JUNO AND THE RUSSIAN AMERICAN FRONTIER, 1799 1811 By TOBIN JEREL SHOREY A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2014
Â© 2014 Tobin Jerel Shorey
To my family, friends, and faculty mentors
4 ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I would first like to thank my parents and family , whose love and dedication to my education made this possible. I would also like to thank my wife, Chri s ty, for the support and encouragement she has given me. In addition, I would like to extend my appreciation to my friends, who provided editorial comments and inspiration . To my colleagues Rachel Rothstein and Lisa Booth, thank you for all the lunches , d iscussions, and commiseration. This work would not have been possible without the support of all of the faculty members I have had the pleasure to work with over the years. I also appreciate the efforts of my PhD committee members in making this dream a reality: Stuart Finkel, Alice Freifeld, Peter Bergmann, Matthew Jacobs, and James Goodwin. Finally, I would like to thank the University of Florida for the opportunities I have been afforded to complete my education.
5 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS ................................ ................................ ............................... 4 LIST OF FIGURES ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 8 ABSTRACT ................................ ................................ ................................ ..................... 9 CHAPTER 1 LIBRETTO ................................ ................................ ................................ .............. 11 Historiography ................................ ................................ ................................ ......... 16 Characteristic s of Russian America, 1799 1811 ................................ ..................... 25 Memoirs from the Juno ................................ ................................ ........................... 28 The Juno in Five Acts ................................ ................................ ............................. 32 2 ACT 1 FROM EXPLORATION TO EXPLOITATION: RUSSIANS AND AMERICANS IN THE PACIFIC FUR TRADE, 1799 1803 ................................ ...... 38 Scene 1 A Yankee Merchant Vessel in the Pacific Northwest, 1799 1803 .......... 38 Scene 2 Left on an Island: Alexander Baranov, Russian Consolidation, and the Demands of Overseas Colonies, 1791 1804 ................................ ................. 50 Portrait of a Russian Merchant ................................ ................................ ......... 52 Chief Manager of the Russian American Colonies 1790 1801 ......................... 58 Yankee Merchants and the Attack on Fort Mikhailovsk ................................ .... 68 Russians and Yankees: Trade Established ................................ ...................... 73 Denouement Commerce, Conquest, and Fi nding the Native Voice ...................... 75 3 ACT 2 A RHODE ISLAND YANKEE IN RUSSIAN AMERICA, 1804 1808 .......... 84 Scene 1 The Pacific Northwest from the Bow of the Juno ................................ ... 84 Voyage to the Northwest Coast ................................ ................................ ........ 86 Yankee Trade along the Coast ................................ ................................ ......... 89 The Battle of Sitka 1804 ................................ ................................ ................. 91 Th e Final American Voyage of the Juno ................................ .......................... 98 Scene 2 John DeWolf: Yankee Merchant and Explorer ................................ ...... 101 Wintering in Sitka ................................ ................................ ........................... 103 DeWolf in Siberia ................................ ................................ ............................ 109 Denouement Russian America after the Battle of Sitka ................................ ..... 116 4 ACT 3 THE METROPOLE MEETS THE PERIPHERY: NAVIGATING SOCIAL STANDING, DIPLOMACY, AND EMPIRE OVERSEAS, 1799 1807 .................... 123 Scene 1 Nikolai Rezanov: Aristocrat, Merchant, Diplomat ................................ .. 123 First Round the World Expedition ................................ .................... 128
6 Published Accounts of the Japanese Ambassadorial Mission ........................ 132 Soslovie at Sea ................................ ................................ .............................. 136 Scene 2 Reza nov in Russian America ................................ ............................... 143 ................................ ........ 149 ................................ ................................ ............................ 162 Denouement In Search of the Real Rezanov ................................ ..................... 165 5 ACT 4 GEORG LANGSDORFF AND THE NATURAL HISTORY OF RUSSIAN AMERICAN COLONIZATION, 1805 1807 ................................ ........... 171 Scene 1 Natural History and Empire ................................ ................................ .. 171 Langsdorff Heads to Russian America ................................ ........................... 173 Observing the Native Population of Russian America ................................ .... 176 Observing the Nature of the Russian American Colonies ............................... 180 Scene 2 A Ship of Exploration ................................ ................................ ........... 190 Trip to Spanish America ................................ ................................ ................. 193 Leav ing Russian America ................................ ................................ ............... 199 Denouement Natural History and Russian America ................................ ........... 200 6 ACT 5 ROSENCRANTZ AND GUILDENSTERN VISIT RUSSIAN AMERICA, 1802 1807 ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 206 Scene 1 Two Visits from the Metropole to the Periphery ................................ ... 206 Khvostov: Social Status and the Return to Russian America ......................... 218 ................................ ................................ .................. 223 Scene 2 The Juno as a Ship of War: Davydov and Khvostov at War with Japan ................................ ................................ ................................ ................. 234 Attacking the Japanese ................................ ................................ .................. 235 Significance of the Japanese Excursion ................................ ......................... 241 The Tragic Deaths of Khvostov and Davydov ................................ ................ 246 Denouement The Periphery and Identity ................................ ........................... 249 7 CONCLUSION ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 254 Curious Anomalies ................................ ................................ ................................ 255 Official D iplomatic Relations ................................ ................................ ................. 258 1812 as a Turning Point ................................ ................................ ........................ 265 Alaska as an American Frontier ................................ ................................ ............ 267 8 EPILOGUE: THE CURIOSLY LONG LIFE OF A SHORT LIVED SHIP ................ 272 The Juno on Stage ................................ ................................ ............................... 274 ................................ ............................ 278 LIST OF REFERENCES ................................ ................................ ............................. 285 Archives ................................ ................................ ................................ ................ 285 Books ................................ ................................ ................................ .................... 285
7 Journals ................................ ................................ ................................ ................ 293 Newspapers ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 297 Video ................................ ................................ ................................ ..................... 298 Websites ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 299 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ................................ ................................ .......................... 300
8 LIST OF FIGURES Figure page 5 1 Langsdorff sailed aboard the Juno from February through June 1806 with Rezanov on expedition to Spain. He agreed to accompany the Chamberlain to study the natural history of California in comparison to the North Pacific. .... 205 8 1 President Putin. ................................ ................................ ................................ ................ 283 8 2 Russian meme that circulated on social media shortly after the Crimean annexation shows that Russians had similar thoughts about the annexation and Rus sian connections to Alaska ................................ ................................ .. 284
9 Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy JUNO AND THE RUSSIAN AMERICAN FRONTIER, 1799 1811 By Tobin Jerel Shorey December 2014 Chair: Stuart Finkel Major: History eighteenth and nineteenth centuries has grown in recent years. The renewal of turbulent US Russian relations has accelerated this trend. Reviewing primary and secondary sources, I explore the political, intellectual, social, and economic conditions of the Russian American colonies during the early nineteenth century from aboard the Juno a ship that plied the waters at the time. The ship is a cultural hub that unites these condi tions , demonstrating how different historical perspectives can be brought to bear on the narrative of initial Russian colonization in the Pacific Northwest . Rather than focusing on a particular person or narrative, I employ a multi disciplinary approach to examine the intellectual, commercial, and technological environment in which the colonies began. I conclude with an explanation of how and why Russian America cont inues to be relevant in American and Russian popular culture . Like the plays, fiction, a nd musicals the ship inspired, I divided my analysis into five acts, exploring how the ship was used by its American , and later Russian , owners in
10 the Pacific Northwest. I close with an analysis of Russian America and Alaska as objects of cultural memory in the minds of Russians and Americans.
11 CHAPTER 1 LIBRETTO In July 1811, Russian colonists at Sitka loaded the Juno with a cargo of sea otter furs and goods recently obtained from Canton , China via American intermediaries. The combined cargo was valued at over 200,000 Russian rubles. Her destination was the port of Petropavlovsk, along the eastern coast of Kamchatka. At the time, the Juno was company ships large enough to r outinely make the dangerous passage from the purchase in October 1805, she had made several such voyages, following the Aleutian Island chain to the Kamchatka pe ninsula. Her captain in 1811, a navigator in the Russian Navy named Sergei Martynov, set out against strong contrary winds. 1 According to Kyrill Timofeevich Khlebnikov, an accountant in the employ of the Russian American Company, harsh weather conditions kept the ship at sea for more than three months before they were able to approach the Kamchatka coast. Such trips normally took two months under better conditions. But on November 15 , 1811, less than twenty five miles from Petropavlovsk, strong winds ble w the ship onto the rocky shore near Shipunsky Point. The only survivors were three crewmembers, Stepan Noritsyn, Mikhail Posnikov, and a man with the surname of Valgusov. They made it to Petropavlovsk to report what occurred. 2 1 Aleksandr Ivanovich Alekseev, The Destiny of Russian America: 1741 1867 (Fairbanks: Limestone Press, 1990): 138. Originally published as r usskoi a meriki : 1741 1867 , 1975. 2 K.T. Khlebnikov, Baranov: Chief Manager of the Russian Colonies in America. (Kingston, Ontario: The Limestone Press, 1973), 80 81. Originally published as Zhizneopisanie Aleksandra Andreevicha Baranova, g lavnago p ravitelia r ossiiskikh k olonii v Amerike , 1835.
12 Khlebnikov, who had recently returned to Petropavlovsk from the Russian American colonies, was taken to the scene. Nineteen crewmembers, including the captain, had died. Khlebnikov located a report from Martynov among the bodies and wreckage, wherein the captain wrote, With the vessel entrusted to me, I have arrived from the port of Novo Archangelsk [Sitka] in the most wretched condition. I have been sailing for three months from the Northwest coast of America and struggling against unending storms. Now already in sight of the shore here for 19 days, I have only 3 sailors and they exhausted, and 5 young apprentices whom I in addition to their own. The other three take the whee l, bail out water (which comes aboard during strong winds at the rate of 5 inches every three masted ship with these 8 people is a difficult undertaking, the rest of 3 With th at, according to Khlebnikov, the report ends. The three survivors indicated that the last storm they encountered tore away the steering gear and chains, leaving the Juno helplessly adrift. The crew attempted to anchor the Juno in a nearby bay, but strong currents and winds dragged the ship onto a reef. Stranded upon the reef, the surf pounded the vessel until it was slammed into the rocky shore. For six hours, the Juno laid helpless on the rocks. Each wave that pounded the ship carried away more of the timbers, cargo, and crewmembers until all were lost. After hearing the grisly tale, Khlebnikov and his associates found and buried nine bodies that were strewn attenti 4 Northwest coastline was a frontier beyond the frontiers of the European powers and the 3 Khlebnikov, Baranov: Chief Manager , 80 81. 4 Khlebnikov, Baranov: Chief Manager , 82.
13 young American republic. Initial European a ttem pts at colonizing the area proved difficult. In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, British fur hunters from Canada were prohibited from trading along the Pacific coast due to the prerogatives granted by the British Crown in the charter of the British East India Company. The highly successful Cook and Vancouver expeditions accurately charted the coastlines on behalf of the British Empire and the EIC. But the great geographic distances that Company ships had to travel to reach the area pro hibited British colonization beyond a couple of ports on Vancouver Island at the time. The Spanish over extended themselves to colonize as far north as San Francisco due to fears of Russian expansion, making only a token attempt to establish control furth er north. Recently, historians have sought to correct the image of landlocked Spanish explorers in the area, detailing the voyage of Esteban Jose Martinez in the 1780s, for instance. 5 T position so far from Europe . Yet i n 1789, despite the sparsity of British or Spanish settlement s in the Pacific Northwest, Britain and Spain nearly went to war over competing claims to Vancouver Island when Martinez detained two British East India Company ships at Nootka Sounds. T he threat of war was narrowly averted by what became known as the Nootka Conventions (1791 and 1794). Even merchants from the United States, lured by the prospects of the fur trade with China, made two unsuccessful attempts to establish a permanent settl ement at the mouth of the Columbia River prior to the War of 1812. Russia, in the words of historian 5 in Stephen Haycox et al., eds., Enlightenment and Exploration in the North Pacific 1741 1805 (Anchorage: Cook Inlet Historical Society, 1997).
14 James K. Barnett, was thus 6 The Russian empire was engaged in a n ear continuous string of European and Central Asian conflicts throughout the eighteenth century. Maritime activity, both naval and commercial, was relatively new to Imperial Russia. itime influence around the eastern Baltic and northern Black Sea at the start of the nineteenth century. But Russians started arriving in the Aleutian Islands to hunt furs in the fic. 7 Siberian merchants, who had the most precarious legal standing in Russia n society , established a vast network of Cossacks, peasants, and Siberian natives to collect and sell furs from all over Siberia for domestic and foreign markets. 8 As sea otte r populations diminished along the Siberian coastline, these merchants and the fur hunters in their employ (referred to as promyshlenniki ) began to hop from island to island in barely seaworthy vessels in search of the increasingly elusive pelts. With the costs of these expeditions rising beyond the capacity of individual merchants in Siberia to afford , they began to form small companies to share the risk and/or profits of the expeditions. Such arrangements often broke up after a single voyage to the Aleu tian Islands or the Alaskan coastline, and reformed with different combinations of merchants. Grigory Ivanovich Shelikov, the founder of the company that would become 6 Haycox, Enlightenment and Exploration , 5. 7 James R. Gibson, Imperial Russia in Frontier America: The Changing Geography of Supply of Russian America, 1784 1867 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1976), 3 6. Gibson provides an excellent summary of four waves of Russian occupation during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. 8 this period. See Christine Ruane, The Empire's New Clothes: A History of the Russian Fashion Industry 1700 1917 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009).
15 the Russian American Company, was involved with 10 such companies in an eight year period during the 1770s and 1780s. 9 By that time, the Chinese were the primary customers for Russian sea otter furs. Chinese traders paid up to 100 rubles for each pelt. But the Chinese limited trade with the Russians to Kiakhta , a small Russian outpost 100 mi les south of Lake Baikal. As a result, the market was prone to frequent closures by Chinese officials, who often objected to Russian expansion . 10 In 1784, Grigory Shelikov established the first permanent colony on the Alaskan Island of Kodiak. Shelikov shrewdly realized that having a permanent settlement in Russian America gave the Shelikov Golikov Company the advantage of being able to hold out during such closures, and rush furs to market when they reopened. 11 Despite his failure to obtain monopoly protections for their c ompany from Catherine the Great during her return catch the attention of several influential court members. As a result, his company was the most prominent when Tsar Paul I decided to combine merchant activities along the Pacific Northwest coast. In 1799, while the Juno was nearing completion in Dighton , Massachusetts, Tsar Paul I transformed the Shelikov Golikov Company into the Russian American Company 9 Grigory Shelikov, A Voyage to America, 1783 1786 (Ontario: Limestone Press, 1981), 6. Originally pu blished as 1783 po 1787 god iz Okhotska po v ostochnomu okeanu k a merikanskim beregam, 1791 and 1792. 10 S.B. Okun, The Russian American Company (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1951), 15 17. Ori ginally published as Rossiisko amerikanskaia kompaniia , 1939. Okun, steeped in Marxist methodology, focused upon the economic competition between the British and the Russians over access to the Chinese fur market. 11 a nd Cooperation: The Bostonians a nd t he Russian The Pacific Historical Review. 40, no. 4 (Nov 1971): 421.
16 s near rter for fur hunting along the Pacific Northwest coast north of 55 degrees north latitude. H e modeled the new company after the British East India Company, inaugurating Russia's n ukaz permitting naval officers to temporarily enter into RAC employment without losing promotional opportunity or pay. This ruling aimed to attract naval officers from St. Petersburg to the colonies in order to protect imperial and financial interests i n the company. These two acts, the founding of the RAC and involvement of the Russian navy, tied the American colonies to Russian domestic and foreign interests. Following 12 Histo riography Khlebnikov was among the first Russians to chronicle the early history of Russian America and the RAC. In 1835, he published Life of Alexander Andreevich Baranov, Chief Manager of the Russian Colonies in America . Khlebnikov was fortunate to hav e a plethora of unpublished manuscripts and documents to draw upon; many of them lost to subsequent historians. 13 Published texts detailing the geography of the Pacific Northwest coastline began appearing in Russia shortly after the Bering expeditions. 12 Peter A. Tikhmenev, A History of the Russian American Company, Vol. 1 (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1978), 54 56. Originally published as Istoricheskoe o bozrenie o brazovaniia r ossiisko a merikanskoi k ompanii i d eistvie eia do nastoiashchago v remeni , 1861 and 1863. 13 Frank Golder, Guide to Materials from American History in Russian Archives (Washington, D.C.: Carnegie I nstitution of Washington, 1917), 145 146. The history and location of RAC documents is a fascinating subject in its own right. According to Frank Golder, an American scholar that scoured Russian archives immediately before and after the Bolshevik Revolut ion, many of the documents were lost after one archive refused the documents due to the expense of preserving them.
17 No n Russian manuscripts were also published in the 1700s, most notably accounts of the British captains Cook and Vancouver. In the early nineteenth century, American, British, German, and Russian adventurers spun yarns about their exploits in these uncharte d waters, documenting the geography, ethnography, and commercial prospects of the Pacific Northwest. Historical interest in Russian America waxes and wanes with the vacillations of contemporary Russian and US diplomacy. Nevertheless, there is a plethora of information on how the Pacific Northwest was explored, colonized, and exploited in books, articles, international conferences, and even dramatic performances. Each generation of scholars, politicians, authors and poets in Russia and America seems to historiography o f Russian America in both countries was dominated by one question: the North Pacific. As Stephen Haycox pointed out in 1990, late nineteenth and early twentieth century American historians like Hubert H. Bancroft and Frank Golder argued 14 In what could be described as an attempt to re explora tion and settlement, t area in 1648 . They question ed descriptions of the lands he saw, and the quality of the ships that made the journey. From the 1930s through the 1950s, historical documents in Russia and America were examined on both sides of the Atlantic (or Pacific, if you prefer) . They showed 14 , Pacific Historical Review, vol. 59 2 (May, 1990): 243.
18 in particular , and validated the 1648 expedition. B ut even with documentary evidence, it was an uphill battle to reverse the idea , offered by earlier American scholars, that Russian exploration of the Pacific Northwest was a matter of idle scientific curiosity rather than an indication of intent to coloniz e and settle the region . Works in this vein, even when they recognized the valuable contributions Russians made to our scientific understanding of Alaska and the Aleutian Islands, reinforced the idea that Russian America was peripheral to the histories of both America and Russia since Russian colonization could be viewed, more or less, a haphazard mistake. exploration of the Pacific Northwest was connected to plans for potential terr itorial expansion. His The Russian American Company focused on expansion in the Pacific Northwest under the auspices of the RAC. Examining Russian designs for the Alaskan coastline, California, and Hawaii, Okun argued that Russian explo ration and settlement were the result of economic considerations, inspired primarily by Russian aristocrats under the influence of French mercantilist ideas from the eighteenth century. In the twentieth century, Okun was among the first to study how the R AC operated, and his work received much attention in both America and Russia. From the 1950s until shortly before his death in 2008, Nikolai Bolkhovitinov argued that Russian America w as a prism through which Americans and Russians could gain a better un derstanding of one another during and after the Cold War. His Stanovlenie Russko Amerikanskikh otnoshenii, 1775 1815 (The Beginnings of Russian American Relations 1775 1815) argued that commercial activity, both in the Atlantic and
19 the Pacific, played a c rucial role in shaping nineteenth century relations between both countries. Bolkhovitinov was instrumental in making documents pertaining to the RAC and US Russian relations available to scholars, helping to compile and publish archival documents in Engli sh and in Russian. 15 Following his Ameriki, 1741 1867 (The Destiny of Russian America , 1741 1867 ) . In it, Alekseev disputes the notion that the New World was explored and colonized in a haphazard manner. He argues that successive waves of state supported exploration and merchant activity in the eighteenth century, led primarily by a string of competent Siberian governors acting on behalf of the Tsars and Tsarinas, paved the way for Russian commercial exploitation of the Alaskan coastline. Alekseev produced a triumphal narrative that praised Russian exploration efforts, and downpla yed the disastrous influence they had on native populations. 16 In America, Richard A. Pierce was instrumental in making Russian secondary sources concerning Russian America available to English speaking readers. His Limestone Press , established in 1972, also produced numerous translations of Russian primary source materials about the Pacific Northwest . Pierce and Bolkhovitinov paved the way for a number of international conferences that have been held over the past 30 15 Nikolai N. B olkhovitinov, Russia and the United States: An Analytical Survey of Archival Documents and Historical Studies (London: M.E. Sharpe Publishers, 1986) and Nikolai N. Bolkhovitinov, The United States And Russia. The Beginning of Relations 1765 1815 (Washingto n DC: US Government Printing Office, 1980). 16 plied the Siberian rivers, cut his way through the thickets of the Far Eastern taiga, , The Destiny of Russian America , 35.
20 years. Sitka hosted at least three international conferences on Russian America : in 1979 , 1987 , and 2010 . Pierce compiled the papers presented at the 1987 conference under the title Russia in North America. In 1994, The Cook Inlet Historical Society hosted a conference in Anchorage to co mmemorate the 200 th anniversary of the Vancouver expedition. The proceedings were edited by Stephen Haycox, James Barnett , and Caedmon Liburd and published as Enlightenment and Exploration in the North Pacific, 1741 1805 . Scholars presented on the intell ectual, scientific, and technological underpinnings and motivations of European exploration and settlement of the North Pacific. Five years later, Nikolai Bolkhovitinov sponsored an international conference in Moscow in celebration of the 200 year anniver sary of the founding of the RAC. This conference also coincided with the publication of the three volume Istorii Russkoi Ameriki , with articles from Russian and American scholars. In May 2001, the University of Alaska, F Northwest archival documents from Russia and America. In 2010, Sitka hosted a third international conference on Russian America, with the papers being published under th e title Over the Near Horizon: Proceedings of the 2010 International Conference on Russian America . In 2012, the Fort Ross conservancy hosted a bicentennial celebration of the founding of the Russian fort north of San Francisco. Papers and presentations at these conferences around the world had wide ranging topics, but many dealt directly or indirectly with Russian imperial colonization and the legacy Russia and the United States share in Alaska.
21 Russian America has also inspired more popular, participat ory forms of historical remembrance. In 1956, Montana State University student Frank Brink penned a pageant drama about Russian American colonization entitled Cry of the Wild Ram . Brink intended his biopic about the RAC and its first Chief Manager, Alexa nder Baranov, to be a community project that would connect the populace of Kodiak to their history. Like other pageant dramas of the 1950s, Brink hoped that producing the play would through community engagement in the outdoor performance, set in the location where Russian American history was made. 17 The town of Kodiak began producing the play annually from 1966, two years after a devastating earthquake and tsunami leveled most of th e town. With the support of the community an outdoor amphitheatre was erected near Fort Abercrombie, a base created to defend the island in World War II. The annual production was discontinued in 1991 amid logistical concerns and increasing criticism abo efforts did not get off the drawing board. In 1983, Soviet composer Alexei Rybnikov and poet Andrei Voznesensky produced a revolutionary rock opera about Russian America. Their Yunona i Avos centered on the love affair of Russian aristocrat Nikolai Rezanov and Concepcion de Arguello, the daughter of the commandant of Spanish San Francisco. The opera took its name from two ships in Russian America at the time the Yunona (AKA the Juno ) and the Avos (which, anachronistically, was not finished at the time the events in the 17 1956), iv.
22 opera took place). Poet Voznesensky used the love story as a plea for better understanding between the between the United States and the Soviet Union. This was accentuated by the rock musical score, and modern dance orchestrated by Alexei Rybnikov. The production was a huge success, and still plays to sold out audiences at the Moscow Lenkom theatre, where it debuted thirty one years ago. Despite these efforts, Russian America is still largely considered a subaltern field of study a tangential subject for both Russian and American history in the early nineteenth century. It is frequently dismissed as an exception to the pattern of Russian and American continental expansion, and therefore beyond the purview of American or Russian narratives. There are two primary reasons why the early history of Russian America does not se em to fit into Russian or American history. First, the early years of Russian America are best understood at the local level. That is, the pattern s of development and motivations for European presence along the Pacific Northwest coast are closely tied to the individuals that traded in, or colonized, the area rather than to the machinations of political entities in Europe and the United States. Historian Gwenn A. Miller persuasively has shown the value of localized studies of Russian Ameri ca. Her Kodiak Kreol: Communities of Empire in Early Russian America compares and contrasts the settlement of Kodiak and the creation of a Creole population to colonization in the American west and Russian east. 18 Second, but equally important, the history of European and American activities in the area is not distinctively national. The exploration, exploitation, and colonization of the Pacific Northwest involved Spanish, British, Russian, and American state and non 18 Gwenn A. Miller, Kodiak Kreol: Communities of Empire in Early Russian America (Ithaca: Cornell University Press: 2010).
23 state actors during the early period. The commercial activity that followed initial exploration had transnational characteristics, with profits being made in such disparate cities as Irkutsk, Boston, St. Petersburg, and Canton. Competing claims of territorial ownership of the area by the gove rnments of Spain, Russia, Great Britain, and the United States was a late reaction to such commercial activities. In 2006, Russian historian Alexander Iurevich Petrov argued that the best way to understand the myriad international and transnational connec tions that emerged from Russian America is to study the area from the perspective of the domestic and international markets that sprang up around the Pacific Northwest fur trade. 19 More recently, American scholar Ilya Vinkovetsky has explored the peculiar ities of Russian America from the perspective of empire from 1804 until its sale to the United Stated in 1867. In his Russian America: An Overseas Colony of a Continental Empire , Vinkovetsky looked at how the colonies re shaped geographical perspectives i n continental Russia, and how the RAC adapted to differing European trends in management of overseas holdings. 20 Vinkovetsky also focuse s on contemporary use and misuse of terminology like empire , imperialism , and colonialism in Russian American historiogr aphy . He demonstrates that the colonial policies that emerged, a fusion of changing European imperial norms that justified the subservience of indigenous populations , had a disastrous impact upon the native population s of Russian America . 19 Aleksandr Petrov, Rossiisko a merikanska i a k ompaniya: d e i o techestvennom i z arubezhnom r inkakh: 1799 1867 (Moscow , 2006), 10. 20 Ilya Vinkovetsky, Russian America: An Overseas Colony of a Continental Empire, 1804 1867 (New York: Oxford Universit y Press, 2011).
24 Guided by Jurg work on the complex relationship between imperialism and colonialism , Vinkovetsky examines how the Tsarist state, the RAC, and the Russian Navy had to negotiate their often incongruent priorities to resolve conflicting colonial and state i nterests in the administration of colonies . Osterhammel recognized shaped by particular local features overseas, by the intentions and opportunities of the individual colonial powers, and by broader tendencies in the internation al system 21 Russian America as a case study, both highlight state policy in th e formation of colonialism. As we will see, my work examines the crucial period before 1818, when the state took a more active role in the process of governing the colonies. These years demonstrate complexities in the formation of colonies that are overl ooked in Like a ship on the horizon, the Juno is occasionally sighted in published and unpublished texts pe rtaining to Russian America. Her commercial, diplomatic, scientific, and military endeavors found th eir way into scientific treatises, histories, memoirs, literature, poetry, and even a Russian rock opera. Her owners, officers, crew, and supercargo earned legendary status both in Russian and American historiography and popular literature. In the Pacifi influence, the Juno was transformed from an American, Yankee merchant vessel into a Russian ship that charted coastlines, opened diplomatic relations, waged war, and protected the newly founded Russian colonies. 21 Jurgen Osterhammel, Colonialism , trans. Shelly L. Frisch (Princeton: Markus Wiener Publishers, 1997), 4.
25 And yet, t he Juno was not a naval vessel. At the edge of world, she became whatever was needed. From 1799 1805, she plied the Pacific fur trade on behalf of an influential Rhode Island merchant family. But when the Russian American Company pu rchased the Juno in 1805, she became an instrument of Russian political control over the area owned by Russian merchants, and commanded by Russian naval officers that signed contracts to work for the RAC. 22 During her service, Russian settlements along t he Pacific Northwest coastline underwent a dramatic transformation. From isolated outposts under the tentative administration of merchants and promyshlenniki , these colonies became settlements inhabited by Russians, natives, and creoles, ministered to by the Siberian Russian Orthodox diocese, and governed by a joint stock company. Characteristics of Russian America, 1799 1811 The years 1799 1811 were a period of imperial praxis , where European ideas were pressed into service to build empires . European e xplorers, inspired by the Enlightenment, sought the farthest edges of the shrinking number of lands unknown. Merchants expanded their commercial and political influence. They both converged on the Alaskan coastline at the time, testing their ideas of the natural and commercial world. Before Russian America was consolidated under direct Russian imperial management in 1818, it was studied by merchants, explorers, and scientists. The early 22 The brevity of the service to the RAC was not unusual. Built in 1799, she became a Russian vessel in 1805; sinking six years later. Of the 26 vessels used by the Shelikov as Chief Manager (1792 1818), only five ships had a lifespan of ten or more years. At least 14 vessels were wrecked in such service. Two of the five vessels that survived ten years or more of sailing the Northern Pacific, the Juno and the Atahualpa (renamed the Bering when she entered Russian service), were American merc hant vessels sold to the Russians.
26 nineteenth century was a period when those on the far flung periphe ry could, at times, exert disproportionate influence on policies set in the European and American capitals for these regions . In the initial absence of direct political control, Russian America was literally and figuratively a fluid frontier favoring co mmercial enterprises over political and social stability , and encouraging inhabitants to adopt a variety of social roles unthinkable on the continent. Ships like the Juno navigated these waters. They were at times self contained communities, invested wi th sovereign powers to negotiate with foreign powers in the absence of direct orders from the metropole in ways inconceivable with overland expansion. As a result, Russian America was also a cosmopolitan frontier. Its leaders at the time negotiated with the Americans, British, and Spanish. Russian, Spanish, British, and American explorers, merchants, naval officers, and company employees were dependent upon one another for survival in an environment that was hostile. In addition, Americans, Danes, Brits , and Prussians were all employed in the Russian colonies, even during th e late eighteenth century . T here was also a profound urge to rationalize and describe this frontier a prerequisite for eventual political subjugation in the period that followed. A s we will see, Russians and non Russians alike used science and technology, commerce, and ideas shaped by the Enlightenment to examine this frontier. It is easy to overlook the technological and scientific benefits that ships like the Juno gave to the vas tly outnumbered Russians that colonized the area. 23 The abilities to accurately chart 23 Social Studies of Science 30 no. 4 (Aug., 2000): 623 and Sheila Jasanoff, (ed ). States of Knowledge: The Co -
27 positions and to safely traverse vast distances without succumbing to diseases were advantages that those on the Juno enjoyed because of advances in the technology of sai ling during eighteenth century. Such advances allowed the ship to become both a product and producer of knowledge. B efore and after the Juno was purchased by the Russians, she conducted commercial and scientific expeditions that plotted political, ethnographic, and geographical space. She was, by far, the most advanced ship in the When the early history of Russian America is viewed from her bow, we glimpse a fascinating moment of maneuver. Before interests were solidified along the coast or in the seats of power, colonists had to negotiate new social norms and manage relations with foreign powers while living just beyond the political reach of Europe and America. The Juno played a role in this process. She was also crucial to the immediate survival of the Russian American colonies. Her short but eventful life helped to shape the Russian periphery before the Tsarist government began to shape colonial practices and policies . Production of Science and Social Order (New York: Routledge, 2004), 13. Historians often overlook the complex relationship between science and technology on the one hand, and social and cultural change on the other. Sheila Jasanoff, one of the pioneers in the interdisciplinary field of Science and Technology Studies (S&TS), noted the strained relationship in her address to the History of Science Society in November , to share with scientists the suspicion that the firm ground of reality will dissolve into a quagmire of make believe if overcoming the tendency to think that technology and politics occupy separate spheres, modernity or in its distant outposts, play out in territories shaped by scientific and technological invention. Our methods of underst anding and manipulating the world
28 Memoirs from the Juno Gleaned from the memoirs and biographies of the intriguing, foolhardy, and legendary personalities that plied the Alaskan coastline in search of glory and profit, the stories of those that sailed upon the Juno illuminate how this frontier was explored, exploited, and colonized. These stories also reveal how such activities on the periphery shaped the participants. Russian America frustrated the expectations of those that explored it, and often forced them to rethink the assumptions that they brought from Europe and the United States. The needs of the colonies often forced such men to assume social or political roles for which they were ill equip ped or unqualified in the metropoles. Thus, while many view the history of Russian America from the perspective of empire and imperialism, the lifespan tells the story of how men of various occupations and backgrounds transformed, and were transfor med by, their experiences beyond the frontiers of empire. The owners, passengers, crewmembers, and officers also played an important role in documenting the status of the fledgling Russian colonies eighteen years after Shelikov landed at Kodiak. Th eir texts were also part of a larger effort to bring an encyclopedic knowledge of far flung regions of the globe back to metropoles in Europe and the United States. The process of Russian exploration in the North Pacific s in the 1720s and 1740s. Natural scientific voyages continued with British, Russian, and American explorers throughout the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, occurring in conjunction, and at times in conflict, with the commercial endeavors. The agenda for this exploration was shaped largely by Beyond mapping the coastline, Russian and non Russian explorers attempted to
29 produce accurate written descriptions of flora, fa una, and natural phenomena they observed. Many were inspired by the Encyclopedists, who sought to collect comprehensive knowledge of the natural world. The rush to discover and document unknown lands inspired many British, American, German and Russian ex plorers, scientists, and merchants to the Pacific in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Studying the plants, animals, natural resources, commerce, and native populations along Russia's newly colonized coastline was a crucial step in subjugating it. A cademic and scientific classification was a crucial first step in establishing intellectual hegemony over peripheral territories. 24 The transport of amateur and professional natural historians along the Pacific Northwest coast for the purposes of co mparing and contrasting natural and ethnographic specimens justified their eventual conquest. Their writings also offered the increasingly literate European population titillating tales of adventure in strange lands. Beyond entertainment value, natural history was privileged as a crucial enterprise during the period. For the Encyclopedists, it was the foundation for scientific investigation of the natural world. As James Llana illustrated, the Encyclopedists defined science as the application of human r eason to objects of natural history. Thus, [d]epending upon the path taken from natural history, one arrives at mathematics or physics... the objects of natural history offer the science of general physics; studied for what sets them apart into smaller gr oups, the objects of natural history yield the particular sciences of natural history, 24 Century Natural Oxford Art Journal , 13 no. 1 (1990): 3. As Christie p oints out, natural historians were contemporaries of the Enlightenment philosophes . Both amateur and professional natural historians brought the ideal s of Enlightenment Europe all over the world in their investigations long before other scientists. In ad dition, Christie points out, they brought
30 namely zoology, physical astronomy, meteorology, cosmology, botany, mineralogy, and chemistry. Supporting the arts, trades, manufacturing practices, and all the natural sciences, the simple study of natural history carries a great deal of epistemological weight in the encyclopedic scheme. 25 Voyages of discovery and exploration depended upon having natural historians on board. They lent scientific legitimacy to the expedit ions, and brought the intellectual In this vein, Shelikov introduced Russian America to elite circles throughout Russia. After his return from the Kodiak colony that he founded, Shelikov repor ted what he had done to the G overnor of Irkutsk. Knowing that his report would eventually wind up in St. Petersburg, Shelikov included a number of observations about the natural history of Kodiak, including descriptions of the natives and their cultural p ractices. A Voyage to America, 1783 1786 . He shamelessly promoted the settlement he founded , downplaying armed confrontations with the Alutiiq natives . He cast the Russian ways and faith if only endeavors. 26 25 James Llana, "Natural History and the Encyclopaedie" Journal of the History of Biology , 33 no. 1 (Spring 2000): 4. 26 A Voyage to America , 40 41). At the end of his account, Shelikov provides his readers with a description of their manners, customs, and clothing, A Voyage to America , 52). Describing the natives as a fixture of the physical environment was a hallmark of eighteenth and early nineteenth century natural scien ce, which viewed the native population as a part of the natural habitat.
31 A number of v isitors to Russian America in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries wrote about their experiences, including several who sailed aboard the Juno . While the technical or scientific value of these writings varied greatly, they all point to a fascinating process : the creation of political, academic, and c ommercial experts from those that visited or lived in the colonies. The absence of qualified experts combined with the difficulties endemic to traveling to the North Pacific at the time meant that experts more often than not were produced in the area in r eaction to the circumstances they encountered. Mirroring the process by which the Juno became a ship of commerce, diplomacy, and war in reaction to the needs of the colonies, these men stepped outside of social roles prescribed in the metropoles of empire . T he scientific, commercial, and diplomatic voyages expose this social dynamic and the conflicts it sometimes caused in the colonies during their early years. In the absence of the soslovie system ( which classified Russian subjects as nobility, clergy, urban dwellers, or peasants identities and legal responsibilities ), promyshlenniki and merchants in the American colonies became political and social leaders in ways that were unthinkable across urasian empire. In letters and published texts, Russian naval officers who visited the coast in the early nineteenth century frequently referred to the Russian colonists, many of whom were European Russians exiled to Siberia, as drunkard s, criminals, and scoundrels. Many colonists did possess less than desirable traits, but the authors were also unsure as to where to place the Company employees in the class system s that existed in continental Russia. The blurred social lines of the overseas colonies are striking even in comparison to the ports of Okhotsk and Petropavlovsk
32 along the eastern coast of Siberia, which possessed Russian political and social structures despite their vast distance from St. Petersburg and Moscow. While affording considerable socia l opportunities, the overseas colonies were also frequently the site of conflict between different Russian social classes. Nowhere is this more plainly seen than aboard ships like the Juno . Life aboard a ship, particularly one crewed by naval officers or seamen, necessitated a strict chain of command with harsh penalties for social transgression. Captains and officers bestowed with command and charged with the safety of the crew frequently disdained and ridiculed merchants, promyshlenniki , and non commis sioned aristocrats. The chain of command, meant to maintain order onboard the ship, was frequently used to vent hostility toward those who might possess higher rank on land. Thus, the voyages of the Juno also show how social status was frequently negotia ted in the colonies and at sea before the consolidation of state control over colonial management. The Juno in Five Acts My work examines Russian America during the years 1799 1811, which Gwenn of Russian America. 27 The Juno sailed before waves of Russian exploration on the Alaskan mainland began in the 1810s and 1830s 1840s. She held the colonies together before direct Russian Imperial control was established and the colonies devel oped what Mil ler called a commercial, diplomatic, and scientific activities in the area before control was shifted to the Russian Navy. The authors of these memoirs and ac counts offer a fascinating 27 Miller, Kodiak Kreol , xiii.
33 range of thoughts and opinions upon the future success or failure of the colonial endeavor and demonstrate the impact the colonies had upon the lives of the authors. Told in five acts, what follows is the saga of the Juno and tho se that sailed upon her. Taken together, these acts thematically reveal how ships were the lynchpin technology that drove commerce, scientific exploration, diplomacy and colonization Russian America. Between 1799 and 1811, in the absence of direct manage ment from Europe and America, ships were used to establish the norms of international relations in the North Pacific with the Juno playing crucial roles during her American and Russian service. Each act is divided into scenes that explore components of colonization effort that the Juno illuminates: how commercial activity shaped political, structure; how criticism of RAC commercial and political practic es arose from natural historical and ethnographic treatises; and the role of the colonies in initiating, and at times provoking, international diplomatic relations. The history encapsulates what Stephen Haycox referred to as a period of Bering in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Haycox noted that this second 28 Th e lifespan also coincided with what Gwenn Miller referred to as the between the 1740s and 1818. This period was unique, she argues, because it fell between older modes of colonialism and 28 Pacific Historical Review , 59 no. 2 (May, 1990): 248 249.
34 those that we understand now under the rubric of nineteenth century imperialism. 29 Russian historians similarly recognize this period as unique. T he period immediately following the loss of the Juno was a turning point in the development of Russian America. The W ars of 1812 had a profound impact on the political economy of the area. Initially, the Russian colonies and the RAC greatly benefitted from British blockades on American ports, and access to Chinese markets increased at the time . American merchants did n ot fully recover their position in the fur trade until the 1820s, by which time Russian colonies were well established . Russian American territorial boundaries then became a source of diplomatic contention between Washington and St. Petersburg. I n the lo ng run, the Russian imperial gaze shifted towards Europe in the aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars. This shift brought the era of Russian expansion along the American coastline to an end. Dreams of Russian North Pacific hegemony, cherished by many aboard t he Juno , began to fade as the Russian state consolidated control over the colonies. In the first act, I examine Russian and American commercial activity in the Pacific Northwest. I start with the maiden voyage of the Juno , exploring the geographic and com Russians. I then shift focus to Russian presence in the region around Kodiak from 1791 until 1803, detailing the pressures that encouraged Alexander Baranov to expand the c olonies towards Sitka and the establishment of regular contact with American merchants (primarily from Boston). Baranov was a monumental figure a man whose guidance (and often ruthlessness) transformed failing fur trading outposts along the 29 Miller, Kodiak Kreol , x.
35 Alaskan coas tline into a network of Russian colonies under the administration of the RAC and the Russian state. His life and work demonstrates both the social mobility and insecurity that life in the overseas colonies offered colonists. John DeWolf, the American who captained the Juno on her second trip from Rhode Island to trade along the Pacific Northwest coastline. This voyage, which left Providence in August 1804, coincided with the beginning of regular contact between Yankee merchants and the RAC. Interaction between Russians an d the Americans was complex, with the latter often undermining Russian attempts to pacify the regions where they hunted for sea otter furs. I also Juno , and the fascinating n arrative he wrote for his family to remember his adventures. Having observed life in the Russian colonies, the condition of the natives under Russian suzerainty, and Russian social customs from Kamchatka to St. Petersburg, DeWolf gave his readers a sense o f the social fabric of the Russian empire from one end to the other in the early nineteenth century. The third act introduces Nikolai Petrovich Rezanov, Chamberlain of the Court for Alexander I, ambassador to Japan, and plenipotentiary for the Russian Amer ican colonies. Rezanov was the catalyst that bound the interests of the Russian state to the precarious position as one of the first Russian aristocrats to actively engage in international trade. Scene two explores his motives for the purchase of the Juno and interests in the North Pacific, Rezanov nearly caused a mutiny on the first Russia n
36 circumnavigation of the globe, courted the daughter of a prominent family in Spanish California, and managed to initiate hostilities against the Japanese. Act four examines the writings of Georg Heinrich von Langsdorff, who served as physician visit to the Russian American colonies . Langsdorff was also an amateur naturalist. While observing the flora and fauna of the North Pacific, Langsdorff investigated the manner of Russian colonization, and compared it to the Spanish coloni es he observed while aboard the Juno . His natural historical perspective contrasted sharply with the commercial ideas that influenced European and American merchants in the area, offering a bleak outlook for the success of the Russian American colonies be fore political control could be fully exerted. Act five tells the captivating tale of two Russian naval officers, Lieutenant Nikolai Aleksandrovich Khvostov and Midshipman Gavril Ivanovich Davydov, who commanded the Juno in 1806 and 1807. Khvostov, like R ezanov, encountered several problems adjusting to the cultural conditions of the Russian American colonies, where the young Lieutenant felt insulted by the merchants that initially ran operations along the Pacific Northwest. Davydov Two Voyages to Russi an America, 1802 1807 , published posthumously in two parts between 1810 and 1812, offered up an ethnographic study of Russian America, coupled with their heroics in military en gagements in the Baltics afterwards, attracted the attention of prominent leaders in the Russian Admiralty as well as influential poets of the day. I conclude with a look at the peculiarities of Russian America during the period 1799 1811 , focusing on ho w and why the period was so important to both America and
37 Russia. I demonstrate how the American and Russian capitals began to react to events in the colonies to take a leading role in their activities. I also look at how this period influenced subsequen t developments not only Russian America, but also American and Russian cultural memory. While the history of Russian America certainly does not end with the sinking of the Juno in November 1811, the next year would bring monumental changes both in America and Russia. The wars of 1812 on the American and European continents temporarily shifted political (and historical) attention away from the Pacific. As we will see, though, the Juno wound up transcending its brief history , reminding both Americans and R ussians of their shared history at the other end of the world at the start of the nineteenth century.
