 October 1808), in Bashkina, Rossiia i SShA, pp. 344–8.

39 ‘Predlozhenie A. I. Chirikova, podannoe v Admiralteistv–kollegiiu (A. I. Chirikov's proposition presented to the Admiralty Board)’, in Divin, Russkaia Tikhookeanskaia epopeia, pp. 177–9. The Russian attitude of caution and concern not to get caught up in conflicts about colonial ambitions becomes clear in several documents, for instance ‘Iz donosheniia Senata Ekaterine I (From the Senate's report to Catherine I)’, in ibid., pp. 134–9.

40 ‘Instruktsiia A. A. Baranova’.

41 Shelikhov, Rossiiskogo kuptsa Georgiia Shelikhova, p. 71. One of the very few exceptions, where a search for rivers turning inland was planned, is recorded in ‘1788 februar Proshenie kompanionov Golikova i Shelikhova (A petition forwarded by the partners Golikov and Shelikhov, February 1788)’, in Andreev, Russkie otkrytiia, pp. 265–9.

42 Zavalishin, Dmitrii, Vospominaniia (Memoirs), Moscow: Zakharov, 2003Google Scholar; Mazour, Anatole, ‘Dimitry Zavalishin: dreamer of a Russian-American empire’, Pacific Historical Review, 5, 1, 1936, pp. 26–34CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Bolkhovitinov, Nikolai, ‘The sale of Alaska in the context of Russo-American relations in the nineteenth century’, in Ragsdale, Hugh, ed., Imperial Russian foreign policy, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993, pp. 193–218Google Scholar. Mordvinov's interest in Russian involvement on the American continent becomes clear from several documents published in Bil’basov, Vasilii, ed., Arkhiv Grafov Mordvinovykh (Archives of the counts Mordvinov), vol. 3, St Petersburg: Tip N. N. Skorokhodova, 1902, pp. 644–84Google Scholar. See also Barratt, Glynn, ‘The Russian interest in Arctic North America: the Kruzenshtern–Romanov projects, 1819–1823’, Slavonic and East European Review, 53, 1975, pp. 27–43Google Scholar.

43 Hausmann, Guido, ‘Maritimes Reich - Landreich: zur Anwendung einer geografischen Deutungsfigur auf Russland’, in Hausmann, Guido and Rustemeyer, Angela, eds., Imperienvergleich: Beispiele und Ansätze aus osteuropäischer Perspektive, Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2009, pp. 489–509Google Scholar. Vinkovetsky also discusses this problem and introduces the concept of the Eurasian steppe as an ‘ocean substitute’: Vinkovetsky, Russian America, pp. 12–13.

44 For the Western construction of the ocean as ‘other’, see Steinberg, Philip, The social construction of the ocean, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001Google Scholar.

45 In contrast, the British did debate the maritime character of their nation intensely: see, for instance, Quilley, Geoff, ‘All ocean is her own: the image of the sea and the identity of the maritime nation in eighteenth-century British art’, in Cubitt, Geoffrey, ed., Imagining nations, Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1998, pp. 132–52Google Scholar; Armitage, David, ‘The elephant and the whale: empires of land and sea’, Journal for Maritime Research, 1, 2007, pp. 23–36Google Scholar.

46 Kivelson, Valerie, Cartographies of tsardom: the land and its meaning in seventeenth-century Russia, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2006Google Scholar.

47 For the history of structuring processes of the oceans, see Lewis, Martin, ‘Dividing the ocean sea’, Geographical Review, 89, 1999, pp. 188–214CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

48 ‘Sekretnoe nastavlenie general-poruchika Iakobiia poverennym Shelikhova, Samoilovu i Delarivu (Confidential instructions of Lieutenant-General Iakobii to Shelikhov's attorneys, Samoilov and Delariv)’ (1787), in Tikhmenev, Petr, ed., Istoricheskoe obozrenie obrazovaniia Rossiisko-Amerikanskoi kompanii i deistvii eia do nastoiashchago vremeni (A historical survey of the formation of the Russian-American Company and its activities to the present time), St Petersburg: Edvard Veimar, 1861–63, vol. 2, app. 21–3Google Scholar.

49 ‘Doklad Admiralteiskoi kollegii (Report of the Admiralty Board)’ (1767), in Andreev, Russkie otkrytiia, pp. 170–7.

50 ‘Karta novogo Severnogo Arkhipelaga izobretennogo rossiiskimi moreplavateliami v Kamchatskikh i Anadyrskikh moriakh (Map of the new Northern Archipelago discovered by Russian seafarers in the seas of Kamchatka and Anadyr)’, in Efimov, Aleksei, ed., Atlas geograficheskikh otkrytii v Sibiri i v Severo-zapadnoi Amerike XVII–XVIII vv. (Atlas of geographic discoveries in Siberia and north-western America in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries), Moscow: Nauka, 1964, No. 157Google Scholar.

