Russian-American Company created

19 July 1799

On July 8 (19), 1799 under the order of Paul I there was created a trade association – the Russian-American Company. It was meant for developing the Russian lands in America and the adjoining islands. One of its founders and first directors was a chamberlain Nikolai P. Rezanov.

The order to the Senate said: “The benefit for our Empire coming from businesses and trades made by our loyal subjects in the North-Eastern Sea and that region of America has gained our monarchial attention and respect. That is why taking under our direct protection the company formed on the basis of these businesses and trades we command it to be named: the Russian-American Company Under His Imperial Majesty’s Highest Protection…”

On December 27, 1799 the rights and privileges of the Company were confirmed and legalized by the charter of Emperor Paul I.

The new company was authorized “the monopoly of use of trades and institutions from latitude 55 North on Aleutian Islands, Kuril Islands and other islands, make new discoveries, use everything there is in subsoil and on the surface, create settlements, employ free people of any state”.

The closeness of the Company to the government was fixed in the spring of 1802 when royal persons such as Alexander I and Widow Empress Maria Feodorovna became its shareholders. In spite of the fact that the Directors’ Council held its sessions in St. Petersburg, the Company was directed from the capital of the Russian America – Novoarchangelsk (the town founded on Sitka Island in 1804).

Supported by the Russian government, the Russian-American Company created a series of permanent settlements, built shipyards, workshops and other. The Company disposed of a large flotilla of ships including “Archangel Michael”, “Three hierarchs”, “Great Martyr Catherine”, “Saint Simeon the Righteous and Anna Prophetess”, “North Eagle”, “Phoenix”, “Dolphin”, “Pegasus” and “Oleg”.

The Company took an active part in discovering Sakhalin and Outer Manchuria. In 1804-1840 there were organized 25 expeditions including 15 round-the-world ones (the most known was the expedition of I. F. Krusenstern and Yu. F. Lisyansky); important research works in Alyaska were effectuated.

From the beginning of the 19th century the activity of the Russian-American Company was complicated by the struggle with English and American entrepreneurs who had been arming the natives in order to fight with Russians and aspired for liquidation of the Russian settlements in America.

Besides, the Company Direction was oppressed by the fact that there were no dividends from the Company work and none to be expected. By the year of 1866 the Company owed to the Ministry of Finance 725 000 rubles. In government circles rose up the discussions on the sale of the Russian America which would help to enrich the state treasury and at the same time deliver Russia from a vulnerable and unprofitable colony that would in any case be taken by the United States. The destiny of the Russian America was greatly influenced by the Crimea War (1853-1856) which resulted in scarcity of the state treasury and proved the exposure of the territories in the Pacific Ocean in front of the Great Britain.

Selling of Alyaska was regarded by the Russian government in the first place as the way to eliminate a seat of possible conflicts in future and strengthen the real union of the two great powers.

Om 1868 the Russian-American Company was liquidated due to the selling of the Russian estates to the USA.

Lit.: Алексеев А. И. Освоение русскими людьми Дальнего Востока и Русской Америки. М.,1982; Беренов А. Р. Деятельность Российско-американской компании в северной части Тихого океана: 1799-1867 гг. : автореф. дис. ... к. и. н. Воронеж, 2006; Болховитинов Н. И. Россия открывает Америку. 1732-1799. М., 1991; Ермолаев А. Н. Российско-американская компания и императорское правительство: государственный контроль за деятельностью акционерной монополистической организации: 1799 – 1867 гг. : автореф. дис. ... к. и. н. Кемерово, 2000; Коллекция Геннадия В. Юдина: Документы Российско-американской компании [Электронный ресурс] // Библиотека Конгресса США. Б. д. URL:; Макарова Р. В. Внешняя политика России на Дальнем Востоке (2-ая половина XVIII — 70-е гг. XIX в.). М., 1982; Материалы для истории заселений по берегам Восточного океана. СПб., 1861; Образование Российско-Американской компании // История Русской Америки (1732-1867). М., 1997. Т. 1. Гл. 9; То же [Электронный ресурс] URL:; Окунь С. Б. Российско-американская компания. М.; Л., 1939; Российско-американская компания [Электронный ресурс] // Командор Резанов. 2003. URL:; Петров А. Ю. Российско-американская компания: хозяйственная деятельность на отечественном и зарубежном рынках: 1799-1867 гг. : дис. ... д. и. н. М., 2006; Петров В. Русские в истории Америки. М., 1991; Россия и США. Становление отношений. 1765-1815. М., 1980.

Based on the Presidential Library’s materials:

Персия, Туркестан, Хива, Индия, Ост-Индская компания, Китай, Российско-Американская компания и Соединённые Северо-Американские Штаты, с показанием пространства земли и числа жителей, гор, морей, заливов, озёр, рек и расстояний значительнейших мест одного и другого. М., 1855;

Полное собрание законов Российской империи, с 1649 года. СПб., 1830. Т. 25. № 19030. С. 699.