38 CHAPTER 2 ACT 1 FROM EXPLORATION TO EXPLOITATION: RUSSIANS AND AMERICANS IN THE PACIFIC FUR TRADE, 1799 1803 Scene 1 A Yankee Merchant Vessel in the Pacific Northwest, 1799 1803 Wherein we learn about the construction of the Juno, its intended purpose, and burgeoning American participation in the Pacific Fur Trade In 1799, shipwrights in Dighton, Massachusetts completed construction of the Juno . A town better known for a mysterious petroglyph carved boulder discovered nearby in 1690, Dighton was an important port and shipbuilding center throughout much of the eighteenth century. According to ship registries in Rhode Island where the Juno was registered in 1800 she measured 82.5 feet long, 24 feet wide, and 12 feet deep, and could displace up to 295 tons fully loaded. 1 She was designed as a fast sailing merchant vessel, with a sharp keel that was lined with copper. A three masted ship with two decks, the Juno was capable of much longer journeys than many merchant vessels that plied the Eastern seaboard of the United S tates. Records say that she was fitted with a female figurehead on the bow, likely a representation of the Roman goddess Juno. One of her early captains, John DeWolf, , or 2 Like many merchant vessels of the day, she was armed to ward off pirates and privateers. This gave her what DeWolf called a The maritime influence in the Mediterranean. As the q ueen of the Roman pantheon, Juno oversaw 1 Ships Registers and Enrollments of Newport, Rhode Island 1790 1939 (Providence: The National Archives Project, 1938 1941), 355. 2 John DeWolf, A Voyage to the North Pacific and a Journey through Siberia More than Half a Century Ago . (Cambridge: Welch Bi gelow, and Company, 1861), 2.
39 counseling the state, protection of women, fertility , and birth. Her American maritime namesake was one of many merchant vessels that were constructed for the inte rnational commerce that ran through American ports . They were the financial 3 Yankee merchants like the DeWolfs were pioneers in a vast commercial frontier that spanned the globe. Their activiti es played a central role in the development of the American foreign commercial and diplomatic relations with countries like Russia. Less than a decade after Adam Smith published An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations , American ships from New England often mastered by their owners or by family members made their way into Baltic ports. In June 1784, Light Horse exchanged sugar for Russian shipbuilding materials. 4 Subsequent trips by American merchant s included stops in South Carolina ports. Along with tobacco and cotton, these products remained the primary items of trade between America and Russia as late as 1811. 5 shipbuilding, coupled with shortages of shipbuilding materials in the US, encouraged the 3 and his seemingly incongruent political philosophy on individual liberty and limitation of state prerogatives. As President, Jefferson sought to eliminate taxes where possible, relying instead on import duties to fund the American government. See Robert W. Tucker and David C Hendrickson, Empire of Liberty: The Statecraft of Thomas Jefferson (New York: Oxford University Press, 1990), 35. 4 James Duncan Phillips, "Salem Opens American Trade with Russia." The New England Quarterly 14 no. 4 (Dec 1941): 685. 5 for the Baltic Markets in From U.S. Consuls in St. Petersburg, Russia, 1803 1906. National Archives and Record Service, M81, 18:2.
40 growth of this trade with Russia. Between 1791 and 1800, 350 500 American ships arrived in Kronstadt to trade with the Russians . 6 It is therefore likely that Russian materials were actually used in the construction of the Juno . Soon thereafter, US Russian diplomatic relations began with the exchange of formal ambassadors. Th u s, b y the early nineteenth century, one historian has American officials, acting in support of the country's merchants, missed no opportunity to advance their commercial 7 In the same year that the Light Horse arrived in Russia, accounts of Captain Northwest coast, and how he exchanged these pelts with Chinese merchants for fabulous pr ofits. Boston companies had already established trade contacts with the Chinese, but they lacked a product the Chinese wanted. 8 When American adventurer John Ledyard published an account of his journey across Siberia, noting the tenuous s colonies on the Pacific Northwest coastline, Boston merchants saw an opportunity that could not be passed up. William Sturgis, a veteran of the Pacific Northwest trade, wrote in 1822 that, "[t]he Citizens of the United States, then just recovering from the entire prostration of their commerce by the revolutionary war, and possessing more enterprise than capital, were not slow in perceiving the benefits likely 6 Nikolai N. Bolkhovitinov, The United States: An Analytical Survey of Archival Documents and Historical Studies (London: M.E. Sharpe Publishers, 1986), 97. 7 David W. McFadden, "John Quincy Adams, American Commercial Diplomacy, and Russia, 1809 1825" The New England Quarterly 66 no. 4 (Dec 1993): 614. 8 Samuel Eliot Morison, The Maritime History of Massachusetts, 1783 1860 (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1921), 46.
41 to result from the participation in a branch of trade, where industry and perseverance could be substituted for capital." 9 In 1787, companies in Boston banded together to send two ships, the Columbia and the Washington , to retrace the profitable exchange of furs that were described in iven command over but that was never verified. 10 in 1794 , the financial success of the Kendrick expedition encouraged others to follow suit. By 1795, as one historian noted, the Americans replaced the British as the main competitors to Russian merchants in the Pacific Northwest. 11 And Boston merchants dominated this trade by 1801, with 14 of the 16 American vessels trading along the Pacific Northwest hailing from Boston. Commerce first brought the Juno to the North Pacific in 1802. As a Yankee merchant vessel, she would have cond ucted trade with many native tribes along the Pacific Northwest coast, including the Haida, Tsimshian, and the Tlingit. At the time, the coastline between the mouth of the Columbia River and Yakutat Bay was open to trade, as the Russians could not exert a ny significant influence beyond the area around the Kodiak Archipelago. Few details are known about the first voyage of the Juno to the Pacific Northwest. In the early nineteenth century, Yankee merchants were hesitant to 9 William Sturgis, "Examination of the Russian Claims to the Northwest Coast of America." North American Review 15 (1822): 370 371. 10 Briton C. Busch and Barry M. Gough, Fur Traders from New England: The Boston Men in the North Pacific 1787 1800 (Spokane: The Arthur H. Clark Company, 1997): 36. Kendrick witnessed the Nootka crisis unfolding between Britain and Spain while harbo red in Nootka Sound. He was reportedly the first American to visit Japan. He never made it back to America from the expedition, dying in Hawaii in a freak accident. 11
42 share their knowledge of the tra 1840s that merchants began to reminisce about their experiences in the Pacific. In 1857, William Tufts compiled a chart of American vessels that plied these waters for the fur trade based, in part, u pon information obtained from Captain William Sturgis. 12 Tufts listed the Juno sailing from Bristol, Rhode Island in 1801. The DeWolf family of Bristol, Rhode Island played a prominent role in the early American slave trade. The oligarch of the family, James DeWolf, plied the Atlantic slave trade as a captain in the 1790s. During the War of 1812, several of his vessels became privateers against the British. After dodging charges of murder for allegedly throwing a sick slave overboard during one of his expeditions, James DeWolf became a U.S. senator for Rhode Island between 1821 and 1825. The DeWolfs controlled many facets of the slave trade: they owned plantations in Cuba, rum distillerie s in New England, and several slaving vessels. Ship registry records indicate that the DeWolfs owned at least three ships bearing the name Juno . The first was a schooner used for the slave trade in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century. Anoth er Juno owned by the DeWolf family also used in the slave trade, but was appropriated by the American government during the War of 1812. 13 12 James Gilchrist Swan, The Northwest Coast: Or, T hree Years' Residence in Washington Territory (Washington: Harper & Brothers, 1857), 423 425. Tufts listed the possibility that this might have been John Kendrick Jr. the son of the Pacific Northwest pioneer John Kendrick. But subsequent investigation shows that the voyage was actually captained by Jabez Gibbs. 13 Ship Registers and Enrollments of Newport, Rhode Island 1790 1939 , (Providence: The National Archives Proj ect, 1938 1941), 143.
43 At the dawn of the nineteenth century, James DeWolf looked to diversify his y due to increasingly restrictive U.S. legislation passed between 1794 and 1807 that limited the slave trade. After Boston merchants established the Pacific fur trade in the 1790s, the DeWolfs used their commercial contacts and resources to explore the tr ade for themselves. As historian Jean Mudge has noted, merchant families in Rhode Island were ideally situated to participate in the China trade, as they had more capital available than their New York or Massachusetts counterparts at the time. 14 And the J uno was well suited for this journey her double ensured a comfortable profit margin. She was also well armed, and her copper lined keel gave her the speed needed to nav igate Cape Horn, and prevent the buildup of speed sapping barnacles on her hull. The ship registry of Newport, Rhode Island lists that the Juno was initially (merchants) of Bri 18 , 1801, the ship was re registered, adding ship being a captain by the name of Jabez Gibbs. 15 The Bristol Warren ship registry 14 Jean McClure Mudge, Chinese Export Porcelain for the American Trade, 1785 1835 (Delaware: University of Delaware Press, 1981), 112. 15 Ships Registers and Enrollments of Newport, Rhode Island 1790 1939 (Providence: The National Arch ives Project, 1938 1941), 355. James A. McMillin, an historian at Southern Methodist University, compiled a database of slaving ships for his book The Final Victims: Foreign Slave Trade to North America 1783 1810 . These records show that Jabez Gibbs was Master on board a slave ship inappropriately named Delight . She sailed from Rhode Island to Africa, picking up 72 slaves for delivery to Savannah Georgia between 1795 and 1796. Afterwards, Gibbs sailed aboard the Neptune in 1800, which also left Bristol f or the African slave trade. Gibbs is not again mentioned aboard
44 shows only one subs equent re registration, on August 10 , 1804, to John D. Wolf and 16 It was during this three year gap that the Juno first sailed for the Pacific Northwest coast. These three years saw a number of chang es in America, Russia, and along the Pacific Northwest coast. In March 1801, Thomas Jefferson was elected President of the United States and Alexander I ascended to the throne as the Russian Tsar. Jefferson spearheaded the Louisiana Purchase, which made America a continental power and opened the door to a century of Western expansion. Alexander I initially embraced the Enlightenment ideals of his grandmother, Catherine the Great. , drew apparition of such a man on a throne is one of the phenomena which will distinguish the present epoch so remarkable in the history of man." 17 Island to Africa on the Jane , owned by James DeWolf. The gap of four years between slaving runs matches the time Gibbs would have spent along the Pacific Northwest coast. See James A. McMillin, The Final Victims: Foreign Slave Trade to North America 1783 1810 (Columbia, University of South Carolina Press, 2004). 16 Ship Registers and Enrollments of Bristol Warren Rhode Island 1773 1939 (Providence: National Archives Project, 1941), 143. In 1959, historian George Howe erroneously reported that it was sold to the DeWolfs in 1804. In his Mount Hope , Howe wrote that the 1801 trip to the Pacific was captained by James Phillips, who also Juno had been built for Phillips in 1799 by Caleb Carr, a Warren, Massachusetts shipwright. According to Howe, the Juno arrived at Canton in 1802, from whence Phillips ret urned to Bristol with a cargo of Chinese goods valued at $30,000. Howe further indicated that Phillips would have made more money, had he included a trip to the Pacific Northwest. After this trip, according to Howe, James and Charles DeWolf bought the Ju no from Phillips for $7,600. But there is no reference to Phillips owning the Juno in the Bristol or Newport registries, and the ship was spotted by others along the Pacific Northwest coast at the time. See George Howe, Mount Hope: A New England Chronicl e (New York: Viking Press, 1959), 135. 17 Paul Leicester Ford (ed.), The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, (New York: GP
45 This period also mark ed the high point of trade between Yankee merchants and natives in the area of Vancouver Island in the Pacific. The Juno , like ships from Boston, traded primarily with Tlingits along a wide swath of territory between Spanish California, and the Russian se lands as far south as the fifty fifth parallel, the Russians seldom ventured south of Kodiak before 1799 due to a lack of resources and the hostility of the Tlingit population. The Russians found these natives, whom they called the Kolosh , to be far more war like and fearsome than the Aleutian Unangas and Kodiak Alutiiq tribes they had subdued. 18 As a result, Yankee merchants had little contact with the Russians between 1787 and 1801. Ship captains, primarily Boston merchants or captains hired by family owned merchant companies, established contact with natives along the coast to trade cheap manufactured goods, such as bolts of cloth, beads, fishing hooks, and sewing needles in exchange for furs. Sea otter pelts were particularly prized by New Englanders for their trade value in Canton. 19 Many of these companies, such as the one owned by herculean task to devise and establish the means of securing f reedom and happiness to 18 Andrei Valterovich Grinev, The Tlingit Indians in Russian America 1741 1867 (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2005), 22. Originally published as Indeitsy Tlinkity v pe riod russkoi ameriki (1741 1867 gg) , 1991. According to Grinev, the word Koloshi a Russianization of the word Aleutian Unangas natives used to describe the objects that Tlingit women wore as piercings below their kaluga, meaning wooden vessel, which was borrowed by the Russians who lived in the 19 expedition and the early nineteenth century, it was still exceptionally profitable. According to Hector Chevigny, Cook sold 560 sea otter furs for 5000 pounds sterling. Whil e selling the Juno in 1805, John DeWolf valued 572 sea otter skins at $13 , 062. See: Hector Chevigny, Russian America: T he Great Alaskan Venture 1741 1867 (New
46 James and Thomas Lamb of Boston, had a truly international focus. The Lambs also had trade ties with th e Dutch, the Danes, and the Russians in the Baltic. 20 Having partially funded the first American expedition to the Pacific Northwest and Canton in 1787, the Lambs also established business connections in China that proved invaluable in their future Pacific operations. 21 But direct trade with indigenous populations in the area was not without risks. As Captain William Sturgis, a veteran of the Pacific fur trade later described, frequent Yankee and British mistreatment of the natives often produced animosity that spilled over into violence. 22 One such episode occurred in 1803, when the Mowachaht of Vancouver Island overran a ship called the Boston after the captain insulted their chief, Maquinnah. James Rodgers Jewitt, one of only two crewmembers that survive d the massacre, was held hostage for nearly three years before being rescued. During that time he recorded his observations of the Mowachaht in the ship log, which he managed to salvage from the wreckage. 23 York: The Viking Press, 1965), 48 49; and John DeWolf, A Voyage to the North Pacific, 31. 20 Lamb Family Papers , Massachusetts Historical Society. Call Number: Ms. N 1547 21 Mudge, Chinese Porcelain , 29. The Lamb family sent several large ships into the Pacific trade during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, including the Alert in 179 9 and 1802, and the Pearl in 1804; the latter expedition being captained by John Ebbets. One Captain that plied the trade, Captain William Phelps, said of them and James and T homas Lamb, all of Boston, and the owners of the Kendrick expedition, will stand as the originators and most prominent merchants of the North West fur trade." See Busch and Gough, Fur Traders , 37. 22 401 23 John Rodgers Jewitt, A Narrative of the Adventures and Sufferings, of John R. Jewitt; Only Survivor of the Crew of the Ship Boston, During a Captivity of Nearly Three Years Among the Savages of Nootka Sound: With an Account of the Manners, Mode of Li ving, and Religious Opinions of the Natives (Middletown: Seth Richards, 1815).
47 A couple of days after his capture in Ma rch 1803, Jewitt spotted the Juno and the Mary , which had set out to find the Boston days after word reached American merchants along the coast regarding her disappearance. The ships were apparently planning a rescue, but after firing a couple of volleys from their cannons at the well armed natives, they abandoned the plan and sailed off. In 1805, the infamous Captain Sam Hill successfully rescued Jewitt after reportedly tricking the Mowachaht, holding host ages for his release. In a May 1807 newspaper ar ticle, Captain Hill excoriated the captains of the Juno and Mary for their cowardice. According to Hill, the ships were 24 shameless self promotion, but his identification of the confirms the information contained in the ship registries of Newport. There is no evidence that the Juno encountered any Russians on its first voyage to the area. While American contact with the Russians became more frequent after 1800, Yankee merchants still tended to avoid contact with European powers in the region. Disputes over political boundaries established by the Spanish, British, and the Russians were impediments to Yankee merchants that sought trade directly with lo cal populations of the Northwest coastline. American merchants also sought to protect their trade from the incursion of these powers. A ccusations that the Americans (and British) merchants incited populations against the Russians in 1802 bear considerabl e credibility. There were, however, several early points of contact between Americans and Russians that proved important to the history of the colo nies. In August 1787, Grigory 24 The Washington Historical Quarterly 17 no. 4 (October 1926), 286.
48 Shelikov encountered American John Ledyard in Irkutsk, Russia. Ledyard, a well Pacific in 1776, and wrote about the expedition in the first book copyrighted in the United States. 25 He was thus familiar with the area being colonized by the Russian s and the value of sea otter pelts in China before his meeting with Shelikov. 26 Shelikov and Ledyard both reported that the American peppered the Russian with questions , with the former being evasive about the history and size of Russian merchant activity. Shelikov reported to administrators in Siberia and St. Petersburg that he lied to Ledyard , saying there were two thousand Russians in the New World, extending as far south as Californi a. Further, he said, the Russians were extensively exploring the interior of the areas under their occupation. 27 He included a transcription of the conversation in his report. In 1792, Ale xander t he Phoenix 25 Edward G. Gray, "Visions of Another Empire: John Ledyard, and American Traveler Across the Russian Empire 1787 1788" Journal of the Early Republic 24 no. 3 (Autumn 2004): 358. 26 rd returned to America. In May 1786, Ledyard wrote to Thomas Jefferson, requesting permission to approach Catherine II of Russia to travel across the Russian Empire to explore forming a trade company in cooperation with the Russians (See Paul Leicester Ford (ed.), The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Vol 7 , 94 95). Without recei ving a response from the Russian government, Ledyard set out across Russia, walking from Sweden to St. Petersburg, around the Gulf of Bothnia. He met Shelikov on his first visit to Irkutsk. After proceeding on to Yakut sk, he was arrested in February 1788 , sent to Moscow, and deported through Poland. After which, he planned an expedition to explore Africa. 27 Shelikov, A Voyage to America , 19.
49 28 aboard the ship, and was present when the British captain spoke w ith Baranov in halting Germa n. in a claim to the Pacific Northwest coastline. In 1801, he returned to Russian America aboard the Enterprise Sitka and Kodiak on this voyage , and lear ned of the specific needs of the colonies. This information would serve him well ship directly to the Russian settlements to trade goods for furs. It was hoped that th is would simplify the process by cutting out the difficulty and danger of haggling with natives along the coast. With so many American vessels now trading along the At the same t Juno was headed home. She returned to Rhode Island following a successful expedition to the Northwest Pacific coast and China. An 1886 history of Providence, 804 the ship Juno arrived from Canton, laden with cargo of teas, silks, etc., valued at about $80,000. Duties paid on this cargo amounting to 29 the Pacific Northwest coast line. As the Russians began expanding southward, it was 28 Jefferson . He apparently abandoned the Jefferson in favor of the Phoenix . There is Spanish temporarily, before returning to the United States to raise the capital for his own j ourney to the Pacific Northwest. Over the Near Horizon: Proceedings of the 2010 International Conference on Russian America , (Sitka: Sitka Historical Society, 2013), 17. 29 Welcome Arnold Greene et al., The Providence Plantations for Two Hundred and Fifty Years... (Providence: J.A. & R.A. Reid Publishers and Printers, 1886).
50 impossible to avoid contact with the Russian colonies, as the areas freely available for trade were quickly shrinking. Scene 2 Left on an Island: Alexander Baranov, Russian Consolidation, and the D emands of Overseas Colonies, 1791 1804 Wherein we meet Alexander Baranov, examine his impact on Russian America, and glean insight into the By 1799, the Russians could no longer ignore the rich hunting grounds American ships like the Juno were exploiting to the south east of Kodiak . Thirty years of Russian fur hunting along the Aleutian Island chain, the Kodiak Archipelago, and the nearby Alas kan coastline greatly diminished accessible sea otter populations. New hunting grounds had to be found. The presence of the interloping American and British vessels trading along the coast and the Spaniards to the south meant that the window was closing for enforcing Russian claims to the fifty fifth parallel based upon the eighteenth century Chirikov expedition. Worse, Yankee merchants from Boston began trading muskets, ammunition, and powder to the Tlingit natives, who neighbored the Russians south of Yakutat Bay. The Tlingit began rejecting linen, glass beads, and other trinkets after years of contact with Europeans. While the firearms traded by the Americans and British were primitive by American and European standards, the Russians were alarmed to see them in the hands of a native population that vastly outnumbered them. manager from Kodiak, Alexander Andreevich Baranov, established Fort Mikhailovsk on Sitka Island during the winter of 1799 1800. Venturing more than 700 miles from his base of operations at Kodiak, Baranov hoped a settlement at Sitka would corner the fur trade in the area, making the trade in firearms unprofitable for the Americans. T he plan was ambitious . Ba
51 With very few Russian employees, Baranov had to maintain control over 11 outposts on the Kodiak Archipelago and 15 artels elsewhere along the Alaskan coastline. He had no idea at the time th at Tsar Paul I had inaugurated the RAC, combining all private Russian merchant activity under control including the formerly independent Prybilov and Unalaska outposts. 30 . By the time that Baranov decided to establish an outpost at Sitka, the Ki ks.Ã¡di Tlingits that inhabited the island had been trading furs for firearms with the Americans and British for more than a decade. Contact with European and Yankee merchants gave the Tlingits an advantage in dealing with the Russians that the Unanga s and Alutiit did not possess when the Russians established themselves in the Aleutians and on Kodiak in the eighteenth century. They were evenly matched against Baranov, sai d to be expert shots, the Tlingit population, which extended from Yakutat Bay in the north to the lands around the Alexander Archipelago in the south, significantly impeded Russian expansion along the Alaskan coast. 31 30 Anooshi Lintig Aani Ka Russians in Tlingit America: The Battles of Sitka 1802 and 1804 (Juneau: Sealaska Heritage Institute, 2008), xxxvi. 31 S.B. Okun, The Russian American Company , 54. Soviet historian Simeon Okun noted that Russian penetration of the interior of Alaska deemed unimportant at the time, Okun noted, the Russi resistance from English, who supplied local Tlinkets (Russians called them Koliuzhams) with weapons and training to take Russian fortified positions. In addition, Okun referenced an 1808 memorandum in which the RAC reported that it was unable to expand beyond Sitka due to, "time, lack of opportunity, and especially because of the scarcity of Russian people who know something about the business; for, though there are more than 600 of them, it is stil l incumbent upon them to secure the island of Sitka as well as everything lying beyond it along the islands and the coast of the mainland."
52 Portrait of a Russian Merchant Were it would have established an outpost at Sitka. It is equally unlikely that the colonies have survived the disastrous decision to expand towards the southeast without him. The Chie f Manager was born into the merchant class of Kargopol in 1746. He was the first and only Chief Manager (and later Governor) of the Russian American colonies that was not a naval officer and member of the aristocracy. Baranov headed to Moscow in 1762, ga the Baranov the skills he would need to become a merchant in the Russian empire. At some point after 1780, Baranov moved to Irkutsk, where he found a modicum of success in a variety of businesses, including glass blowing, vod ka distilling, and finally the s able fur trade. told and retold by historians and historical fiction writers alike. As mentioned e arlier, Kyrill Khlebnikov, an accountant who worked under Baranov in Russian America and greatly admired him, wrote the first biography of the Chief Manager in 1835. Hubert Bancroft, the nineteenth century historian whose name adorns the U niversity of Cal ifornia , Berkeley Library, devoted considerable attention to Baranov in his historical work on the Pacific Northwest. In 1943, author Hector Chevigny published a biography of Baranov called Lord of Alaska . Using a variety of primary and secondary sources , Alaska. Lord of Alaska , the second of three books Chevigny wrote about Russian America, highlighted the dramatic decisions Baranov made from 1791 until his dea th in
53 incorrect transliterations of Russian phrases. Chevigny made no apologies for his triumphal ist narrative, which focused in part on how the white man conquered the Pacific Northwest. 32 of historical fiction. In 1986, Kyra Petrovskaya Wayne wrote Quest for Empire: T he Saga of Russian America aranov, Tsar Alexander I, Nikolai Rumiantsev, and the peasant merchant explorer Timofei Tarakanov as protagonists. She frequently refers to what these men were thinking and saying at critical moments in the early history of Russian America. 33 Such enterta ining and imaginative portrayals are rife with historical inaccuracies and fall victim to the particular point of view of their authors. But they also indicate a desire among writers and readers to connect with the history of the Alaskan frontier and Alas a desire that persists to this day. Chevigny and Wayne both wrote narratives that were at times sensational; departing from what might be considered standard historical methodology . But they both picked up on a key factor in the ta le of Russian America: A t the fringe of the 32 American colonies. He viewed the nat ive women that took up with Russian men in Lord of Alaska: Baranov and the Russian Adventure , (Portland: Binsford & Mort Publishers, 1970), 55 33 could have been. Wayne was a fascinating woman. She was born in 1918 in the Crimea to a noble family. Wayne was a concert singer before World War II. During the war, she became a sharpshooter in the Red Army before becoming a nurse when she was wounded by shrapnel. During the siege of Leningrad, she tended the sick and wounded. After marrying a U.S. diplomat, Wayne emigrated to the United States , where she became an entertainer and writer. Her lament for the lost potential of Russian America might just have well been a lament for her loss of Russia.
54 Russian Empire, at the frontier beyond the continental frontier, Baranov had to forge the colonies together in the absence of the traditional Russian class system , transforming disparate hunting outposts into Rus sian colonies. Russian America required a leader that possessed the qualities of a merchant, a n oble, a military leader, and a g overnor. Such a person did not exist in Russia he was created in the colonies. Baranov was born into the lower ranks of the merchant class, the kupechestvo . Baranov belonged to a new class of merchants, created by Peter the Great . The Tsar urged the creation of such an entrepreneurial group of merchant manufacturers that would better support his demand for high quality and hi gh quantities of goods for up. 34 In contrast elite, these merchants established commercial networks throughout Russia, with manufacturers in the provinces, rather than centered around Moscow. But while Peter and subsequent Tsars wanted the economic advantages the middle merchants brought to the State, they had no interest in changing complex social system. 35 Within the confines of Russia n society , these merchants bore little r esemblance to their Western European counterparts. They frequently sought to close off their trade and industries from small scale peasant competition. Their almost immediate retreat from the entrepreneurial spirit Peter sought was the result of their pr ecarious position in Russian society. As historian Alfred Reiber has pointed out, they had virtually no political influence and thus could not adequately defend their economic 34 Great to Ca Russian Review , 54 no. 1 (Jan. 1995): 1 25. 35 Daniel Wallace, "The Merchantry and the Problem of Social Order in the Russian State: Catherine II's Commission on Commerce." The Slavonic and East European Review . 55 no. 2 (April 1977): 1 85 203.
55 interests. Even merchants that did gain a modicum of social or economic influe nce had little bearing on Russian society, as "very few of their own kind, that is, other merchants and industrialists, and virtually none of the rest of the population accepted their leadership." 36 Thus, merchants great and small, like Shelikov and Barano v, were vulnerable to the loss of their status if and when their fortunes changed. Eighteenth and nineteenth century merchants in Russia received their privileges in the Russian legal system based upon the amount they paid in taxes. Economic ruin meant a loss of such privileges. As a result, Russian merchants tended to be conservative. They had a patriarchal view of their employees, and preserved traditional attitudes toward family, church, and the state. Merchants often looked and acted differently tha n their gentry counterparts, despite the yearning among many of them for the stability a noble rank ensured. German was more common than French as a second language among merchants at the time. In addition, Russian merchants tended to dress in traditiona l Russian fashion, as opposed to the French fashions adorning the well to do gentry. But merchants were active in Russian social and public life . By the eighteenth century, there were indications that they began to identify as a corporate group in Russian society. A recent examination of portraits from eighteenth and nineteenth century Russian merchants revealed that while they sought to be portrayed as traditional Russian subjects, they also sought to highlight their literacy, cosmopolitan commercial con tacts, and sophistication through the objects they included in their 36 Alfred Rieber, "Businessmen and Business Culture in Imperial Russia." Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society . 128 no. 3 (Sept 1984): 239.
56 portraits. 37 Indeed, the very fact that portraiture became so popular among the the patrons, name ly, a recognition of the significance of leaving a statement of their human worth and social status in a form other than their own wealth. In that, a portrait can be compared to a diary. These creative forms are engendered by a desire on the part of the m odel or diarist to establish a persona that can be presented to the world 38 him leaning on a desk, writing a letter with a feather quill pen. Wearing his Order of St. Vladimir medal as a symbol of his authority, Baranov displays a slight smile. His tired but alert eyes invite the viewer to consider his life and accomplishments. Written descriptions of Baranov abound in literature on Russian A merica, lending support to his larger than life reputation. Gavril Ivanovich Davydov, a midshipman in the Russian Navy, first traveled to Russian America in November , 1802. He recalled that Baranov haired, well built with very prominent features erased Russian American colonies was aloof from all but his friends and foreign visitors, upon whom he lavished all that he had. Nevertheless, Da with respect on a man like this who had devoted his life to the improvement o f trade in Baranov, Davydov continued, had already been in America for twelve years, in the company of wild and primitive people, surrounded by constant danger. He had been struggling 37 The Slavi c and East European Journal , 49 no. 3 (Fall 2005): 407 429. 38
57 with the deep rooted depravity of the Russians living here, working constantly, in need of many things, often hungry, and at the same time almost without anyone who could work with him with the same energy. He was deprived not only of means of spreading trade here, but even of resisting the vengeance of some peoples, alleviating the lot of others enslaved by the Russian American Company. It seemed as though he had been left completely alone to fi nd within himself the means to make his lot better, and to support the settlements of America. All this work, these obstacles, sorrows, deprivation, and failures had not blighted the spirit of this rare man, although it had naturally had an influence on hi m and thereby made him rather somber in manner... He is not interested merely in amassing wealth at other peoples' expense, but will willingly share his own just salary with absent friends who are in need. His firmness of spirit and constant presence of mi nd are the reason why the savages respect him without loving him, and the fame of the name of Baranov resounds amongst all the savage peoples who live on the northwest coast of America, even as far as the Strait of San Juan de Fuca. 39 Another Russian, Nikol ai Petrovich Rezanov, Chamberlain to the Court of Tsar Alexander I and the son in quite a unique and happy creation of nature. His name is heard all along the west coast as far as California. The Bostonians respect and honor him, and the natives, even in the most distant places, fear him and offer him their friendship... I have to confess that I am studying th is man with great interest." 40 In a later letter, Rezanov lamented that Baranov was not better appreciated back in Russia. Despite his occasional As indicated by his Russian contemporaries, Baranov was also well regarded by non Russians. Georg Heinrich von Langsdorff, a German naturalist who visited the 39 Gavril Ivanovich Davydov, Two Voyages to Russian America, 1802 1807 (Ontario: The Limestone Press, 1977), 104. Originally publis hed as Dvukratnoe p uteshestvie v a meriku m orskikh o fitserov Khvostova i Davydova, p isannoe sim p oslednim, 1810 1812. 40 Peter A. Tikhmenev, A History of the Russian American Company, Volume II (Kingston, Ontario: The Limestone Press, 1979), 154 155.
58 ledge of the countries under his jurisdiction, and since the greater part of the Promyshlenniki and inferior officers of the different settlements are Siberian criminals, malefactors, and adventurers of various kinds, not a little credit is due to his vigi lance and address, that he has been able in any degree to put a bridle on 41 Langsdorff was amazed that Baranov was able to erect settlements, enlarge Russian territory , and garner profits for the RAC despite often being on the verge of starvation. American captains had mixed reactions towards Baranov. John DeWolf evolved from a savage state, the Rhode Island merchant found Baranov charming and very hospita b l e . Mo re religious Yankee captains found his hard drinking, hard bargaining demeanor off putting. 42 As Margaret Wheeler has noted Bostonians long to discover that it was as difficult to outwit this small unprepossessing merchant as it was t o out drink him... Aleksandr Baranov was soon well known in Boston as a man whose word was as good as his bond. It was a rare ship from Boston bound for the coast without a cask of Madeira or Port to be presented to the Russian merchant in the name of the ship 43 Chief Manager of the Russian American Colonies 1790 1801 Within the context of Russian society, both in the European heartland and in the provinces as far as Irkutsk and Okhotsk, most merchants in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries remained within their prescribed social milieu. But beyond 41 Georg Heinrich von Langsdorff, Voyages and Travels in Various Parts of the World, During the Years 1803, 1804, 1805, 1806, and 1807 (Carlisle, PA: George Phillips, 1817), 360. 42 Briton and Gough, Fur Traders , 25. 43
59 Manager of the col ony at Kodiak, there were no political leaders in the Pacific Northwest, no army or naval officers of significant rank, no one of noble status, and few members of the kupechestvo . Beyond leadership of the colonies, Baranov also had to become a one man dip of his career in Alaska, Baranov had to deal in some ways on behalf of the Russian government with foreign shipping and foreign nationals and also had to concern himself with safeguarding R 44 least temporarily bear the responsibility of all of these roles on behalf of the Russian state. Baranov arrived in Russian America as a result of financial ruin. When his sable fur trade w as wiped out in central Siberia, Shelikov approached him to coordinate efforts for the Shelikov Golikov Company in the American wilderness. In 1790, Baranov agreed to travel to Kodiak to oversee operations in the new colonies. Leaving his wife and childre n in Kargopol, Baranov set off for the colonies on August 19 , 1790. The journey was perilous and on September 30 , his vessel was thrown about in a violent storm off of Unalaska and ran aground. Abandoning most of the cargo intended for Kodiak, the crew managed to make it to shore on the central Aleutian island. Baranov described his experience being marooned on Unalaska during the 44 Lydia Black, Russians in Alaska, 1732 1867 (Fairbanks: University of Alaska Press, 2004), 126.
60 in for two whole months and it would b 45 According to Khlebnikov, this time was passed getting to know the natives that traveled with the crew or lived nearby. As spring broke, baidarkas were prepared for the 500 mile journey to Kodiak, since the ship was dest royed beyond repair. Baranov ordered two of them to be used in exploring the Alaskan coast, while the third would take him to Kodiak. After two months of travel, the part y reached Kodiak on June 27 , 1791 , but not before Baranov fell ill with a fever. If Baranov expected a thriving community at Kodiak, he was sorely disappointed. Initially, the Chief Manager was not well received by the promyshlenniki that coordinated fur hunting operations. But Baranov soon began to impose his vision upon the colonies u nder his management. According to a number of his biographers, the Chief Manager began to regulate relations between Russians and native women to gain Chevigny wrote tha t he forbade prostitution; even while tacitly accepting Russian men also imposed a rule that Russian men must stay with the Alutiiq woman they courted. Siding with Alutiiq mothers, he forbade taking any half Russian childre n back to Russia. These rules, in addition to what Chevigny described despite being lured there on five year contracts. 46 Despite the policies that Baranov implemented during this time , the Alutiiq population had already been made into a permanently indentured servant class shortly 45 Khlebnikov, Baranov: Chief Manager , 3. 46 Chevigny, Lord of Alaska , 83.
61 after the Russians arrived. 47 While biographic depictions of Baranov having a paternal, guiding influence on the native populations of Russi an America, the Chief Manager oversaw the ruthless exploitation of Alutiiq labor in the procurement of sea otter furs and other natural resources required for the survival of the colonies. This labor, coordinated by Russian promyshlenniki living in the na tive villages and supervised by their artel bosses, had disastrous consequences for the natives under Russian control. Baranov frequently took hostages between 1791 and 1799 to earn the cooperation of the native populations during negotiations or to ensur e the safety of Russians and native fur hunters aligned with the Shelikov Company. 48 upon him for his shrewdness in relations with the natives. Khlebnikov extolled Baranov for his desire to Christianize the population. the natives . Nevertheless, multiple sources confirm that he was respected or in most cases, feared by the various indigenous populations of the Alaskan coast. Baranov reportedly learned several of their dialec ts, and many sources corroborate that he was 49 was charged by the Shelikov Golikov Company with expanding its interests al ong the 47 Nikolai N. Bolkhovitinov ed., Istoriya r usskoi a meriki, 1732 1867: t om II r ossiisko a merikanskoi k ompanii 1799 1825 (Moscow , 1999), 26 27. 48 Davydov, Two Voyages , 106. Davydov refers to the process of hostage taking as amanatay the steppe region of Central Asia. While the word amanat derives from Arabic, the Great Soviet Encyclopedia noted that the word was used in Muscovy as it began to expand, sugg esting long familiarity with the concept. According to Grinev, the process was separately familiar to natives of the Pacific Northwest coast, who held hostages, Tlingits in Russian Amer ica , 68. 49 that decided whether or not hunters would be successful.
62 Pacific Northwest coastline. Before the 1799 inauguration of the RAC, he had virtually no influence over hunters from rival Russian companies, and still less over anyone of noble birth or official standing with the government. As Chevigny reporte d, shortly after conflict with hunters from the rival Lebedev Lastotchkin Company from Irkutsk. Fearing that Shelikov would take over the entire fur trade, the merchants sen t a ship with 30 men to set up an outpost near Fort Alexander. Soon after, the Lebedev Lastochkin men employees . Baranov was paralyzed by the conflict, as he did not want the natives to see Russians fire upon one another, and the men of the rival company intimated that they had imperial sanction to conduct trade in the area. 50 Nevertheless, by the summer of 1792, Baranov set his sights upon expanding o the northwest side of the island after a devastating tsunami wiped out the previous settlement. While fortifications were being built in St. Paul Harbor, Baranov explored area in the late 1770s), to the north of Kodiak Island along the Alaskan mainland. But Baranov knew that his best chance of finding virgin hunting grounds was to explore further south and east along the coastline. The natives in the area of Prince Willi am Sound, mostly Chugash and Kenaitze, were familiar with Europeans by this time, having encountered the Spanish, English, and Russians previously. According to Chevigny, the natives were initially apprehensive about a sustained Russian presence, but 50 Chevigny, Lord of Alaska , 61.
63 Bara Kenaitze defense against a Tlingit raid sealed a lasting connection to the Alutiiq of the area. 51 Later in 1792, Baranov also received his first visit by a foreign ship the English vessel Phoenix . He quickly befriended the captain , Hugh Moore and his first mate, the 52 Captain Moore noted the deplorable conditions Baranov faced in the Russian American colonies. But Baranov did have the advantage of being abl e to offer assistance to the captain in making repairs to his ship. According to Khlebnikov and Chevigny, Captain Moore gave Baranov his English speaking servant; a teenaged native of Bengal named Richard. Baranov learned about the market for furs in Can proved invaluable to Baranov in the coming years, as he learned Russian and served as a translator when American ships began to arrive. 53 51 igamy. Recognizing that Baranov took a mistress shortly after arriving at Kodiak, Chevigny tells recognized in 1806 as Anna Grigoreevna Baranova after the death of Baran between RAC employees and the clergy that arrived in Russian America in the late eighteenth century. See Chevigny, Lord of Alaska , 65. 52 Richard A. Pierce, Russian America: A Biographical Dictionary (Fairbanks: The Limestone Press, 1990), 388 traveled to the Pacific Northwest twice aboard the Phoenix : once in 1792 and again in 1795. After a brief stint in the captain by the Winships. He returned to the Pacific Northwest twice more, in 1803 and 1806. On the first voyage, he w itnessed the re taking of Sitka by the Russians. Conflicting accounts indicate that he died during the latter voyages. 53 Baranov was clearly conscious of the advantages technologically advanced ships such as the Phoenix offered foreign visitors. Following his encounter with the British, he actively sought to build a fleet of ships. He ordered construction of a ship similar to the English vessel at tremendous expense for the colonies, and even named it the Phoenix (completed in 1794).
64 settlement at Kodiak. Faced with chronic shortages and infrequent contact with the Russian mainland, the Chief Manager was increasingly frustrated with the unmet promises S helikov made for supplying the colonies. When Archimandrite Iosef arrived in 1794 to establish an official Orthodox presence in Russian America, he could not believe the conditions in the colonies were so bad, and accused Baranov of theft. While Khlebnik ov painted the relationship between the two men as cordial, Iosef was not little w as done to convert the Alutiiq to the Orthodox faith. 54 Despite the precarious position of the area under B settlement, Baranov planned to settle the serfs in Yakutat B ay in 1795. Ever looking to expand Russian influence along the coast, Baranov hoped that a colony at Yakutat Bay would be a toehold to expand further south and east in the future. According to Andrei Grinev, Baranov used the 1794 hunt to explore good sites for the colony, and to inform weary Tlingits in the area of the new settlement under Russian protection. 55 54 There exists in the historiography of Russian America a near unanimous consensus holdings in the new world. He repeatedly exaggerated the bounty Russian America offered, and often failed to deliver on his promises for supplies. Shelikov spun yarns to business partners like Baranov, his son in law Nikolai Rezanov, and even to Catherine II, who granted the serfs and a retinue of Orthodox clergy in the expectation of building permanent sett lements along the Pacific Northwest coastline and Christianizing the natives under Russian sovereignty. 55 Grinev, Tlingits in Russian America , 105.
65 ccusations rankled at Baranov, who continuously faced difficulties because of his social standing. In 1795, the Chief Manager asked to be over running the company aft er the death of her husband, initially agreed to find a replacement. But Baranov wound up staying put with the birth of a son in 1797 , despite a desire to leave the colonies due to the difficulties he routinely faced . In the same year, a low ranking navi gator in the Russian Navy by the name of Gavril Terentevich Talin arrived at Kodiak. From the outset, Talin caused problems for Baranov. Coming from the capital, Talin lorded his rank and minor noble status over the promyshlenniki and Baranov alike. Tali spread rumors that the Russian Navy would soon take over the colonies. He even led the Orthodox priests in co 56 But worse of all, navigators) caused the sinking or disabling of several of the meager vessels available for company business. Baranov pushed on with the plans for expansion. Two years after settling the Yakutat Bay colony, he took a census of the natives on Kodiak Island. He found the native population to stand at 3,221 males and 2,985 females with approximately 700 baidarkas. 57 In 1798, fat her Iosef returned to Russia to become a bishop in recognition 56 Chevigny, Lord of Alaska , 147, 155. Talin apparently left the colony in 1802, after failing to dislodge Baranov from his post. See Pierce, Russian America: a Biographical Dictionary , 497. 57 Khlebnikov, Baranov , 18.