51 In the English translation, the last letter of the word ‘archipelago’ is placed neatly a few sea miles off the American continent.

52 For instance, an anonymous chart from 1632, in Suárez, Thomas, Early mapping of the Pacific: the epic story of seafarers, adventurers and cartographers who mapped the earth's greatest ocean, Singapore: Tuttle Publishing, 2004, pp. 100–101Google Scholar.

53 In particular, the various Delisle maps are typical here. See also Appleby, John, ‘Mapping Russia: Farquharson, Delisle and the royal society’, Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London, 55, 2001, pp. 191–204CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Hayes, Derek, Historical atlas of the North Pacific Ocean: maps of discovery and scientific exploration 1500–2000, Seattle, WA: Sasquatch Books, 2001, pp. 75, 78Google Scholar; Fisher, Raymond, ‘The early cartography of the Bering Strait region’, Arctic, 37, 1984, pp. 574–89CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

54 For instance, ‘Karta puteshestvii Kobeleva po Chukotskomu Poluostrovu (Map of Kobelev's journey across the Chukotka Peninsula)’, in Efimov, Atlas geograficheskikh otkrytii, No. 174.

55 ‘Raport irkutskogo general-gubernatora I. A. Pilia (Report of the Governor-General of Irkutsk)’ (13 February 1790), in Andreev, Russkie otkrytiia, pp. 295–304.

56 ‘Doklad Admiralteiskoi kollegii’.

57 For instance ‘Karta predstavliaiushchaia otkrytii Rossiiskikh moreplavatelei na Tikhom More i aglinskago Kapitana Kukka (Map representing discoveries of Russian seafarers and the English Captain Cook in the Pacific)’, St Petersburg, 1787, (consulted 2 September 2010).

58 For instance ‘Karta Shelekhova (Shelekhov's map)’, St Petersburg, 1792, (consulted 9 December 2011).

59 ‘General’naia karta, predstavliaiushchaia udobnye sposoby k umnozheniiu Rossiiskoi torgovli i moreplavaniiu po Tikhomu I Iuzhnomu okeanu, s prilezhashchimi zemliami i znatneishimi ostrovami (General map showing convenient means of growth of Russian commerce and seafaring in the Pacific and Southern Oceans, with adjacent lands and significant islands)’, (consulted 1 September 2010).

60 The seemingly sketchy character of Shelikhov's map, which appears to imply that the map has simply not been finished, is belied by the obviously carefully designed cartouche. A very similar style is found in ‘Karta Zaikova k Plavaniiam s 1772 po 1779 gg (Zaikov's map for the voyages from 1772 to 1779)’, in Efimov, Atlas geograficheskikh otkrytii, No. 160.

61 ‘Predstavlenie chlena peterburgskoi akademii nauk (Introduction by a member of the St Petersburg Academy of Sciences)’ (30 August 1770), in Bashkina, Rossiia i SShA, p. 267; ‘Donoshenie G. I. Shelekhova irktskomu general-gubernatoru I. V. Iakobii (G. I. Shelekhov's report to the Governor-General of Irkutsk, I. V. Iakobii)’ (19 April 1787), in Andreev, Russkie otkrytiia, pp. 66–73.

62 ‘Donoshenie G. I. Shelikhova irktskomu general-gubernatoru I. V. Iakobii’.

63 Mikhail Lomonosov, ‘Kratkoe opisanie raznykh puteshestvii po severnym moriam i pokazanie vozmozhnogo prokhodu sibirskim okeanom v vostochnuiu Indiiu (A brief description of various voyages in northern seas, with a demonstration of the possible passage through the Siberian Ocean to eastern India)’, in Lomonosov, Mikhail, Polnoe sobranie sochinenii, 6: Trudy po russkoi istorii, obshchestvenno-ekonomicheskim voprosam i geografii 1747–1765 (Complete works, vol. 6: works on Russian history, socioeconomic issues, and geography, 1747–1765), Moscow: Akademii Nauk SSSR, 1952, pp. 421–98Google Scholar; Dobbs, Arthur, A letter from a Russian sea-officer, to a person of distinction at the court of St. Petersburgh: containing his remarks upon Mr. de L’Isle's chart and memoir, relative to the new discoveries northward and eastward from Kamtschatka, London: Linde, 1754, p. 24Google Scholar. For the larger context, see Boele, Otto, The North in Russian romantic literature, Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1996Google Scholar.