66 was on, the first large vessel built in Russian America, sank on its return voyage, depriving Baranov of s piritual leadership and much needed supplies. 58 Despite this, Baranov set his sights on Sitka in 1799. Writing in the mid twentieth century, Chevigny indicated that Baranov bought the rights to build a Russian fort from the Sitka Tlingits. But Russian aut hors in the nineteenth century had a different view. Khlebnikov, who worked with the Chief Manager during the latter part of his career, indicated Khlebnikov, Baranov believed th at settling the lands near the Tlingit was necessary to 59 Tikhmenev also wrote that Baranov firmly resolved to build the fort in spite of Tlingit harassment. 60 While the initial hunting party that was ordered south near Sit ka suffered heavy losses due to eating shellfish with a deadly neurotoxin, the sea otter catch convinced Baranov that southerly expansion was necessary for the survival of the Russian colonies. T owards the end of 1799, as the Juno was being built in Mass achusetts, Baranov fortified a new settlement he created at Sitka, populated it with about 200 Russians and a number of Unanga n and Alutiiq hunters. He christened it Fort Mikhailovsk. 61 According to Tikhmenev, the colony gave the Russians a direct view of the haggling that the Americans and English conducted with the Tlingits. 62 Between 1799 and April 1800, 58 Phoenix , built three years before. She was, at the time, the finest vessel in the RAC fleet. 59 Khlebnikov, Baranov , 17. 60 Tikhmenev, A History of the Russian American Company, Vol. 1 , 61 62. 61 Okun, The Russian American Company , 54. 62 Chevigny colorfully retells that while Baranov was at Sitka in 1800, he encountered five American ships that were in the vicinity trading with the Tlingits: the Jenny, the Rover, the Alexander, the Hazard and the Alert . In describing the American captains,
67 Baranov saw no fewer than five American vessels arrive to trade arms, ammunition, and rum for furs. 63 Worse, the Americans made it clear to Baranov tha t they had no interest in discontinuing such trade. In 1802, three years after the Shelikov Golikov Company was consolidated into ukaz Baranov to avoid contact with such foreig ners. They were particularly fearful of the Baranov had established and lost Fort Mikhailovsk on Sitka Island, the Board wrote secret directives in April 1802, urging Baranov to, ...try to establish the right of Russia not only up as far as 55 degrees, but further, basing your [claim] on the voyages of Captains Bering and [Aleksei] Chirikov and others... Try to use these same arguments to extend our claims also into Noo tka Sound, so that the claims of the English court will be set [only as far as] 50 degrees, or halfway between 50 and 55 degrees... You should strive, as much and as quickly as possible, to establish settlements near 55 degrees, and a permanent fort, since you now have enough people to do this. If possible, you should settle that region with Russianized [native] Americans. 64 on, however, Baranov must have felt Lord of Alaska , 168 170. 63 Chevigny, Russian America , 97. 64 tions from the Main Administration of the Russian American Company The Russian American Colonies: to Siberia and Russian America 1798 1867, Volume 3 (Oregon: Oregon Historical Society Pre ss, 1989): 27. The idea that a new colony could be Board of Directors had with exploiting the native population, and a growing knowledge of intermarriage and the creation o f a Kreol class at Kodiak that Gwenn Miller studies in her Kodiak Kreol .
68 situation in continental Europe meant that Russia might be enemies with the British, French, or the Spanish in the future. This concern over the tenuous position of Russian interests in America would haunt the Compa ny in the coming years. It was similarly shared by the Russian government. In July 1803, Count Nikolai Rumiantsev, the Russian Minister of first diplomatic round the w orld expedition. In these instructions, Rumiantsev gave the following order: As regards the possessions of the Russian Empire, you have as a boundary the last discovery made by Captain Chirikov in 1741 at 55 degrees north latitude. Give the Chief Manager of America [Baranov] the order that no Russian by any means is to go beyond this boundary into areas occupied by other maritime powers. Impress upon them that this should be strictly observed, because it will remove forever all troubles with maritime pow ers allied with us, and because the company, by confining itself to acquisitions that indisputably belong to Russia, and by securing only its own property for itself, will establish more friendly relations with places frequented by outsiders, and will atta in proper respect and universal trust more quickly. 65 Yankee Merchants and the Attack on Fort Mikhailovsk Shortly after Baranov return ed to Kodiak from establishing F ort Mikhailovsk at Sitka, he received an unexpected visit from an American vessel. The aptl y named Enterprise , hailing from New York, arrived at Kodiak on April 24 , 1801. Her boatswain vessel Phoenix . According to Khlebnikov, trade was relatively light due to the pr ices 65 Bolkhovitinov, et al . eds., The United States and Russia. The Beginning of Relations 1765 1815 (Washington DC: US Government Printing Office, 1980), 372.
69 demanded by the New York captain. 66 But the visit was a valuable experience for captain of his own vessel. As previously mentioned, by the beginning of the nineteenth cent ury, direct trade along the Pacific Northwest coastline was becoming more expensive and hazardous for the Americans. With more ships arriving, the Tlingit and other indigenous populations began demanding higher prices for their furs, squeezing American pr ofit margins. The Russians, on the other hand, procured furs directly by exploiting the labor of the Unanga s and Alutiit, supervised by Russian promyshlenniki . What they lacked was the means to regularly and safely deliver furs to Chinese markets due to poor ships and Chinese restrictions on where Russians could trade in China. The colonies often had a surplus of furs. By 1802, they were in desperate need of basic supplies. Between 1801 and 1802, the Chief Manager was shifting men and resources from co lony to colony to stave off starvation and potential uprisings from the Alutiiq. American merchants like colonies. But the Russians had plenty of reasons to be wary of the Yankee merchants. In July 1802, Baranov received news that Fort Mikhailovsk had been overrun by Tlingit forces from the area around Sitka Island. Ivan Kuskov, a long time Russian artel leader in the colonies, informed Baranov that Tlingit from islands s urrounding Sitka assembled to discuss the Russian presence. They agreed to attack the F ort Mikhailovsk as soon 66 Khlebnikov, Baranov , 35.
70 as the Russian hunting parties were sent out in the spring. 67 The plan was enacted with only a few Russian and Alutiiq hostages taken. The Fort was burned to the ground. ammunition from the English or from the Republican Americans who settled on the Kuskov alleged that he learned this from Tlingit he spoke to after the attack. They intimated to Kuskov that the Americans further incited the inhabitants around Sitka, telling them that if they did not destroy the Russians, the Tlingit would suffer under their suzerainty . 68 Kuskov also reported that two Boston ships waited nearby while the attack took place. After trading arms and ammunition with the natives, these unscrupulous Yankees also allegedly stole furs fro m the Tlingit after the massacre of the Russians. 69 [m]en from an American vessel that wintered at Khutsnov village told the inhabitants that they would not call there again because they do not have enough s ea otter skins for trading. They told the natives straight out that unless they destroy our New Archangel fort and our hunting party they themselves, the Koliuzh, would be the losers. Whether this is true or perhaps their own invention, I do not know. It might be true, however, because these traders are very greedy when it comes to profit. It is 67 Tlingit oral tradition offers a completely different justification for the destruction of Fort Mikhailovsk. According to Andrew P. Johnson, a Kiks.Ã¡di Tlingit entrusted with the oral history of his clan, the Kiks.Ã¡di were driven to attack the Russians be cause of pressures from other Tlingit clans and because Russian men assaulted Tlingit women. See Nora Marks Dauenhauer et al., eds., Anooshi Lintig Aani Ka Russians in Tlingit America: The Battles of Sitka 1802 and 1804 (Juneau: Sealaska Heritage Institute , 2008), 115 122. 68 A History of the Russian American Company, Vol II , 140. Several sources, including the American captain William Sturgis, confirm that there were a few Americans at Sitka at the tim e of the attack. They apparently left the ship Jenny to enter service with the Russians in 1800. There is a great deal of disagreement over their actual role in inciting the Tlingits to attack the Russians. 69 Nikolai N. Bolkhovitinov, The Beginnings of R ussian American Relations 1775 1815 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1975), 172.
71 rumored that in Chilkhat and other places they barter black men, either from the African coast or from the Wine Islands the natives do not know from where. 70 Lieute nant Yuri Lis capture in 1804, was more explicit about Yankee interference. In 1814, Lisiansky published his account of the first Russian circumnavigation of the globe. 71 While he was not present in the colonies during the 1802 attack, his second deserted from their ship [the Jenny ], had entered into the service of the Russians, and then took pa rt against them. These double traitors were among the most active in the plot. They contrived combustible wads, which they lighted, and threw upon the buildings 72 What is certain is that the few survivors of the Sitka massacre were ransomed back to the Russians after being brought to Kodiak on an English vessel, the Unicorn . Aided by the American captain John Ebbets aboard the Alert , the British crew of the Unicorn took the 23 survi vors by force from the Tlingit. Captain Barber aboard the Unicorn demanded a 50,000 ruble ransom from Baranov for his efforts lest he turn his cannons on the Russian settlement. Barber allegedly settled with Baranov for 10,000 rubles paid in furs. 73 In 1 822, American captain William Sturgis published an article entitled Examination of the Russian Claims to the Northwest Coast of America . In it, 70 Tikhmenev, A History of th e Russian American Company, Vol II , 140. 71 Yuri Lisiansky, A Voyage Round the World, in the Years 1803, 4, 5, & 6; Performed, By Order of His Imperial Majesty Alexander the First, Emperor of Russia, in the ship Neva (London, 1814) . 72 Lisiansky, A Voyage Round the World, 219 220. 73 Khlebnikov, Baranov , 38. It is unclear if Ebbets was involved in ransoming the survivors back to the Russians, but American sources tend to exonerate him. This, coupled with the fact that Ebbets continued to trade with the Russians until the War of 1812, lends credence to the idea that he was not involved.
72 while the Americans in the region at the t ime were runaways from the American vessel Jenny , they were hidden by the Russians from the captain of their ship and did not betray the Russian outpost . Sturgis argued that the Americans refused to take part in the uprising. And, despite the derogatory and often ruthless attitudes of the Boston merchants towards the natives with whom they traded, the Sitka Tlingits protected them and many of the women of the settlement. 74 Like Kuskov, Sturgis claimed to hear this from natives he spoke to after the attac ks while trading along the coast. 75 Sturgis also wrote that the 76 According to him, the Sitka natives behaved proudly in the face o f the Russian counter F or the most part, authors and historians have tended to agree that US merchants had a pernicious influence on Russian relations with indigenous popula tions of the Northwest coastline. H istorian Mary E. Wheeler argued that the Americans that 74 401 75 Grin ev The Tlingit Indians in Russian America for the Indian revolt of 1802, the alignment of the opposing forces, the extent of the parties' losses, and the ultimate consequences of this for the fate of Russian America have, to this day, not been revealed in full measure... The immediate cause of the revolt was the 1801 murder of the chief of the Kuiu kwaan, his wife, and his children by members of the "Sitka" party, as well as the fact that the Russians had kept the ch ief of the Kootznahoo kwaan's nephew in chains for a small offense. According to Tlingit legends, the cause of the revolt was the Russians' imprisonment of the influential shaman, Stunuku, of the Sitka Kaagwaantaan lineage." 76
73 practices. 77 Devil on the Deep Blue Sea recorded the exploits of the notorious Captain Sam Hill, who was ruthless in his dealings with the Pacific Northwest natives during his second voyage. 78 Russian historians had a particularly long memory of the negative influence of Yankee merchants on the native population. Post Soviet Russian historians like Nikolai Bolkhovitinov and Andrei Grinev, continue to argue that the Americans in the area of Sitka fomented anti Russian sentiment in 1802. 79 What is certain is that the destruction of Fort Mikhailovsk allowed direct trade be tween Yankee merchants and natives to continue unimpeded for another two years. Russians and Yankees: Trade Established After having to plead with Russian fur hunters not to abandon their positions with 80 And while he faced setbacks due to attacks on fur hunting parties and the loss of Sitka, ships began to arrive from Okhotsk. In September, the Aleksandr arrived at Kodiak. The Elizaveta showed up two months later, commanded by Lieutenant Nikolai Khvostov on his first trip to Russian America with Midshipman Gavril Davydov. In the autumn of returned for the third time to area on an eponymously named vessel. Financed by the 77 78 Mary Malloy, Devil on the Deep Blue Sea: The Notorious Career of Captain Samuel H i ll of Boston (Jersey Shore: Bullbrier Press, 2006): 148 149. 79 Bolkhovitinov, Istoria r usskoi a meriki, t om II , 55 and Bolkhovitinov, The Beginnings of Russian American Relations , 187 188. 80 Library of Congress, Manuscripts Division, The Gennadii V. Yudin Collection of Russian American Company Papers: Copy of Instructions from Alexander Baranov, Manager of the Kodi ak Company, to Hunters, 2.15.1803, Reports by Fedor I. Shemelin from St. Catherine's Island NOTE II, #35 Alaska Historic Documents, v. 3 : 254 255 In these instructions Baranov appeals to the Russian fur hunters in Alaska not to abandon their service to th e company following the disastrous Tlingit uprising and the loss of men and furs at sea during the previous year. To those men who were willing to remain in service, Baranov even held out the possibility of new conditions in their contracts th at would perm it them to become shareholders in the company.
74 e directly with the Russians. 81 From his previous two visits to the Northwest Coast in 1792 and 1801, a snag early on, when it was discovered that Baranov had no means t o pay for the to Russia upon one of the arriving Russian vessels. nters. The American would transport the hunters, along with about trade with foreign merchants, Baranov saw an opportunity to get involved in fur hunts beyond his current share of furs directly in Canton, mitigating any transportation or trade impediments for with the provision that a few Russian promyshlenniki would go along to look after the return with the Russian share guaranteed that such transactions would continue. Between 1806 and 181 3, the Winships and other Boston merchants sent several ships to engage in similar transactions. At least fifteen such American led voyages ventured into the waters south of Sitka as far as Spanish California ( usually without the consent of the Spanish au thorities). Through a combination of ruthless exploitation, shrewd business maneuvering, 81 Hubert Howe Bancroft, History of Alaska: 1730 1885 (San Francisco: A.L. Bancroft and Company, 1886), 319.
75 presence on the Alaskan coastline. Between 1800 and 1804, he managed to send 2 million r ubles worth of pelts back to Russia. 82 On April 4 , 1804, Baranov received word from Unalaska that Tsar Alexander I had conferred on the Chief Manager the Order of St. Vladimir and made him a Collegiate Councilor in the Civil Service. Such a position on th e table of ranks made Baranov the equivalent of a colonel in the army, or a first rank captain in the navy. 83 He was also named Governor of the Russian American colonies, giving him official authority over the colonies he and other Russian merchants had ma naged since 1791. In 1803, Baranov expended his scarce resources on the construction of two ships at the Yakutat colony he f ounded several years earlier. With the resources he obtained from the Elizaveta, Aleksandr, communication and supplies with the colonies surrounding Kodiak. He stabilized the Elizaveta . In addition to the furs Baranov collected through the annual hunts, he was also sent back expedition. With ships, men, supplies, and official social standing and authority granted by the Tsar, Baranov began to plan a return to Sitka. Denouement Commerce, Conquest, and F inding the Native Voice There is a very important voice that fails to break through the primary and secondary sources that detail Russian and American interest in the Pacific Northwest at the turn of the nineteenth century: that of the indigenous populati on. While they were frequently written about , few recorded their perspective on colonization by the Russians. 82 Wheeler, Empires in Conflict , 431. 83 Chevigny, Lord of Alaska , 213.
76 Scholars like Bancroft and Chevigny glossed over the treatment of indigenous populations. Even latter day scholars of Russian America like Lydi a Black, who was emphasized Russian subjugation of the Alutiiq and Unangan populations. 84 But in the last twenty five years, the Alutiiq population of Kodiak and Prin ce William Sound has begun to piece together their history before and after the dislocations caused by Russian and later American colonization. 85 Their perspective is instructive regarding how the Russians were able to subdue the much larger population of the area, and put them to work for the Russian American Company. Some scholars point to the land claims movement of the 1960s and the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971 as seminal moments in the process of reclaiming Alutiiq identity. 86 Archaeolo gy, anthropology, linguistics, and history all played crucial roles in this process, but it has not been an exclusively academic endeavor. The Alutiiq population has been involved in all aspects of this process. They are leading archaeological research o f pre Alutiiq speaking populations in the Kodiak Archipelago; listening to and recording the stories and language of Alutiiq elders to revitalize 84 Black, Russians in Alaska , xii. Black contrasted the Russian presence in the colonies, which never exceeded approximately 500 Russians, with colonial and military occupation policies of the Americans towards indigenous populations during the nineteenth century. From her perspect it is true that Russian contact with the Yupik, Athabaskans, and Tlingits was often marked by reciprocal trade relations, such was not t he case with the populations of the Aleutian Islands, and the area surrounding Kodiak. 85 Russians used "Aleut" to describe the population of Kodiak hence the origin of the word Alutiiq. The preference in modern usage of Alutiiq or Sugpiat is tied to how the different communities identify themselves in relation to Russian occupation of the area. 86 Aron Crowell et al., eds., Looking Both Ways: Heritage and Identity of the Alutiiq People (Fairbanks: University of Alaska Press, 2001), 88.
77 language training; mining anthropological, linguistic, and historical records to piece together Alutiiq cultur al practices before and after Russian and American settlement; and relearning Alutiiq craft techniques lost in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Using funds from the Exxon Valdez legal settlement, the Kodiak Area Native Association opened the Alutii q Museum in 1995. The museum displays the fruits of the revitalization efforts mentioned above, and chronicles 7,500 years of Kodiak inhabitation. Many of the artifacts and exhibits tell the story of how Alutiiq culture adapted and survived during the Ru ssian colonial period before being nearly destroyed again by American policies after Alaska was acquired in 1867. This museum and the Baranov Museum , which focuses on Kodiak from the Russian period through to the present , demonstrate how Kodiak was shape d by the technology and practices that the Russians brought to bear on the land and its inhabitants. As on e scholar noted, "[t]he arrival of the Russian fur traders in the latter half of the eighteenth century brought tragedy and almost overwhelming socia l change. Defeated by Russian force, Alutiiq men and women were forced to work for Grigory Shelikov's fur company. Along with systematic exploitation came the loss of political sovereignty, hunger, epidemics of new diseases, and drastic population declin e." 87 Especially disastrous, according to Alutiiq scholar Alice Olsen Dawson was the loss of, lders, stories, songs, ceremonies, and our identity." 88 In her analysis of Alutiiq settlements during the nineteenth century, Sonja Luehrmann reviewed the work o f historians like Andrei Grinev and Lydia Black. Luehrmann argues, in agreement with Grinev, that the Russians were able to control 87 Aron Crowell , Looking Both Ways , 54. 88 Aron Crowell, Looking Both Ways , 89.
78 the Alutiiq population in a very short time by interrupting Alutiiq subsistence by forcing men to hunt during the gathering season . In addition , the Russians compelled Alutiiq women, children and the infirmed in the settlements to create clothing and gather food for RAC distribution. 89 This food and clothing would then be charged against any payments the Alutiiq men were to receive for their hunt, permanently indebting the population to the Company. The process that led to this indentured servitude was not a peaceful one. Prior to Gr Russian expeditions to the area in 1763 and 1783. Lydia Black noted that the primary exped ition of 130 Russians was heavily armed, (2) they intended to build a settlement, and (3) Shelikov was able to successfully exploit the differences that existed between various Alutiiq settlements, ingratiating himself with some Alutiiq leaders through gif t giving, and becoming a valuable ally to settle old scores. 90 Alutiiq oral history records the arrival of Shelikov as a moment of great suffering for them. It recalls Sitkalidak Island, ne over 300 Alutiiq died in resisting the Russians. much bloodier than nineteenth century biographers and historians indicated. He captured several le aders as hostages to ensure tranquility while a settlement was built. The place of this defeat became known in Alutiiq as , which according to 89 Sonja Luehrmann, Alutiiq Villages under Russian and U.S. Rule (Fairbanks: University of Alaska Press, 2008), 69. 90 Luehrmann, Alutiiq Villages , 73 74.
79 the Russians called the location Razbitoi Kekur (Broken or Defeated Roc k). In English, it is also commonly referred to as Refuge Rock. 91 brutality in the suppression of Alutiiq resistance to the Russian settlement at Kodiak, but this charge was largely i gnored in Russia . 92 on the threat of brutality or corporal punishment viewed as a great dishonor among the Alutiiq artel leaders would routinely coll ect Alutiiq by force men for the annual sea otter hunts. One additional factor that should be added to this list of Russian activities is the confiscation of Alutiiq baidara. Gavril Davydov, who visited Kodiak in 1802, recalled that one of the first thin gs the Russians did when they appropriated a settlement in the Aleutians or near Kodiak was to take away these vessels. 93 This process ensured that the Alutiiq population was unable to flee, enforcing dependence upon the Russians. It also meant that the t echnology of hunting, navigation, transportation, and communication was under the control of the Company. Hieromonk Gideon, who arrived in the colonies in 1804, recorded the importance of this loss in the mournful songs the Alutiiq would sing, which recal led their former wealth by way of ownership of baidaras and sea otter skins. 91 While in Kodiak, I heard a version of the story from an Alutiiq woman that indicated the Alutiiq knew a secret way onto the island, preventing the Russians from abducting them. But they were betrayed by one inhabitant, who told the Russians how to access the island from a specific location at low tide. As the tragic events unfolded, she said, many of the women jumped off the cliffs to their death with their children to prevent their enslavement to the Russians. 92 Shelikov, A Voyage to America , 11. 93 Dav ydov, Two Voyages , 86.
80 When Baranov took over Shelikov Company operations at Kodiak, he ruthlessly employed all of these means to exert control over the Alutiit, turning them into the principle labor fo rce for the colonies. In the initial absence of direct competition from enterprise on the backs of the Alutiiq people. Nineteenth and twentieth century commentators heape d praises upon Baranov for his efforts. But a growing number of detractors: the clergy that arrived between 1794 and 1818 to convert the Alutiiq to Russian Orthodoxy and minis ter to the Russian population. Prior to the 1970s, the complaints raised by the clergy against Baranov were coastline. The clergy were variously portrayed as jealous, petty, and at times deceived the colonies and the treatment of the indigenous population by Russian fur hunters. Missionaries that arrived in 1794 were outraged by Russian men, married and single, who were living with Alutiiq women out of Orthodox wedlock and adopting native cultural practices. 94 They accused Baranov of creating this permissi ve atmosphere. The Russian Orthodox priests definitely hit a nerve. Proselytizing among the Alutiiq population and making them take the oath of allegiance to Tsar Alexander I in 1803 infuriated Baranov. Hieromonk Gideon reported to his superiors in the H oly Synod 94 demonstrates that Russian cohabitation with the Alutiiq did not significantly change the artifacts located in Alutiiq settlements before and after Russ ian settlement. See Luehrmann, Alutiiq Villages , 68.
81 that Baranov was furious. When asked to calmly explain his concerns, Baranov concerns be submitted to the government in accordance with the law, Baranov exploded implying that the colonies operated outside the laws of the Empire. 95 The five clergy members in the colonies between 1794 and 1807 advocated strongly on behalf of the Alutiiq population. Gideon in particular sent reports back to the Sy nod observing that while the native population settled into a new pattern of life under Russian dependence, the Company practices were having a disastrous impact upon their numbers and health. He was outraged by routine RAC violence and the practice of se nding Alutiiq hunters ever farther from their shores to hunt sea otters. The clergy were careful to couch their criticism in terms of observable phenomena. Unlike the RAC employees, they attempted to plant gardens, experimenting to find out which crops g rew best on Kodiak with differing fertilizers. They studied the Alutiiq language and culture, recording pre and post Russian practices that might otherwise have been lost. It is believed that Hieromonk Gideon actually composed the Alutiiq dictionary that Rezanov claimed as his own. 96 They did not fail to note the disastrous impact of RAC practices on the Alutiiq, reporting that the size of hunting parties sharply decreased over just a five year period: with 800 baidarkas employed in 1799, 500 in 1804, and finally 300 in 1804. 97 Gideon wrote that, 95 Hieromonk Gideon, The Round the World Voyage of Hieromonk Gideon (Fairbanks: University of Alaska Press, 1989), 77. 96 Gideon, Round the World Voyage , 101. 97 Gideon, Round the World Voyage , 63.
82 [d]ue to the onerous tasks imposed by the company, which have been described above, Aleuts in all settlements in wintertime suffer great hunger; when shellfish and kelp become unavailable as the tideflats are cov ered with ice, they consume even seal bladders in which they store oil and fermented roe and of red salmon, processed seal skins, thongs, and restrain his tears observing the situation of th ese unhappy people who resemble the dead more than the living. 98 There were powerful forces operating against the clergy . Baranov took every Even Nikolai Rezanov, who was befriended Hieromonk Gideon during their voyage to 99 To the RAC main office, Rezanov reported that the clergy were doing a poor job; baptizing Alutiiq without explaining the meaning, and making themselves available to restless officers that would cause trouble for Bara nov. 100 But the clergy were correct about the rapid depopulation of Kodiak and the unsustainability of Russian practices. Along with the Russian clergy, scientists, military officers, and outside observers all noted the disastrous environmental and social consequences of RAC hunting practices. However, t hey persisted until For the Chief Manager to exploit the riches that were was critical f or him to exploit Alutiiq labor and sil ence criticism of his practices. He did 98 Gideon, Round the World Voyage , 70. 99 Gideon, Round the World Voyage , 86 100 Russian American Colonies , 102 104.
83 both as best he could, 1808. As Baranov began to plan the conquest of Sitka in 1804 , he must have had some sense that things in the colonies needed to change. Hunters were depopulating the coastline of sea otters all the way to the Alexander Archipelago. The company was also suffering severe losses of Alutiiq and Russian personnel duri ng the hunting season because of the distances the hunters had to travel. What was needed was a significant increase in the technology available to him to secure fortifications at Sitka, defend hunting parties, and to potentially deal with the problematic Americans. For this, he needed better ships.
84 CHAPTER 3 ACT 2 A R HODE ISLAND YANKEE IN RUSSIAN AMERICA, 1804 1808 Scene 1 The Pacific Northwest from the Bow of the Juno Wherein we follow John DeWolf on the final voyage of the Juno from Rhode Island to the Pacific Northwest On August 13 , 1804, the Juno weighed anchor in Rhode Island and left on its second expedition to the Pacific Northwest. Unlike the previous voyage, this trip was well documented. John DeWolf, the 24 year old nephew of the named captain. Having just completed a long voyage around the Cape of Good Hope (quite possibly on a slaving vessel), DeWolf agreed to serve as captain and supercargo with a crew of twenty six men and boys. He was scheduled to leave f resh on the heels of the first expedition, and yet DeWolf mentions the first voyage of the Juno only once in his narrative. ( as he was known by family and friend after what would become a four year voyage ) and George DeWolf, purchased a fine ship, called the Juno... and projected a voyage to records show that the DeW olf family owned the ship since shortly after its construction in 1799. 1 It is likely that DeWolf was referring to the fact that the Juno was re registered from Newport to Bristol three days before she set sail, with George DeWolf and the young captain be ing listed as the primary owners. 1 Ships Registers and Enrollments of Newport, Rhode Island 1790 1939 (Providence: The National Archives Project, 1938 1941), 355; and Ship Registers and Enrollments of Bristol Warren, Rhode Island 1773 1939 (Providence: The National Archives Pro ject, 1941), 143. When the ship was initially registered in Newport, the owners were James DeWolf, William DeWolf, John DeWolf Sr., and Jeremiah Dimon. George DeWolf and Charles DeWolf were added as owners just before the 1801 1803 expedition.
85 Northwest Coastline, which ultimately led him through Siberia to St. Petersburg and then back to Rhode Island across the Atlantic. As ment ioned before, American merchant captains were keen to keep their journals and logs private. As one historian has noted, their trade was a secretive business : " [L] ogs were lent to mariners outward bound on new ventures as guides for business and advice f or navigation... History of these endeavors thus did not emerge from the logs until the trade became 2 This is one possible reason why DeWolf waited fifty years to write about his journey. In the opening pages of A Voyage to the North Paci fic and a Journey through Siberia More than Half a Century Ago , DeWolf explains that he reconstructed his note of what I saw, and that I had not the requisite qualification s to write an extended became the story teller of the DeWolf family, having lived to the age of ninety three. He was motivated, in part, to write the narrative in order to comments so little on the first voyage under Jabez Gibbs. was youth, the future author spent the summer of 1828 in Bristol with the DeWolfs. 3 He 2 Busch and Gough, Fur Traders , 11 12. 3 Sidney Kaplan, "Towards Pip and Daggoo: Footnote on Melville's Youth." Phylon vol. 29 no. 3 (1968): 294.
86 later in cluded Moby Dick . He quote d the travel writings of Georg Heinrich von Langsdorff in the novel. Langsdorff befriended DeWolf during their mutual stay in the Russian American colonies during the f all and winter of 1805 1806. While Melville also drew upon his own extensive whaling clearly left a lasting impression. only witnessed century , they also played a role in the process. Americans interacted with both the native populations and the Russians at the time, occasionally mediating disputes; but more often causing them. DeWolf personally witnessed a pivotal moment in the development of commerce in the Pacific Northwest, as American merchants became journey first to Russian America, then to European Russia, also reveals how Russian tapestry of Russian imperial society , from its frayed edges all the way to its center . While he did not think reminiscences reveal how social roles were more rigid as he moved ever closer to the Russian metropole. Voyage to the Northwest Coast In the early nineteenth century, ships leaving New England for a Pacific crossing would pass within eyesight of the Cape Verde Islands near the coast of Africa. On November 9 , 1804 the Juno crossed the equator in longitude 24 degrees west, a little more than a month after she departed. A somewhat curmudgeonly DeWolf noted that this so utheasterly course and the amount of time it took to reach the equator, while
87 strange to the standards of 1861, was a normal route for the time. The fifty years of navig Juno simply did not have. 4 On November 12, 1804 , approximately 200 miles northwest of the present day Falkland Islands b y Juno Mary out of Boston. The Mary was al so on a return voyage to the Pacific Northwest under the command of a new captain by the name of Trescott. Both captains must have been relieved to have another ship close by during the voyage around the treacherous Cape. DeWolf may not have known, or fa iled to mention, that this was the second time the ships met. These were the same vessels involved in the aborted rescue attempt of James Jewitt from Maquinnah under Captains Gibbs ( Juno ) and Bowles ( Mary ). The passage between South America and Antarct ica was a dangerous endeavor at that time. Fierce west to east winds, rocks, icebergs and treacherous currents conspired to make rounding the Cape a challenging rite of passage for sailors well into the nineteenth century. A week after meeting up with th e Mary , DeWolf recorded that the ships collided. Due to negligence on the part of officers on the watch for both ships, the ships faced a perilous entanglement. When they finally parted, there was some damage to the rigging, but no apparent structural problems. 5 After disentangling, the Mary and the Juno parted company. As the Juno reached 56 degrees south on November 24 , she was rocked by severe gales. For ten 4 John DeWolf, A Voyage to the North Pacific , 4. 5 John DeWolf, A Voyage to the North Pacific , 7 8.
88 days the ship battled headwinds, and it was not until December 10 that the crew successfully completed navigating around the Cape. DeWolf again encountered the Mary three days later , and they sailed together for another two weeks. While cruising along the coast of Chile, DeWolf and his officers decided to put in to a port for repairs. Here, DeWolf makes his only mention of the previous voyage, noting that it was of the damage sustained during our boisterous passage of one hundred and thirty bottom, which had been worn as thin as paper during a previous long voyage of three years, had now become full of holes, and was torn off Towards evening on New , 1805, DeWolf attempted to put in to port near Concepcion, Chile. As night fell, the crew tried to tack against wind and currents. But by morning, they discovered that they were some dist ance from the port, a surprisingly common problem for sailing vessels at the time. They instead headed for Valparaiso, a larger port, where DeWolf also hop ed for a better reception than h e might an accusation against Yankee merchants in the Pacific that was not entirely unjust. American merchants did not have the best reputation among the Spanish, as more unscrupulous captains were known to poach sea otters from Spanis h waters in California. After an initial icy reception, DeWolf was able to take on supplies in Valparaiso. On January 20, 1805 , they sailed on to Coquimbo, a port better suited to making the repairs. There they stayed for a week before heading on. A mon th later, the Juno crossed the equator approximately 1100 miles west of the Galapagos Islands. In late March, she crossed the Tropic of Cancer. Finally, on
89 April 7, 1805 , the ship and crew reached their first intended destination: Vancouver Island. In t he evening, the ship arrived at a favored port for Boston merchants , approached, DeWolf noted that the Pearl and the Mary were already in the harbor. The captain of the Pearl , John Ebbets, came out to help the Juno navigate into the harbor. This was the same captain that sailed with the British Captain Barber three years before to ransom Sitka survivors back to Baranov. Yankee Trade along the Coast Newettee harbor was popular with the American merchants because Haida, Tsimshian, and Tlingit traders from the surrounding area would arrive to trade with them. It was not, however, the most advantageous trading venue, as the local populations became accustomed to regular interaction wit h American merchants (and their wares), driving fur prices to steadily increase. DeWolf noted that the nati ve populations in the area were "exceedingly sharp in all their inter were the Tsimshian, Haida , and Tlingits in dealings with Yankee merchants, DeWolf wrote, that they were at times insulting to the Americans. Despite this, he had to 6 These contact s left DeWolf with mixed feelings re garding the indigenous stout and robust people, and in some things not destitute of skill." By 1805, dwindling sea otter populations in the area, plus the increasing savvy of the natives , meant that more profit was to be had in sailing from village to village along the coast between 6 John DeWolf, A Voyag e to the North Pacific , 18.
90 Vancouver Island and Sitka. Thus, on April 20 , the Jun o weighed anchor and headed northwest for a harbor on present day Queen Charlotte Island. Here DeWolf hoped to get a better exchange rate for furs for that year. The cargo included goods for presents and trade. The captain noted that perishables s uch as rum, tobacco, molasses, sugar, rice, woodenware, duffels, etc. In addition, they also had food, such as beef, pork, flour, and bread. Items for trade included, blankets, muskets, gunpowder, and ammunition. 7 By this time, trading firearms and equipment was the primary means American merchants had to procure precious sea otter furs for the Chinese market, and DeWolf appeared quite comfortable with such trade. He recalled tercourse with American traders, the natives had become extremely expert in the use of the musket..." Arriving in late April at Queen Charlotte Island with the Pearl , DeWolf spotted two other ships the Vancouver and the Caroline the latter under the co mmand of Captain William Sturgis. From the 1820s through the 1840s, Sturgis was the de facto historian of American trade on the Northwest coast. While replacing a damaged mizzenmast, the Juno received daily visits from Haida settlements. DeWolf recalled that even this far north, prices were so extravagant that it was impossible to trade. The high prices sought in that year were also reported by other boat captains, including captain Sam Hill, who had his second run in with the Juno o receive 7 John DeWolf, A Voyage to the North Pacific , 19 20.
91 settlement of the Russians on Norfolk Sound." 8 In May 1805, the Juno arrived at Novo Arkhangelsk, the site of the present day city of Sitka. DeWolf was surp rised to be greeted by a fellow American by the name of Abraham Jones, who signed up for RAC service with to Kodiak. Jones arranged for DeWolf to meet Baranov who was still in Sitka after driving the Kiks.Ã¡di Tlingit f rom their ancestral settlement. Upon being introduced, the introduction, DeWolf returned to the Juno . He was surprised by how things went, as eve from various reports that we should find the Russians little The Battle of Sitka 1804 As it turned out, the Russians had only recently returned to Sitka Island after Fort Mikhailovsk was destroyed in 1802. In April 1 804, Chief Manager Baranov planned to permanently conquer the island for Russia. Even with a noble title recently conferred upon him, Baranov contended with considerable opposition to his plan s . 9 Yet he sailed to Yakutat Bay with the Ekaterina (80 tons) and the Aleksandr (100 tons), intend upon raising an armada of ships and approximately 250 baidarkas . The Chief Manager took command of two additional vessels built at Yakutat: the Ermak (60 tons) and the 8 John DeWolf, A Voyage to the North Pacific , 19. 9 A History of the Russian American Company, Vol II , 144. Baranov thanked the emperor for elevating was growing tired from over ten years in the colonies.
92 Rostislav (42 tons). 10 Baranov transferred to the Ermak after installing small cannons set off for Sitka with a flotilla of native baidarkas, sending the Ekaterina and the Aleksandr ahead. The Russians and natives un der their control hunted fur seals and sea otters near Tlingit villages along the way from Yakutat to Sitka. The inhabitants of Sitka must have known of the approaching flotilla. voyage to Sitka as a heroic struggle against the sea and weather, which threatened to sink the Ermak on one occasion. As the flotilla approached Krestov Harbor, they spotted a Russian Naval frigate, the Neva , at anchor with the Aleksandr and Ekaterina . The Neva , a 450 ton ship, was on the middle le at the behest of the Russian court. Ivan Fedorovich Kruzenstern, captain of the expedition aboard the flagship Nadezhda , ordered the Neva , under the command of Lieutenant Yuri Fed orovich Lisiansky, to proceed to Kodiak to assess conditions in the Russian colonies. Upon arriving at Kodiak in July 1804, Lisiansky found out about What followed was call ed by many the Battle of Sitka. Russian sources indicate that Baranov at first negotiated for the surrender of Sitka Island and the release of any Unangan, Alutiit, or Russian captives still held from 1802. 11 accompanied the Russians ab oard a Yankee merchant vessel, attempted to open 10 The Ermak was doubtlessly named for Cossack leader Ermak Timofiev, who conquered much of Siberia for Ivan the Terrible in exchange for clemency for the past crimes committed by Cossack outlaws. As Chevigny noted, Ermak died in 1584, but his men continued all the way to the Pacific, and founded Okhotsk in 1636 which laid the foundations for Russian exploration of the North Pacific. 11 Tikhmenev, A History of the Russian American Company, Vol I , 74.
93 negotiations as a neutral trading party. He was fired upon as he approached the shore. unsubstantiated passage, Hector Chevigny r Kolosh nation first was... this has been the home of the Sitka kwan, our totems are here As the Russians took up position for hostilities, the Sitkan Tlingits aba ndoned their indefensible settlement near the sound in mid September, 1804. 12 They retired to a more secure location on what is now known as the Indian River. Langsdorff recalled o 13 As the Tlingit moved further up the sound, Baranov claimed the hill overlooking the Harbor now known as Castle Hill. He christened the promontory Novo Arkhangelsk (New Ar changel). While building a simple fort at the location, the guns protected the Russians. Military historians have noted that while the Russians enjoyed an advantage in firepower, the Sitka Tlingit were still heavily armed, well positioned in te rms of terrain, and more than capable of r esistance. Langsdorff recalled that, "[f]rom the intercourse of trade carried on to these parts by the United States of America, and from the destruction of the original Russian Settlement, the Kaluschians [sic] we re in possession of fire arms powder, and shot." In 2010, John Dusty Kidd presented a military analysis of the Battle of Sitka, the six days of conflict that started in October , 1804. The actual magnitude of combat 12 Grinev, The Tlingit Indians in Russia n America , 134. 13 Langsdorff, Voyages and Travels , 372 373.
94 constituted the equivalent of a modern skirmish between infantry battalions . Such fighting, according to Kidd is typified by 14 But Kidd noted several interesting factors that escaped most historiography of the encounter . First, the forces were relatively evenl y matched. Were it not for the fortuitous arrival of the Neva , the scales could easily have tilted away from the Russians. Second, military analysis of the engagements reveals that Baranov made a number of mistakes, while the Tlingits made the most of su rroundings, capabilities, and opportunities. As September wore on, it became clear that conflict was on the horizon. Shortly after Baranov took Castle Hill, the Sitkans attempted to recover gunpowder that was hidden on a nearby island. Russian sources in dicate that sailors from the Neva intercepted the Tlingit, and blew up the gunpowder. Shortly thereafter, the Tlingit sent representatives to make peace. Negotiations again proved unsuccessful. At that meeting, Baranov repeated his demand that the nativ es abandon Sitka Island entirely, actions as heroic. Using unabashed prose to praise Pacific Northwest, Chevigny depicted Baranov as the victim of Tlingit aggression. "Once we asked only to live at peace with you," answered Baranov. "We lived in one narrow place and asked for no more. We did you no harm. We always paid you for what you brought us..." 15 But that time was past, and the Sitkans had to leave. In late September, the Tlingit seized a baidarka, killing two Alutiiq hunters and escalating hostilities. 14 Over the Near Horizon, 114. 15 Chevigny, Lord of Alaska , 219 220.
95 By October 1, 1804 cannons to the Ekaterina , Baranov positioned the ship to pound the Sitkan fortifications. After a brief barrage, Baranov planned an amphibious attack with 150 Russian, Alutiiq and Unangan men divided into two parties. He led one of the factions personally. Kidd noted that this assault was foolhardy for several reasons. First, he was assaulting a defensive position with fewer men than were in the Tlingit fort (about 150 Russians to 700 Tlingits). Second, Bar to a counter attack made by the Kiks.Ã¡di war leader , Katlian. Finally, he began the assault in the evening, whe n sunlight was waning. Bravely but brashly charging uphill through dense vegetation, towards the waiting Sitkans. With the aid of the above mentioned counter attack, the Sitkans drove back the Russians, injuring Baranov and killing three sailors from the Neva in the process. 16 On the second and third days of the attack, Lisiansky had the Neva towed into position by over 100 baidarkas, and brought her cannons to bear upon the Tlin git settlement. In the absence of reinforcements from surrounding clans and without the gunpowder ne eded to resist , the Sitkans attempted again to negotiate a settlement that would allow them to stay near the ancestral home. After this failed and the cannons again struck the fort, the Sitka Tlingit agreed to leave. But the next day there was no activity, so the bombardment resumed. Towards evening, an elderly Sitkan native brought a number of children to the shoreline. After negotiating with the 16 commission for five months and even now it bothers me when I have to do clerical work, Kuliak Tikhmenev, A History of the Russian American Company, Vol II , 142 143.
96 Russians for a ceasefire so the Sitkans could leave, the old man returned to the settlement. During the night, the Sitkans abandoned the settlement. Russian sources claimed that the Tlingit killed many of their young, rather than seeing them fall into the hands of their enemies . B ut such accounts are strongly contested in Tlingit oral histories of the battle. What is clear is that the Sitka n Tlingit s quickly and silently abandoned their fort. They set out on what became known as the Survival March, and settled 150 miles north of Sitka Sound at the Chatham Straits. There they waited until 1821, when the Russians allowed them to again live close to the Russians on the Sound. pieces. The Tlingit of Sitka prepared carefully for the return of the Russians after they destroy ed Fort Mikhailovsk in 1802. The fortification on Indian River was prepared well before 1804, and arrangements were made with surrounding Tlingit settlements to come to the aid of the Sitkans. But this assistance failed to materialize. The Kiks.Ã¡di oral tradition also indicates that, while they were beaten at the Battle of Sitka , the Tlingit were not defeated. Subsequent Tlingit hostility towards Russian and Alutiiq hunters in the years following the Battle of Sitka, including per iodic blockades of Sitk a Harbor and the destruction of the Yakutat Bay colony in 1805, indicate that the Tlingit settlements had the capacity to continue resistance to the Russians. 17 At Sitka, t he Kiks.Ã¡di war leader, Katlian, proved to be a skilled adversary. He planned the 1 802 sacking of Fort Mikhailovsk and coordinated the counter attack on Russian forces in 1804. His military leadership ensured that any settlement with the Russians at Sitka would not mean total 17 Dauenhauer, Anooshi Lingit Aani Ka , 283.
97 subjugation. And this brings about, perhaps, the most crucia l part of the Battle of Sitka that is underemphasized in Russian, American, and European sources: Baranov had to sue for peace with the Kiks.Ã¡di if he was to keep control of the area. 18 The months that followed the Battle of Sitka were tense. Lisiansky sta yed through the autumn to protect Baranov and his men as they worked to build the settlement of New Archangel (present day Sitka). According to Kiks.Ã¡di oral tradition, the Sitka n Tlingit s hey never gave up their ownership claims for the Alexander Archipelago, with the exception of Castle Hill. 19 of the area was not lost on Georg Langsdorff, who arrived later that yea r: Formally these people carried on a free trade with the United States of America, who made annual voyages to their shores, bringing rice, linen and woolen cloth, knives, axes, hatchets, kettles, kitchen utensils, etc. to exchange for sea otter skins. B ut no such trade can now be carried on. As the Russians take all the sea otters that are to be found, the ships of the United States will have no further motive for visiting the Kaluschians, and the latter, deprived of this trade, will have no means of pro curing the clothing, food and other conveniences to which they have been for 15 or 20 years accustomed. Many ships from the United States come now come to the Russian settlement, and the Russians are glad to exchange their sea otter skins for various items of the first necessity brought by them. 20 With populations of sea otters dwindling and the indigenous populations asking ever higher prices in areas not under the control of the Russians, Yankee merchants found important to make a profit along the Pacific Northwest coast. Such was the case when the Juno arrived in May , 1805. 18 Dauenhauer, Anooshi Lingit Aani Ka , 270. 19 Indeed, when the Ameri cans purchased Alaska from the Russians in 1867, the Tlingit argued that the Russians only really owned Castle Hill, and not the lands around it. 20 Langsdorff, Voyages and Travels , 375.
98 The Final American Voyage of the Juno After trading some goods successfully to the Russians, DeWolf decided to head out on another exped ition to trade with the Tlingit in the areas around Sitka. Sailing Juno sailed back to Newettee on Van couver Island in late June, where the Pearl and the Mary were in the harbor. In addition, the Lydia, Vancouver , and Atahualpa all owned by the Lyman family of Boston were there. DeWolf learned that the Atahualpa was attacked during a trade expedition. With her captain and several crew killed, the ship barely made it to Newettee, where the American merchant vessels were attempting to repair her for a voyage home. 21 At the time, the Lydia was under the command of Captain Hill, who rescued John Rodgers Je witt during the Juno According to American scholar Molly Malloy, Hill accused John DeWolf of deliberately buying furs at high prices in exchange for the cargo on the Juno because of the Rhode s intent to sell the Juno to the Russians, thus depriving other captains of their fur quotas. 22 But this accusation seems unlikely, as the Russians had not retaken Sitka until after the Juno left Rhode Island. Further, it is unlikely that Baranov alone wo uld have been authorized to purchase the Juno were it not for the serendipitous arrival of 21 The Atahaulpa has a history as fascinating as the . After returning to Boston, she made more journeys to the Pacific Northwest coast. During the War of 1812, she was in Hawaiian Islands. Like the Juno before her, she was eventually sold to the Russians in 1813 and renamed the Bering . The Russians were able to purchase American vessels during the War of 1812, as vessels stuck outside the British blockade were unlikely to return home . 22 Malloy, Devil on the Deep Blue Sea , 36 37.
99 Count Nikolai Petrovich Rezanov , Chamberlain to the Russian court and plenipotentiary of the RAC , in August , 1805. Finally, the dearth of quality ships among the Ru ssians for a return voyage to the United States must have given DeWolf significant pause during the negotiations for sale of the ship. In mid July 1805, the Juno again got underway to trade along the coast. DeWolf mpt a detail of the occurrences, or give a did recall heading for the southern extremity of Sitka Island, touching at several points before arriving on July 27, 1805 at the Chatham Straits, where the Sitkan Tlingits settled after the Battle of Sitka. It was here that DeWolf had his first brush with danger. He grew suspicious of Tlingit men who were inviting the Juno to anchor for trade. During one such exchange he rea recalled, the Tlingit seemed less inclined to trade. By early August, the Juno was anchored in Chatham Straits, east of Sitka and close to the new settlement of Sitka n Tlingits. Light winds kept DeWolf in the area until August 10 . While getting underway, the ship was caught in an ebbing tide, which can run quite strongly between the islands of the Alexander Archipelago. The tide dragged the Juno towards a small island, and in the evening the shi the best manner possible before she began to keel over, and to prepare ourselves for Securing the rigging and cannons, DeWolf ordered three of the boats on board to be supplied with arms, ammunition , and provisions in case the ship fell and became unsalvageable. Fortunately, the receding
100 tide revealed that the ship w as miraculously support ed by a tripod of three sharp rocks, which prevented capsizing. Tlingit began to gather along the as to our movements; but after going around the ship and examining her situation very pretended that they brought the boat onto the rocks intentionally for repairs. While part of the crew worked on the ship, w hose underside needed repairs anyways, another group of the crew was assigned to trade with the Tlingit. Interestingly, DeWolf recounted that he if he learned this technique from the Russians or from other American merchants. Repair crews had to caulk and stopper the holes caused by the rocks, and to clear the bilge. While pumping, they discovered that some of the cargo was damaged. e Juno was seaworthy with the incoming tide. After bottom, the captain decided to head immediately for Sitka to make more substantial repairs. Along the way, DeWolf again encountered the Mary and the two ships sailed into Sitka together on August 14 , 1805. Baranov welcomed DeWolf obliging hospitality which made him loved Juno on shore, the crew began repairs immediately. By this time, DeWolf and his crew had collected approximately 1,000 sea otter pelts. DeWolf sent them for trade in Canton aboard the Mary , which left on Au gust 20 . Having to repair twenty floor timbers
101 and replace copper along the hull, the Juno was not brought back into the water until September 6, 1805 . After completing all of the repairs that were possible, DeWolf noted that they would have to carry on, crippled ship, and endeavor to prosecute the remainder of our voyage with more from Baranov in fur hunts furthe r to the south, DeWolf proposed an expedition to the purpose of catching sea otter Juno set to depart at the beginning of October . The voyage, however, did not take place due to the serendipitous arrival of the Russian brig Maria . Scene 2 John DeWolf: Yankee Merchant and Explorer Wherein DeWolf travels across the Russian American colonies and Siberia, observing Russian society on his way to St. Pet ersburg The Maria arrived at Sitka on August 26 , 1805, after a nearly two month journey from the port of Okhotsk. Under the command of Andrei Vasilevich Mashin, the Maria was typical of Russian vessels plying the routes between Okhotsk, Petropavlovsk, and the Pacific Northwest. Langsdorff, who was on the ship at the time of her arrival, described the Maria masted vessel, of a hundred fifty tons, built at Ochotsk [sic]." 23 In addition to Langsdorff, the Maria also carried Lieutenant Nikolai Aleksandrovich Khvostov and Midshipman Gavril Davydov of the Imperial Russian Navy (both on their second voyage to Russian America) , the plenipotentiary of the RAC, Count Nikolai Petrovich Rezan ov. DeWolf recalled that 23 Langsdor f f, Voyages and Travels , 315.
102 Kamchatka, en route to the posts on the Northwest Coast belonging to the Russian Russians also brought two ship carpenters, who were charged with building new vessels for the company at Sitka. 24 With Novo Arkhangelsk still under construction, and with supplies dwindling in the face of the coming winter, Baranov was hardly in a position to comfortably shelter the Russian delegation from the Maria , and the Americans aboard the Juno without making some arrangements. DeWolf noted that Sitka at the time was populated by 150 Russians and 250 Alutiiq and Ununga n ively preparing for the coming winter, building log 25 During a soiree would sell the Juno outright to the RAC for the right price. Given the difficulties inherent to building a vessel in Russian America without adequate materials, Rezanov promptly took DeWolf up on the offer. offer, but after some deliberatio ns the men arranged for the Juno to become a Russian vessel. The price was set at $68,000, payable with (1) bills of exchange on the Directors of Russian American Company for $54,638 in St. Petersburg, (2) 572 sea otter skins valued at $13,062, (3) $300 i n cash, and (4) a small Russian vessel so that 24 DeWolf, A Voyage to the North Paci fic , 30. 25 DeWolf, A Voyage to the North Pacific , 40.
103 26 The Ermak , which was built shortly before the Battle of Sitka, was delivered to DeWolf and his crew. On October 5 , 1805, the American flag was transferred to the Ermak , and the Juno became the Yunona Ermak set sail on October 27 for command. 27 Confirming the low quality of 28 DeWolf agreed to stay at the settlement until spring, 1806. From there, he would head to St. Petersburg with Re zanov overland to complete the sale of the Juno . Wintering in Sitka Having completed his transaction with Rezanov, and sending his furs on to China, DeWolf had little to do. Rezanov inventoried supplies in Sitka, and decided to risk a trip to Kodiak Island to obtain additional provisions. This trip probably would not hav e been made with the Russian vessels in port at the time, due to the approaching winter weather. But with the recently purchased Juno , Rezanov felt confident in a successful voyage. He placed Lieutenant Khvostov in command of the expedition, with Davydov serving as first officer. 26 Rossiisko a merikanska i a k ompaniya i i zuchenie t ikhookeanskogo s evera (1799 1815) . (Moscow: Russian Academy of Sciences, 1994): 136 137. 27 According to Chevigny, the Ermak successfully made a voyage to Hawaii before she was given to DeWolf. See Chevigny, Lord of Alaska , 222. Rezanov reported to the company that Ermak made it to Hawaii under American ownership with no problems P. Rezanov to Minister of Commerce Nikolai P. Rumiantsev, Concer ning Trade and Other Relations b etween Russian American Colonies , 147. 28 American Company, from New A History of the Russian American Company Vol II , 158.
104 about them fifty years afterwards. W ith significant downtime after the sale of the Juno , he was keenly observant in his travels through Russian America an d later in Siberia. The captain without a ship quickly befriended Georg Langsdorff, who traveled to the Germany, Langsdorff accompanied Rezanov on the same round the world e xpedition that brought Hieromonk Gideon to Kodiak, the Neva to Sitka, and Rezanov to Japan. The of the populations that lived along the coast of the Pacific Northwest. While Langsdorff was predictably more verbose in his descriptions of the events they both w itnessed, century American merchant explorer. DeWolf regularly joined Langsdorff on hunts for game and specimens to study. With not much else to do, he familiarized hims elf with the area and learned to navigate with baidarkas. In November, Langsdorff approached DeWolf with the possibility of visiting the Tlingit who were displaced in the re conquest of Sitka. Baranov was against the expedition, fearing for their safety. But since neither man was Russian, and since DeWolf had traded among them earlier in the year, Baranov reluctantly agreed to let them go with several Alutiiq men and a translator from the Tlingit settlement the daughter of one of the clan leaders they intended to visit.
105 In the evening, t hree days after departing from Sitka, the expedition arrived near the Tlingit settlement. They were greeted by loud shouts from the men on shore, who Indians, armed sooner had we made it known who we were, and approached the shore, than we were surrounded in a tumultuous manner by the Kaluschians [sic], who dragged us towards 29 Expecting that he would be put to death, DeWolf and the party had their personal items stripped from them, as the natives gesticulated wildly. But, as it The expedition was housed with the father of their Tlingit interpreter. DeWolf smallest trifle being withheld, although there were undoubtedly many articles among protec ted themselves via an uphill path with double palisades, much like the fort that was built for the Battle of Sitka. receive good food in their host sung by a number of men seated around the fire, which had been piled up to a great haps panning to the voyeuristic curiosity of his readers, 29 DeWolf, A Voyage to the North Pacific , 43.
106 DeWolf wrote that the men had painted faces, while the women wore discs of wood in natives had no organized govern ment, he recalled, and their sole source of wealth was 30 De Wolf and Langsdorff stayed in the village for two days before heading back. On the way, they stayed with a chief who had been friendly towards the Russians, and was subsequently outcast from the rest of the Sitka natives. Arriving at the Russian settlemen t about the same time as the Juno returned from Kodiak, the inhabitants of Novo Arkhangelsk prepared for winter. One of the tasks Rezanov set for the fort was the construction of a new vessel. DeWolf recalled that the carpenter laid the keel of the vesse l in December, with the Juno safely anchored in the harbor. In addition, the Russian vessels Maria and Rostislav were hauled on shore for repairs. Initially, things went well. Some Tlingit visited to trade, work proceeded in earnest, and the officers an d guests enjoyed dances and social functions while Juno . By January, work on the new vessel, dubbed the Avos , began to wane as the wet and snow combined with the arduous work and to ok its toll on the workers. At this point, DeWolf witnessed severe social disparities in Sitka, with the exhaustion and malnutrition. But the dances continued. D eWolf remembered that several under 30 DeWolf, A Voyage to the North Pacific , 48 49.
107 doubtlessly Alutiiq women. He recalled that there were also Kodiak women available for Without any cake for the rest of the settlement to eat, the colony began to suffer. The Russians, according to DeWolf, may have been able to sustain themselves with the abundance of fish in the area, but Russians and Alutiiq ali ke were employed in tasks that took them away from fishing. As scurvy set in, an expedition to California aboard the Juno was planned to procure provisions, and to hopefully establish trade relations between the Spanish religious settlements near San Fran cisco and the Russian America Company. Rezanov took charge of the expedition. DeWolf felt uneasy with these arrangements, as this trip would delay the planned journey to Siberia on the Juno . Rezanov assured the captain that, even if the Juno did not ret urn in time, Lieutenant Mashin would take DeWolf to Siberia aboard the Maria . Rezanov and Langsdorff set sail on March 8, 1806, with Lieutenant Khvostov and Midshipman Davydov in command of the Juno . April came with the Maria still on shore. Mashin indi cated that there was too much work to do and too few men to put her back in the water. In May 1806 the American vessel arrived visited Baranov again, but this time under the command of Jonathan Winship Jr. Winship sought to replicate the successfu l expedition of his hunt off the California coast and splitting the profits. 31 After making arrangements with , left in mid May. 31 After Joseph trading Am erican supplies for the use of returned to Boston in July , Eclipse in January , 1806. Jonatha n Winship Jr.,
108 With bo redom creeping in, DeWolf helped Baranov clear a couple of acres to start experimenting with agriculture in the area. Finally, on June 21 , the Juno returned from Spanish California, loaded with provisions, but no promise of future exchange from the Spanis h. DeWolf increasingly worried about the prospects of heading to Siberia before unfavorable weather prevented his departure for another season. Rezanov did not want to send the Juno further west until the Avos was completed. The only ship available was the Rostislav , still onshore from the winter. DeWolf requested to captain the ship to Siberia himself. Langsdorff was excited by the idea, having tired of Russian America by the time he returned from California with Rezanov. On June 30 , 1806, less than a week after making his request, DeWolf had the ship put into harbor, and made ready to sail with a ten man crew. After putting to sea, DeWolf had reason to worry. The Rostislav was seaworthy, but she was also sluggish. With the light summer winds, DeWo lf feared that he would not reach Siberia before autumn, meaning he would have to wait out another winter before journeying to St. Petersburg. Following the Aleutian Islands towards Siberia, right whales frequently surrounded the vessel. Keeping close to the mainland, they sailed onward to Kodiak, arriving on July 13 . DeWolf noted that while in the area, they visited several villages, where the Unangas and Alutiiq men were away in the employ of the Russians. The ship reached Unalaska on August 12 . Here they learned of the death of the superintendent of company affairs on the island. After some negotiations, they took the widow and daughter on board to bring them back to Russia. who accompanied C xpedition, sailed the back to Russian America, leaving Boston in October , 1805.
109 Departing on August 16 , the Rostislav sailed for the Kurile Islands , which form a barrier between the Pacific and the Sea of Okhotsk. But as they approached on September 6, 1806 , heavy winds prevented the ship from entering the sea. With Okhotsk the first point of the overland route to St . Petersburg unreachable, DeWolf was forced to head to Petropavlovsk on the Pacific coast of Kamchatka for the winter. They made port on September 22 , 1806. DeWolf in Siberia He was most likely the first American to cross Russia, a feat John Ledyard attempted unsuccessfully almost 20 years earlier. Even though he was pressing hard to arrive in narrative s left by Cook and Vancouver on their maritime expeditions to the Pacific Northwest. Some of the cultural practices he observed were alien to him. But perhaps the most fascinating aspect of this portion of his narrative was the fact that DeWolf faithfull y recorded his increasing social anxiety and the decreasing regard in which he was held as he moved closer to European Russia . This apprehension became particularly acute in Moscow. Like the great Pacific explorers, DeWolf was often left to his own devic es as he traversed the Asian portions of Russia. His sojourns in Sitka and Kamchatka gave him what he referred to as a childish grasp of the Russian language, but the crafty merchant also used a letter of recommendation from Count Rezanov and pantomime to get him to St. Petersburg. Unlike the European explorers, DeWolf noted how often he found himself an exotic object from the perspective of the Russians he stayed with along the way.
110 Resigned to spending a winter on the Kamchatka peninsula, DeWolf was ple asantly surprised to see Midshipman Davydov in early November 1806 commanding the Avos . Khvostov arrived a couple of weeks later aboard the Juno , after dropping Rezanov in Okhotsk. Under orders from the Chamberlain, the Russian officers had just conducte d a raid against Japanese settlers on Sakhalin Island and along a couple of the Kurile Islands. They took four Japanese prisoners, and were going to conduct further a nd his old ship again. In March, as he recalled, the officers were headed for the some further attempts to establish an intercourse with the people." While in Petropavlovsk , DeWolf learned to ride the dog sleds that were the basis of transport during the winter in Kamchatka. Before Khvostov and Davydov departed on excursions to the neigh 32 As DeWolf gained confidence in his abilities, he began venturing further afield; heading to the south of the peninsula while Langsdorff explored the north for specimens of natural history. With signif icant downtime, he also had time to note the customs that the to their forms and ceremonies , even though he found some of them strange. While in Petropavlovsk, the Ame rican was invited to be a godfather at an Orthodox christening. After participating in circling the baptismal font three times while crossing the child with 32 DeWolf, A Voyage to the North Pacific , 79.
111 greater pa rt of it, a nonsensical ceremony, and a piece of rigmarole; but it was not my 33 He also made remony, DeWolf and Langsdorff had to wait until May 26 , 1807 to leave, as their desti nation was Okhotsk and ice in the Sea of Okhotsk breaks up slowly. On May 30 , the Rostislav encountered a large whale. As DeWolf recalled, they ran up onto the back of the animal, raising the vessel 2 k, and brought us to a complete stand 34 Langsdorff similarly recalled the incident, listed or was shaken too hard by the impact, but Captain DWolf [sic] acted qui te 35 Herman Melville was riveted by this story as told by his uncle, for he Moby Dick . On June 14 , 1807, while sailing northward into the Sea of Okhotsk, DeWolf spotted thick ice in the Sea of Okhot sk ahead of the vessel . Unable to break through it, they had to sail around for several days. They finally anchored in Okhotsk on June 27 . Upon arrival, they learned with sadness that Count Rezanov had become ill and died after a fall from his horse nea r Krasnoyarsk while enroute to St. Petersburg. After presenting his credentials to officials in Okhotsk, DeWolf made immediate preparations 33 DeWolf, A Voyage to the North Pacific , 84 85. 34 DeWolf, A Voyage to the North Pacific , 88. 35 Langsdorff, Voyages and Travels , 572.
112 for a departure across Siberia. Langsdorff decided to stay in Okhotsk a little longer for collecting specimens of natural history. On July 3 , with eleven horses and a Yakut guide, DeWolf set off for the Siberian city of Yakutsk. DeWolf charted a course across the Eurasian landmass that was relatively well known to Russians inv olved in Siberian commerce. It was a difficult slog between Okhotsk and Yakutsk, with no regular post stations for changing horses. At this point in little more t han the distance traveled that day, and the difficulties faced. As many Russian travelers noted, the route from Okhotsk to Yakutsk was slow going due to marshy conditions, often inclement weather, and insects. After crossing the White River, almost two t hirds of the way to Yakutsk, the expedition arrived at the principal change station on the Yakutsk Okhotsk route , entering what was at the time considered the furthest reaches of travel in the Russian empire. DeWolf euphemistically reminisced sea was far preferable to a mud ba After arriving at Yakutsk on July 26 , DeWolf made quick preparations to continue his journey along the Lena River towards Irkutsk. Compared to the rough slog of his initial leg, travel along the Lena was much more comfortable. In eleven days, he tr aveled over 400 miles by water. At various rest stops, DeWolf noted that the provincial population showed great deference to him and the Cossack that began traveling with him at Yakutsk, particularly when the Cossack was berating the locals for laziness w
113 At one stop, DeWolf helped inoculate a local population where smallpox had broken out. Using a technique he learned about in Amer ica, the captain ran a threaded needle through the lesion of one of the afflicted villagers. After cutting the thread into thread in the wounds to immunize them. He also passed along diet advice requesting that the villagers avoid fat and salted meat while they recuperated. Shortly after this episode, on August 28 , 1807, DeWolf and his retinue arrived in Irkutsk. Repeating a pattern that he set throughout Siberia, DeW olf searched out a n RAC official in the city. As luck would have it, he also met up with Langsdorff. The German was intent upon crossing Lake Baikal enroute to Kiakhta , the principle outpost for trade between the Russians and the Chinese. The friends pa rted company again, and on September 10 , the DeWolf reached Tomsk. After borrowing 200 rubles from the local Company official, he met up with a Greek merchant with whom he planned to travel via carriage to Moscow. Before departing from Tomsk, DeWolf was invited to dine with the sian and pantomime, highly. If I was able, under the circumstances, to form a correct opinion, there was a 36 Reaching Ka zan on September 30 , DeWolf was again invited to dinner with a government official. By this time, DeWolf sought to avoid such spectacles, as he felt 36 DeWolf, A Voyage to the North Pacific , 125.
114 ashamed of his threadbare clothes after three years of travel. Another reason for his discomfort was that grade, as it might not have been good policy to have explained my claim to a eless attended to avoid giving offense. As in Siberia, DeWolf questioned me about our country, and to show that they had some knowledge of American history, they spoke of Washing 37 On the way to St. Petersburg, DeWolf was surprised to note that, particularly in poorest inhabitant never need suffer for food; and I c ould see here, as throughout as he crossed into European Russia, DeWolf noted that he and the Greek merchant with whom he was traveling received far less respect from the change stations along the route to Moscow. Despite this, he reached Moscow on October 8 . Hoping to travel onward to St. Petersburg before the Baltic froze over, DeWolf stayed in Moscow only for Leaving his Greek companion behind, DeWolf left for St. Petersburg on October 17 . He arrived in the cap ital four days later driving directly to the RAC headquarters. He was introduced to the D irector of the company , Mikhail Matveevich Buldakov . Like 37 DeWolf, A Voyage to the North Pacific , 132.
115 in daughters. A member of the kupechestvo himself from Veliki Ustiur in the Vologda oblast, Buldakov became one of the largest shareholders of the Company. When the RAC headquarters was moved to St. Petersburg by an imperial ukaz in 1800, Buldakov became the chairman of the board of directors with the active support of Natalya Shelikova. DeWolf initially ran into a language barrier, unable to understand what Buldakov was saying about the bill of sale and the funds he was supposed to receive. A short time later, however, th e American captain was greeted by Benedict Cramer, a fellow American that worked with the RAC. Cramer was a partner in the Banking firm B oard of D irectors. 38 The banker informed DeWolf that his part ner had been to America, seen the duplicates of bills of exchange sent on from Russian America. On the basis of the agreement, the bills of exchange were honored in Spanish dollars, and paid with a 15% advance due to the premium Spanish dollars commanded. The proceeds were then invested in hemp, iron and other manufactures and sent to America . As a result, there was nothing for After hearing this happy news, DeWolf was brought to meet Levitt Harris, the American Consul General in St. Petersburg. Staying with Buldakov, DeWolf had the opportunity to see the city and meet important figures like Count Nikolai Petrovich Rumiantsev, the Minister of Commerce future Minister of Foreign Affairs, and principal 38 Cramer served on the RAC board of direct ors until being blamed for the c ompany's fiscal woes in the early 1820s, when the Russian Navy completed its takeover of the Russian American colonies.
116 fi nancier of the expedition that brought Rezanov and Langsdorff to the Russian American colonies. While DeWolf initially planned to leave in late November, the outbreak of hostilities between Russia and Britain hastened his departure. Rushing to the harbor , DeWolf was able to find transport to Denmark on a small Dutch ship. After hasty goodbyes, he set sail , arriving in Elsinore on November 13, 1807 . Soon after arriving near Copenhagen, DeWolf had the good fortune of meeting Captain David Gray, a merchan t from Portland, Maine. Gray agreed to take DeWolf back to America. However, ship was forced to winter in Liverpool for needed repairs. They set sail from England on February 7, 1808 , reaching Portland on March 25 . From there, DeWolf was able to return to his home port of Bristol on April 1 , 1808. to continue to trade with the Russians into the 1820s. But his subsequent trips were made the rest of his life. They made him a living legend among those he knew. DeWolf even named his son Langsdorff in honor of the friend he found in the Pacific Northwest. And he apparently never tired of telling about his adventures traveling around the globe. Denouement Russian America after the Battle of Sitka The second trip to the Pacific Northwest coincided with significant changes in the Russian Americ an colonies. Chief among these were the altered relations that Russians initiated with the Tlingit population. As previously mentioned, the Tlingit at Sitka wer e defeated in b attle, but not conquered. In October 1805, Tlingits located near Yakutat Bay raised the Russian shipyard and colony that was established there in 1794. The clans that surrounded Sitka continued hostile acts, such as periodic
117 embargoes of t he harbor. Thus, from 1804 until his retirement in 1818, Baranov was forced to continuously negotiate and barter with the Tlingit to secure their passivity to the Russian presence in their territory. According to Lydia Black, these interactions meant tha tolerated the Russians' presence and traded with them, but in later years supplied Novo Arkhangelsk with food and even grew potatoes in quantity specifically for sale to the Russian c 39 As political activity shifted towards the southeast, Kodiak became the supply force, Kodiak wa s a key stopping point and communications hub for Russian activities that extended along the southern Alaskan coast, the Aleutian Islands, and even operations further north. And yet, the more things changed, the more they remained the same. In October 18 05, Rezanov sent the Juno to Kodiak to procure supplies for Sitka. Bay, so as to not disturb operations at the main port of St. Paul. 40 Langsdorff noted that the ship r fat, train carri 41 Such reprehensible actions demonstrate that while Sitka eventually became the capital of the colonies, 39 Black, Russians in Alaska , 162. 40 Black, Russians in Alaska , 175. 41 Langsdorff, Voyages and Travels , 379.
118 Kodiak was the linchpin upon which the colonies depended. Indeed, K yrill Khlebnikov even pro posed moving the capital of the colonies back to Kodiak in the 1820s. In the diplomatic sphere, many historians of Russian America have noted significant changes in trade after the Russians established themselves at Sitka. Most importantly, they point to the growing interdependence of Yankee and Russian operations in the area. Americans continued to trade weapons for sea otter pelts with they also began stopping at Sitka as a safe place to repair their ships, and to strike up the Northwest coast. The Russians were certainly more hospitable than the Spanish in terms of trade , as they depend ed upon these contacts for supplies. Russia was never able to adequately provision its colonies, even after Atlantic circumnavigations began. 42 Russian contact with Yankee merchants in the Pacific Northwest also facilitated the opening of official diploma tic relations between the two countries. contracted from Baranov, several American ship captains followed suit. 43 Baranov and these ship captains soon began drawing up contr acts. One such contract, drawn up in May 1808 between Baranov and Captain George Washington Ayres, reveals the complex, and often international, character of these interactions. It called for Baranov to supply, from Kodiak, 25 baidarkas and fully provisi distant shores of Northwest America and hunting grounds that only I, Ayres, know 42 Policies o f the Russian Over the Near Horizon , 90. 43 K.t. Khlebnikov, Notes on Russian America, Part I: Novo (Fairbanks: The Limestone Press, 1994), 9 10.
119 44 Captain Ayres took pains to include secrecy as the first condition of the contract; as such knowledge was highly v matter of common interest is concluded and the agreement is renewed, or when a company vessel under the command of a Russian offic Ayres specifies that if, in the future, Russian vessels should arrive at the location while Baranov was to provide two record keepers to make sure the catch was fairly divided. They were to be treated equally to officers aboard the ship. The contract also promyshlenniki to accompany the expedition, as t heir services were needed for mending the baidarkas and clothing the Alutiiq employed. Recognizing the potential for discord between the Russian and American crews, the contract recognized the Russian agents had the right to protect the women on board fro m harassment if complaints to the captain are not appropriately addressed. Equally amo ng the crew, especially against the captain, whose authority they must always 45 Ayres was not overly coy about the area in which they would be hunting. The r 44 Ayres, The United States and Russia , 512. 45 Bashkina, The United States and Russia , 515
120 other goods for his own use along the coasts of New and Old California, which belong to Spain, with which Russia has broken her alliance because of French ambitions in Europe, and is therefore an enemy, the Spaniards should not get the opportunity to kno w of our ties with the American promyshlenniki [those under Russian suzerainty] dollars are to be paid to the [Russian American] company in compensation for the surv iving family and relatives, and the right of satisfaction to be reserved to the Ayres, the contract recognized his right to conduct such intercourse. Any provisions s o gained share of furs. Recognizing the growing international implications of the fur trade along ma intain these articles holy and inviolable and to observe the honor, fame, and respect of the Russian State and the United States of America in order to maintain in the future between ourselves and our fellow countrymen mutual ties and advantages based on g The establishment of the New Archangel colony after the Battle of Sitka solidified interaction with foreign mer chants was not popular with the Board of Directors in St. Petersburg. The Chief Manager was fortunate that Rezanov arrived in August , 1805. instrumental in the procurement of the Juno , which meant that the colonies were not at the mercy of Yankee merchants, but could negotiate favorable conditions for trade. The
121 Juno was more than capable of routinely transporting goods to and from the colonies and Siberian outposts, and was used to protect fur hunting parties in 1810. The colonies also underwent a number of social changes between 1804 and the social fabric of the empire changed as one traveled t oward (or away from) the metropole. But the colonies were not just the furthest outlier from the Russian cultural and political capital. As mentioned previously, it was the only administrative unit of the empire governed by a joint stock company and plac ed under the leadership of a merchant. Life in the colonies was therefore organized around the profitable extraction of natural resources. During the early nineteenth century, this meant that the Alutiiq became the principle labor force for all of the co lonies. When DeWolf visited Kodiak on his way to Siberia, he reported that he visited several Alutiiq villages populated by women, the elderly, and children. The men were away in various parts of the colonies hunting for the company. The American report ed that the inhabitants of the village absence of the men. 46 While this may have been wishful remembrance, there can be no doubt from his account that, by 1804, the A lutiiq had to some degree adjusted to their role as the labor force of the colonies. But social relations between Russians that lived in the colonies, and those that arrived from the metropole were still difficult. As we will see, the arrival of t he Maria in August 1805 rekindled tensions between the company men who led the colonies and low ranking Russian naval officers that frequently captained vessels on behalf of the 46 DeWolf, A Voyage to the North Pacific , 66.
122 RAC. The Juno under Russian ownership was often a locus of such tension. As international contacts increased following the Battle of Sitka and the arrival of the Juno , sought to settle these differences, but the Chamb brought his own biases w ith him to the colonies. And difficulties for Rezanov began as soon as he stepped aboard the ship that would take him around the world for his visi t to .
123 CHAPTER 4 ACT 3 T HE METROPOLE MEETS THE PERIPHERY: NAVIGATING SOCIAL STANDING, DIPLOMACY, AND EMPIRE OVERSEAS, 1799 1807 Scene 1 Nikolai Rezanov: Aristocrat, Merchant, Diplomat to Russian America Two years before John DeWolf set out from Rhode Island on his journey across the globe, Nikolai Petrovich Rezanov commenced his own voyage to Russian America from St. Petersburg. The Chamberlain of the Court to Alexander I has fascinat ed writers, poets, and historians since his death in 1807. Born in St. Petersburg in March overly wealthy, but well connected. His father, Petr Gavrilovich, was a judg e at the time of the Pugachev rebellion. In 1778, young Rezanov entered military service in the to do, and all but one of the leaders of the Guard were members of the royal family. Re zanov made a number of important friends at this time, but retired in 1784 without earning an officer rank. He transferred from military to civil service and was given a rank of Captain on the Russian table of ranks. While his military career was unspe ctacular, Rezanov was able to parlay his contacts with notables like Gavril Derzhavin into a successful career in the government. H e began his civilian career work ing for the judiciary in Pskov, and later worked in the Treasury in St. Petersburg. Finally , with the assistance of Derzhavin, Rezanov became a clerk in the Senate. 1 He benefit was well educated, and had a liberal outlook with regards to the role aristocrats could 1 Pierce, Russian America: A Biographical Dictionary , 418.
124 play in com merce. But these notions were blended with strong aristocratic proclivities. Unlike previous generations of the Russian aristocracy, men like Rezanov had fewer qualms entering into commercial endeavors. Aristocrats that came of age during the reign of C atherine II, particularly those without significant wealth, coveted the increasing prosperity enjoyed by some merchants . As the political economy began to shift away from traditional agricultural models in Russia, new economic theories began to circulate. Rezanov grew up in an environment that was steeped in the ideas of both Adam Smith and French mercantilism. 2 In 1794, Rezanov was sent to Irkutsk to oversee the transfer of Russian priests and serfs to the supervision of Grigory Shelikov, who petitioned to receive these recruits for his new colonies near Kodiak. These serfs would later be sent by Baranov to settle at Yakutat Bay. While staying with the Shelikov family, Rezanov became acquainted with one of also learned about the business of the Pacific fur trade. Shelikov and Rezanov escorted the priests and serfs to Okhotsk during the summer of 1794. Shelikov used the journey to persuade Rezanov that the Shelikov Company had enormous potential . His descr iptions apparently had a profound impact on Rezanov. Ten years later, even after encountering the harsh realities in the colonies that Shelikov neglected to mention, Rezanov continued to defend the RAC and its potential. Shortly after returning from Okho tsk in the winter of 1794, Rezanov and Anna Shelikova were married. Marrying 3 dowry , but due to prohibitions barring 2 Okun, The Russian American Company , 12. 3 Chevigny, Russian America , 69 70.
125 nobles fr om participating in merchant activities at the time, Rezanov was unable to claim them. Returning with his wife to St. Petersburg in 1795, Rezanov became a passionate aligned against Shelikov and began clamoring for the dismantling of the Shelikov venture. Des had operated in the North Pacific since 1784, his influence in St. Petersburg to this point had been was tenuous at best. commercia l powers in the North Pacific after her famous tour of the Crimea. Rival merchants in Irkutsk blanched at the thought of Shelikov cornering the market from his permanent colony at Kodiak, especially as fur hunting dried up along the Siberian coast. Cathe rine was not disposed to grant a monopoly, and the Irkutsk merchant feuds went s help in St. Petersburg to put the company on firmer footing. 4 Rezanov worked feverishly to defend and advance the interests of the company. Under the guidance of Count Pahlen, Rezanov deftly rose to be come an advisor for Tsar Paul I. The short reign o f the latter began 1796 after the death of Catherine. Symbolic of the favor he enjoyed, Rezanov was appointed Procurator General of the Senate. He convinced the volatile Tsar to form the Russian American Company by combining several private fur companies that operated out of Irkutsk, and putting their operations under the control of those aligned with Shelikov. The Tsar granted the new 4 Chevigny, Russian America , 72 73.
126 company monopoly powers that Catherine II had resisted. Such authority was necessary, Rezanov insisted, to prevent the American territories from becoming a hotbed of republicanism under the influence of American and British merchants. 5 initially swung back towards Catherinesque liberalism with the cor onation of Alexander I in March stock company to the young, idealistic Alexander. As a result, the Tsar encouraged members of the nobility to buy stock in the RAC, eschewing the former aristocratic repugnance at participating in commercial activity. In addition, Alexander issued an ukaz permitting naval officers to enter company servic e without relinquishing their commissions. Under this ruling, Rezanov dispatched Midshipman Gavril Davydov and Lieutenant Nikolai Khvostov to the colonies in April 1802 to assist in maritime navigation and to organize protection of Russian colonies. Plan s were also drawn up for a circumnavigation of the globe that would include diplomatic and scientific expeditions throughout the Pacific. For many that have written about Russian America, Rezanov was the embodiment of Empire and the Enlightenment. As Owen Matthews pointed out in his recent biography of the Chamberlain , Rezanov was raised in St. Petersburg, a city that displaced Paris after the Revolution as an opulent, aristocratic capital. Indeed, the city 5 Okun, The Russian American Company , 42; and Bolkhovitinov, The Beginnings of Russian American Relations, 167 168.
127 construction from the swamp land near the mouth of the Neva River. 6 Rezanov was a new type of Russian aristocrat. His panegyric letters from Russian America to the RAC Board of Directors, Count Rumiantsev, and the Tsar w ere filled with aristocratic love of country. T hey also vocalized a vision of Russian Imperial expansion with a keen eye on commercial activity. He sincerely believed that Russia could control the Northern Pacific if only a modicum of attention were paid to the area. He wrote, Your Excellency will laugh perhaps at my far reaching plans, but I definitely insist that their execution is feasible and that if we had men and means, without great sacrifice on the part of the treasury, all this country could be brought permanently under Russian influence, and when you consider the conditions you will agree with my opinion that our trade would make notable and even gigantic strides. All very extensive plans appear visionary on paper, but when they are calculated correctly, their execution compels admiration. It is not through petty enterprises, but by great undertakings that the mighty commercial bodies achieve their greatness. If the Russian Government had thought earlier of this part of the world, and estimated adequately its potentialities, and if it had pursued continuously the far reaching plans of Peter the Great, who, with the insignificant resources then available, dispatched the expedition commanded by Bering, it is safe to say that New California would ne ver have been a Spanish possession, for only in 1760 did the Spanish turn their attention towards it and they strengthened their hold on the incomparable territory solely through the activity of the missionaries. 7 D espite the difficulties Rezanov faced, he was determined to shift the gaze of Alexander I towards the Pacific. His personal and professional connection to the creation and success of the RAC shaped an imperial vision for the area. And he knew that state support would b e critical for his plans. But once Rezanov arrived in the colonies, he was prepared to advance his plans in the absence of direct orders or oversight from St. Petersburg. 6 Owen Matthews, Glorious Misadventures: Nikolai Rezanov and t he Dream of a Russian America (New York: Bloomsbury, 2013), 12. 7 Tikhmenev, A History of the Russian American Company Vol. II , 212 213.
128 the World Expedition In October 1802, tragedy s days after giving birth to their second child. In April 1803, Alexander I and court officials persuaded the despondent Rezanov to take part in the scientific and commercial journey that the crown was plan ning. From the beginning, the expedition had multiple overlapping purposes. The Tsar sought the international prestige of circumnavigating the globe. Alexander I had special medals cast for the voyage for distribution upon its return. Count Nikolai Rumi antsev who served as minister of commerce and later as minister of foreign affairs under Alexander I partially funded the expedition because of its potential benefits for science and natural history. As RAC employee and historian Petr Tikhmenev noted, American possessions directly from the Baltics. 8 Ivan Fedorovich Kruzenstern was selected to serve as captain of the expedition. Two vessels were to depart from Kronstadt, a naval installation loc ated on an island East Indies made him an ideal choice. The captain also expressed interest in expanding Russian trade with China via ship rather than from the single, confined, continental outpost of Kiakhta near Lake Baikal. While the voyage would boost the prestige of the Russian government and the Imperial Navy through diplomatic visits, there is little doubt that trade was also at the heart of the expedition. The difficulties 9 Count Rumiantsev 8 Tikhmenev, A History of the Russian A merican Company Vol I , 69. Captain Ivan Kruzenstern also verified this rationale in the introduction to his chronicle of the voyage. 9 Mezhdunarodna i no. 12 (December 2006).
129 hoped that a slight pivot towards the East might offset the economic hardships Russia faced because of the Napoleonic wars. During the planning of the expediti on, it was decided that Rezanov should lead an ambassadorial mission to Japan. At the time, there was reason to be hopeful that interests in the North Pacific. During the r eign of Catherine II, Russian officials returned Japanese subjects that were marooned on the coast of Siberia. The Japanese sent back a letter, granting permission for a Russian ship to visit the port of Nagasaki. To increase the odds of success for the follow up visit, it was decided to send back several more Japanese subjects that had been shipwrecked in Siberia. Tsar Alexander bestowed the title Chamberlain of the Court upon Rezanov, conveying the importance of the mission in general, and the ambassad orship in particular. The RAC also made Rezanov a plenipotentiary, charging him with assessing the Russian American colonies during the voyage . The relatively late addition of Rezanov proved difficult for the expedition. Petr Tikhmenev, who penned the fi rst history of the company in the 1860s, noted that the powers that were conferred upon Rezanov 10 The voyage reveals a fascinating differe nce between the social dynamics of continental versus overseas empires and the limitations of the continental limitations of the soslovie system that was solidifying in Russian society during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries . Private and public accounts of the expedition also show that it 10 Tikhmenev, A History of the Russian American Company Vol I , 72.
130 was marred by tensions between the crew, the officers, and the aristocrats of the ambassadorial mission. Indeed, the ship was a microcosm of the changing social fabric within Russia. Before departing Kronstadt, the officers sent the RAC directors a list of demands aptly Navy and the Kruzenstern 11 After learning that the voyage would include a trip to the Russian American colonies, the officers sought assurances that they would not be put under the capricious command of merchants. They requested notification of duties and duration of stay upon ar rival in Russian America. In addition, they demanded pay, room and board, promotions, and treatment of injured sailors similar to higher officers. The list concluded diplomatically by noting that, in exchange n his honor as an officer in the service in His The officers, also members of the aristocracy , feared t he influence a merchant company and its aristocratic shareholder might have over the expedition. In addition, they feared that the ambassadorial suite would steal the glory of the mission away from the Navy. What they did not count on was that members of the expedition, represented first and foremost by Rezanov, would attempt to subvert the chain of command on board the ship by claiming that the Tsar entrusted Rezanov with sole leadership on behalf of the throne and the RAC. This conflict between faction s of the aristocracy 11 Navy and the Krusenstern The Russian American Colonies , 34.