64 See Suárez, Early mapping, pp. 29ff.

65 Except by Andreev, briefly in a footnote: Andreev, Russkie otkrytiia, p. 72.

66 Shelikhov, Rossiiskogo kuptsa Georgiia Shelikhova, pp. 58–9.

67 ‘Shelikhov to Iakobii’ (19 April 1787), p. 213; ‘Zapiska G. I. Shelikhova’ (1787), in Andreev, Russkie otkrytiia, pp. 214–18; ‘Pis’mo G. I. Shelikhova E. I. Delarovu (G. I. Shelikhov's letter to E. I. Delarov)’ (30 August 1789), in ibid., pp. 285–9; ‘Donesenie G. I. Shelikhova irkutskomu general-gubernatoru I. A. Piliu (G. I. Shelikhov's report to the Governor-General of Irkutsk, I. A. Pil)’ (18 November 1794), in ibid., pp. 362–3.

68 ‘Karta predstavliaiushchaia prosledovanie voiazha Kuptsa Shelekhova (Map showing the route of the merchant Shelikhov's voyage)’, (consulted 9 December 2011); ‘Karta, sostavlennaia v kompanii Shelekhova (Map compiled in Shelikhov's company)’ (1796), in Efimov, Atlas geograficheskikh otkrytiia, No. 181. See also ‘General’naia karta’.

69 The term existed in several versions: Severovostochnaia, Severo-Vostochnaia, etc. See ‘Donesenie G. I. Shelikhova’ (18 November 1794), pp. 362–3; ‘Pis’mo G. I. Shelikhova praviteliu Severo-vostochnoi amerikanskoi kompanii A. A. Baranovu (G. I. Shelikhov's letter to A. A. Baranov, manager of the North-eastern American Company)’ (9 August 1794), in Andreev, Russkie otkrytiia, pp. 336–53.

70 ‘Raport morekhoda Ivana Soloveva praporshchiku T. I. Shmalevu (Report of the seafarer Ivan Solovev to the warrant officer T. I. Shmalev)’ (1766), in Andreev, Russkie otkrytiia, p. 146.

71 ‘Zapiska prezidenta Kommerts-kollegii A. R. Vorontsova (Communication of A. R. Vorontsov, President of the Board of Commerce)’, in Divin, Russkaia Tikhookeanskaia epopeia, pp. 373–5.

72 ‘Sekretnoe nastavlenie general-poruchika’.

73 Polnoe sobranie zakonov Rossiiskoi Imperii (Complete code of the Russian empire's laws), No. 19030 (1799).

74 Some details of this process were described by Bolkhovitinov, The beginnings, p. 168.

75 Perry, John C., Facing west: Americans and the opening of the Pacific, Westport, CT: Praeger, 1994, p. 26Google Scholar.

76 ‘Depesha N. I. Panina I. S. Bariantinskomu (Dispatch of N. I. Panin to I. S. Bariantinsky)’ (1779), in Bashkina, Rossiia i SShA, pp. 58–9.

77 Bolkhovitinov, The beginnings, p. 148.

78 Dvoichenko-Markov, Eufrosina, ‘Benjamin Franklin and Count M. A. Benyowski’, Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, 99, 1955, pp. 350–5Google Scholar.

79 Lightfoot, Kent, Indians, missionaries, and merchants: the legacy of colonial encounters on the California frontiers, Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2005Google Scholar; Kardulias, P. Nick, ‘Fur production as a specialized activity in a world system: Indians in the North American fur trade’, American Indian Culture and Research Journal, 14, 1990, pp. 25–60CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Gibson, James, Otter skins, Boston ships, and China goods, Montreal: McGill–Queen's University Press, 1999Google Scholar; Ogden, Adele, The California sea otter trade, 1784–1848, Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1941Google Scholar.

80 ‘Mnenie leitenanta Khvosteva (Opinion of Lieutenant Khvostev)’, in Bil’basov, Arkhiv Grafov Mordvinovykh, vol. 3, pp. 571–86. A very good analysis of the complexities and entanglements of the Alaskan colonial societies in the early nineteenth century can be found in Vinkovetsky, Russian America.

81 This adventurer has evoked considerable interest among historians and writers: see Gray, Edward, The making of John Ledyard: empire and ambition in the life of an early American traveler, New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2007CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Gifford, Bill, Ledyard: in search of the first American explorer, San Diego, CA: Harcourt Brace, 2007Google Scholar; Wolff, Larry, ‘The global perspective of enlightened travelers: philosophic geography from Siberia to the Pacific Ocean’, European Review of History, 13, 2006, pp. 437–53CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

82 ‘Zapiska chlena peterburgskoi akademii nauk Pallasa (Communication of Pallas, member of the St Petersburg Academy of Sciences)’ (1787), in Bashkina, Rossiia i SShA, pp. 151–3.