131 aboard the Nadezhda , between naval officers and non commissioned aristocrats that worked for and with merchants, reflected the unease that some members of the aristocracy felt about the blurring of social lines. C onfined on a ship for extended periods of time, conflict quickly arose that called into question the efficacy of soslovie system once they ventured beyond the Eurasian landmass. In late July 1803, the expedition set sail aboard the Nadezhda and the Neva , two ships purchased from the English. After a stop in Denmark, where the German September. Following stops there and the Canary Islands, Kruzenstern charted a course for Brazil at the end of October. Langsdorff recalled that as they crossed the equator (the first Russian naval vessels to do so), a great patriotic feeling welled up in the sailors. With much celebration, they toasted the health of the Tsar and Count Rumiantsev. 12 On De cember 20 , 1803, after weathering a storm that kept them from port, the Nadezhda and Neva dropped anchor at St. Catherine Island, Brazil. Due to required repairs for the Neva, the Russians stayed in Brazil until the early February, 1804. Kruzenstern then set out to round Cape Horn, but the Nadezhda and the Neva encountered contrary winds that prevented them from crossing into the Pacific Ocean for almost a month. On the March 24, 1804 , the ships were separated in a storm while sailing in the South Pacifi c. Burdened with concerns about reaching Petropavlovsk to unload RAC supplies and heading to Japan before the next winter set in, Kruzenstern decided to sail with all haste for Kamchatka. The Neva was spotted again as they 12 Langsdorff, Voyage s and Travels , 38.
132 approached the Marquesas Island s . After taking on additional supplies, the ships departed in mid June. A month later, the crews caught their first sight of the Siberian coastline. 13 Published Accounts of the Japanese Ambassadorial Mission There are several published and unpublished accounts of the round the world published shortly after the voyages, such as those of Georg Langsdorff and Captain Kruzenstern, agree on the key facts and moments. Langsdorff provides much more detail of the Japanese ambassadorship, as he accompanied Rezanov during most of the mission. As he reported, the Nadezhda departed Petropavlovsk on September 7 , 1804; the Neva having been sent ahe ad to inspect and resupply the Russian American colonies (arriving in time to take part in the Battle of Sitka). On October 8 , after encountering two severe storms, the Nadezhda limped to the entrance of Nagasaki Harbor. 14 13 Kruzenstern had an opportunity to observe the Polynesian natives of the Marquesas Islands . The women, he wrote, lost no opportunity to offer themselves to the crew. Kruzenstern believed that, contrary to earlier descriptions of their ungovernable lust, the women were sent out to the ship by their men in the hopes of securing various trinkets. He reported on the practice of cannibalism times of famine the men butcher their wives and childre n, and their aged parents; they Voyage Round the World in the Years 1803, 1804, 1805, & 1806, By Order of His Imperial Majesty Alexander the First, On Board the Ships Nade zhda and Neva, under the Command of Captain A.J. von Kru z enstern, of the Imperial Navy (London: C. Roworth, Bell yard, Temple bar, 1813): 181. 14 The second storm, encountered on October first, 1804, was likely a typhoon. Langsdorff described dramatically falling barometric pressure, which was quickly followed by violent wave and wind fronts. Further, the ship sailed into a reprieve for about five minutes before the winds and waves shifted directions (likely the eye of the and G lorious are Thy works, Oh Lord! cargo wa s soaked or damaged.
133 Upon arrival, the Japanese sent r epresentatives to the ship to ascertain who they were, and what they wanted. The Japanese harbor representatives were particularly interested in knowing what armaments the Nadezhda carried, and what permission they had to visit Nagasaki. Upon producing t he official permission to visit Japan, the Japanese were curious as to why it had taken so long to redeem. Rezanov immediately indicated that he was sent as plenipotentiary from the Emperor of Russia, and required an audience with the governor in order to Japan. Japanese officials in Nagasaki had the Nadezhda surrounded by smaller vessels, forbidding the Russians from further approaching the harbor until official permission from the governor was granted. Over th e next two days, Rezanov was visited by a succession of Japanese officials and translators, who often asked the same questions, with slight variations. Rezanov later learned that this was a standard practice ensuring that Japanese government officials w ould hear the same information from multiple sources, and to make sure that foreigners did not get personally acquainted with particular Japanese liaisons. When they were finally allowed into the harbor, the Russians were ordered to surrender the gunpowde r on board. handled these initial encounters well. While politely answering their questions, he steadfastly refused to turn over the official documents he brought with him until he c ould meet with the governor. He also reportedly defended the dignity of the officers, crew, behavior was exemplary by European standards; in contradistinction to the Dutch who
134 frequently kowtowed before Japanese officials in exchange for their favored trading relationship. Rezanov sought to meet with the governor not only to exchange diplomatic greetings, but also to arrange a trip to Edo to treat directly with the Japanese court. He was surprised to discover that there were actually two governors at Nagasaki, as the official in charge of the port changed every six months. Unfortunately, the Japanese indicated, the city was undergoing a transition of leadership. Thus, Reza nov encountered two governors who would not meet with him. Nevertheless, the Russian continued to invite a discussion with Japanese officials. According to Langsdorff, , North America, Kamchatka, Aleutians, and Kuriles, wishing to establish an intercourse of 15 While local ob servers gawked at the Russian flagship, the Japanese officials continued to stall for over a month. They even refused to allow the Nadezhda to move closer to land for repairs on the grounds that they had not received authorization from Edo. Unbeknownst t time, as the shogunate was going through a particularly xenophobic period. Despite this, there were still several Japanese officials that advocated r eceiving the Russian embassy. Each day th e Russians were assured that dispatches were sent to Edo, and word was expected back as any time. Yet the entire embassy was still confined to the ship. 15 Langsdorff, Voyages and Travels, 202.
135 Finally, on November 5 , Rezanov complained of his ill health. Not wishing to risk the consequences o f an ambassador falling ill, Japanese officials in Nagasaki hastily constructed a small space where the ambassador, his retinue, and the officers of the ship could come ashore for walks and rest. Surrounded by bamboo privacy walls, select members of the c rew were able to spend short periods on land. By November 24 , 1804, as winter began to set in, the governors decided that they could no longer delay Rezanov on the ship. Despite receiving no official word, the Japanese at llowing Rezanov to take up residence in a small, well guarded house outside of the city. Once Rezanov situated himself on shore, the Nadezhda was allowed to come further into the harbor for repairs. Over the next two months, the Japanese took increasing interest in the state of these repairs. But quite a stir at the court, and the delay w as likely due to ongoing debate about foreign entanglements . It was not until the spring that an emissary from the capital finally arrived. A meeting was promptly scheduled for April 4, 1805 . Rezanov again refused to bow before the emissary and governor s, insisting instead that he would greet the dignitaries as he would his own emperor. In this first brief encounter, the Japanese spelled out their displeasure over the visit by re questioning Rezanov about the twelve year delay since the last invitation Japanese emperor despite prohibitions on the practice. At a second meeting, Rezanov received a message from the emissary of the court, which Langsdorff described in some
136 detail. The Japane se government could not, it said, return the sincere offer of friendship, as they were in an inferior position politically and therefore risked subjugation to a greater power. Further, it was prohibited for Japanese subjects to leave their homeland, even to reciprocate the embassy. The gifts intended for the Japanese Emperor were therefore rejected. The Emperor (represented by the shogunate) requested that the Russians take several gifts in compensation for their delay, and indicated that any further cor respondence with the Japanese government should be conveyed only through the Dutch. After this final rebuff, the Russians made ready to depart on April 16 , 1805. Bitter and disappointed over his treatment, Rezanov stewed as the Nadezhda sailed back to Kam Ainu inhabitants of the northern Japanese Islands, learning among other things that there were Japanese inhabitants in the Kurile Islands and on Sakhalin Island. After briefly visiting were there, the Russians headed to Petropavlovsk. Rezanov expressed a desire to then immediately depart from the expedition and visit the Russian American colonies. Soslovie at Sea Kruzenst the world voyage, first published in German and members of the crew. As Germanist Victoria Joan Moessner has noted, published memoirs such as
137 had to pass through official government censors. 16 Despite taking the high road in his narrative (by choice or by censor), Kruzenstern hinted at a rift in his memoirs, published after Rez space on the ship, which had been reserved for scientific gear, would have to be used for the ambassadorial mission and supplies for the Russian American colonies. In England, Kr excursion to London. 17 While en route to the Pacific, Kruzenstern noted that he was unable to evenly divide watches on board due to several individuals on board, presumably the ambassado rial staff, being unable to do the work required. incidents occurred on board the ships. In a letter written from Brazil to the Assistant Minister of the Navy, Rezanov requested 18 According to the Chamberlain, the voyage was in disarray even before it left. While he gave no particular testimony in the letter, it is clear that disagreements between the court officials and the officers and crew were the result in the future in the realization that without respect for rank nothing can be The memoirs cartographer aboard the Kruzenstern 16 Hermann Ludwig von Lowenstern, The First Russian Voyage Around the World: The Journal of Hermann Ludwig von Lowenstern (Fairbanks: University of Alaska Press, 2003): x. 17 Kruzenstern, Voyage Ro und the World , 37. 18 f the Navy, from Brazil, May 17, 1804 A History of the Russian American Company Vol II , 144.
138 after World War II. Victo ria Moessner, who translated them in 2003 from earlier transcriptions, has argued his thoughts and opinions about Rezanov deserve special attention, and should change historical perceptions of the Chamberlain. 19 Lowenstern reported on the almost daily problems that Rezanov caused for the crew of the Nadezhda. Shortly after their departure from Tenerife, the Chamberlain began to quarrel with Kruzenstern about command of the expedition, often telling Kruzenstern that the captain was in charge of nothing challenge to his authority. On December 8 , 1803, while on the way to Brazil, Lowenstern noted a particularly telling exchange between Rezanov and several members of the crew. The he further we are from Europe, the more our proper respect same entry, Lowenstern felt it important into three grou ps: 1. The intriguers Resanoff, Ratmanoff, Fosse, the painter Kurlandzoff, and Friderici against his will, 2. The workers: Kruzenstern, Horner, Bellinghausen, Espenberg, and my own little self and Romberg, 3. The phlegmatics Count Tolstoi, Golovatscheff, B rinkin, Tilesius, and Langsdorff. The ones of no consequence are 19 Moessner argue s did not harbor any particular bias agains t the Russians. Moessner summarized the roud service of many of them in the Russian Navy. But despite her possible motivation for Lowens towards Rezanov. Ne of Rezanov, is not inconsistent with the general p i cture other sources paint.
139 20 It is evident from these passages that social order, essential on long excursions by sea, was quickly breaking down. Neither the Russian class system, nor naval command structure suited the crew and expedition members. Perhaps sensing this, Lowenstern wrote a defense of Kruzenstern, Lowenstern argued, the w hole Japanese expedition would not have been the ship as the crew would side with Kruz enstern. Like Rezanov, Lowenstern also observed the power struggle between Rezanov and Kruzenstern in relation to their proximity to land. In Tenerife, Rezanov made up su spected Rezanov of duplicity, claiming fault in public, and then writing complaints to the Emperor. In Brazil, Rezanov wrote to Kruzenstern over their conflict to force a response. Lowenstern suspected the Chamberlain was baiting the captain into writing something that Rezanov could send to St. Petersburg. In the same entry, he noted that Rezanov boasted about how things would change once they reached Japan. There, w ill have to carry out and whi The crew, however, allegedly advantage or ser 20 Lowenstern, The First Russian Voyage Around the World , 37.
140 At sea, according to Lowenstern, Rezanov acted out as the distance from land pat tern of intrigues at sea and attempts at rapprochement on land continued into July 1804, when the expedition first reached Kamchatka. There, Rezanov again attempted to mend fences. But this time, according to Lowenstern, the officers on board made severa he is at fault and report our having made peace with one another, 2. That Resanoff names the tattletales, 3. That since he has threatened us with Japan, he clarify our relat ionship with him as ambassador before our departure, 4. Since Resanoff maintains that the duty of the captain is only to look after the sails, we demand a clarification of his instructions. In addition, he has to show us all the papers that he might have i n petto [be Arriving at Petropavlovsk on July 13, 1804 , the crew of the expedition unloaded the supplies intended for Russian America. Rezanov then replaced three members of the ambassadorial mission, including the dismissal of the infa mous Count Fyodor Ivanovich Tolstoy for the trouble he caused during the voyage. 21 It is unknown if these letter to the emperor updating him on the progress of the mission . He apologized for his ambitions and jealousy combined with youthful exuberance to create many of the 21 ter this voyage are the fodder of historians and fictional writers alike. A cousin of Leo Tolstoy, Fyodor had a mischievous reputation. He was allegedly involved in a number of duels narrowly avoiding one with Pushkin over some slanderous rumors Tolstoy spread about the poet.
141 problems the ambassadorial mission encountered on board. Reza nov begged the emperor to pardon the Count for the actions that led to discord among the crew. 22 Thus, it seemed that the difficulties Rezanov faced with the officers of the ships were resolved as the Nadezhda departed for Japan. to St. Petersburg after the Japanese embassy reveals his perspective on the events that occurred up to that point. Heavily tainted by the Alexander I detailed the feud bet ween Rezanov and the officers of the expedition. Rezanov described the daily harassment that he purportedly endured on board the Nadezhda . 23 With a genuflecting tone, Rezanov implored the Tsar to believe that he had only the best interests of Russia at he art. Despite the great obstacles the Russian officers overcame in carrying out the voyage, they treated Rezanov, the designated malice and envy led to further injustices . After leaving Brazil, Rezanov noted that the officers stopped telling him about the itinerary, making him the victim of their jokes and ridicule. There is no doubt that the officers had a low opinion of him. Lowenstern wrote that Rezanov was known in St. who was popular at the time. 24 Rezanov further wrote that some officers tried to kill him in his cabin, and may have dly 22 Tikhmenev, A History of the Russian American Company Vol II , 148. 23 r I Concerning Insubordination D urin g His Expedition, and the Present Condition of Affairs in The Russian American Colonies , 95. 24 Lowenstern, The First Russian Voyage Around the World , 37.
142 confronted Kruzenstern about this behavior, the Captain scoffed at the accusations. A ning threatened to put Rezanov on trial with Lisiansky serving as a second judge. According to Rezanov, Kruzenstern demanded that the Chamberlain turn over all ukazes iss ued by the emperor. When Rezanov produced them, he allegedly refused to believe their authenticity. The officers, including Lisiansky, sided with Kruzenstern with Rezanov ma y have exaggerated some of the details in his letter, there is no question that the structure of authority grew increasingly strained as the ship sailed further from St. Petersburg. As we have seen, Rezanov incurred the dislike of a number of officers on board. According to Owen Matthews, a journalist and historian who wrote a the voyage furiously bickering, scheming, and denouncing his colleagues, and his shipmates return ed the favor by devoting pages of their diaries to castigating him. They 25 U pon his return to Petropavlovsk after the expedition to Japan, Re zanov r eportedly requested that the G overnor hold an investigation of the whole affair. 26 Kruzenstern was then forced to make amends and issued a formal apology for actions taken against Rezanov . Th ese events likely occurred, since they were on land, in a city 25 Matthews, Glorious Misadventures , 2. 26
143 und er the jurisdiction of a G reputation, and his rank in the Navy, was threatened by even the possibility of an investigation of mistreating a member of the court. It is not surprising that thi s version of publicly silent on the mistreatment Rezanov endured, despite exchanging private letters Nadezhda . 27 What i s clear is that the government did not want the difficulties to go public. Memoirs were heavily censored, and participants were all awarded medals for the expedition. After all, S cene 2 Rezanov in Russian America Wherein we follow Count Nikolai Rezanov on his Voyages to Russian America and Spanish America While making preparations for the journey to Russian America, Rezanov hired Langsdorff as his personal physician. He assured the German that he would have considerable opportunities to conduct scientific research and collect specimens of natural history a long the American Pacific coastline. In addition, Rezanov reunited with Gavril Davydov and Nikolai Khvostov; who traveled overland to Petropavlovsk on their second expedition to Russian America. Frustrated by his treatment in Japan , and seething from his treatment at sea, Rezanov began formulating his plans to boos t the success of the Company. His letters to the Company, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and the Tsar during his Russian . Despite 27 This story of Kr Rezanov expressed grief that he had neither asked the General Major to intervene earlier nor abandoned the expedition all together.
144 Russian America, Rezanov attempted to pivot Russian interest towards the colonies, oring 28 But first he had to contend with the shortcomings that he witnessed first hand upon arriving at Kodiak. Chief among these were disciplinary problems with naval officers in the colonies. As we will see in act five, Rezanov even had difficul ties with his own appointees Khvostov and Davydov. In a letter to the Directors of the RAC, Rezanov indicated that many low had a ruinous impact on the financial operations of t navy officers, or to the remoteness of this country, in which everything seems to be allowed, the company will suffer losses with them and our Country is liable to lose the 29 The root of the problem, according to Rezanov, was that the officers had absolutely no respect for the merchants that were in charge of company affairs. To Rezanov wrote The Chamberlain believed that this feeling He continued, even if there is a manager who has a rank well merited, they cannot forget that formerly he was a merchant, which to many of them [naval officers] 28 A History of the Russian American Company Vol II , 182. 29 American Company, from New A History of the Russian American Company Vol II , 1 63 164.
145 means that he is of no account They are unable to appreciate the services performed for the benefit of the Fatherland. The moment a whim ot want to be in the service have no slaves in our service and everybody can leave it if he wants to, so long as he is employed he has to obey orders, otherwise notwithstanding all the freedom he must an 30 He was frustrated by these experiences, intimated that it would be preferable to hire foreign naval officers to staff the merchant marine, in the hopes that they would be more bound to follow Company directives. Another proble m that Rezanov noted was the haphazard nature of Russian colonization. Initially, he believed that the issue was a shortage of Russian settlers. Despite his observation of the colonies becoming a drunken republic, and the fact that the few Russians that came to the colonies were often a poor example for the natives, Rezanov requested 1000 2000 Russians who were condemned to exile to be sent to the colonies annually. Skilled workers accused of public drunkenness would be particularly useful to help with t he infrastructure, according to the Chamberlain. He felt confident that it would be easy to find landholders in Russia that had such men in their households and that 25 50 rubles per year for their services would persuade the gentry to part with them. Finally, the colonies needed more skilled merchants and he suggested that those convicted of bankruptcy or fraud might be useful. In the hopes of off setting the crippling debt promyshlenniki often incurred while in the colonies and to offset harmful ove rhunting, Rezanov encouraged the RAC to change to a salary system for the Russians in the colonies instead of granting shares on 30 History of the Russian American Company Vol II , 163 164.
146 the furs they brought in. He also attempted to institute a court for resolving judicial matters, which Tikhmenev referred to a Rezanov wanted clergy to train in the native languages to accelerate the conversion of natives along the Alaskan coastline. 31 A student of the Enlightenment, Rezanov also identified the lack of education among the native, Russian, and Creole populations as an issue requiring immediate redress. While in Kodiak, he encouraged the colony to establish schools for the young native girls and boys. Through instructing the girls in homemaking, and the boys in ac tivities vital to the company, he hoped to improve morality throughout Russian America. He encouraged 60 70 Russian and Alutiiq boys to be instructed in reading, writing, keeping accounts, geography, mathematics, and French for future Company employment o n the seas and in the counting houses. Tikhmenev indicated that the Chamberlain also wanted 10 pupils sent in rotation to Russia for education in mathematics and science. He even donated some of the books he brought with him to start a library. In this work, Rezanov hoped that, built European town." 32 The Chamberlain was also interested in improving communication between the colonies, and improving contact with the Russian mainland. When he arrived at Kodiak with Langsdorff, the German American Company are already so widely extended, and so far removed one from another, that in the present state of their navigation it is very difficult to keep up any gene ral communication among them; and the want of ships and sailors must be doubly felt, if a 31 Tikhmenev, A History of the Russian American Company Vol I , 93. 32 Langsdorff, Voyages and Travels , 369.
147 33 The lack of communication, perpetuated by a dearth of ships, also left the Russian American colonies vulnerable to frequent attacks by the Tlingit, particularly around Yakutat Bay. In attempting to fix the problems in the colonies, Rezanov also made a number of suggestions reprehensible to modern readers . He wrote that native women would have t o be shipped between the colonies to make the settlements sustainable . This , despite voicing objections to Russians marrying and abandoning native women. The Chamberlain was startlingly comfortable with the idea of Russians reigning over, and in some cas es transplanting, future Japanese and Chinese populations in addition to the Unanga s , Alutiit, and Tlingit along the Russian American coastline. In a letter to the Board of Directors, Rezanov indicated that his plans included raids against the Japanese wh o settled on the Russian claimed Kurile Islands and at Aniwa Bay on Sakhalin Island. He noted that these raids might put some Japanese subjects under Russian suzerainty. 34 In planning future colonization, Rezanov hoped to move to more arable lands in Cali fornia. He argued that, "[b]y kind treatment of the many savages we could develop our own agriculture and cattle raising in the proposed southern colonies and once our trade with Canton was fully organized; we could settle Chinese laborers there." 35 33 Langsdorff, Voyages and Travels , 457. 34 of all that they be left free to practice their religion and would even assist them in persuade the population there of Russian friendly intentions while he informed the emperor of his plans. 35 Tikhmenev, History of the Russian American Company Vol II , 21 2.
148 Rezano v saw California as the stepping stone to his future plans for Russian market to dire ct Russian trade at all costs to make commercial activity in the Pacific colonies should not return to Europe, so as to bolster the strength of the RAC fleet. From a position of strength, Rezanov hoped to either force the Bostonians to trade with the Russians exclusively, or to drive them from Russian waters all together. But, with up to twenty American ships arriving per year, most bringing some supplies to trade with the Russians, it was crucial to obtain an independent source of provisions. For this, Rezanov recommended that the Tsar contact the Spanish in the hopes of reaching a deal for supplies from Spanish possessions in the Philippines and Chile. 36 He had reason to be concerned about the future of expansion along the Pacific Northwest coast. In addition to the Spanish, who staked nebulous claims to lands north of San Francisco, Americans that arrived annually from Boston were also exploring the region for potential colonization. Herbert Bancroft noted that the Jonathan Winship told 37 This expedition, led by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, threatened to establish claim to part of the coastline as a result 36 Tikhmenev, A History of the Russian American Company Vol II , 150. 37 Hubert Howe Bancroft, The Works of Hubert Howe Bancroft: Volume X XVII History of the Northwest C oast (San Fran cisco: The History Company, Publishers, 1886), 321.
149 of the Louisiana Purchase. 38 Indeed, in June 1810, the Winship family attempted to establish a trading outpost on the mouth of the Columbia River. 39 While both the Lewis and Astoria in 1811. President Jefferson, fearing that the British would supplant American influ ence in the burgeoning attempt at a colony. 40 T he latter half of 1805 was a turning point in the history of Russia American colonies. Shortly after taking Sitka Island, Baranov planned to permanently transfer the seat of RAC operations from Kodiak , while Rezanov showed up at the same time with significant operational powers. Plans and decisions could now be quickly made and implemented. But initially, business took a backseat to festivities on behalf of of the Juno . Langsdorff recalled in his memoirs that the negotiations proceeding directly between DeWolf, Baranov, and Rezanov. With the purchase, Langsdorff observed, 38 As Donald Jackson and James Ronda pointed out, Jefferson became interested in (1802). It is at this point, they argue, that Jefferson began to focus upon the Columbia Empire." Montana: The Magazine of W estern History 36.3 (Summer 1986): 32 and Donald Jackson, Thomas Jefferson and the Stony Mountains (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1981), 121. 39 Busch and Gough, Fur Traders , 26. 40 35; and Thomas Jefferson to John Jacob Astor, April 13, 1808 in The Thomas Jefferson Papers Series 1. General Correspondence, 1651 1827 . http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.mss/mtj.mtjbib015696.
150 the Company obtained an excellent swift sailing vessel, with a rich lading of objects of great importance for trading with natives on the north west coast of Am erica, consisting of a great quantity of linen and woolen cloth, of kitchen utensils, knives, axes, hatchets, some fire arms, &tc. &tc. But above all, a large supply of excellent provisions was obtained, by which all apprehensions of the menaced famine wer e removed. In fact, it was principally for the sake of this supply that the purchase was made. 41 Rezanov was more direct about the necessity of the purchase. In a letter to the Board of Directors, dated February 15 , 1806, he noted that buying the Juno was Juno counting Russians and Americans, would be famine victims here. You will agree with me now that all our so 42 Further, he expected that the Juno would prove a profitable purchase within two to three voyages, having the ability to transport enough supplies to keep Sitka stocked for years. Beyond the gloomy and impending winter, Rezanov saw the purchase as a means for altering the habits of American merchants. As we have seen, the sale of weapons to the Tlingit and other indigenous populations that surrounded Sitka was be hard for you to understand my resoluteness, but I do not intend to sleep while I am here. Immediately after my arrival, I asked the Bostonians to show me their ships' papers. They brought them to me and I made them understand politely that our Sovereign is interested in t his country and that soon they will be stopped from trading with the natives." 43 The cannons and guns would bolster this policy while 41 Langsdorff, Voyages and Tr avels , 377. 42 A History of the Russian American Company Vol II , 174. 43 A History of the Russian American Company Vol II , 158.
151 reinforcing Sitka, which was still vulnerable to a Tlingit counterattack. The Juno was, in his estimation, a "good new ship with good sailing qualities, built of oak, sheathed with copper, purchased with all rigging, sails and armament. The ship can hold fourteen The Juno was abl e to sail between colonies for supplies, even late in the year. Langsdorff recalled that such voyages were particularly risky for other RAC ships even the better built Alexander and the Maria officers wi th the Juno was an admirable testimony to the wisdom shewn by the Governor and Plenipotentiary in the purchase of that vessel; for notwithstanding the supply of stores obtained by the bargain, the settlement would have experienced a considerable degree of scarcity without the assistance procured by the Juno's voyage to Kodiak." The purchase of the Juno In the short term, he pla nned a trip to California in search of a more permanent source Avos to sail to Aleksandr Island [Urup, in the Kuril Islands]... From there I will dispatch the Avos Before h is trip to Spanish California, Rezanov planned to Manila and from there to Batavia and Bengal, to make the first experiment in trade Rezanov was nothing if not imaginative. While he often had to read just his plans precarious position, he (like Baranov) also pushed relentlessly for greater access to fore ign markets to exchange furs. Despite discovering that the American colo nies were
152 little more than a drunken republic ill prepared to house even its current employees, sorely in need of organization, and often at the mercy of foreign merchants Rezanov began to imagine Russian colonies in Hawaii, along the Columbia River, a nd even one north of San Francisco. From a position of strength, he would then seek to open Japanese, Chinese, Spanish, and Indian markets to Russian goods in a bid for supremacy in the North Pacific. But the winter of 1805 1806 was tough for the residen ts of Sitka. The supplies obtained with the purchase of the Juno (and her subsequent expedition to Kodiak) were not enough to feed the extra mouths that took up residence in the newly built fort of New Archangel. Residents began to succumb to starvation and disease. Rezanov decided to take the Juno to the small Spanish settlement of San Francisco in February 1806 to open relations and obtain much needed food. Russian contact with the Spanish in the istence upon the isolation of its colonies struggles north of the fifty fifth parallel kept him from opening dialog with his Spanish neighbors to the south . While Khvostov and Davydov could have managed the voyage themselves, Re zanov went to act as an ambassador of both Russia and the RAC. He possessed letters of introduction from the Russian court, given to him for the round the world expedition . He hoped this would serve him well in interactions with the Spanish Governor. Rez anov believed that even modest trade with the Spanish American possessions would alleviate burdens in Okhotsk and Petropavlovsk, and may have even spurred industry in Siberia. 44 44 T ikhmenev, A History of the Russian American Company Vol II , 211.
153 The month long journey from Sitka to San Francisco was fraught with problems. It took 30 able bodied men to crew the Juno under normal conditions . But Khvostov and Davydov requested only 20 of the healthiest men of the Sitka colony. They were concerned that taking any more would risk scurvy spreading during the voyage. Baranov assigned 33 men to the vessel. Langsdorff recalled that of these men, only 18 were in an y condition to sail the ship. In March 1806, the crew made an unsuccessful attempt to explore the mouth of the Columbia River , where they n arrowly missed meeting the Lewis and Clark expedition. As illness had spread among the crew, the officers and Rezanov decided to abandon exploration efforts and sail the Juno directly to San Francisco. They arrived in San Francisco on March 24, 1806 . Written accounts of the expedi tion from Langsdorff, Rezanov, and Khvostov agree that, because of the ill health of the crew, it was decided to run the ship into the harbor without stopping, despite warnings from outer Spanish fortifications. Langsdorff wrote that he went ashore with D avydov to act as an intermediary with Spanish religious, government, and military officials. At this initial meeting, according to the German, they interacted predominantly in Latin with the Catholic friars. 45 In a letter written shortly before his death, Rezanov recalled that the Spanish Governor, Don Jose Joaquin de Arrilaga, was some distance away in Monterey. With letters of introduction in hand, Chamberlain Rezanov introduced himself instead to Don Luis de Arguello, the Commandant at San Francisco. 45 Biographies of Rezanov indicate that he spoke Spanish, so it is unclear why it was necessary to send Davydov and Langsdorff ashore, unless they were asked to make a formal introduction for the Chamberlain.
154 A dispatch informing the Governor of the arrival was immediately sent to Monterey. every day in the home of the hospitable Arguello family and soon became well 46 Ther e he met Dona Concepcion (Conchita) de Arguello, the may well understand when I say that we were well compensated for all our [previous] suffering and had a most enjoyable time. I hope you will forgive me gracious Sir, if I include a little romance in such a serious letter. Perhaps I should be more reserved ." The love story of Nikolai Rezanov and Conchita Arguello Voyages and Travels in Various Parts of the World, During the Years 1803 1807 in 1814. up unmarried daughters, Donna Conception interested us more particularly. She was lively and animated, had sparkling love inspiring eyes, beautiful teeth, pleasing and expressive features, a fine form, and a thousand other charms, yet her manners were 47 Before the arrival of Governor Don Arrilaga, Count Rezanov courted Concepcion in the Arguello household . The greatest difficulty philosophic head like the Chamberlain's, this was by no means an insurmountable one." 46 Tikhmenev, A History of the Russian American Company Vol II , 203. 47 Langsdorff, Voyages and Travels , 430.
155 Rezanov would travel to St. Petersburg and Madrid to get official permission for the marriage, and then return to San Francisco to claim his bride. But there is considerable evidence that their relationship was not just romantic. In fact, Lydia Black depicted the entire affair as one of political intrigue part. 48 But contemporary accounts point to the relationship having both romantic and non romantic components. Concepcion was apparently an ambitious participant in the ess flung periphery of the Spanish Empire, Conchita was intrigued by opportunities Rezanov offered to live in the modern European court of St. Petersburg. 49 and at last, imperceptibly, I engendered in her an impatience to hear something more serious from me, so I proposed marriage to her and received her consent to my proposal." While it is unclear w hat degree of hostility Rezanov and Conchita faced from Spanish secular and ecclesiastic officials, the Chamberlain boasted in a letter to Count the port of His Cathol ic Majesty to the benefit of my own interests." 48 Black, Russians in Alaska , 176. Black cites a l etter Rezanov wrote to Mikhail heartedness. In the letter, he wrote that his brother in was at one time the largest holder of RAC shares as a result. 49 "As I daily courted the Spanish beauty [Concepcion], I noted her enterprising natu re and boundless ambition, which in spite of her age of fifteen years had already made her the one member of her family who was not satisfied with her homeland. Always in a grain A History of the Russian American Company Vol II , 210.
156 Upon the Governor's arrival, a friar was sent to invite Rezanov to dinner. The Chamberlain recalled being slightly dismayed by receiving the invitation from a missionary rather than a garrison officer, to wh ich the missionary simply replied, "Are holy fathers beneath officers? We live in America, and here we acknowledge no [protocol] but sincerity." Along the way to dinner, Rezanov learned from the friar that the Governor was expecting word at any time that Russia and Spain were at war due to of the Russians and the motivations for their visit, Rezanov set about allaying Don Governor in French about the affairs in Europe. Arrilaga laid out the case against cooperation due to impending conflict; while Rezanov continued to assure the Governor that the Russians in America were incapable of hostility. Further, Rezanov reasoned, the information the Governor had regarding Russian threats of hostility against the French or their allies was 5 Â½ months old. Rather than respond to rhetoric of hostility, the Chamberlain argued that hat by the time we hear of war it is possible peace has already been concluded." 50 Francisco knew something of the plight the Russians faced from American merchants who would occasio nally update the Spanish during unofficial visits. The conversation then shifted to a definite point of agreement between the Russians and Spanish concern over Yankee merchants along the Pacific Northwest coast. The governor of the Bostonians has awakened us. This year the authorities 50 Tikhmenev, A History of the Russian American Company Vol II , 206.
157 have promised to send me a naval frigate to put a stop to the vessels of the American states which are constantly smuggling along ou r coast and carrying on elicit trade... They try in every possi ble way to settle here among us permanently." 51 The Governor was critical of American commercial policy, noting that he believed, [T]he Bostonians will profit by the breach in friendly relations with us [Russia and Spain], since upon declaration of war wi th England they renewed their former requests for opening trade with our American possessions. Our government refused them, but after the United States minister left Madrid to show his displeasure, our court in this critical situation was forced to send a satisfactory answer after them, by which four ports were opened to them, namely Buenos Aires, Vera Cruz, the enterprise of the citizens of this republic, I am not surprised at their succe ss. They flourish in the pursuit of trade, being fully aware of its possibilities. 52 Rezanov sympathized, replying that [T]he Bostonians have harmed us more than they do you. They put people ashore in your territory, but they abduct them from ours. In addi tion to carrying on trade in our waters, this scoundrel of whom you are speaking (O'Cain) seized a departing hunting group of our American natives from Kodiak, 40 men and their families. The next year, Captain Barber, the same kind of knave, returned 26 of them to Kodiak, saying he had paid ransom for them in Queen Charlotte Islands and that he would not hand them over to us unless we paid him 10,000 rubles. We had to do this out of humanity, but we still do not know what O'Cain did with the others. The Spa nish were thus particularly concerned by the arrival of American vessels that hunt ed furs with Pacific Northwest natives. Rezanov feigned to not know the particulars of this trade, even though he was fully aware of the deals Baranov made with American cap He closed his discussion with the Governor by noting that, "it is not love of gain, but merely a desire to benefit your countrymen, that makes it your duty to [trade with the 51 Tikhmenev, A History of the Russian American Company Vol II , 217 218. 52 Tikhmenev, A History of the Russian American Company Vol II , 215.
158 Russians ]. Here you are in a better position to see the needs of the country than the people in Madrid and truly I see no sin in it, especially, I said with a smile, when all the ecclesiastics will bend the knee in prayers for you." At the edge of their respectiv e empires, Rezanov sought to alter Spanish and Russian policies to suit his designs for Russian hegemony in the North Pacific, whether or not the Tsar shared those designs. The day after his dinner with Don Arrilaga, Rezanov returned to the Arguello house Conchita and her brother. The treaty Rezanov desperately sought for supplying the American colonies was unlikely due to the war rumors and the long standing prohibition of the Spanish Court, consistently reinforced by provincial authorities in Mexico. The Governor and Commandant did, however, agree to allow repairs to the Juno , and to supply her with sufficient grain and provisions to bring back to the colonies in exchange for the good s brought aboard the Juno . Despite this setback, Rezanov still held out hope that his betrothal to Concepcion would alter the situation when he visited Madrid to seek permission to marry her. Rezanov believed his betrothal would benefit the Russi an colonies with Spanish trade. But he also saw opportunities should diplomacy fail. He encouraged the Russian Court to consider setting up a colony north of San Francisco, a proposal that was already being considered by Baranov. Having seen that the Sp anish were able to control vast swaths of western America with little military expenditure, Rezanov argued agriculture and cattle raising in the proposed southern colonies. On May 10 , 1806, the Juno set sail from San Francisco, loaded with as many provisions as the Governor
159 could provide without disturbing his superiors in Mexico. With only vague hopes of pressing his plans through to completion, Rezanov nevertheless set his sights squarely on strengthening the colonies, establishing direct trade with both Canton and Spanish California, and expanding the Russian empire to the mouth of the Columbia River upon his return to Sitka. Instead, in June 1806, Rezanov received new s that threw cold water upon his plans. Ten men at the Sitka colony had died from malnutrition. In addition, the Elizaveta sank while attempting a trip between Sitka and Kodiak. Worse still, he learned that Tlingit natives razed the Yakutat Bay colony; its inhabitants massacred. their fortress with the intention of storming the Russian settlement, and murdering all the the arrival of the Juno forestalled such plans. And yet, despite all of this, Rezanov merely modified his plans. He urged continued exploration of the Columbia River, which Baranov conducted. His vision was on Russian settlements made it clear that the colonies were not ready to set up a triangle between European Russia, the colonies, and Canton. Rezanov therefore pleaded for ships to be sent to the Pacific Northw est for permanent deployment, rather than circumnavigation. In the short term, he wanted the RAC to focus on trade between the c olonies, Canton, and Siberia. World trade, he wrote, could only be attempted after establishing a hegemonic position , or the Ru factitious glitter and no profits."
160 counterbalanced in his letters by an overriding desire for revenge against the Japanese. Rezanov ne ver forgot how he was treated during his ambassadorial mission. His plan to attack the Japanese seemed to grow in proportion to his setbacks in Russian America. Meeting Khvostov and Davydov in Petropavlovsk in 1805 and the purchase of the Juno provided h im with the means to enact this plan. In a letter to the E mperor written just after his arrival in the New World, Rezanov argued that an attack on the believe that Your Impe rial Majesty will consider it an offense if I, with the able assistance of Messrs. Khvostov and Davydov, build ships and sail next year to the Japanese coasts to destroy their settlements on Matmai Island (in the Kurile Island chain), to push them from Sak halin, and to ravage their coasts. By cutting off their supply of fish and depriving about 200,000 people of their food, we will force them to 53 While Rezanov waited for the completion of the Avos to launch his planned attack, he bade farewell to John DeWolf and Georg Langsdorff, who set off on their journey across Siberia less than a month after the California expedition. I n July 1806, the finishing touches were put on the Avos . Rezanov immediately prepared to leave Sitka with her and the Juno . He initially planned to oversee the Japanese expedition himself, but in August 1806 Rezanov ordered Khvostov to carry him to Petropavlovsk instead. Perhaps he feared that he was overreaching with his unauthor ized raid against the Japanese. He might have also been eager to set out for St. Petersburg in order to 53 Tikhmenev, A History of the Russian American Company Vol II , 150.
161 enact his plan to marry Conchita de Arguello. What is clear, as we will see, is that he left Khvostov and Davydov with conflicting and confusing order s regarding the Japanese attack after disembarking in Siberia. he set out for St. Petersburg. His far reaching naval, diplomatic, and commercial vision would have been unthinkable by other aristocrats in the capital c ontinental frontiers, at the opposite end of the world, Rezanov moved unpredictably between representations of himself as a diplomat of the Court, a merchant intent upon advancing the interests of his company, and an aristocrat with easily offended sensibi lities. His activities and presence in Russian America represented a transition between unregulated merchant activity (often the vanguard of continental and overseas expansion) and growing state interest in overseeing the Russian American territories and t he markets that Russian merchants opened. Initial expansion of the colonies under Baranov met with RAC and government approval. Indeed, this growth outpaced the ability and/or desire of Russia to extend s to lands north of 55 degrees along the Pacific Northwest coast, Baranov had to manage political, economic, and social relations in a near vacuum. But Rezanov arrived in the colonies with plans that far exceeded the imaginings of Baranov, the RAC, or the imperial government. Fed on in law, Grigory Shelikov, Rezanov planned to realign foreign policy in the area, making Russia and the RAC the masters of the North Pacific. And the Juno was to play a pivotal role. She was the tool Rezanov needed to alter commerce, diplomacy, and even military activity in the region.
162 Many have recounted the tragedy of the love between Rezanov and Conchita Arguello. It is the fodder of nineteent h and twentieth century poetry and historical fiction in Russia and America. In March 1807, while Rezanov was making his way to the capital, he became ill, and died after falling from his horse near Krasnoyarsk. The Ambassador to Japan, plenipotentiary a nd part owner of the RAC, and Chamberlain to the Court of Alexander I died without fulfilling any of his plans. But his life earned legendary status because of his ill fated betrothal to Concepcion de Arguello. In May 1872, the American writer Bret Harte published a poem entitled Concepcion de Arguello . 54 oeuvre focused on the history of California. His poem followed the fate of the Conchita as she waited for Rezanov to return: So each year the seasons shifted, wet and warm and drear and dry; Half a year of clouds and flowers, half a year of dust and sky. Still it brought no ship nor message, brought no tidings, ill or meet, For the statesman like Commander, for the daughter fair and sweet. Yet she heard the varying m essage, voiceless to all ears beside: "He will come," the flowers whispered; "Come no more," the dry hills sighed. Still she found him with the waters lifted by the morning breeze, Still she lost him with the folding of the great white tented seas; Until hollows chased the dimples from her cheeks of olive brown, And at times a swift, shy moisture dragged the long sweet lashes 54 Bret Harte, Concepcion de Arguello (Presidio de San Francis co) , Atlantic Monthly, 29 (May 1872): 603 605.
163 down; Or the small mouth curved and quivered as for some denied caress, And the fair young brow was knitted in an infantine distre ss. Conchita never married. In 1851, she took the veil, joining the Dominican order. Stories of her tragically waiting forty five years for her love to return have torn at the heartstrings of readers ever since. Harte closed his poem with a dinner party , hosted in honor of a visitor to Spanish California, Sir George Simpson. Far and near the people gathered to the costly banquet set, And exchanged congratulations with the English baronet; Till, the formal speeches ended, and amidst the laugh and wine, Some one spoke of Concha's lover, heedless of the warning sign. Quickly then cried Sir George Simpson, "Speak no ill of him, I pray, He is dead. He died, poor fellow, forty years ago this day. "Died while speeding home to Russia, falling from a fractious horse. Left a sweetheart, too, they tell me. Married, I suppose, of course! "Lives she yet?" A deathlike silence fell on banquet, guests, and hall, And a trembling figure rising fixed the awestruck gaze of all. Two black eyes in darkened orbits gleamed beneath the nun's white hood; Black serge hid the wasted figure, bowed and stricken where it stood. "Lives she yet?" Sir George repeated. All were hushed as Concha drew
164 Closer yet her nun's attire. "Se Ã± or, pardon, she died too!" Every biography of Rezanov includes a reference to the tragedy of their love. In 1970, Soviet poet Andrei Voznesensky published Avos , a poem that immortalized the tale in Russia. 55 Sheriff of Monterey 56 Historians have pointed out that Baranov, in fact, sent a letter to Spanish California in 1808, informing the authorit 57 But recently, Owen Matthews has forty four years later might have been connected. He points out that Conchita may have shrugged off initial r 58 55 Andrei Voznesensky, Story Under Full Sail (New York: Doubleday and Company, 1974). Translated to English as Story Under Full Sail Avos is a curious long form poem with stanzas in senti mentalist style, interweaving dialogue, exposition, and occasional quotes from historical documents. Voznesensky recalled that he wrote it while traveling Expansion by Florida State University professor Ge orge Alexander Lensen, who was a preeminent historian of Russian Asian diplomatic relations. 56 the actual rtedly ransacked by Bolsheviks in the 1920s, then moved during the 1950s, when the Soviet government took an interest in preserving historic monuments. Its history was traced in intricate detail by Olga Arzhanykh on a website dedicated to the history of K rasnoyarsk. See http://rezanov.krasu.ru/eng/time/mystery.php 57 The Russian American Colonies , 170. 58 Matthews, Glorious Misadventures , 319. Matthews i ndicates that Conchita wrote to
165 st impact on the colonies. Many of his plans were eventually explored or enacted, including the founding of a settlement in Northern California (Fort Ross, in 1812) and a fort in Hawaii (Fort Elizaveta, in 1815). Russian diplomatic and exploratory circum navigations of the globe continued after the first one led by Kruzenstern and Rezanov. While the Russian government did not immediately send ships to the Pacific Northwest as Rezanov requested, these expeditions did tie Russian America closer to St. Peter sburg. Ilya Vinkovetsky has even suggested that such trips conceptually reoriented Russian America as a western overseas possession. 59 RAC and government officials. Lydia Black argued that th ese letters had a pernicious negative influence: encouraging the vision of Russian America as a drunken republic, filled with scoundrels who enslaved the native populations they encountered. 60 While laying blame for perceptions of Russian America solely on unfair, it is definitely true that state and company representatives became increasingly worried about the pernicious influence of Yankee merchants on their own, more modest plans for the North Pacific ssives . Denouement In Search of the Real Rezanov While previous histories of Rezanov painted him as a dashing, heroic, and tragic figure, modern historiography has fairly consistently swung the other way. As mentioned previously, Lydia Black found hi m at fault blamed him for virtually every shortcoming of the Kruzenstern expedition, the Japanese Ambassadorship, the trip to loyalty was demanded of me by a Higher power a loy 59 Policies of the Russian Over the Near Horizon , 89 97. 60 Black, Russians in Alaska , 174.
166 Spanish America, and his tenure in Russian America. In her translation of Hieromonk an America, Black accused Rezanov of stealing credit for the work done by the clergy in Russian America, including the establishment of the school at Kodiak, and an Alutiiq dictionary. inly do not paint a flattering picture of the man. During the Kruzenstern expedition, von Langsdorff and Kruzenstern certainly do not seek to correct this perception. So, ho w could a man trusted by the Tsar, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and the Board of Directors for the Russian American Company be so unstable? Writers of historical fiction attribute his dysphoria to the loss of his first wife before setting out on the e xpedition around the world. But I believe a more likely explanation lies in the social environment that Rezanov operated within during his voyages. As Rezanov departed from St. Petersburg, he was set adrift without the social system in which he was raised . On board the Nadezhda , his rank in the aristocracy had little meaning. It was only on land that others seemed to recognize his status and authority. Social conventions on board a ship did not conform to his expectations due to his standing. O rder was rigorously maintained through the chain of command, lest mutiny occur. Thus, the captain, officers, and crew on board had their own social norms that left Rezanov and the others as outsiders. To make matters worse, the officers belittled Rezanov for bei ng a merchant. While it was permissible for members of the nobility to participate in trade during the reign of Alexander I, it was an insult for members of the crew and officers to
167 treat Rezanov and his diplomatic mission as merchants , with little to no social standing. As we have seen, once Rezanov was on land, he did everything in his power to establish himself as an authority figure with varying degrees of success. But his ultimate inability to control the situation must have infur iated him. In St. Petersburg, Rezanov probably never had to endure the kinds of insults that were hurled at him daily by Russian Naval officers and crew. Then, once he arrived in Japan, he was greeted with still more insults to his honor. The Japanese r efusal to officially treat with a designated ambassador of the Russian court certainly pushed Rezanov beyond the breaking point. While official tactless, and inept, he lost his temper on more than one occasion and felt himself 61 Lowenstern reported in his memoirs that he often feigned illness, and demanded any luxury found aboard the Nadezhda for his personal use. Upon his arrival in the Russian Americ an colonies, Rezanov immediately tried to gain control of situations he encountered. Here he was invested with considerable authority. The purchase of the Juno gave him the ability to exert influence over maritime and mercantile operations. He began to focus upon reigning in Yankee access to the coastline around Sitka, and turned his attention towards opening up new markets for Russian American furs. The Juno figured prominently in these plans, as a ship of defense, commerce, and diplomacy. As we will see, it also provided him with the opportunity to extract a measure of revenge against the Japanese. Ensconced in a position of authority, Rezanov took credit for the hard work done at Kodiak to make it a 61 Black, Russians in Alaska , 171 .
168 respectable settlement. In his letters to company and government officials, Rezanov derided the work of the clergy and claimed responsibility for the educational work they had begun. Pet e r Tikhmenev, the RAC employee that wrote a history of the company in the mid nineteenth century, definitely put a posi colonies. His history was cited by Bancroft, Chevigny, and others, and contributed greatly to the image of Rezanov as a heroic figure. Tikhmenev credited Rezanov for developing the plan to change RAC employees from payment in shares of fur catches to a fixed annual income. He also wrote that Rezanov reproached the clergy, urging them to learn the native language and stay out of company affairs. 62 Khlebnikov did not help matters in his depictions of the Chamber lain, but gave a better picture of the man. In his biography of Baranov, Khlebnikov wrote in the 1830s that Rezanov came to the In a period which had been miserable for Baranov, when he had not received reinforcements on the Phoenix , when he had neither sufficient men, nor ship stores, nor goods, nor necessities; or at the time when he had just lost the Sitka settlement, when he was pressed by circumstances and threatened by new misfortunes and internal troubles; then he would have been inclined more to proposals that were arranged on a smaller scale. 63 Rezanov was thus swept up by a wave of optimism. Despite the problems that Rezanov encounter ed, there was promise for improvement; and he saw the opportunity to impose his authority in a way that was denied to him on board the Nadezhda and in Japan. Thus, he took credit for every positive, exaggerate d wildly, and shaped the 62 Tikhmenev, A History of the Russian American Colonies Vol I , 92 93. 63 Khlebnikov, Baranov , 53.
169 narrative of the Russ ian American colonies for several years. His correspondence back to Russia also had a strong influence on opening official diplomatic offices with the United States. marked a key d ifference between overland and overseas expansion. We have discussed above the shortcomings of the soslovie system on board vessels, but Rezanov also understood ships to be the means to change the fortunes of the colonies. More Russian ships in the area would discourage Yankee trade with the Tlingit. They would alleviate the growing dependence upon these same merchants for supplies. Most importantly, they would provide signi ficant diplomatic opportunities. Without the Juno , it is unlikely that the dipl omatic voyage to Spanish America would have occurred. Vessels in the colonies at the time would not have housed the Chamberlain and his retinue in Spanish America as the Juno could. The Juno was important to diplomatic activities in other ways. Khvosto v recorded in the ship log that Don Arguello and Don Arrilaga were both fÃªted aboard the ship. 64 Ships were frequently a locus of diplomacy, where deals were struck by masters or captains that affected the political economy of nations; and often in the absence of statesmen. Both naval officers and merchants frequently had a great deal of latitude while they were on the seas, to both the benefit and detriment of their countries. The trip to Spanish California paved the way for future contact between the Russians and the Spanish on the Northwest coast until the 1840s. As we will see in Act 64 Extract from the log of the ship Juno in Richard A. Pierce ed., Rezanov Reconnoiters California, 1806 (San Francisco: The Book Club of California, 1972), 52. Pierce a Siberian library that was purchased in 1906
170 Five, the potential to act independently aboard a ship like the Juno also led to disastrous circumstances. Finally, the Juno was the potential means to continue exploration of the Pacific American coastline. Lieutenant Khvostov, who commanded the vessel on behalf of Rezanov, was attentive to the geographic details of the lands north of San Francisco. 65 He observed areas rich in lumber and with adequate p orts for potential Russian colonization. When Rezanov made his plans to travel to Spanish America, Georg Langsdorff jumped at the opportunity to explore the coastline along the way and to make observations of the Spanish territories. As we will see in th e next Act, Langsdorff the colonies. Langsdorff offered a scientific critique of how the colonies expanded, and the bleak outlook they faced in light of the poor management of resources. 65 Pierce, Rezanov Reconnoiters , 52 53.
171 CHAPTER 5 ACT 4 G EORG LANGSDORFF AND THE NATURAL HISTORY OF RUSSIAN AMERICAN COLONIZATION, 1805 1807 Scene 1 Natural History and Empire Wherein we meet Ge org Langsdorff and examine his observations of the Russian American colonies Like the naturalist Carl Linnaeus, Georg Heinrich von Langsdorff was both a physician and a natural historian. Langsdorff was born in Wollstein two years before tion of Independence was signed. He received his Doctor of Medicine and Surgery from Gottingen University in 1797. 1 Langsdorff was a self described disciple of Johann Friedrich Blumenbach, a physician that taught natural science and anthropology at Gottingen University. After leaving the university, Langsdorff traveled to Portugal, studying natural history in the are a while serving as a surgeon for Portuguese and English troops during the French Revolutionary Wars. In 1801, he accompanied Portuguese forces in their fight against the Spanish during the War of the Oranges. After the Treaty of Amiens, he was able to vi sit both London and journeys put him in contact with scientists and politicians throughout Europe. While the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars were redrawing national borders in Europe, naturalists like Langsdorff scoured the continent and the globe to catalog natural diversity. There was much more at stake than mild scientific curiosity. Beginning in the eighteenth century, naturalists inspired by Linnaeus began scouting natural and mineralogical resources across the globe, adding to the scientific knowledge established motives of territorial acquisition, commercial ga in, and religious conversion 1 Langsdorff, Voyages and Travels , vii.
172 2 Naturalists became requisite members of maritime and continental expeditions of exploration, including the voyages of Bering, Cook, and Vancouver. Their observations carried sign ificant implications for the courts of Europe, and the right to occupy lands that were so discovered. They lent scientific legitimacy to such voyages; their research of natural flora and fauna was used to improve agricultural techniques and find ways to b etter exploit natural resources. 3 Natural historians also influenced how Europeans viewed indigenous populations. With little distinction between anthropology and natural history at the time, naturalists observed the peoples of distant lands within the context of their natural setting. They were often the first and the only members of expeditions to publish their conclusions in a format accessible to both the scientific community, and the literate population in general. Their early observations had pro found implications for scientific (and pseudo scientific) discovery. Observation of similarities between man and ape led Linnaeus and Blumenbach to classify humans within the context of the natural world. This paved the way for the evolutionary theories of Erasmus Darwin, and later his grandson, Charles Darwin. But viewing indigenous populations as an extension of their natural surroundings also had profound implications for colonization and conquest. Before Orientalists could fetishize Eastern culture s to exert Western intellectual hegemony, natural historians blended direct observation with assumptions about the political and moral development of the people they studied within a state of nature. Theories such as environmental 2 in Haycox, Enlightenment and Exploration , 25. 3 Fredrik Albritton Jonsson, "Rival Ecologies of Global Commerce: Adam Smith and the Natural Historians." The American Historical Review . 115.5 (Dec 2010): 1342 1343.
173 determinism, which held that the environment dictated the physical, cultural, and even moral attributes of populations, often framed assumptions made by naturalists. These assumptions, in turn, led to ideas of racial hierarchy, justifying further Western expansion during the fir st half of the nineteenth century. Langsdorff Heads to Russian America the world expedition was motivated by his passion for natural history. He heard about the proposed voyage while at Gottingen Universi Sciences to be included. Langsdorff had never been to Russia, and could not speak Russian. But as a correspondent with the Russian Academy, he was in close contact with scientific and politi cal leaders in the Russian Empire. Fellow scientists informed Langsdorff that the expedition had left Kronstadt, but was scheduled to stop near Elsinore. He thus hastened to Denmark, arriving on the August 24 , 1803. Meeting the he Sieur Rau hotel, Langsdorff reported, I entreated so earnestly of the Chamberlain Von Resanoff, who was going with the expedition in quality of Ambassador to Japan, to be received as a sharer in the voyage, that at length, as my petition was supported by the excellent Captain Von Krusenstern, the proper chief of the expedition, I had the happiness of finding it granted. To this amiable man, and scientific navigator, whose well known services are far above my praise, I must therefore be permitted here pu blicly to make my grateful acknowledgments, confessing that I am principally indebted to his friendship and support, for all the gratification I received in the travels I am about to record. 4 via London, the Canary Islands, Brazil, Easter Island, and French Polynesia described above. After their unsuccessful stay in Nagasaki, Kruzenstern directed the Nadezhda 4 Langsdorff, Voyages and Travels , viii ix.
174 towards Kamchatka. At that point, Langsdorff recalled, Rezanov wa s persuaded to personally inspect the status of the colonies that he fought so hard to organize during the reign of Tsar Paul I. Langsdorff accompanied Rezanov after meeting Khvostov and an America. made for accepting the ambassador's proposals; it seemed so much a debt due to science to undertake a journey to parts so little known, and which had received so little scientific examination, under auspices to all appearance particularly favourable, that I could 5 Langsdorff had reason to be hopeful that his efforts would bring him significant prestige. There was considerable interest in natural history among RAC shareholders rcle in St. Petersburg. Count Nikolai Petrovich Rumiantsev, the Minister of Commerce who partially financed the Kruzenstern Rezanov expedition, had an abiding interest in natural history. He experimented growing plants from around the world on his estates . State interest in the fruits of natural historical research also had direct impact upon the Russian American colonies. In an 1805 letter from Baranov to the manager of the Andreianov and Rat Islands, the Chief Manager asked the Russians there to ship, 6 5 Langsdorff, Voyages and Travels , 308. 6 Lett A History of the Russian American Company Vol II , 141.
175 o collect some specimens, and casually observed plants and animals along his way from the Western Aleutians to Northern California. But between June 1805 and September 1806, he frequently encountered problems. Shortly after arriving at Unalaska from Petr opavlovsk, Langsdorff noted that, "I had now, in several instances, had occasion to observe... that though at Kamchatka large promises were made me, both in writing and orally, as to what should be done for the promotion of scientific undertakings, no alac rity had been shewn in fulfilling these promises, so that I began almost to repent having undertaken . 7 Rezanov showed little interest in assisting Langsdorff once they arrived in Russian America. Instead, the Chamberlain occupied himself with the financial and social management of the colonies and dreams of expansion. In addition, Langsdorff suffered f rom a number of shortcomings prevalent in the islands, including, "a short and indefinite stay, almost constant rain, my ignorance of the language, and want of support in my researches in ime as he would requisite, not one of which I at this time enjoyed, leisure, serenity of mind, and convenience." 8 7 Langsdorff, Voyages and Travels , 353. 8 Langsdorff, Voyages and Travels , 368.
176 Observing the Native Population of Russian America Ne 5 , 1805, he did his best to observe both his natural and social surroundings. He noted the variety of flora that grew on the Prybilov and Aleutian Island chains. At Kodiak, he wa s surprised to learn that the climate was as temperate as Massachusetts and Rhode Island due to the area being sheltered by the mountains of the mainland. He believed n large scale planting among the Russians . 9 Berries and edible roots of various kinds grew naturally, and served as part of the diet for natives and promyshlenniki throughout the Aleutians. In addition, there was plentiful fauna upon which the natives fe d. These included fur seals, whales, foxes, seabirds, fresh and saltwater fish, and various kinds of shellfish. And yet, at many turns, Langsdorff also observed that people in the colonies were frequently starving. To find the explanation for this, Lang sdorff studied the Russians and indigenous populations , focusing on their customs and their practices to determine how the natural order could be so off kilter. The German took stock of the populations that inhabited the islands between Kamchatka and Sitk race between t h e Mongul Tartars and the North 10 Of Tlingit physiognomy, have in gen eral large fiery eyes, a small flat broad nose, and large cheekbones; indeed, in all respects, large and strongly marked features. The men have little or no beard, since, like the Aleutians, they pluck the hairs out by the roots as soon as they begin to 9 Langsdorff, Voyages and Travels , 356. 10 Langsdorff, Voyages and Travels , 332.
177 ap pear. Some of the women and girls, who live chiefly with the Russian Promuschlinks, when their skins are clean, and purified from the dirt, which they consider as ornamental, have complexions as fair as those of many Europeans, and by no means unpleasing f eatures." 11 He was particularly critical of the Tlingit women that pierced their lower lips and inserted wooden discs or buttons. For a western European, it was beauty, that the fertile imagination of man ever yet invented." 12 precision, he noted that [t]his ornament, so horrible in its appearance to us Europeans, this truly singular idea of beauty, extends along the north west coast of America, from a bout the 50th to 60th degree of latitude. All the women, without distinction, have it, but the circumference of the piece of board seems to mark the age or rank of the wearer: the usual size is from 2 to 3 inches long, about half an inch thick; but the wiv es of chiefs have it much longer and broader... While perplexed by this habit, he concluded this analysis in as objective a fashion as possible: comparing it to Chinese foot binding, and Japanese tooth blackening, and Langsdorff raised a similar objection to the piercing practice that DeWolf recalled : "Without...being able to say anything as to the use of this lip ornament, one disadvantage that it has must strike everybody, that it is wholly impossible for the fair sex, on the north 13 A significant portion of his observations were devoted to topics of native sexuality. Among the Western Aleutian hat the most promiscuous intercourse between the sexes, even among the nearest relations, is allowed: not only do brothers and sisters cohabit 11 Langsdorff, Voyages and Travels , 397. 12 Langsdorff, Voyages and Travels , 399. 13 Langsdorff, Voyages and Travels , 400.
178 with each other, but even parents and children. An Aleutian, whom I questioned on the subject, answered me with p erfect indifference that his nation in this respect followed the example of the sea dogs and sea otter 14 15 Langsdorff was amazed that the practice continued after the Russians arrived, and believed it was further proof of the immorality of Russian motivations for colonization. But homosexual and transgendered practices were common among the indigenous popula tion of Russian America. Langsdorff reported male concubinage in both Unalaska and at Kodiak, where some native men. At Kodiak, Langsdorff found the Alutiiq to be very similar to the inhabitants of Unalaska. They had similar habits of adornment ( p iercing and tattooing), but were more rarely seen since the Russian presence at Kodiak was more significant. What continued, Langsdorff reported, were immoral sexual practices such m ale concubinage. He again blamed the continuation of these practices squarely on the Company, and its emphasis on profit over morality. 16 The Tlingits, while similar in some respects to the Western Aleutian natives in interesting contrasts. He noted that they were, 14 Langsdorff, Voyages and Travels , 358. 15 Langsdorff, Voyages and Travels , 345 16 Langsdorff, Voyages and Trave ls , 357 358
179 young girl is grown up to shut her up, even for a whole year, in a small house by herself, at a distance from her family and acquaintance, where she is kept constantly employed: the idea is, that by this mean s she acquires habits of industry and diligence, reserve and modesty, which will afford the better chance of becoming a good wife, and lay a valuable distinction between th em and the women of the more northern parts of the coast." 17 But he found that the Tlingits lacked social cohesion. In a particularly judgmental passage, he wrote that, "[a]ge, superiority of natural understanding, or temporal wealth obtained by good fortu ne in catching sea otter s, and in selling their skins to advantage, or the great number of persons which a family consists, -these seem the requisites for obtaining respect and distinction among the Kaluschians [Tlingit]." 18 The only reason there was a v hostility seems to live to itself alone." This, for Langsdorff, represented the natural order that the Russians encountered when they arrived in search of furs. But while the natives lacked 17 Langsdorff, Voyages and Travels , 414. 18 Langsdorff, Voyages and Travels , 410. In July 1806, as Langsdorff and DeWolf were Alaska near Kodiak, where Lan gsdorff confirmed the sexual licentiousness of the girls are backward in bestowing their favors. A handful of beads, some leaves of tobacco, or other European trifles , above all, half a dozen fine sewing needles, were sufficient to remove all difficulties" (Langsdorff, 499). It is interesting to note that many assured by persons deservin sexuality appear to derive from direct observation or interviews with natives. He deformed lips; but also added somewh cold here, and of long duration."
180 cohesion, as Europeans understood it, there was an ecological balance between them and their environment. Of their fitness for the climate, he wrote, "it cannot but e xcite the astonishment of people accustomed to warmer climates or more cloathing, to see how much the bodies of these people are proofed against cold; scarcely will any other nation be found where they are so hardened against the effects of a very rough cl imate." 19 Observing the Nature of the Russian American Colonies From the moment Langsdorff arrived in the Aleutian Islands, he encountered telltale signs of poor Russian management. He was informed that on islands infrequently visited by the Russians, the people, as they are not so much under the immediate influence of the Russio American 20 Fur hunting led by Russians had a punishing impact upon native villages, disrupting the cycle of lying in provisions for the winter, and depriving villages of hunters for months at a time. Another problem according to Langsdorff was the lack of proper moral guidance and a strong hand to shepherd the lands and the peoples of Russian America. He lamented that, even after the Russians established themselves in the Aleutian Islands, "there is no such thing among them as an ecclesiastical, or a house of prayer; and the small number of Christians establis hed here, have, in general, given such very indifferent specimens of the morality of the nation to which they belong, that the natives can hardly have any great belief in the benevolent influence which they are told the 19 Langsdorff, Voyages and Travels , 397. 20 Langsdorff, Voyages and Travels , 350.
181 Christian religion has over mankind. 21 The initial lack of oversight by ecclesiastical and state authorities, Langsdorff argued, had profound implications for the success or failure crown, Langsdorff reca lled , stewardship in each single establishment is entirely despotic; though nominally depending upon the principle factory at Kodiak, these stewards do just what they please, without the possibility of being called to account. The Aleutians of the distant islands are commonly under the superintendence of a Promyshlenniki, which is, in other words, under that of a rascal, by whom they are oppressed, tormented, and plundered in every possible way. 22 Obviously, Langsdorff had nothing but disdain for the promys hlenniki and other employees of the RAC. Taking stock of the Russians that accompanied him to Russian America aboard the Maria , he wrote that they were louse ridden and starving s in search of fortune." 23 In the absence of moral authority, Langsdorff argued, the Russians in the American colonies adopted native customs. At St. Paul Island, Langsdorff witnessed Russian hunters resisting transfer off the island after it was di scover ed that it was being over hunted. They pleaded to be left alone, as they had all L angsdorff saw the relentless focus upon extracting natural resources (furs) from the colonies as the main problem. Rather than carefully restraining the Russian fur hunters, overseeing orderly gathering of furs and other resources, and providing strong 21 Langsdorff, Voyages and Travels , 344. 22 Langsdorff, Voyages and Travels , 362. 23 Langsdorff, Voyages and Travels , 315 316.
182 mo ral leadership, the entire Russian operation in the New World was horribly out of balance. He witnessed firsthand the need restrain the untrained Russian hunters, who killed 30 have killed them by the hundreds, if they had not been restrained by our positive commands." 24 employment in the Russian colonies, which often kept Russians in a state of perpetual indebtedness , encouraged the hunters to cull as many fur bearing animals as possible. The Russian managers treated the promyshlenniki little better than the Alutiiq or with which life an d death were encountered in the colonies in 1805: Captain D'Wolf, one of the most compassionate and benevolent of men, who often made me the sharer of his joys and sorrows, sighing one day over the numbers that were constantly dying, said to me: "It is ind eed very extraordinary that Christians can practice so little philanthropy towards each other. The body of the Promuschleniks is thrown carelessly into the earth, and all ceremony of internment is waved with the Aleutian; we scarcely see a friend or a comr ade following his deceased fellow countrymen to the grave. Funeral ceremonies, which under some form or other are practiced even among the most uncultivated nations, and which for the sake of example ought here to be performed with the particular decency a nd decorum, seem to be things of which people have no idea. 25 laws than submission exacted from them by the strong arm of power; nor does it seem ever to have entered int o the ideas of their conquerors to instill into their minds the more 26 Thus, Langsdorff attributed the chaos that reigned in the colonies to two factors: (1) the primacy of profit over long term, state supported commitment to the colonies, 24 Langsdorff, Voyages and Travels , 320 321. 25 Langsdorff, Voyages and Travels , 382. 26 Langsdorff, Voyages and Travels , 357.
183 and (2) the nature of governance in the colonies. He was baffled by the fact that a private joint stock company exercised political, social, and economic control over such a vast swath of territo were of the government, not confined within any definite regulations, but who can exercise thei r authority free and uncontrolled, nay even unpunished, over so vast an extent of country." 27 Enjoying no state protection, and having no judicial recourse, the inhabitants of the colonies were left to the whims of oftentimes cruel overseers at such a dist ance from St. Petersburg, that they did not fear punishment for their behavior. The emphasis on extracting value from the colonies led Langsdorff to see exploitative and wasteful behavior at every turn. Several historians have noted that the Russians over hunted fur seals. Company warehouses often contained pelts that went bad due to improper treatment, neglect, or the inability to ship furs back to Russia on a were taken, that skins to the amount of some millions of rubles rotted in the warehouses of the Company, more anxiety having been shewn to collect a number 28 He also noted the human costs of such wasteful behavior. Becaus e Russians were not encouraged to settle in America, Russians deemed to be vagabonds by Rezanov and his entourage were the only example of morality for the natives. Worse still, as mentioned previously, women were trafficked from island to island to meet the 27 Langsdorff, Voyages and Travels , 362. 28 Langsdorff, Voyages and Travels , 324.
184 given and acted upon, it is obvious that the Aleutians are complete slaves to the Company: no Aleutian of Kodiak would ever voluntarily remove to Sitcha, since very f 29 The treatment of the male hunters was little better. Hunting expeditions were very dangerous. Alutiiq and Unangan men traveled for days via baidarka, often into hostile areas. They then had to 30 The German was no stranger to the practice of slavery, havin g visited Brazil on the round the world voyage to the Pacific. But, Langsdorff recalled, "[i]n the countries that I have seen, where negro slaves are employed in the labor, great care is taken to feed them well, and keep them in health, since they must be 31 was because of a few reliable men in key positions. Langsdorff singled out three. The first was Emelian Grigor venture, Larionov was in charge of Unalaska when Langsdorff stayed there from July eighth through July twenty egrity and philanthropy with which he uniformly conducted himself 29 Langsdorff, Voyages and Travels , 379. 30 Langsdorff, Voyages and Travels , 488. 31 Langsdorff, Voyages and Travels , 493. It is doubtful that Langsdorff studied Portuguese slavery practices too closely. Hieromonk Gideon, who accompanied the Kruzenstern expedition along with Lang naked, are exhausted by unceasing heavy labor, and are beaten inhumanly. The native Portuguese, however, spend their live The Round the World Voyage , 12.
185 during ten years that he continued in his office, had justly gained him the love and respect of all the islanders. Under his stewardship, this was undoubtedly the best conducted of all the R ussio 32 His successor, on the unanimity, everything was t urned into chaos." When he arrived at Kodiak on July 29 , 1805, Langsdorff enjoyed the hospitality of another reliable man: Ivan Ivanovich Bander. Bander was a Dane who worked with Baranov before the latter moved to Sitka after 1804. Shortly after taking on new responsibilities as manager of the Kodiak colony, Bander and his wife greeted the crew of the Maria warmly. Langsdorff recalled that at the suggestion of Rezanov, Mr. Bander began to build a library for the denizens of Kodiak, numbering some 450 la boring men plus women and children. While historian Lydia Black has convincingly shown that most of these processes were well underway due to the work of the clergy at Kodiak for them to the Chamberl ain. 33 15 year old native girls, to instruct them in European style chores (cooking, cleaning, gardening, etc.). Finally, Langsdorff met Baranov upon arriving at Sitka in August, 1805. The jurisdiction, and the respect he commanded among the natives and Russians. In fact, 32 Langsdorff, Voyages and Travels , 501. 33 Hieromonk Gideon, The Round the World Voyage , 100 101.
186 had not settlements are Siberian criminals, malefactors, and adventurers of various kinds, not a little credit is due to his vigilance and address, that he has be en able in any degree to 34 While rough around the edges due to his long service in the colonies, Langsdorff was impressed with the progress Baranov made in shipbuilding, operations. Baranov merely continued the eighteenth century pattern of following the sea otters down the Pacific Northwest coast. After taking Sitka, Russian hunters reached a point beyond which expansion would prove difficult. "I have been assured by persons east of Sitcha are much more populous, and bear such a determined hatred to [Baranov] and his hunting parties, that it is very probable a disastrous fate would await him and his whole company if he should ever seek to establish a settlement farther south." 35 Nor were the already established colonies sufficiently protected. The fall of Sitka in 1802, attacks on fur hunters along the coast, and the destruction of the Yakutat Bay pon re turning from California in June 1806, Langsdorff noted that, "the political situation of New Archangel was at this moment very critical. Certain intelligence was received that a 34 Langsdorff, Voyages and Travels , 360. 35 Langsdorff, Voyages and Travels , 375.
187 few days before the return of the Juno , the Kaluschians had assembled in great numbers in their fortress with the intention of storming the Russian settlement, and murdering all the inhabitants. The unexpected arrival of the Juno , however, alarmed them, and deterred them from prosecuting the attempt; but it was not abandoned w ithout the threats that it should be carried into execution at a future period." 36 Langsdorff also noted the dire consequences of such improper management of natural and human resources. T he animal populations that the Russians hunted were in decline, even in the early nineteenth century. Again, according to the German naturalist, o ver hunting and poor management were the main culprits. As previously noted, Rezanov had to decrease the number of hunters at St. Paul Island because their including polar bears and ice foxes. 37 The Russian method of expansion put further strain on seal and otter populations. Following patterns that first led Kamchatka fur hunters to the coas 38 At Unalaska, he also witnessed silver grey foxes, black foxes, and various otter populations in decline due to over huntin g. Simultaneous with over hunting, the native populations of the Aleutian Islands depopulation most probably is to be ascribed to the directors of the principle establishme nt of the Russio American Company at Kodiak, being in the habit of sending 36 Langsdorff, Voyages and Travels , 490. 37 Langsdorff, Voyages and Travels , 326. 38 Langsdorff, Voyages and Travels , 371.
188 the best hunters from hence to the Islands of St. George and St. Paul, to Kodiak, and even to the north east Coast of America, to chase the large sea otter s; and it is very rarely t hat any of these people ever return to the bosoms of their families. It is extremely probable also that the oppression under which they live at home, the total want of care, and the change in their modes of living, contribute exceedingly towards diminishi 39 Nor was this problem confined to the furthest reaches. At Kodiak, Langsdorff was shocked by the rapid depopulation of the island from the time Shelikov set up his king population of the island was around 450. But Shelikov reported 50,000 inhabitants in 1784. population of the island at 4,000 5,000 inhabitants in the 1790s. La ngsdorff could only usage (compulsory and fatiguing hunting parties), insurrections, etc. have depopulated the island..." 40 These processes threatened the native population with extin ction. In such an environment, Langsdorff believed, the education of native children at Kodiak was in fact counter productive. It took the children away from assisting their families during the crucial summer months, when food was gathered for winter. I n addition, he questioned the value of training native children in mathematics, geography, and French, as Rezanov desired, when there were insufficient jobs in the factories and accounting houses of the Company for them. 39 Langsdorff, Voyages and Travels , 333. 40 Langsdorff, Voyages and Travels , 355.
189 For Langsdorff, poor planning, overemphasis on profit, and little regard for properly using natural resources led the colonies to struggle. Nowhere was this seen more clearly than in the winter of 1805. As previously mentioned, after the Battle of Sitka, Maria carrying Langsdorff, Rezanov, Khvostov, and Davydov. Even the cargo purchased with the Juno was unlikely to last for the Alutiiq, promyshlenniki , officers, and other in habitants of Sitka. For this reason, the Juno was quickly dispatched to Kodiak for additional supplies. While it passed unmentioned by Langsdorff, he must have lands w ithout a plan to provision, feed, and shelter them. The dire circumstance s of the settlement in February 1806 prompted Rezanov to sail for California aboard the Juno . Langsdorff noted that the situation would not have been as catastrophic if supplies were allocated better. Like DeWolf, Langsdorff witnessed a two tier class system that dominated the colonies. "What shocked me the while a large portion of the people lay in this state of wretchedness, the directors and under seers, the clerks and their friends, the officers and their hangers on, of their own authority sent the Aleutians out to hunt or fish, and fed sumptuously upon wild ducks and geese, fresh fish and fish pasties, good bread, biscuit, sugar, rice, molasses, brandy, in short, upon whatever was afforded wither by nature or the storehouses." 41 Langsdorff also noted that he quickly learned to bully the corrupt keepers of the stores for supplies to aid those wh o most needed supplies. 41 Langsdorff, Voyages and Travels , 381.
190 In addition, cruelty pervaded in the colonies. Sick employees were forced to work more instead of being allowed to rest. Langsdo rff reported that by February 1806, eight of the 192 Russians at Sitka had died, and another sixty had scurvy. As Russian and Alutiit hunters and employees fell ill, they were forced to continue working, or given guard duty with continuous exposure to the elements. Denied rest and wood for fires, the sickness spread quicker. Langsdorff implored official s and overseers for better supplies and lodging, but was met with laughter at the notion that the sick should get preferential treatment. In these circumstances, Langsdorff jumped at the opportunity to travel to Spanish California with Rezanov. Scene 2 A Ship of Exploration California Shortly after arriving at Sitka in August 1805, Langsdorff sketched the fortifications, harbor, and settlement. His vantage po int afforded an excellent view of Castle Hill, where Baranov built the main Russian fortification after defeating the Kiks.Ã¡di in 1804. In the harbor, the viewer is presented with three ships in the foreground, and a single masted vessel far off in the ba ckground. The two closest vessels have two masts, and are likely the Maria and the Ekaterina , as they were in the harbor at the time according to Langsdorff written account. 42 The third vessel has three masts, and its hull rides much higher in the water t han either Russian craft. Neva , the three masted vessel under the command of Yuri Lisiansky during the Kruzenstern Rezanov expedition, plied 42 Langsdorff, Voyages and Travels , 87 88.
191 the waters between Kodiak and Sitka during the summer of 1805. 43 Lisiansky then the Neva . Shortly before Langsdorff sketched Sitka harbor, Lisiansky painted watercolors of Sitka and Kodiak with the Neva featured prominently in the foreground of sketch. In a November 1805 letter to the Directors of the RAC, Rezanov indicated that he was unable to meet up with the Neva while in Russian America, t hus Langsdorff would not have seen it either. 44 masted ships from Boston were here in New Archangel [Sitka] this summer, the Mary , Captain Trescott, which sailed to Canton, and the Juno , Captain Wolfe. This sh ip was here when I arrived and I can congratulate you with it, because I bought it for the company with all its cargo 45 The Mary was not present when Rezanov and Langsdorff arrived, having sailed for Canton on August 20, 1805 according to John DeWolf. 46 Thus, the Juno . 47 Langsdorff would have first seen the Juno shortly after arriving in m id August. At the time, the Juno was in the harbor in need of repairs after DeWolf ran up onto rocks in th e Chatham Straits. The German, who also spoke English, befriended DeWolf during their mutual sojourn at Sitka after 43 Khlebnikov, Baranov , 50. 44 Letter, Rezanov to the Board of Directors of the RAC, from New Archangel, November 6, 1805 in Tikhmenev, A History of the Russian American Company Vol II , 156. 45 Tikhmenev, A History of the Russian American Company Vol II , 158. 46 DeWolf, A Voyage to the North Pacific , 28 29. 47 In his Mount Hope: A New England Chronicle (1959), George Howe similarly identified the ship in the sketch as the Juno .
192 When Rezanov left for Spanish California, Langsdorff accompanied him to study more of the coastl ine and to escape the conditions he witnessed in Sitka. Langsdorff could not help but contrast his observations of Russian America with their Spanish resembled the process u sed by naturalists to describe plant or animal characteristics. He observed environmental and social conditions in the Russian colonies and compared them to analogous institutions in the area , namely the Spanish colonies. He then reported his conclusions . Thus the voyage to California aboard the Juno helped Langsdorff to chart the natural, economic, and political geography of the Russian colonies at the dawn of the nineteenth century. As we have seen, his observations were heavily critical of the method Voyages and Travels in Various Parts of the World also reveal important differences between followers of Adam Smith and disciples of Linnaeus in their understandings of commercial relations and empire. This rift between liberal economists and natural historians was explored by Fredrik Albritton Jonsson in his 2010 article entitled Rival Ecologies of Global Commerce: Adam Smith and the Natural Historians Jonsson argued that while both natural history and liberalism were descendants of the Enlightenment, they diverged in regards to the role of the state in managing natural resources. Naturalists, accordin g to Jonsson preferred cameralist conservation policies on everything from transplanting grasses for better agricultural development to population and agricultural policies. Liberals, on the other hand, saw nature as a self correcting system. Like market s, they
193 quarrel... suggests a new way to think about empire and capitalism. In essence, the defense of global commerce pioneered in the Enlightenment was inextricably t ied to the improvement of the natural order. But from the outset, the conversion of nature into capital raised a fundamental question of management. Was the market sufficient to order nature, or did the complexity of the natural order require the intervent ion of an 48 For Langsdorff, this quandary was not a theoretical question. His observations focus on this issue as it developed in Russian America during early for mation. He was one of the few outside observers to leave a detailed account of early Russian colonization efforts. His conclusions were rooted in his epistemological approach to the subject. For Langsdorff, the Juno became a vessel of scientific exploration. While in Spanish California, the German was m oderately successful at describing flora and fauna he encountered. He also observed the events between Rezanov, Donna Concepcion de Arguello, and the Spanish authorities in San Francisco described previously. But his observations of the political economy of Russian America are of far greater significance than his particular scientific endeavors . The Juno played a crucial part in this process, allowing Langsdorff to travel the breadth of the colonies, observe lands outside of Russian America, and compare his observations to other lands. Trip to Spanish America I n addition to escaping the horrible conditions at Sitka, Langsdorff hoped to use his voyage aboard the Juno to explore more of the Pacific Northwest coastline. 48 Jon
194 Seventeen days after departing from Sitka, the expedition approached the Columbia River, and was busied with building s 49 Unfortunately, shifting winds kept the Juno from initially exploring the mouth of the river. The next day, after evening currents and contrary winds conspired to send the ship to the north, Rezanov agreed to allow Langsdorff and other crew members to explore the area with longboats. Langsdorff observed smoke, presumably from settlements in the far distance, but was unable to make contact with them. As darkness fell, the Langsdorff expedition headed back to the Juno , barely findi ng their way thanks to signal cannon fire from the ship. Davydov recommended foregoing any more exploration, as the Midshipman and doubt find plenty of provisions and every thing necessary for the recovery of our sick." 50 They arrived in San Francisco on March 28, 1806 . Langsdorff went ashore with Davydov to act as an intermediary with the religious and military officials present at the garrison. At first glance, he saw similarities between the Russian and Spanish settlements. Both empires had overextended their resources to reach the periphery of the known world. The Spanish seemed intent upon claiming as much land as possible s of Russian encroachment. The Russians, in turn, sought to expand as quickly as possible to protect claims from eighteenth century Russian expeditions and to secure fertile hunting grounds. 49 Langsdorff, Voyages and Travels , 419. 50 Langsdorff, Voyages and Travels , 424.
195 But Langsdorff also noted crucial differences. The Spanish we re far more wary known to be extremely suspicious, and, properly speaking, does not allow the vessels of other nations to run into any of her ports in either North or S officials restricted all trade to only those ports that had a Spanish Customs house and refused admission of all ships that were not in dire circumstances. American ships, in all the sailors who are not native Spaniards is so extremely restrained, that none can come on shore without particular Juno m the Kruzenstern expedition opened the door to discussions with the Spanish in San Francisco. The contrasts Langsdorff found between Spanish America and Russian America upon closer inspection were striking. He was amazed to discover that the Spanish miss ions along the California coast were so lightly staffed. Approximately 15 military personnel and two three ecclesiastics supervised two missions in the area of San Francisco. The primary purpose of the missions was to settle the indigenous population and instruct them in Christianity. They were self supporting communities that traded little with foreigners, or even each other. The priests and monks were mostly of the Franciscan order, headquartered in Mexico. They signed up for ten year service, with t he government providing little more than their clothing, books, and tools. Each of the 19 missions at that time, Langsdorff noted, had between 600 1000 converts. 51 They were guarded by a total of 300 military personnel. 51 Langsdorff, Voyages and Travels , 433.
196 Langsdorff was not impressed with the California natives as natural specimens, pleasing specimen of the human race." 52 His encounters with the California natives even challenged his faith in environmental determinism. While they enjoyed the benefits of a moderate climate and abundant food sources, Langsdorff concluded that California natives were overall smaller, weaker, less handsome, and far less intelligent than the Tlingit of the Northwest coast. As a result, he was not overly surprised that so few Spanish could successfully maintain order and peace in the lands they occupied. But in contrast to the immorality and relatively weak ecclesiastical institutions of the Russians, Langsdorff reported that Sp with so much prudence, kindness, and paternal care towards their converts, that peace, happiness, and obedience universally prevail among them. Disobedience is commonly punished with corporal correction, and th ey have only recourse to the military upon very rare occasions; as for instance, when they go out in search of converts, or have any reason to apprehend a sudden attack." 53 Along with strong ecclesiastical support, Langsdorff noted that expansion in Califor nia was financially supported directly by the Spanish crown. "I was assured, by a person well deserving of credit, that the Spanish government does not expend less than a million of piastres annually upon the support of missions in the two Californias, wi th the military establishments annexed to them, without deriving any other advantage from them than the spreading of Christian religion over countries where it was before unknown." After visiting several missions in the area while Rezanov sought in vain t o 52 Langsdorff, Voyages and Travels , 440. 53 Langsdorff, Voyages and Travels , 433.
197 of the Spanish to colonize the area. But Langsdorff had some issues with the way the Spanish colonies were run. cluded excessive forms of corporal punishment. These included bastinado (foot whipping) and fastening metal rods to the feet of those that tried to escape. 54 Second, Langsdorff was appalled at the prevalence of cock fights and other sport involving wild a nimals. While Rezanov was wooing Concepcion de Arguello, her family ordered a combat between a bear and a wild bull. A bear was duly captured for the fight, but died the night before the fight. Langsdorff was ld not help being struck at seeing, that the fathers, who in all their instructions to their converts, insist so strongly upon their cultivating tenderness of heart, and kind and compassionate feelings, never oppose these national amusements, though it can not be denied that they are very cruel and barbarous." 55 He was also surprised by Spanish reluctance to build or maintain ships for the seas and waterways throughout the region. He wondered if the Spanish were fearful that boats would enable the more adve Langsdorff concluded that the Spanish government was negligent in not supplying enough vessels for at least the defense of the region. The dearth of geographical information about California, and the inability of military personnel on one side of San Francisco Bay to communicate with the other side were deplorable to him. Nevertheless, Langsdorff 54 Langsdorff, Voyages and Travels , 445. 55 Langsdorff, Voyages and Travels , 455.
198 noted that small overland ventur es would set out every year from Santa Fe and California in the hopes of opening overland communication routes. "It would give the government, if they were to institute expedition s by water, and to explore the great river which runs into the bay of San Francisco..." 56 On the way back to Sitka in June 1806 aboard the Juno , Langsdorff had time to ponder what he had witnessed in relation to his earlier experiences in the Russian colonies. The Spanish missionaries were bound to the colonies by ten year contracts, promyshlenniki and the R AC were stranger still. Rather than being founded upon ecclesiastical or military service, Russian colonization was primarily a financial transaction that exploited the RAC. The German recalled that, a certain portion of the produce of every hunting part y is to belong to the hunters, but as the latter never know the value of the booty obtained, they can never be assured whether they receive their due or not. Their accounts are never made out till after a lapse of some years, and as all the necessities of life have during this time been sold to them by the Company for which extravagant prices are always charged, it commonly appears that they are debters, instead of creditors to their employers, and they are detained as hostages for the payment of their deb ts. They then strive to drown their cares in brandy, and should they be strong enough to survive so many trials, must esteem themselves fortunate, if, after many years spent in hardships and privations, they return home at last with empty pockets, ruined constitutions and minds wholly depressed and broken down. 57 The perpetual state of despair, among all levels of society in Russian America , had a profound impact on retinue down to the promyshlenniki that oversaw the fur hunts , and the Alutiiq population , the sorry state of the Russians in the colonies mirrored the sorry state of the natural order that Langsdorff observed. 56 Langsdorff, Voyages and Travels , 475. 57 Langsdorff, Voyages and Travels , 364.