83 ‘Donesenie G. I. Shelikhova general-gubernatoru (G. I. Shelikhov's report to the Governor-General)’ (1790), in Bashkina, Rossiia i SShA, pp. 179–82.

84 Vneshniaia politika Rossii XIX i nachala XX veka (Russia's foreign policy in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries) (VPR), series 1, vol. 3, Moscow: Gos. izd-vo polit. lit-ry, 1960–95, pp. 208–9.

85 ‘Pis’mo Rezanova k ministru kommertsii iz Novoarkhangel’ska ot 17 Iulia 1806 goda (Rezanov's letter to the Minister of Commerce, from Novoarkhangel’sk, 17 July 1806’, in Tikhmenev, Istoricheskoe obozrenie obrazovaniia, pp. 253–81.

86 ‘Iz doneseniia N. P. Rezanova N. P. Rumiantsevu (From N. P. Rezanov's report to N. P. Rumiantsev)’ (1806), in Bashkina, Rossiia i SShA, pp. 287–92.

87 VPR, series 1, vol. 3, pp. 692–3.

88 VPR, series 1, vol. 4, pp. 235–6; vol. 4, pp. 163–4; vol. 3, pp. 208–9.

89 Vinkovetsky, ‘Circumnavigation’; Aleksei V. Postnikov, ‘The first Russian voyage around the world and its influence on the exploration and development of Russian America’, Terrae Incognitae: the Journal for the History of Discoveries, 37, 2005, pp. 53–62.

90 Lomonosov, ‘Kratkoe opisanie’.

91 ‘Donesenie Rezanova k Gosudariu Imperatoru iz Petropavlovska ot 16 Avgusta 1804 goda (Rezanov's report to His Majesty the Emperor from Petropavlovsk, 16 August 1804)’, in Tikhmenev, Istoricheskoe obozrenie obrazovaniia, vol. 2, p. 188.

92 See, for instance, ‘Mnenie leitenanta Khvosteva (Opinion of Lieutenant Khvostev)’, in VPR, series 1, vol. 4, pp. 241ff.

93 ‘Poverennyi v delakh v SShA i general’nyi konsul v Filadelfii A. Ia. Dashkov A. A. Baranovu (A. Ia. Dashkov, chargé d’affaires in the USA, and the consul-general in Philadelphia, to A. A. Baranov)’ (26 October 1809), in VPR, series 1, vol. 5, pp. 270–4.

94 ‘Doklad ministra kommertsii N. P. Rumiantseva Aleksandru I. (Report of the Minister of Commerce, N. P. Rumiantsev, to Alexander I)’, in Bashkina, Rossiia i SShA, pp. 237–4 (the translation follows the English version of Bashkina's book: N. Bashkina, N., ed., The United States and Russia: the beginning of relations 1765–1815, Washington, DC: Hein, 1980, No. 188Google Scholar).

95 ‘Iz doklada Rumiantseva Aleksandru I’.

96 Schlafly, David L., ‘The first Russian diplomat in America: Andrei Dashkov on the new republic’, The Historian, 60, 1997, pp. 39–58CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

97 ‘Iz doneseniia N. P. Rezanova N. P. Rumiantsevu’; ‘Instruktsiia A. A. Baranova’; ‘Zapiska direktorov Glavnogo pravleniia (Communication of the directors of the Directorate General)’ (24 April 1808), in VPR, series 1, vol. 4, pp. 241–3.

98 ‘Donesenie G. I. Shelikhova irkutskomu general-gubernatori I. A. Piliu (G. I. Shelikhov's report to the Governor-General of Irkutsk, I. A. Pil)’ (11 February 1790), in Andreev, Russkie otkrytiia, pp. 289–95; ‘Secret instructions to Baranov’ (18 April 1802), in Dmytryshyn, Basil, ed., To Siberia and Russian America: three centuries of Russian eastward expansion, 1558–1867, vol. 3: 1798–1867, A documentary record, Portland, OR: Oregon Historical Society Press, 1989, pp. 27–32Google Scholar. Lisianskii, Iurii, Puteshestvie vokrug sveta na korable ‘Neva’ v 1803–1806 godakh (The circumnavigation aboard the ship Neva, 1803–1806), Moscow: OGIZ, 1947Google Scholar.

99 ‘Zapiska direktorov Glavnogo pravleniia’.

100 ‘Poverennyi v delakh v SShA’.

101 For a list and discussion of those reasons, see Grinev, Andrei V., ‘Russian politarism as the main reason for the selling of Alaska’, in Matsuzato, Kimitaka, ed., Imperiology: from empirical knowledge to discussing the Russian empire, Hokkaido: Slavic Research Centre, Hokkaido University, 2007, pp. 245–58Google Scholar.