199 Leaving Russian America Like other figures that sailed aboard the Juno , Langsdorff came to Russian Ameri ca for one purpose, and wound up being remembered for another. The German experiences in the colonies led him instead observe how the Russians operated in the area. Langsdo relations. For one thing, the Russians had little to offer to the Spanish. In addition, the tight controls on trade imposed by the Spanish government from Mexico ensured that the Spanis h were unlikely to be brought into the sea otter trade. Indeed, as we saw in the previous act, the Spanish were increasingly worried about American merchants transporting natives from Russian America to poach sea otters off their coastline. The only viabl argued, would be for the central government to become more involved. He agreed with Rezanov that Russia would have to plant a colony of her own along the New California coast. Once establ ished, it could supply grain and cattle for the colonies without the problems associated with commerce or long distance supply routes. The establishment of farming and cultivation both in California, and on a smaller scale in the other colonies was cr s , displacing the ever greater setting the colonies on a proper footing. Langsdorff also agreed with Rezanov that the Russian gov ernment needed to be more involved in protecting the colonies. More ships were needed along the coast, but Langsdorff doubted the cost effectiveness of sending them from the Baltic. Unlike Rezanov, he hoped that company profits would not be the motivatin g factor in the
200 further development of the colonies once the Tsar extended additional protection. The effects of unregulated commerce upon the natural resources of the region convinced him that the success of Russian America depended upon better spiritual , political, economic, and military management and engagement. By the time the Juno returned to Sitka from California in June 1806, Langsdorff was ready to depart from Russian America. When John DeWolf persuaded Rezanov to part with a small vessel to sa il for Kamchatka, Langsdorff jumped at the opportunity to built by Russians in the colonies, Langsdorff decided to throw in his lot with the American captain. During hi s yearlong sojourn along the coast, Langsdorff collected many specimens of natural history. But he lost almost as many due to improper care or the recklessness of those that promised to help him with collecting. He nevertheless continued to observe the f lora and fauna along the way back to Petropavlovsk with DeWolf. Denouement Natural History and Russian America have been referenced by historians of the Pacific Northwest and maritime exploration since their publication. They provide a wealth of knowledge on both the natural environment of the Pacific Northwest in the early nineteenth century, and social conditions in the same area. In 1928, a reviewer of a new English tr anslation of much livelier than . Langsdorff, the author wrote, embraced scientist,
201 trained to notice, he overlooked little worth recording of the new country in which he 58 After his sojourn in Russian America, Langsdorff traveled through Siberia, meeting up with John DeWolf occasionally while the American capta in worked his way to St. Petersburg. In 1811, Langsdorff published his observations in his native translation, with minor changes in transliteration of names and pla ces in subsequent editions. It was not uncommon for authors of such narratives and travel journals to be shocked by changes made by publishers in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. James Cook was livid after the publication of the travel journals from his first expedition. As historian Anthony Payne pointed out, it was not uncommon for publishers to lack the skill to accurately translate or describe scientific information. In addition, they frequently put added emphasis on the more titi llating aspects of the narratives. 59 Natural history as a discipline is inextricably connected to voyages of exploration that began in the Age of Enlightenment. Scientific inquiry was an essential component As Lydia Black demonstrated in Russians in America, 1733 1867 , natural historical accounts of the Bering expeditions in the early and mid eighteenth 58 Langsdorff's Narrative of the Rezanov Voyage to Nueva California in 1806, trans. Thomas C. California Historical Society Quarterly , Vol. 7, No. 2 (Jun., 1928): 197. 59 Enlightenment and Exploration , 177 178.
202 60 In addition to discovery, a state proved its claim to such lands Alaska. His work is a quintessential example of co production, which Sheila Jasanoff ation of science and technology with cultural expressions of 61 Langsdorff was almost desperate to organize his observations into a coherent thesis: that colonization of the Russian American coastline was flawed and unsustainable because i t did not account for the rational use of natural resources by those with social and political authority. As a scientist he portrayed himself (and has been subsequently portrayed) as an impartial commentator and, at times, arbiter. While he portrayed muc h of his work in Russian America as a failure, h is writings and observations were (and still are) an invaluable source of information on Russian America during the period. 62 Even today, scholars are tempted to separate Langsdorff as a scientist from the so cial and political conditions of the emerging metropoles and peripheries. But the scientific knowledge he gained in the colonies aboard the Juno , as well as the knowledge he brought to them, was patterned in the social and political culture from which he came. His observations, filtered through the lens of his training and education, were aimed at changing social and political norms in Russian America to better manage natural resources. 60 Black Russians in America , Enlightenment and Exploration , 6. 61 Jasanoff, States of Knowledge , 18. 62 gathered are still studied by specialists in ethnography and natural history. In 1974 the Academy of Sciences of the USSR held a major conference to honor the 200th annivers Biographical Dictionary , 292.
203 s to a building up his premise. He was also keenly aware of the importance of his wor k for state leaders and members of the scientific community. Historian Stephen Haycox observed that natural historians became increasingly aware of the importance of their writings. According to Haycox, who studied Russian America in particular, the comm relationship between knowledge, power, dominion, and profit." 63 not born of idle curiosity, nor was it a projection of inferiority upon the peripher y; his purpose was nothing less than the intellectual subjugation of natural space along the Pacific Northwest coastline. A comprehensive understanding of the natural history of the area was necessary, he believed, for proper commercial and political mana gement of the colonies. ensured that his words would carry heavy weight. While his analysis of the Russian American political economy contradicted many of those in direct servi ce to the Russian state, his observations were seemingly well received. Langsdorff stayed in frequent contact with individuals he met during the circumnavigation aboard the Nadezhda , including Captain Kruzenstern. He even served the Russian state as a di plomat several the shortcomings of the Russian colonies during this formative period. His opinions of 63 Haycox, Enlightenment and Exploration , xi.
204 the individuals he met in the colonies were the foundation of his torical and biographical sketches that followed in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. His work may have also inspired Gavril Davydov to record his own observations of the Alutiiq population of Kodiak and the surrounding environs during the Midshipman those that study Russian America.
205 Figure 5 1. Langsdorff sailed aboard the Juno from February through June 1806 with Rezanov on expedition to Spain. He agreed to accompany the Chamberlain to study the natural history of California in comparison to the North Pacific. 64 64 Alaska State Library, Alaska Purchase Centennial Collection, Drawing of Establishment of the Russian American Company at Norfolk, Sitka Sound, Alask a, 1805, ASL P20 142 .
206 CHAPTER 6 ACT 5 R OSENCRANTZ AND GUILDENSTERN VISIT RUSSIAN AMERICA , 1802 1807 Scene 1 Two Visits from the Metropole to the Periphery Wherein we meet Nikolai Khvostov and Gavril Davydov, and examine how they spent their time in Kodiak and Sitka As Langsdorff prepared to leave the colonies in the summer of 1806, a great deal of work was being done on the Juno and the Avos . Rezanov had the supplies from California unloaded from the former vessel , while the latter had just been completed and set afloat in the harbor. Despite the threat of Tlingits descending on Sitka from all sides, Rezanov was preparing for hi s planned expedition against the Japanese with Lieutenant Khvostov and Midshipman Davydov in command of the respective vessels. Nikolai two visits to Alaska demonstrated ho w ideas of empire passed between, and were modified by, the center and the periphery. As officers in the Imperial Navy, they brought to the North Pacific a number of assumptions based upon their education, training, and social status originating at the ce nter of the Russian Empire. Unlike army officers, settlers, or merchants that occupied the expanding continental frontiers, company officials throughout Siberia and in the colonies were often in better communication with St. Petersburg. This is partly d and financial interest in RAC activities. As a result, the colonies were at times monitored more closely than events in Central Asia. In published and unpublished letters, memoirs, ship logs, and scientific treatises, Khvosto v and Davydov inadvertently recorded how their experiences in Russian America challenged their previously held ideas. They left St. Petersburg in 1802 as officers in the Imperial Russian navy. During
2 07 their stay in Russian America, however, they could not help but observe and participate in the daily life of the Kodiak and Sitka colonies. Most historiography of Russian America treat them as little more than Rosencrantz and Guildenstern: floating in to take a small part in the larger plot of Russian activi ties along the Pacific Northwest , then suddenly and tragically dying off stage. Their exploits and writings, however, demonstrate the fluidity of social standing in the colonies. While one of them provided a vivid example of the difficult social dynamics mentioned in previous acts , the other took on the mantle of academic in residence, writing an in situ ethnography of the Kodiak natives that was published posthumously. Nikolai Aleksandrovich Khvostov was born July 28 , 1776. The son of a state councilor , Khvostov was enrolled in the Naval Academy at the age of seven. After graduating in 1790 at the age of fourteen, he saw action against the Swedish during the closing months of the Russo Swedish war, and was commissioned as a Midshipman. 1 Between 1795 a detachment worked with the English to protect the British coast. While serving aboard the Retvizan , Khvostov was promoted to Lieutenant, and distinguished himself by saving the ship after it ran ag round on a sandbar just before a Russian English attack against the Dutch fleet. Vice Admiral Aleksandr Shishkov, who was briefly his can be seen with what firmness of spirit, amongst fear and confusion, this young man 2 Shishkov had a long military and academic career. He published a guide for naval terminology and pre 1 Pierce, Russian America: a Biographical Dictionary , 234. 2 Davydov, Two Voyages , 2.
208 Slavophile treatises that railed a gainst the importation of foreign words into Russian. 3 A Napoleonic government. He was appointed President of the Russian Academy by the Tsar, and was Secretary of State for a short time. In 1809, Davydov was staying with Shishkov posthumously as Two Voyages to Russ ian America , Shishkov gave a patriotic tribute to Khvostov and Davydov in the introduction. description of Khvostov contemporaries. In a letter to Baranov, Davydov said espite all his temporary laps 4 Khvostov was in almost constant movement and action. After serving with the English, he was b riefly assigned to Sevastopol. In April 1802, Khvostov first met Rezanov in St. Petersburg. Prior to his assignment as Ambassador to Japan, Rezanov recruited Imperial Navy officers into the service of the RAC. He had recently won approval to do so via an imperial ukaz designed to imi tate a British East India Company policy that allowed naval officers to maintain their rank, and even promote, while in the service of the Company. Lieutenant allegedly met Davydov at his friends about the proposed journey to America, and this filled Davydov (who was not 3 Susanna Rabow Edling, Slavophile Thought and the Politics of Cultural Nationalism (Albany: SUNY Press, 2012), 30 31. 4 Letter, Midshipman Davydov to Baranov, August 7, 1807 in Tikhmenev, A History of the Russian American Company Vol II , 227.
209 and boldness were much to Khvost 5 Davydov was born in the Tambov G ubernia in 1784. He was enrolled in the Naval Cadet Corps at the age of eleven, and was commissioned three years later. Like Khvostov, Davydov served with the British, spending time in Edinburgh in 1799. 6 He was well educated before entering the Cadet Corps. Sharp of wit, and well versed in literature and mathematics, Davydov graduated at the top of his class. 7 He was t he perfect traveling companion for the more rowdy Khvostov, helping to restrain the more boisterous tendencies of his superior officer, and smoothing over relations between everyone they encountered. Langsdorff noted that Davydov was often helpful, acting as a translator and helping the German understand what was going on in the Russian American colonies by translating via French. Davydov vibrantly described the first of his two journeys to Russian America with Khvostov in his Two Voyages to Russian Americ a, 1802 1807 . The first half of this manuscript, which covered their initial journey to and from Russian America (1802 1804), was edited and made ready for publication before Davydov died. It was written thoughts listed chronologically. The second half of the manuscript was not compiled until after he died, and was comp osed thematically. In an April 1802 entry, Davydov analyzed his motivations for traveling to Russian America. The lure of exploration and describing the unknown, a popular motive of Enlightenment [t] he 5 Davydov, Two Voyages , 3. 6 Pierce, Russian America: A Biographical Dictionary , 112. 7 Davydov, Two Voyages , 19.
210 desire to see such remote parts of the world, to be at sea, and to be in countries which were rarely visited, and about which little was known did allow us long to ponder over 8 But Davydov was not completely selfless in his motivations. On April 19, 1802 , while reflecting on the potential pain he was causing his family with the sud den decision to head for parts unknown, Davydov reported that, the thought of completing such a long journey, of seeing such a large number of unusual things, of being in places I would not often have the chance to visit, of gaining new knowledge, and may be of making a name for myself as an explorer, all this awoke my curiosity and flattered my amour propre . I could already imagine to myself in advance the extreme pleasure I would have when such a difficult journey was over and I was returning and about t o see my relatives and friends again, and would tell them of the adventures I had had, of how I had spent the time, of how I crossed uncharted seas and islands, living with savage peoples and wild beasts... 9 This notion of amour propre bears closer scrutin y to understand the mindset of Russians like Khvostov, Davydov, and Rezanov; who all decided to travel from the center of Russian power to the farthest flung periphery. Langsdorff used the exact same phrase, amour propre, Japanese that led to the planning of his attacks. In English, this concept is sometimes translated as amour propre was the motivation for man emerging from the state of nature. Up until Wealth of Nations used amour propre 8 Davydov, Two Voyages , 22. 9 Davydov, Two Voyages , 23.
211 specialization of labor. 10 respect translations) in his Discourse on Inequality to differentiate men in a state of society from the savage man. Amour propre ue. This allowed men in a state of society to value the prerogatives of others in assessing their own self worth, as opposed to the savage man, whose self value did not depend upon the feelings of others. 11 With amour propre , Enlightenment philosophers w ere trying to delve into human nature, removing humanity and society from previously held divine origins and placing laying [Scriptural] facts aside, as they do not aff A mour propre motivated Davydov to seek experiences that would increase his stature among friends encountered. For Davydov, these two motives were intrinsica lly connected. In his own state one must take into account not only the pleasure one may give the reader, but the benefit that may accrue from the accuracy of one's o bservations. In connection with this 12 Interspersed between descriptions of the people and places Davydov encountered, he also provided readers with his first impressions of Khvostov. During 10 https://www sul.stanford.edu/depts/hasrg/frnit/pdfs_gimon/force.pdf 11 in Jean Jacques Rousseau, The Social Contract and Discourses (New York: E.P Dutton and Co, 1950): 223. 12 Davydov, Two Voyages , 165.
212 th e initial phase of their journey across continental Russia, on a particularly treacherous stretch of road, Davydov recalled being attacked by bandits. After stopping to feed the stepped out of the bushes. Anticipating that nothing good was to come of this encounter we beg an to reach for our damp guns. Khvostov, who could not get his out quickly, with you want? How dare you approach members of the armed forces like this? Lay down your arm 13 The journey from St. Petersb urg to Okhotsk across the Eurasian continent took four months. Along the way, Davydov noted the ethnographic differences of those he encountered. First, he observed the Buryat people living along the Lena River. Closely related to the Mongols, Davydov t erroneously ascribed their swarthy complexion to poor hygiene and constant exposure to the elements. This idea of physical appearance being dictated by ones surroundings ions, reflecting common assumptions of the day. As a result, Davydov believed it important to simultaneously describe the geography surrounding the peoples he observed. While his observations lacked the detail of a geologist or geographer, he was neverth eless attentive to record natural rock formations, soil conditions, rivers, and weather whenever he described indigenous populations. 13 Davydov, Two Voyages , 56 57.
213 On August 12 observations of Okhotsk bear witness to th American colonies. The Elizaveta , one of the best ships in the RAC fleet, and the ship that Khvostov would command to take them to Russian America, was in rough shape. nd other mechanical equipment seemed Like most naval officers that traveled to the colonies, Davydov was not impressed with the crew and C ompany employees in town. He re called that they were hired and dispatched from around Siberia, with few reliable men to be found. Despite their misgivings, Khvostov and Davydov set sail for Kodiak with 49 promyshlenniki on August 26, 1802 . The trip between Okhotsk and Kodiak involved s taying very close to the coastline and the Aleutian Island chain . Davydov observed that even the crew that routinely crossed between Siberia and Russian were poor at both sailing and navigation. In addition, most ships in Company service were poorly made and could not handle the rigors of the Bering Sea. The lure of profit from furs, however, drove Company employees onward. In a more poetic moment, Davydov reflected that, [t]hese latter day Argonauts, also journeying for fleeces, but this time to Ameri ca, are worthy of more amazement than those led by Jason. For though they are equally ignorant and their equipment is just as primitive, yet the seas they have to cross are far greater in expanse, and are completely unfamiliar to them. To their complete ig norance of seamanship must also be added the lack of leadership, for the promyshlenniks have absolutely no respect for their skippers, whom they often beat and lock into their cabins. 14 14 Davydov, Two Voyages , 90.
214 While sailing with these mutinous Argonauts, Davydov spent time reading about shipwrecks and the difficulties faced by the Dutch navigators in the Arctic Ocean. In the maritime equivalent of telling ghost stories in the dark, Davydov reported that, id not alarm us. Perhaps this was because it is difficult to think deeply about other people's 15 The Elizaveta arrived in Kodiak in November 1802, despite a galley fire that nearly s a nk their ship. At the ti me, Baranov was still making plans to conquer Sitka after Fort Mikhailovsk was destroyed by the Tlingit. As a result, C ompany activity was largely restricted to the Aleutian Islands and the Alaskan coastline near Kodiak. Davydov described the tedium he a lso endured: "My duties and exercises were always the same and consisted of reading, of walking along the seashore with my gun and visiting the natives in their huts. For this purpose I would take along with me some food and get into my baidarka and trave l for five or six days and more away from the port." It was during these trips that Davydov did the bulk of his observation of the Alutiiq people. But Davydov and Khvostov did not stay long in Russian America during their first trip. It took nearly seven months to reach Kodiak. And yet, after helping with a couple of fur hunts, and observing a number of native festivities, the young naval officers made ready to depart for Okhotsk in June 1803. Langsdorff recalled that the Russian naval officers were ini tially sent to American Company upon a planning to return to Russian America after delivering furs to the Siberian port. 15 Davydov, Two Voyages , 87.
215 Khlebnikov n oted that they were best qualified to ensure the safe delivery of a cargo that was valued at 1.2 million rubles aboard the Elizaveta . 16 Over a two month stretch, Khvostov and Davydov tacked between the Aleutian and Kurile Islands on the way back to Russi a. They navigated treacherous currents and seas, during which Davydov commented on the unfavorable qualities of the wide bottomed RAC merchant ships, which were difficult to navigate with full cargo holds. Perhaps foreshadowing the virtues of purchasing the Juno citizens of the United States of America have realized this truth earlier than anyone else; they have begun to build better merchant ships, and to lose less of them than the Europeans." 17 The Russian officers arrived ne ar Okhotsk on August 22 , 1803. Stuck on a sandbar in the bay until the tides came in, Davydov showed the impetuousness of his youth. He rowed to shore in a baidarka to check on mail and get updates, and decided to row back to the ship despite rough surf and the advice of the locals. After The results were predictable to all those assembled: the waves tore off his protective coverings, and Davydov nearly died in the attempt to reach the ship. In a and it has several times cost me dearly. I cannot justify what I did. It deserves more to be called senseless obstinacy than praiseworthy boldness. That was what I thought of it, not when I was doing it, but afterwards. I must say that on this occasion only extreme 16 Khlebnikov, Baranov , 41. 17 Davydov, Two Voyages , 127.
216 good fortune saved me from the effects of my extraordinary foolhardiness." 18 As we will see, this foolhardine ss would eventually cost both men their lives. The Elizaveta finally reached the port of Okhotsk the next day. While there, Khvostov briefly scouted the Siberian coastline for possible locations for an alternate port. Like Davydov, Khvostov was nearly d rowned in a baidarka while exploring the Urak River. Also like Davydov, inflicted. He refused to believe a Yakut man who reported dangerous wave activity near the mouth of the river. 19 Upon learning that there were no supplies to be brought back to Russian America, Khvostov and Davydov decided to travel home to St. Petersburg instead. They reached the capital on February 5 , 1804 twenty months after departing. Davydov waxed poetic about his reunion with the city, family, and friends. The first half Two Voyages closes with these remarks, which summed up the satisfaction of his amour propre : Was it not long ago that we saw in our imagination the immeasurable distance, the innumerable dangers, an alien world and alien sky? Was it not long ago that we had the desperate thought that perhaps we might never return, and this gnawed at the very depths of our soul? Now all these earlier fears were past. We have satisfied our curiosity, performed certain s ervices and with a pleasant memory of our past difficulties, now we hasten on to see our relatives, our well wishers, friends and acquaintances. Anyone who has been on a long journey will know this joy, but he will appreciate it even more if he never expec ted to live and to enjoy it. 20 Upon their return to St. Petersburg, Khvostov reported to the RAC directors that the mouth of the Ulia River was most promising for a future port. The directors 18 Davydov, Two Voyages , 133 134. 19 The Russian American Colonies , 54 55. 20 D avydov, Two Voyages , 144.
217 peppered Khvostov with a number of questions about the geography , flora, and fauna of the area, demonstrating the active interest in natural history shared by leaders in the RAC and the Ru ssian government. Finally, the Lieutenant was asked about the state of the fleet in Russian America, and what was needed to improve safety on ships sailing between Okhotsk and America. Not surprisingly, Khvostov answered that the ships were inadequately built by apprentice shipwrights, with inferior materials, and crewed by 21 Khvostov further recommended finding better land routes from the coast to Yakutsk to improve Eurasian transport of goods and men. He also hinted at a rift between himself and Baranov when he reco mmended putting shipbuilding and Company business under the oversight of an experienced employee who would supervise competent shipwrights. Khvostov recommended that this should be a Russian naval officer. He indicated that, as of 1802, the Company only had seven ships in the Pacific, and only three of them were truly seaworthy (the Elizaveta , the Alexander Nevskii , and the newly completed Maria ). None of them matched ideal specifications needed for the job: 60 70 feet in length and built with a sharp ke one ship should sail from America to Okhotsk every May, and one from Okhotsk to America in late June or early July. In addition, two or three naval vessels should be on patrol to 21 Dmytryshyn, The Russian American Colonies , 47.
218 In this way, Khvostov argued, the Bostonians could be squeezed out of trade with the Tlingit near Sitka, and the RAC c ould start trading with 22 The Lieutenant was in complete agreement with Rezanov on this point , believing that Yankee merchants were disruptive to Russian wit h Khvostov: Social Status and the Return to Russian America voyage of the Juno from Rhode Island, is much better documented through letters, and the accoun first person account is unfortunately absent, as he died before completing the second part of his Two Voyages . Georg Langsdorff wrote that the intrepid adventurers left again for Russian America in May 1804, th ree short months after returning to the capital. They were promised of double pay for their return to the colonies. They arrived in Okhotsk at the end of August , 1804. Leaving immediately for Petropavlovsk, the two officers spent the next several months awaiting favorable conditions for traveling back to the Pacific Northwest. As mentioned previously, they met up with Rezanov at Petropavlovsk for the first time since the Chamberlain sent t hem to Russian America in April, 1802. They also met Georg Langs observations from their first journey before they all traveled to Kodiak. In Petropavlovsk, Lieutenant Herman von Lowenstern had an opportunity to observe Khvostov. Lowenstern was the German cartographer aboard the Nadezhda who chronicled the difficulties caused by Rezanov during the first leg of the Kruzenstern 22 Dmytryshyn, The Russian American Colonies , 49.
219 expedition. Davydov and Lowenstern previously served together with the English. The Baltic German naval officer thought 23 Lowenstern also admired of the Maria by punching the leader of a before they left Petropavlovsk. Lowenstern felt confident that order would be similarly restored in the colonies once Khvostov arrived. This opinion of Khvostov, coming from a fellow Russian naval officer, reveals how thought and felt about the merchant controlled American colonies and the rag tag Russians that were employed by the RAC. In June 1805, Rezanov, Langsdorff, Khvostov, and Davydov all sailed for Kodiak aboard the Maria . After stops at Unalaska and Kodiak, they headed for Sitka upon 20 , after a six days journey from Kodiak. Following through on his intentions to build vessels capable of attackin g the Japanese, Rezanov brought shipwrights from Petropavlovsk, and in September 1805, they began construction of the Avos . 24 But two ships, as it turned out, would not need to be built once the Juno was purchased. Shortly after the purchase of the Juno , Khvostov was put in charge of the vessel. Rezanov hoped that giving the young Lieutenant such responsibilities would improve the bad behavior he began to notice. According to a letter Rezanov wrote to the Board of Directors shortly before their trip to Spanish America, he was sorely mistaken. Despite being an extremely talented mariner, Rezanov reported that Khvostov was the 23 Lowenstern, The First Russian Voyage Around the World , 322. 24 Khlebnikov, Notes on Russian America, Part 1 , 250.
220 though a most useful and amiable man when Kodiak , company stores, interfering with Company business, and drinking to excess. Banner also reported to Rezanov that Khvostov was gett ing into the exact same trouble that allegedly caused problems on his previous visit in 1802. In the same letter, Rezanov accused Khvostov of attempting to recruit him in support of such activities. Khvostov reportedly believed that Company officials were insulting the authority the Lieutenant deserved because of his noble birth and naval rank. Rezanov then told Khvostov that unless he could prove that he was directly comp Khvostov was reportedly infuriated. He began insulting Rezanov, threatening the apparently deci ded to try a different tactic at this point, begging Khvostov to think of his parents, and the problems his behavior would cause them should word get back to the allegedly bega n to improve. But with command of the Juno , Khvostov was in a position to cause problems again. Khvostov began to quarrel with Company leaders, asserting the prerogatives of Juno to gather supplies at Kodiak would make the situation better. But upon returning to Sitka, Khvostov prevented the unloading of supplies for seemingly trifling reasons, using his
221 prerogatives as the captain of the vessel to cause problems for Rezanov, Baranov, and t he entire colony. In November 1805, while in the harbor at Sitka, Davydov moved on month span, he alone was alleged 25 Rezanov next turned to Davydov in the hopes that he could calm his tempestuous friend. Petr Tikhmenev, the RAC employee that wrote a history of the Company in the mid nineteenth century, indicated that the Midshipman had a far more 26 27 According to Rezanov, when Davydov moved ashore in N ovember, the Midshipman feared for Khvostov, who allegedly sought to raise anchor on a nightly basis, but was restrained by the drunken condition of the men aboard the Juno . When the Chamberlain ordered a limitation of one bottle of vodka per man per day, drinking t hey wanted to attack the fort and take me and Baranov." 28 Khvostov declared that limiting alcohol consumption was a form of violence directed against him. During the chaos, Baranov threatened to resign. But around 25 v to Board of Directors, February 15, 1806 (Second Secret Letter) in Tikhmenev, A History of the Russian American Company Vol II , 194. 26 Pierce, Russian America: A Biographica l Dictionary, 114. 27 Davydov, A Voyage to the North Pacific , 76. 28 Tikhmenev, A History of the Russian American Company Vol II , 196.
222 Christmas of 1805, Khvostov apparently m ade an effort to reform under persistent pardon with tears in his eyes. I forgave him and will take him with me when I start on my voyage. I took Davydov too, who being convi nced of his sincere repentance forgave him also wholeheartedly. He was pardoned also by Baranov, Kuskov, and all the others, who do not wish anything better than that all these happenings be forgotten, unless something similar happens again." 29 According t Juno , Rezanov sent orders on January 24, 1806 that the Lieutenant was to make the ship ready for the voyage to Spanish California. 30 After a month of steady activity loading supplies and caulking the vessel, the Juno left Sitka. All aboard witnessed Khvostov at his finest, avoiding rocks, and safely navigating the vessel along the Pacific Northwest coast, despite contrary conditions and a sick crew. Khvostov reported in his log that on March 18 the ship reached the mouth of the C olumbia River. While Rezanov wanted them to sail into the cannot enter the Columbia River except on a counter current, as confused swells are often experienced. The win d began to freshen. It was dangerous to let down a rowboat, so raised anchor and set course for San Francisco." 31 After briefly considering a stop at Bodega Bay, the officers and Rezanov arrived at San Francisco on March 28 . While Rezanov was flatteri ng t he Arguello family and the G overnor of Spanish California, and Langsdorff was off recording his observations 29 Tikhmenev, A History of the Russian American Company Vol II , 196. 30 Pierce, Rezanov Reconnoiters California , 44 45. 31 Pierce, Rezanov Reconnoiters California , 48.
223 Khvostov stayed on board to deal with discipline problems, and to make the ship ready for the return voyage. O n April 12 , Khvostov reported that the Arguello family dined aboard the Juno . Two weeks later, Governor Arrilaga also dined aboard, with much fanfare and the firing of cannons from the ship and presidio to toast the long lives of the emperor of Russia and the King of Spain. But Khvostov also had an eye for exploration. Under the pretext of looking for two runaway Russian sailors, Rezanov secured permission for Khvostov to explore around San Francisco Bay. Foreshadowing future colonization efforts in Nor thern California, Excellency continues, I may boldly state that, once established at Bodega, the Russians could use this small isthmus to extend their settlement to the no rth shore of San Francisco Bay. The Spaniards, as [religious] fanatics, are not interested in industries; they do not even have a rowboat, and the frigates which deliver the supplies are not 32 With three days of expl oring, Khvostov presented Rezanov with a chart noting the geography of north and south sides of the bay, an analysis of the edible flora in the area, and the conclusion that there were great trees in the area that could be used for shipbuilding. s Ethnography Davydov busied himself studying the indigenous populations of Kodiak and Sitka. Many texts from Russian America from the nineteenth century concerned ethnography. A uthors of natural history, geography, religious scholars and even casual observers like DeWolf all wrote the native populations they encountered. The popularity of 32 Pierce, Rezanov Reconnoiters Califo rnia , 52 53.
224 ethnography in Western Europe, Russia, and the United States ensured that such texts would be published widely. Writers have been observing and comparing foreign cultures since the birth of the written word, but ethnography as a discipline of natural history traces back to the Enlightenment. For the Russians, ethnography was not a matter of id le speculation about foreign peoples. Eighteenth century Russian intellectual heavyweights like Mikhail Lomonosov and Gerhard Friedrich MÃ¼ller studied linguistic and ethnographic data and vigorously debated the origins of the Russian people. 33 Beginning i n the sixteenth century, Western Europeans came into increasing contact with unfamiliar peoples encountered during maritime exploration. Today ethnography is defined as a qualitative branch of anthropology or sociology that focuses upon the everyday life of a group of people. Scholars of anthropology often describe ethnography as possessing two interdependent aspects: the work done to study a group in the field, and the ethnographic text that an ethnographer produces. Like their eighteenth and nineteenth century counterparts, modern ethnographers attempt to collect data and present their findings from an inside perspective, becoming both participants and observers in social phenomena. 34 33 H. Tichovskis Century Controversy on the Relation between Baltic and Slavonic Languages The Slavonic and East European Review 42 no. 99 (June, 1964): 431. 34 Since Edward Said published Orientalism in 1978, scholars have been contending with how their disciplines contributed to European imperial hegemony over much of the globe. Criticism of ethnography often came from within the disciplines that practice it. See Nicholas Thomas, "Against Ethnography" Cultural Anthropology 6 n o. 3 (Aug 1991): 306 Annual Review of Anthropology 26 (1997): 163 183; Gille Zsuzsa and SeÃ¡n " Riain "Global Ethnography" Annual Review of So ciology 28 (2002): 271 295.
225 coast, Davydov left a record of how experiences beyond the frontier were filtered through ideas of the day. Russian America proved to be an alluring place to conduct ethnographic studies in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries due to a prevalent belief that the Pacific with its discreet island groupings and vast territorial distances offered ethnographers an ideal laboratory in which to test their ideas about the relationships between di fferent ethnic groups, and the relationship of these people to their environment. 35 Unlike Langsdorff, Davydov did not tie his observations to a larger critique of ns bear less completing his book prior to his death. The second half of his Two Voyages certainly chronicles the difficulties Alutiiq hunters and villagers faced under Russ ian management, but the overall tone more closely resembles the writings of naval officers and experts from eighteenth century expeditions of discovery. This might be attributed entists like Langsdorff. natured people, hospitable, generally even cowardly, idle, and, when they get the chance, gluttonous beyo nd all bounds, and they can equally well exist for long periods without food when need or 35 Enlightenment and Exploration, 65.
226 poverty forces them to do so." 36 Davydov frequently relied upon hearsay and stories to explain his ethnographic observations. After losing three horses during the fo rding of the Akachan River, he wrote that the guides set off in search of the horses with a pot to eat their fill of the horsemeat. 37 Gluttony, according to Davydov was rampant among the Yakuts, and led them to even eat diseased horses. As proof, he offer ed up a story of feasting on sick and dying horses. He reinforced this image with a description of gluttonous Yakut wedding festivals. The Midshipman also noted the diffe rences between the ethnic Russian population in Siberia and their European counterparts. The peasants around Irkutsk were new settlers and exiles that continued to arrive in Siberia, often without wives. As e villages in which they have been 38 He also noted that they frequently engaged in pillaging and banditry in the summer. The growth around Irkutsk was partly the result of shifting trade routes, with d of trade between Russia, Siberia, arance to their Russian forefathers. They were "in general more businesslike, honorable, and hospitable -they are even more enlightened than the Russian ones." On July 11 , 1802, on the way a Cossack who was 36 Davydov, Two Voyages , 77. 37 Davydov, Two Voyages , 69. 38 Davydov, Two Voyages , 31.
227 supposed to act as our Yakut interpreter, because very few of the Yakuts can speak and s in our sense, but a command of men under the leadership of the constables. They are descended from the Cossacks, trappers and hunters who won Siberia. All these people called themselves Cossacks, and this name was taken over by the descendants. Cossack c hildren go into the same command, and so it still exists, although it has 39 With his arrival at Kodiak aboard the Elizaveta in November 1802, Davydov almost immediately began to observe the Alutiiq and their ceremonies. Mor e than an idle curiosity, understanding the Alutiiq in the area and their intent was required for the continued survival of the Russians along the Pacific Northwest coast. Baranov informed Khvostov and Davydov that the natives were beginning to suspect th at the Russians had sent their entire population with the last boats, since they had not had a ship arrive from Okhotsk in a number of years. The arrival of supplies and healthy men, Baranov assured them, reaffirmed to the local population that the Russia ns were there to stay. Baranov was particularly concerned about this, as Fort Mikhailovsk at Sitka was overrun by the Tlingit a few months earlier. With little activity going on due to approach of winter, Davydov began to reconnoiter around Kodiak. Sin ce the large island is naturally sheltered from the worst of the Alaskan winter by high mountains along the mainland and the relatively warm Japanese Current, Davydov was able to explore Kodiak late in the season. Over the next several months, 39 Davydov, Two Voyages , 47.
228 he spent si gnificant portions of his time among the Alutiiq, learning to use baidarkas to travel from island to island. Until April 1803, when hunting resumed, Davydov observed re different from ourselves. But now I would have an even better chance of seeing them and of noting the differences between a man enlightened by science and one guided only by na 40 Davydov viewed Russian tactics vis Ã vis the Alutiiq and Unangan peoples in the colonies with relative detachment. He did observe the food shortages among the Alutiiq that resulted from the Company putting able bodied men to work hunting seals during cases where the islanders are literally starving the company helps them with supplies of iukola; but it should happen, in accordance with the laws of truth and g ood sense, that the labor of others was so sparingly used that our interests and profits were based on their well being." 41 As others observed, such was seldom the case. Langsdorff praised power to repress these abuses: the latter in particular was a real father to the sick, and was always ready to give them assistance with a degree of philan thropy rarely to be found... but my voice, as well as that of Lt. Davydov, however raised against the abuses, was too weak to be heard." 42 40 Davydov, Two Voyages , 104. 41 Davydov, Two Voyages , 175. 42 Langsdorff, Voyages and Travels , 114.
229 Davydov was nevertheless comfortable with the confiscation of native baidarkas and the taking of hostages to ensure co operation among the local populations. He tend towards war and murder. They consider it a pleasure to torture enemy prisoners, and in almost everything they are simil ar to the inhabitants of northeast America, who 43 The Midshipman also attended several Alutiiq festivals, and observed the interactions of the population with RAC employees. Like many attempts t o describe native populations in the eighteenth and nineteenth century, his ethnography vacillated between praise and scorn for them. a state of nature, before the ri se of society. The young Midshipman saw the natives as supremely inventive, particularly in matters concerning sea travel. They were naturally gifted navigators, who used their vigate the treacherous coast 44 observed that the Alutiiq had a profound love of freedom. In writing about the Kenai along the Alaskan coastline north of Kodiak, he recalled that, rouses the most craven coward to despise death. When the Russians first came to Kinai Bay the commander of th e ship sent a landing party to capture some savages so that their acquaintance might be made. The party found seven or eight families of Kinai and brought them to the ship, but the savages believing they were being taken into bondage, murdered 43 Davydov, Two Voyages , 106. 44 Davydov, Two Voyages , 156.
230 all of their women and children on the way and then killed themselves. Such examples are not infrequent here. 45 In two different parts of his work, Davydov mentioned this sense of freedom and how it led to several native populations to view corporal punishment as a great dishonor. But he was also quick to criticize what he perceived as less desirable qualities of the people he observed. First among these was their temper. The Alutiiq had, gery with which the latter are treated, lack of devotion to their relatives, and indifference to the sufferings of those nearest to them are also part of their nature." In comparing the ultimate degree, and are so idle that they are only galvanized into activity by the extremities of need." Writing in support of Russian colonization, Davydov indicated that only innovations brought by the Russians and the desire for t obacco seemed to spur them to productivity. Perhaps the most interesting conclusion that Davydov reached was the idea that native savagery and sloth were tied to a lack of a sense of value and the inability to think abstractly qualities of an enlighten ed man that lived in a state of society. Even while admiring some of the handicrafts produced by the native women, Davydov noted months over a headdress to be wor n at one of their festivals and after all that will part 46 Their lack of a concept of value made them that attempted to sell the Ru ssians a headdress at an outrageously inflated price, but he 45 Davydov, Two Voyages , 159. 46 Davydov, Two Voyages , 165.
231 wound up selling it for a small amount of beads elsewhere because he could not get the price he wanted. Even if he was not aware of it, Davydov was, in fact, contrasting the qualities of amour propre . Lacking a sense of identity derived from a concern over the thoughts and feelings of others, he wrote that ch 47 think abstractly , a condition that would derive from a sense of self respect based upon concern about the opinion of others. When confronted with a concept the y did not confuse hearing with understanding. The reason for this is of course a pov erty of language with which to express abstract thought." 48 Davydov was also interested in comparing the Alutiiq to other populations that he observed on the way to Russian America. As with his description of the Yakuts, Davydov concluded that the physica l appearance of the Kenai and Kodiak Alutiiq natives was directly related to their environment, arguing that their dark copper skin well as the fact that in summer the y sail their baidarkas naked and also, when it is warm, sit naked in their houses. It would thus seem to me that their skin coloring is not inborn. This is borne out by the fact that many of the women have a very pale skin, 47 Davydov, Two Voyages , 161. 48 Davydov, Two Voyages , 171.
232 which results from the fact that 49 As with the Siberian populations, Davydov was also fascinated with Alutiiq culinary habits. He detailed a -the eating goes on day and night so that some are phys ically exhausted..." Further, he indicated that their appetite knew no bounds, and they would eat just about anything. They often showed off, he indicated, by eating until they were ill. Davydov was fascinated with gluttony among indigenous populations. It seemed to be a marker of a more savage state, where the boundaries of etiquette and propriety did not exist. Like Langsdorff, Davydov also showed a keen interest in domestic affairs like family, women, and sexuality. While offering a glimpse into t he intermarriage of Russian men with native women Davydov noted the influx of European fashion and h ow native wives would sometimes wear jackets and skirts, and even long dresses, which do not seem to suit them at all, but what is even more comic is to se e a native woman wearing high heel shoes. Like women everywhere, they love dressing up. They may sometimes be seen in all of their finery, walking through the mud, holding their shoes in their hand. But however much a local girl may dress up, beads, bugle beads, and multi color stones do not cease to please her. An idea of luxury is furtively stealing into the savage mind, for the Americans love dressing in European clothes, if they can acquire them. 50 He detailed the responsibilities of native women, incl uding sewing clothing and bags, preparation of thread for arrows, and basketwork considerable power due to their ability to select their husban ds. 51 But he also indicated 49 Davydov, Two Voyages , 148. 50 Davydov, Two Voyages , 153. 51 Davydov, Two Voyages , 165.
233 that they had to leave the village during menstruation, and live in special huts. 52 Along with Langsdorff and DeWolf, Davydov seemed to have the most difficulty in accepting native notions of beauty and adornment. He recorded beards into male and female jaw lines by drawing strings coated in ash and charcoal through their faces. But, he noted, as European standards began to exercise influence over the Alutiiq, these activities began to decline. In their place, Davydov observed that dress." Davydov also observed sexual licentiousness of the Alutiiq women with great interest. He accus little heed to their daughters' chastity but for the most part in return for trinkets they will t hemselves encourage the girl to transgress, even though she may not be of age to do natives: "One young Koniaga who had killed a Russian was placed in irons with his mother , who, as it later turned out, had had nothing to do with the crime. His mother was also his wife." To escape the shame of being held captive, the mother and son jumped off a cliff and the mother/wife drowned the son/husband. Interestingly, Davydov failed to account for Russian intervention in Alutiiq culture as a possible culprit for the more unsavory behaviors he allegedly observed. This glaring omission from his observations of Alutiiq and Tlingit women in particular, and indigenous cultures in general , implies a strong desire to view his subjects as 52 Davydov, Two Voyages , 171.
234 completely separate from the European peoples that were trading and colonizing in the area. And yet, Davydov offered surprising observations that are of great interest to historians that study gender and s exuality. He observed families that included transgendered partners. He wrote that do women's tasks, they live with the women and like them they sometimes have two husbands. Such men are called akhnuchiki . The y are not despised, but on the contrary the villagers obey them and they are often wizards." 53 Davydov also made a few observations of the Tlingit while he was in Sitka in 1805 and 1806. But these notes were mostly used in contrast to the Alutiiq who occupy the bulk of his narrative. The most obvious reason for this was that he died before organizing his thoughts about his second voyage to Russian America. In addition, he only spent a couple of months in Sitka. During that time, the Kiks.Ã¡di Tlingit of Sitka were exiled at a distance from the Russian settlement. Finally, Davydov spent about as much time in Spanish California as he did in Russian America. He simply did not have the same amount of leisure time that he did when he visited Kodiak in 18 memory of his second voyage to the Russian colonies must have been heavily tainted Scene 2 The Juno as a Ship of War: Davydov and Khvostov at War with Japan Wherein we follow the Juno and the Avos during the expedition against the Japanese under the command of Khvostov and Davydov In July 1806, fresh from the mission to California, Rezanov prepared the Juno and the Avos to leave Russian America with a c ompliment of 65 men. With Nikolai Khvostov in command of the Juno , and Gavril Davydov overseeing the newly completed 53 Davydov, Two Voyages , 166.
235 Avos , Rezanov believed he had the people and equipment needed to force a trade agreement from the Japanese. Rezanov never forgot the slig ht he endured as Ambassador to Japan. Shortly after meeting Khvostov and Davydov at Petropavlovsk minds all agreed on a single aim, I have endeavored to organize for next year an expedition which may open a new avenue of trade and give the support needed to this 54 Attacking the Japanese Prior to purchasing the Juno , Rezanov intended for two ships to be built for the purposes of thi s expedition. After his deal with DeWolf, he only had to have the Avos built, which was finished in June , 1806. Rezanov's plan was to scout Sakhalin Island's southern region around Aniwa Bay and the southern Kurile Islands, raiding any Japanese settlemen ts they found to liberate them from Japanese encroachment. He planned to award Russian medallions to the natives of Sakhalin, encouraging them to swear loyalty to the Tsar rather than the Japanese. In case the Japanese did not leave the islands, Rezanov considered direct rule over them by capturing Japanese priests 55 Rezanov intended to personally oversee the expedition. O n August 8 , 1806, he ordered Khvostov to take him suddenly to Okhotsk. The Avos was to continue to Aniwa Bay to await the Juno . When the Juno arrived in Okhotsk in September 1807 it was provisioned for the upcoming expedition. But o n September 24 s to make an amendment. 54 Davydov, Two Voyages , 8. 55 Tikhmenev, A History of the Russian American Company Vol II , 101 102.
236 Citing the lateness of the season, a crack in the Rezanov seemingly backtracked on his audacious plan. He ordered the Juno to head back to America to support operations there. But, if time p ermitted, Rezanov indicated Sakhalin, giving them presents and medallions, and try to discover how the Japanese in 56 Making matters even more conf using, Rezanov closed the be in is not suitable for replacing our mast, and that a combination of circumstances has In the introduction to Two Voyages , Vice Admiral Shishkov noted that Khvostov was perplexed by these changes. Should he conduct the raid, since the repairs were minor, or head back to America? Was the plan cancelled, or just suspended until repairs and time would per mit? When Khvostov sought clarification from Rezanov, he discovered that the Chamberlain left suddenly for St. Petersburg. Shishkov indicated that fear for the safety of the Avos prompted Khvostov to sail for Aniwa Bay in October, 1807. But u nbeknownst to Khvostov, Davydov was unable to stay in Aniwa Bay very long. At the time that the Juno was leaving Okhotsk, the Avos arrived in Petropavlovsk due to crew illness and damage sustained to the ship. 57 On October 7 visiting an Ainu village on Sakhalin Island . From the Juno , he ordered another Russian officer to plant the 56 Davydov, Two Voyages , 10. 57 Davydov, Two Voyages , 12; and Langsdorff, Voyages and Travels , 294 295.
237 Russian flag on shore and to have gifts given to elders on the village . 58 The crew then began raiding Japanese villages, such as Kushunkotan, on the western shore of southern Sakhalin. 59 During operations in the area, Khvostov seized over 19 tons of rice, and looted tobacco, fishing nets, and various household goods. He also burned several houses, and cap tured four Japanese subjects. 60 Continuing with the temple, demanding that Japan open trade, or face more raids. 61 He also distributed some of the seized goods among Sa 62 The lateness of the season, coupled with damage sustained to the Juno and curiosity about the fate of the Avos , compelled Khvostov to forgo a planned expedition in the southern Kurile Islands. Instead he sailed back to Pe tropavlovsk, where he met up with Davydov. Khvostov also reunited with John DeWolf and Georg Langsdorff, who were waylaid in the Kamchatka port on the way to Okhotsk. DeWolf reported that the Juno arrived around the middle of November, the sight of which huts of Petropaulowsk, where we partook together of the best cheer the country afforded in fish, rein above all, in the excellent rice brought by the Juno , having lived in the utmost harmony, sharing many parties of pleasure; -after all these things, in the Spring of 1807, the two friends prepared, 58 Mikhail Vysokov, A Brief History of Sakhalin and the Kurils (Yuzhno Sakhalinsk: Sakhalin Book Publishing House, 1996), 36. 59 Henry Emerson Wildes, "Russia's Attempts to Open Japan." Russian Review 5 no. 1 (Autumn 1945): 76. 60 Tikhmenev, A Histor y of the Russian American Company Vol II , 103 104. 61 62 Langsdorff, Voyages and Travels , 294 295.
238 according to the instructions they had received, for a r enewal of their military 63 The target this time was the largely abandoned Kurile Islands, which the Russians had used in the past for hunting furs. DeWolf indicated that the Juno and Avos were made ready to sail on March 25 . Langsdorff r ecalled May 2, 1807 as the date the ships left Petropavlovsk harbor. Always on the lookout for objects of natural history, Langsdorff reported that in the Kurile Islands, Khvostov found, a number of armed Japanese, who at first made a shew of resistance with their bows and arrows, but soon took flight, abandoning their habitations and magazines entirely to the Russians. The latter found in them a number of very beautiful lackered utensils, books, maps, a large provision of rice and salt, tobacco, clothes , working tools of various kinds, everything, in short, necessary to life. Among other things worthy of remark were some pieces of cannon, muskets, swords, cuirasses, helmets, bows and arrows: we were in this manner indebted to these brave men for becomin g acquainted with a number of objects which we In the mid nineteenth century, Tikhmenev indicated that the fighting was fiercer, with the Japanese at Iturup firing cannons at the Juno and Avos . Subsequent historians have disputed this, with one noting that the Russians overcame Shana (present day Kurilsk), the largest Japanese fortification on Iturup, with relative ease. 64 Davydov, who reported that no repairs were required to the Juno or the Avos after the expedition, corroborated the ease of the excursion. 65 Ransacking the Japanese settlement of Naihu, Khvostov and Davydov sailed for Urup. Despite their expectations of finding a Russian fur hunting settlement, Khvostov and Davydov fo und that it has been 63 Langsdorff, Voyages and Travels , 295. 64 Vysokov, A Brief History , 38. 65 A History of the Russian American Company Vol II , 228.
239 abandoned. 66 Returning to Aniwa Bay, the crews of the Juno and Avos pillaged two more settlements, burning sheds of fish, and destroying five unmanned Japanese ships. ov released all of the captured Japanese except two, whom he kept on the ship for some unknown 67 Langsdorff, on the other hand, indicated that all four captured Japanese fishermen , who had learned some Russian while in Petropavlovsk for the winter , were 68 In July 1807, Khvostov ordered the Juno and the Avos to sail for Okhotsk to send rep orts to the Company, and to replenish supplies for a return voyage to America. According to a letter from Davydov to Baranov, they only intended to stay for three or four days to make minor repairs to the Avos. because during this time at least 6,000 69 On July 18 , a day after arriving, Davydov reported th at he brought all of the boats from both ships to shore. At that point, Bukharin had Davydov placed under guard. B ukharin stated that he did not believe that Rezanov gave any orders for the Davydov gave, Bukharin attempted to extort money from him prior to the arrest. Davydov el aborated on the reprehensible character of Bukharin. With the crew of the 66 Tikhmenev reported that they found the grave of the expedit ion leader with a date of April 1805 . 67 Tikhmenev, A History of the Russian American Company Vol I , 104. 68 Langsdorff, Voyages and Travels , 299. 69 Tikhmenev, A History of the Russian American Company Vol II , 227.
240 have to hire Bukharin's oarsmen." They reportedly earned an unheard of five hundred rubles in a day to unload bales from the Company ship Maria . Adding insult to injury, Bukharin ordered that command of the Juno would be transferred to Fedor Markovich Karpinsky, an officer that took part in the raids before turning on Khvostov and Davydov. Davydov Elizaveta in D ecember, 1805. Khvostov and Davydov went on to spend the next month in confinement at Okhotsk. Even after a commission decided that they should be sent to St. Petersbur g to clear matters up, Bukharin kept them under arrest. With the help of sympathetic townsfolk and guards, the two escaped on the night of September 17 , 1807. In October, they were detained in Yakutsk, under orders from Bukharin. At that time, Davydov w rote to the Company directors in St. Petersburg to explain the situation. Despondent over the possibility of being transferred to Irkutsk, or possibly back to When His Excellency [Rezanov] instructed us t o seize the Japanese vessels and men, and to say that this was done in revenge for the refusal with which our embassy met in Japan; when the Chamberlain Nikolai Petrovich Rezanov reported to His Imperial Majesty about this undertaking from Unalashka Island a year ahead of the time it was begun; when medals and goods were given to befriend the aborigines in places where Japanese have settled and when during such a long period of time the resources of the Russian American Company were used to organize and out fit this expedition. Taking all this into consideration, who could doubt that it was done in accordance with the will of the Emperor, and who could ask His Excellency, even if he could? You are, of course, aware of the instruction given by His Excellency t o Lieutenant Khvostov, to whose command I was assigned, and whose instructions I have obeyed. 70 70 Tikhmenev, A History of the Russian American Company Vol II , 230 231.
241 In the same letter, Davydov again accused Bukharin of abusing his power, using his influence in Okhotsk to line his pockets, and tampering with the post to preve nt these crimes from reaching the centers of power. Significance of the Japanese Excursion Interpretation of the meaning and significance of the attacks began almost as soon as Khvostov and Davydov were detained. Ten days after Davydov wrote his letter to the Main Administration of the RAC from Yakutsk, the Company sent a report to time , the report was strikingly silent on the arrest of Khvostov and Davydov, and the raids that took place , before the winter of 1806 1807. It is likely that the Company sought to distance itself from the attacks, while passing responsibility onto Rezanov, ac ting in his public capacity as Chamberlain of the Court (rather than his private role as plenipotentiary and major shareholder of the RAC). After reporting on the arrival of furs from Sitka to Okhotsk aboard the ship Maria , the Company reported to the Tsa r that, after spending the winter of 1806 in the port of Petropavlovsk, the Juno and Avos arrived in Okhotsk. However, they added that both Councilor Rezanov for some kind of secret expedition. Since the Main Administratio n of the Company has not been informed about this, it does not know what those two ships were doing. There was no Company cargo aboard 71 71 port from the Main Administration of the Russian American Company to The Russian American Colonies , 149.
242 Two Voyages , Shishkov elaborated on the motives for the attacks. Like Langsdorff, he explained that the attacks against the Japanese were planned by Rezanov to avenge the personal and professional insult of Khvostov and Davydov in Petropavlovsk aft er leaving Japan gave him the means of realizing this goal. According to Shishkov, Rezanov, feeling that he had been insulted by the Japanese as Ambassador of Russia, searched his mind for some way to revive their fading respect for our flag and remind them that by adopting a hostile and difficult posture they would be putting themselves in danger from our armed might; but that peaceful and friendly relations would be both advantageous and useful for them. This alone, he believed, would compel them to begin peaceful trading relations with us. 72 honor of Russia, and simultaneously accomplish his original mission of opening up Japan to trade with the RAC at the same time. This i nterpretation, while passing over questions of state responsibility for await with im patience the results of your bravery, and so with a common effort we shall undertake this great adventure, and we shall show the world that in this happy century a handful of Russians is putting all its efforts into those great matters in which millions of 73 But in assessing Khvostov and officers act illegally once Rezanov gave Khvostov modified orders in September 1806? 72 Davydov, Two Voyages , 6. 73 Davydov, Two Voyages , 8.
243 Shish his decision to attack as heroic. According to the Vice Admiral, Khvostov decisively put concern for the Avos and love of country ahead of his safety when deciding to attack. 74 As for their imprisonment in Okhotsk after the Japanese expedition, Shishkov lamented that Bukharin believed Khvostov and Davydov plundered a great deal of gold from the Japanes e. The arrest order that Bukharin signed arrived in Yakutsk ahead of Khvostov and Davydov, and requested that authorities apprehend them and any gold they had on them. hand account of the expedition bears a distinct bias against Rezanov during the 1804 1805 ambassadorship in Nagasaki, the German wrote that Rezanov planned the attacks in retaliation against them . The Chamberlain, in justified in conducting the attacks because the islands belonged to the Russians through past exploration and fur trading settlements. By attacking the Japanese, Langsdorff wrote, they would amour propre of the Ex decreasing likelihood of opening the Japanese or Chinese markets, Langsdorff wrote that Rezanov may have left Okhotsk suddenly to get official input on the events that were unfolding. Langsdorff was more evasive on the legality of the attack, observing 74 Davydov, Two Voyages , 12.
244 he had pursued, was precluded b y his death, which happened the following year in 75 Japanese was justified by prior Russian claims to Sakhalin and the southern Kuriles. He wrote that after Khv proceed to one of the southernmost of the Kurile Islands, and break up a Japanese settlement reported to have been established there." 76 In addition, DeWolf euphemistically referred to the attacks as 77 Kyrill Khlebnikov brushed over the Japanese expedition in his 1833 biography of Baranov. A long time employee of the RAC, and a contemporary of all of those in volved, Khlebnikov reported that, Possibly an interesting historical picture could have emerged from the bold acts of Lieutenants Khvostov and Davydov on certain Japanese islands, t his picture is obscured by a curtain of unpleasant memories, and will doubtless go into oblivion that way. Perhaps only the shy and incredible Japanese will leave to posterity legendary tales of the Russians' deeds of heroism. 78 The Russian government also reportedly distanced itself from the actions taken by young naval officers by blaming the RAC. In a dispatch to the Japanese government, Russian officials claimed that the attacks were instigated by Company 75 Langsdorff, Voyages and Travels, 547. 76 DeWolf, A Voyage to the North Pacific , 77. 77 DeWolf, A Voyage to the North Pacific , 87. 78 Khlebnikov, Baranov , 60.
245 excessively, and treated native populations poorly. 79 This was certainly the position of Captain Vasili Mikhailovich Golovnin, who was taken captive by the Japanese in 1811 when his ship, the Diana , arrived in Japan. While ja iled, the Japanese grilled him about the attacks three years previous. In his memoirs, Golovnin recalled that he blamed 80 When the ents from the raid, Golovnin argued that this w as just prideful boasting by an this was the case. 81 For the Japanese, the attacks had far rea ching consequences. Fearing additional raids, they quickly moved to refortify positions in the Kuriles and on Sakhalin. Itorup was garrisoned by 2,500 Japanese soldiers by 1808. Japanese sources also record large troop movements on Hokkaido and Honshu i n the aftermath of the attacks. 82 throughout the nineteenth century, as Japanese officials continued to blame poor relations upon the Juno raids. 83 79 80 Vasili Golovnin, Memoirs of a Captiv ity in Japan, during the years 1811, 1812, and 1813; with observations on the country and the people (London: H. Colburn and Co, 1824), 153. 81 Golovnin, Memoirs of a Captivity , 166. 82 W.G. Aston "The Russian Descents upon Saghalien and Itorup" Transactions Asiatic Society of Japan, Vol. 1 (1873): 88. 83 Wildes, "Russia's Attempt to Open Japan," 70 79. 1882, the chief of Japan's Geographical Society, Admiral Viscount Buyo Enomoto, wrote a series of articles tracing the origin of Russo Japanese hostility to their
246 Thus, the echoes of Khvostov and Da throughout the nineteenth century. While they were, at best, minor military skirmishes, the invasion was conducted by ships far larger than the Japanese could produce, as indicated by Golovnin during his captivity. From the Russian perspective, the attacks exposed the benefits and pitfalls of an overseas empire run by a semi private company. While reaping profits from the fur trade and expanding Russian dominion along istance itself from diplomatic scuffles it was ill prepared to handle by blaming it on Company men. For historians, the Kurile and Sakhalin expeditions offer a glimpse into the praxis of empire building on the micro level. The raids certainly did not fur ther the aims of the Russian Empire in the Pacific, but they do expose the importance of individual actors and their ideas of empire put into operation beyond the frontier of the continental Russian Empire. The Tragic Deaths of Khvostov and Davydov In O ctober 1807, while being detained in Yakutsk, Davydov wrote to the Main A dministration of the RAC. Bitterly disappointed by all that he had undergone in the colonies, the young Midshipman lamented wasting the best years of his life in the Russian American 84 Missing his home and family, bereft of the sense of amour propre that brought him to the colonies, Davydov humbly requested to be transferred to Irkutsk, and onward to St. Pe He then summed up the precarious position many endured in the colonies: This affair has persuaded me not to seek glory any more in such remote regions, where all actions can be made to appear doubtful; where one is afraid to disobey a man of such high rank as the Ambassador to Japan, 84 Davydov, Two Voyages , 229.
247 and then later to suffer for his obedience at the hands of another government official. In these parts, due to their remoteness and great distances, the co ntracts made with the Main Office often become invalid and the conditions of the contract are not always kept... This is the reward for my willingness to serve! In comparing my former life with the present, my heart bleeds, and the cruel insult to my honor makes me curse the man who is responsible for what has happened, and life itself. 85 Both Davydov and Khvostov did return to St. Petersburg. Unofficially, it appeared that the Russian government took a soft gloved approach towards them. They were sent to fight against Sweden shortly after arriving in St. Petersburg in late 1807, with judgment against them suspended. According to Tikhmenev, there are degree of official seen that on the decision of a general meeting of stockholders, the board of directors had been s eized in arresting the ships were taken from him. Part of the booty was delivered to St. Petersburg and two Portuguese cannon and a Japanese falconet were placed by Imperial command in the arsenal; the other falconet taken by Khvostov was presented by the 86 Khvostov and Davydov earned forgiveness from the Russian Navy in 1809, when they returned to St. Petersburg for rest and recuperation at the close of the fighting season. Shishkov indica ted that Khvostov in particular was well regarded by his superiors, and was again cited for his fearlessness in battle. In October 1809, a chance meeting occurred. John DeWolf returned to the Russian capital to open into trade relations via the Baltic. G eorg Langsdorff was living 85 Tikhmenev, A History of the Russian American Company Vol II , 234. 86 Tikhmenev, A History of the Russian American Company Vol I , 105.
248 in the capital after his trek across Russia. DeWolf recalled that while meeting with 87 Langsdorff similarly recalled that they 88 When the party finally broke up, Khvostov and Davydov had to cross the Neva River . The German and the American accompanied the Russian naval officers to the drawbridge to say their goodbyes. Since the bridge was up, the Russians hopped on a barge and across planks to reach the other side. DeWolf recalled them calling and wishing a good night from the ot her side. He concluded his narrative by noting, After we had parted from them, they became desirous, God knows for what purpose, to return to us again, and, in order to get over quicker, they attempted to spring from the bridge upon a bark that was going through. They mistook a sail for the deck of the vessel, and both fell into the water. The people in the bark endeavored to rescue them, but the night was so dark, and the current so strong, that they went under before they received any assistance. Thoug h fifty years have gone by since the death of these young men, I cannot forbear to recall their many virtues and lament their untimely end. 89 night was very dark, and the current very fast under the comrades, friends, and families were left to wonder at the sudden and mysterious tragedy of their untimely deat hs. In December 1809, Derzhavin wrote a eulogy in verse for the two intrepid adventurers. In Memory of Davydov and Khvostov immortalized the men as Russian 87 DeWolf, A Voyage to the North Pacific , 146. 88 Langsdorff, Voyages and Travels , 549. 89 DeWolf, A Voyage to the North Pacific , 147.
249 r, Derzhavin asked Russians not to forget these heroes that exemplified the Alexandrine age. Shishkov, founder of the literary circle Beseda Liubitelei Russkago Slova , also wrote a poem in praise of Two Voyages , Shishko v similarly eulogized the Denouement The Periphery and Identity When Khvostov and Davydov s tared into the periphery beyond the frontiers of the Russian Empire, the periphery stared back into them. The behavior of former, and the writings of latter, demonstrate how disconnection from the social and political center transformed those that travele d to the distant edges of power. Th e periphery shaped individuals that arrived there. Khvostov , like Rezanov, suffered what seemed to be a crisis identity, only feeling secure when he was in command of the Juno . Despite all the trouble he caused while more or less marooned in the colonies, the Lieutenant tended to his duties carefully during the expedition to Spanish California. W hile Rezanov was scouting possibilities of trade, and Langsdorff was collecting s pecimens of natural history, Khvostov carefully observed the northern California coastline in the Jun log. But when there was significant down time in the colonies, both in 1802 and in 1805 1806, Khvostov became dysphoric. He began to interfere i n the affairs of the colonies and drink to excess. He tried to use his noble and military rank in the colonies, and grew increasingly frustrated when this was not respected.
250 Davydov, on the other hand, took a more introspective approach. His education pr edisposed the Midshipman towards comparing himself to those he observed. Davydov left for the colonies with the hope that he would discover something about himself, and to contribute to Russian knowledge about the periphery. These were not discreet exerc ises to him. When Davydov wrote about the Alutiiq and Tlingits, he was comparing them to himself, as an exemplar of an enlightened, civilized society. Davydov simultaneously revered and reviled those he viewed as savages in their natural state comparin g his amour propre to the selfishness of the natives. At the same time, he admired them for the strength of their local knowledge, unburdened by western learning. Like Khvostov, Davydov was ultimately frustrated by his experience in Russian America. But unlike the Lieutenant, it was not the colonies that frustrated him, but the capricious nature of authority in the colonies that left both naval officers in dire circumstances upon their return to Russia. As anthropologist and observation and scientific investigation of indigenous peoples of other lands should 90 The Pacific, she wrote, was thought to be the perfect environment to observe discreet indigenous populations for comparison and contrast. Davydov was eager to participate in this process. The knowledge gained by the ethnographic observations of men like Davy dov was also put to use by the RAC. 91 As Ilya Vinkovetsky demonstrated, by the middle of the nineteenth 90 Enlightenment and Exploration , 65. 91 Miller, Kodia k Kreol , 68.
251 century, RAC officials sought to balance the tendency to assimilate the native population with a desire for them to maintain aboriginal skills such as f ur hunting that kept the company profitable. 92 Other historians have noted the complex relationship between the anthropological knowledge gained through study of the population under Russian control and the effects of Russian activities in and around Kodi ak. Gwenn Miller, for before they were studied by Langsdorff and Davydov. 93 Those that studied the Alutiiq in the years after the 1790s saw a population that was comple tely disrupted by Russian hunting and tribute practices. Observations ranging from the gendered division of labor to sexual practices failed to take into account the influence of Russian political, social, cultural, and economic exploitation. 94 For exampl e, depictions of Alutiiq and Tlingit violence against Russians and Europeans in such texts fails to account for the retaliatory nature of such activities violence if the Russians dropped their guard. Simil arly, ethnographers and natural historians universally failed to mention the sexual abuse that Alutiiq women endured at the hands of the Russians. Worse still, the women were often depicted in these accounts as whores that threw themselves at the Russians in exchange for trinkets. As Miller wrote, "Alutiiq women were not helpless victims, but the notion of choice takes on 95 92 Vinkovetsky, Russian America , 127. 93 Miller Kodiak Kreol , 46. 94 Miller Kodiak Kreol , 65. 95 Miller Kodiak Kreol , 46.
252 Davydov and Langsdorff missed the important role Alutiiq women bega n to play in the society that was forming on Kodiak. As Miller noted, the population of Kodiak was approximately seven thousand in 1794, and comprised a mixture of Alutiit, Unangan, promyshlenniki , missionaries, and managers of the colonies. 96 On the surf ace, Langsdorff and Davydov both observed that Alutiiq women who married Russian men began to act in a European fashion, and were aesthetically more pleasing to them. But these women also reared the generation of Russian Alutiiq youth that became employee s, hunters, and navigators for the RAC. In many respects, they were arbiters of Alutiiq and Russian cultural norms as the two cultures fused together in the early nineteenth century. But the violence they endured, and the role they played, was largely un heralded by men determined to see natives in a state of nature. The adventures of Khvostov and Davydov also reveal the importance of ships like the Juno for the colonies. As with the Neva in 1804, the Juno under the command of competent naval off icers was more than capable of protecting Russian interests in the area, and even advancing them against foreign powers in the North Pacific. In this regard, Khvostov and Davydov both proved Rezanov and Langsdorff in their belief that Russia could easily fortify Russian America with a few large vessels. But it was also clear that the absence of a naval chain of command in the area would have had negative consequences. More Russian naval vessels in the area would have required additional state supervision of the colonies, which would have doubtlessly increased the cost of operations. As Gwen Miller noted, the RAC merchants had a tenuous 96 Miller Kodiak Kreol , 54.
253 tenure in Russian America, the Russian state preferred to allow the RAC to absorb all the risks associated with the overseas colonies. 97 government decided to get more involved. The first step was to appoint a governor from the Russian Navy invested wit h authority over the vessels that operated in the colonies. 97 Miller Kodiak Kreol , 54.
254 CHAPTER 7 CONCLUSION In an article detailing Russian historiography of the RAC, Andrei Grinev referred to the period 1806 exists before this time is relatively well documented by those that visited the colonies. But after 1806, documentary evidence from the RAC tends to be limited to official financia l updates, major events like the loss of ships, and diplomatic entanglements recorded in official correspondences. One such loss was that of the Avos . According to an official dispatch from the RAC to the Tsar, the tender was lost in October 1808 near Sit ka on a voyage from Unalaska under the command of Lieutenant Alexander Gerasimovich Sukin. 1 Like the Avos , the Juno returned to Russian America shortly after the arrest of Khvostov and Davydov in Okhotsk. Bukharin appointed Midshipman Fedor Markovich Kar pinsky to Davydov, and Rezanov following the Japanese raid. The Juno apparently spent the next four years protecting Russian hunting parties, and transporting goods betwe en the colonies. In May 1810, American Captain Sam Hill aboard the Otter spotted the Juno at Clarence Strait, approximately 110 miles southeast of Sitka. By this time, her captain was a Prussian in the service of the RAC named Khristofor Benzeman. The J uno was sailing with Captain Winship aboard the 1 Dmytryshyn, The Russian American Colonies , 191 192. Historical accounts differ on where the Avos actually went down, lending a sense of irony to her name. Khlebnikov lists two different locations for the loss of the Avos , one of which was near Sitka. Tikhmenev, on the other hand, stated that the ship was lost near Unalaska. See Pierce, Russian America: A Biographical Dictionary , 491.
255 , heading towards California on a major hunting expedition. But the Juno did not complete this voyage. In June 1810, Unangan hunters in the US Russian hunting expedition came under attack by the Haida , south of Sitka . After eight of the hunters were killed, Benzeman retreated to Sitka. Benzeman and Ivan Aleksandrovich Kuskov, the leader of the expedition, blamed Captain Hill for instigating the attacks, as the Yankee feared that expanding Russian inf luence south of Sitka would mark the end of his trade. We can speculate based upon financial updates from the colonies that the Juno sailed to and from Siberia transporting goods at least one more time before she sank. But the fateful July November 1811 voyage of the Juno to Petropavlovsk would be her last. In September 1812, the RAC sent Tsar Alexander a report detailing the loss of the Juno . The company also reported the unfortunate loss of 200,000 rubles worth of goods and the loss of all but three of the crew. The directors were, nevertheless, upbeat about the future prospects of goods arriving from the colonies. 2 Curious Anomalies This optimism, coupled with the actual financial gains that the company made during the period, constitute one of the curious anomalies that historians of the RAC encounter when studying its early history. These peculiarities point both the uniqueness of the 1799 overseas colonies. As we saw in pr evious acts, the distant colonies were at times in Langsdorff indirectly commented on this curious phenomenon while observing the Yakut 2 Rossiisko a merikanska i a k ompaniya i i zuchenie t ixookeanskogo s evera: 1799 1815 (Moscow, 1994), 223 224.
256 long been very much connected with the Russians, they have acquired less of their language, manners, and customs, than the more remote Kamschadales and Aleutians. 3 The nece ssity of reporting to local offices of the RAC throughout Siberia, the Main Administration of the RAC in St. Petersburg, and directly to the government meant that activities in the colonies met with more (albeit delayed) scrutiny than rural outposts of the continental empire. In addition, because the RAC was a joint stock company, the flow of information was integral to setting stock prices. Thus, t he economics of the overseas colonies encouraged better communication with St. Petersburg and regular intera ction with Russians than frontiers closer to the metropole. Starting in 1810, the company entered into a period of unprecedented financial success. Even as the colonies continued to face shortages and hostility, Baranov actively pursued expansion of the c olonies. After DeWolf, Langsdorff, Khvostov, Davydov, and the Chamberlain left Russian America, Baranov briefly relocated to Kodiak, leaving Ivan Kuskov in charge at Sitka. When Baranov returned to Sitka a year later , he found that New Archangel had beco me a relatively busy port on the North Pacific. He ordered Kuskov to explore the Columbia River area for potential colonization. Departing in October 1808, Kuskov returned in ten months later to advocate for the creation of a colony in California instead , as Khvostov and Rezanov both suggested. 3 Langsdorff, Voyages and Travels , 593.
257 In the spring of 1811, Kuskov set out to found a Russ ian settlement in California. The fortuitous circumstance of a revolution in Mexico made it easier for the Russians to insinuate themselves along the coastlin e, and even open up some trade with the increasingly isolated Franciscan settlements near San Francisco. Mikhail Buldakov, son in law to Grigory Shelikov, and the largest shareholder in the RAC, sent several updates to the Tsar about the prospects of impr oving trade with Spanish America after 1808. 4 Fort Ross quickly became an agricultural colony for the RAC as well as a port of call in the fur trade. The colony persisted, despite the virtual elimination of sea otter populations in the area, until 1849. In 1808, the Neva arrived in the colonies on its second voyage to the Pacific from vessel designated to stay in the colonies to protect Russian interests. Baranov prom ptly sent Ludwig von Hagemeister, who commanded the Neva, to explore the potential for a Russian colony in Hawaii in November, 1808. Baranov had reason to be hopeful after exchanging some letters of greeting. However, the American captain Jonathan Winshi p 1815, a contingent of Russians occupied a portion of Kauai Island with the permission of the local chief. In 1817 they built Fort Elizaveta. Russian presence in the Hawaiian Islands was short lived, however. In the same year, the fort came under the control of forces loyal to king Kamehameha ver the Hawaiian Islands . 4 Rossiiska i a Gosud arstvennyi Biblioteka, Otdel Rukopisei, f. 255, g. 1801 1814, k. 5, p. 41, ll. 45.
258 The success of the colonies during the early nineteenth century was primarily measured by the profits that they generated for the RAC and the crown. The key to ke fur hunting agreements with the Russians. Between 1806 and 1810, he became the broker of success or failure for Yankee merchants in the area. He began to strike deals with New York ship captains in addition to the Bostonians, like the previously menti oned arrangement with employees) in May , 1808. 5 With a firm grasp on the labor required to profit from sea otter hunting, Baranov was able to send regular shipments of furs and bartered Chinese go ods back to Siberia from American ships. But in the summer of 1809 no American ships arrived in Sitka. As Baranov puzzled over this, Captain Winship arrived to explain that Thomas Jefferson enacted a general trade embargo to protest British and French vio lations of US neutrality during the Napoleonic Wars. By the summer of 1810 the embargo lifted and ships again began to arrive, but the uptick in international hostilities would have an impact on the colonies soon thereafter. Official Diplomatic Relation s Another characteristic of this period was an increased interest in RAC activities among policymakers in Washington and St. Petersburg . Relations between the American republic and the Russian Empire began with fits and starts when Catherine II declared t he policy of Armed Neutrality during the American Revolution. Official relations, codified by the exchange of recognized representative, had to wait another 25 years. Between 1804 and 1809, Thomas Jefferson and Alexander I exchanged several letters, esta blishing a common lexicon for future relations. Jefferson seized upon the 5 Bolkhovitinov, The United States And Russia , 511.
259 opportunity to write to Alexander I shortly after Russia intervened with the Turkish Porte regarding a captured American frigate stranded off the coast of Tripoli. Having learned o FrÃ©dÃ©ric CÃ©sar de La Harpe, Jefferson, as an elder statesman, initially praised the young Russian Tsar. 6 But there was more to the letters than an exchange of liberal pleasantries betwee n two statesmen. Jefferson was keen to point out the importance of private trade relations between the two countries, despite the lack of a formal trade agreement. tried , and to so little good effect, of multiplying commercial treaties. In national, as in harbors, hospitality, freedom, and protection, and your subjects will enjoy all the privileges of the The response Jefferson received from Alexander I in August 1805 reciprocated feelings of collegiality, as the Tsar was happy to as 7 Like Jefferson, Alexander also took the opportunity to express his desire for the continuance of good commercial relations, up letter in 1806 asked Alexander for news from Europe, 6 Thomas Jefferson to Alexander I of Russia, June 15, 1804 in The Thomas Jefferson Papers Series 1. General Correspondenc e. 1651 1827 .. See http://memory.loc.gov/master/mss/mtj/mtj1/030/0800/0819.jpg 7 Alexander to Jefferson (in French Aug 20 1805) in The Thomas Jefferson Papers Series 1. General Correspondence. 1651 1827. See http://memory.loc.gov/master/mss/mtj/mtj1/034/0400/0444.jpg
260 reestablish peace and commerce Further, Jefferson tied American interests to those interest in the neutral rights which he b elieved Alexander alone could maintain. f France and its satellites were disastrous for American merchants, who had their cargoes impounded by both sides. Furthering American concerns, Russia signed an agreement of peace with Napoleon at his nomination. Jefferson was surprised by the decision. Short learned of his rejection after he arrived in Europe in 1809. Many reasons have been suggested for the surprise rejection of Short as ambassador to Russia. The most likely reason, according to a prejudice rising chiefly from an uneasy sense of social disadvantage." 8 John Qu incy Adams was next sent to Russia in March 1809 to serve as ambassador, and his confirmation was won from the Senate in June , 1809. It is likely 8 Bolkhovitinov, The Beginnings of Russian American Relations , 203 205.
261 that the precarious state of American commerce at the hands of the Continental System and the British Orders in Council convinced the Senate of the need to finance an official assistant and French interpreter during the 1780s. Adams quickly presented his credentials to Rumiantsev, the Russian Chancellor and former Minister of Commerce. 9 As early as 1806, Rumiantsev viewed potential relations with the United States as a counterbalance to over reliance on Britain, and favorably received the American ambassador. Shortly after his arrival, Adams was presented to the Emperor. He was well re ceived by Alexander, and served in St. Petersburg until April 1814. Once Jefferson appointed official American diplomatic representation to the Russian court, Alexander I nominated Count Andrei Dashkov as General Consul. Dashkov was to set up a consulate in Philadelphia to protect Russian commercial interests in America in June , 1808. The Tsar also named Count Fedor Pahlen as Russian minister plenipotentiary, but the latter was almost immediately transferred to the Portuguese court, then in Brazil because of the Napoleonic Wars. Dashkov acted Within a month of his arrival, Dashkov was also nominated as at the U.S. Congress by the Russian College of Forei gn Affairs. after the interests and affairs of his Imperial Majesty; 2) To give all assistance in your power to every Russian vessel that happens to be in said regions and to every Russian arriving there in service or for his own business; 3) To provide reliable and exact 9 David W. McFadden, "John Quincy Adams, American Commercial Diplomacy, and Russia, 1809 1825" The New England Quarterly 66 no. 4 (Dec 1993): 619 22.
262 information concerning noteworthy matters in that place, and also on the condition of all noteworthy 10 American merchants from trading guns to the Tlingits, a point of contention in the colonies since the first Russian contact with the Tlingits and Yankee merchants. On both sides of the Atlantic, discussions shifted to concerns over the Pacific Northwest soon thereafter. In a meeting with Rumiantsev, Adams articulated U.S. hesitance to impose a prohibition on trade with the natives along the Northwest coast, as it would be impossible to enforce and the British would just as likely fill the void. Rumiantsev attempted to persuade Adams to see the harmful effects of trading guns to the na sake of avoiding all possible collision, and even every pretext for jealousy or unea 11 Negotiations with Dashkov in America proved even more difficult for the Russians. First, like any great Empire, the Russian government and the RAC refused to precisely define the southernmost point of Russian influence or expansion, a conditio n the American government considered important. Not wanting to limit the Russian scope of activity, nor risk a rupture in relations with the Americans, the precise borders of Russian Alaska were left vague. American negotiators also wanted to know if Rus sia 10 Bashkina, The United States and Russia , 518 521. 11 Charle s Francis Adams ed., Memoirs o f John Quincy Adams (Philadelphia: JB Lippincott & Company, 1874), 178 9.
263 considered the native Alaskans as Russian subjects or as independent tribes in a region of Russian influence as this would define whether or not distribution of arms was considered hostility against Russia, or private trade between independent people s. 12 Russia similarly failed to define the status of these natives. Finally, during the negotiations, it became evident that Dashkov was not authorized to resolve any of these questions. But when state based negotiations between the Russian and American governments broke down on this issue, Dashkov turned to a private solution. Stealing a page from the Yankee trader playbook, Dashkov pursued Russian goals outside of government contexts. Recognizing that he was unlikely to prevent the Americans from tradi ng in furs (regardless of whether or not the weapons trade was 13 John Jacob Astor, owner of the American Fur Company , expanded his efforts by starting the Pacific Fur Company in 1811. Its primary operating center was to be at the mouth of the Columbia ward off independent merchants, wor and squeeze out British commercial interests in the area. In 1811, with the full support of Thomas Jefferson, John Jacob Astor established the first permanent U.S. settlement on the Columbia River. As on e historian noted, 12 Bolkhovitinov, The Beginnings of Russian American Relations , 256. American burgeoning territorial and economic interests following the Lewis and Clarke expedition made it unlikely that the US would accept Russian hegemony in the region. In fact, Secretary of State Robert Smith sent instructions to Adams in St. Petersbu rg to initiate 13 The United States and Russia , 615.
264 Jefferson recognized that if America were to 14 Jefferson saw Astoria as a the American 15 Astor set about fortifying the colony immediately by drawing up contracts for its provision and settlement by American employees. 16 In 1809, he sent the Enterprise , under the command of John Ebbets, to establish initial contact with Baranov, and to shore up the details of the partnership between the two companies. Ebbets had tremendous experience in the Pacific Northwest, and aided Russian survivors of the 1802 Tlingit sacking of Fort Mikhailovsk at Sitka. By opening a dialogue between Astor and the RAC, Dashkov also succeeded in escalating discussions of a comprehensive commercial treaty between the United States and Russia. These talks ultimately broke down as a result of the political instability prevalent in Europe and Ameri ca in mid 1811. Dashkov was more successful on the private front. While negotiations between the Pacific Fur Company and the RAC dragged on for nearly two years, by December 1812 the y reached an agreement that would have proven to be mutually beneficial. The outbreak of hostilities on the American and European continent prevented much actually being done. The Northwest, nor did it completely eliminate the sale of arms to th e natives in Russian controlled areas. 17 But it eventually did provide the Russian trading posts with valuable 14 35. 15 Bolkh ovitinov, The Beginnings of Russian American Relations , 259. 16 John Jacob Astor Business Records. Baker Library Historical Collections. Harvard Business School. Articles of Agreement, Pacific Fur Co., 1810 . 17 These problems remained unresolved into the 1840s even while the Russians were
265 supplies carried on Pacific Fur Company ships. 1812 as a Turning Point For Russian America, changes came abruptly in 1812. The United States dec lared war on Britain seven months after the Juno sank. According to William Dane Phelps, a veteran of the Pacific Northwest fur trade, sailing schooner Tamaahmaah to the Pacific to warn Boston merchants of the outbreak of 18 Ships that were already in the Pacific had to wait out the war in neutral ports like Hawaii or in Russian America. Baranov exploited the situation by buying a few American ships, like the Atahualpa , and continuing the Pacific trade with th e American crews under a Russian flag. With more ships, the RAC was in a much better position to control the fur trade when American merchants re entered the Pacific waters in 1814. As we have seen, Russian America frustrated the expectations of its fi rst chroniclers. John DeWolf never returned to the Pacific. He spent several years engaged with the Russians via the Atlantic, and continually recounted his travels to his family. DeWolf died in 1872, at the age of 93. Georg Langsdorff also never retur ned to Russian America, though he continued in the service of the Russian crown. In 1813, he was named Consul General in Brazil, replacing Count Pahlen. During his time in Brazil, Langsdorff continued to pursue natural history. In 1822, he organized a s cientific expedition to travel up the Amazon River. For six years, he explored the Amazon and many tributaries, before returning to Europe in 1830, and died in Freiburg in 1852. abandoning their outpost in northern in California. 18 Busch and Gough, Fur Traders , 80 81.
266 s, was frustrated by his experiences in the area. By the summer of 1811, the Chief Manager was looking forward to a replacement arriving from Russia so that he could retire. But his replacement died while enroute. 19 A similar circumstance occurred in 181 2 1813, with the Neva crashing into the Edgecombe promontory, underscoring the continuing dangers of travel to and from the colonies even for a ship of her size. The situation certainly looked bleak for Baranov by 1812, when the British seized Astoria dur ing the war with the United States. With supplies dwindling due to losses from Russia and the absence of American ships, Baranov must have been reminded of the lean years before 1806. Nevertheless, he kept up regular trade with Canton through various int ermediaries, keeping the colonies profitable. In November 1817, Captain Hagemeister returned to Sitka, this time with the authority to take control of the Russian colonies, or appoint someone else. After insinuating himself into the operations of the Ru ssian colonies, and ensuring that remained in the hands of Russian naval officers. Baranov left Sitka in 1819 aboard a ship that was returning to St. Petersburg. Tired and bitter over his unceremonious exit, Baranov died in Java on April 13 , 1819. While the Russian colonies were run successfully until they were sold to the United States in 186 7, the only expansion that year tenure was into the interior of mainland Alaska. 19 Chevigny, Lord of Alaska, 247.
267 Alaska as an American Frontier Another curious phenomenon that traced its origins to the North Pacific at the start of the nineteenth century was t he rise of literature and lectures from American ship captains in the 1830s and 1840s. As we have seen, b etween 1787 and 1825, Yankee merchants availed themselves of the opportunity to profit by exploiting the natural resources of the Pacific Northwest coast. While they often kept the details of their voyages secret to protect profitable practices , political interest in the area grew during . Thomas Jefferson advocated strongly for the establishment of Astoria and exploiting the discoveries of the Lewis and Clark expedition. Thus, even as early as the 1820s, Russian America beg an to be viewed as both a US and a Russian frontier. The War of 1812 initially changed US trajectory in the Pacific. Some historians have noted that the waning influence of Boston merchants and Federalism as a result of the conflict, coupled with the incre asing influence of manufacturers and merchants from New York, had a profound impact on Pacific trade. 20 Despite this trend, popular and political interest in the North Pacific revived for two reasons. First, Alexander I issued an ukaz in 1821, defining Rus sian possession of lands north of the fifty first parallel along the Pacific coast and banning foreign ships from approaching within 115 miles of first ambassador to Russia) , encouraged President Monroe to respond boldly by asserting American rights to limit further encroachment of European powers in the Western hemisphere. The Monroe Doctrine, as it came to be known in 1823, was thus 20 Katherine H. Griffin and Peter Drummey, ipts on the American China Trade Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, Third Series Vol. 100 (1988): 128 139.
268 heavily influenced by Russian actions. 21 Russia eventually negotiated a settlement with America in 1824. Second, former American captains that were involved in the Pacific trade began to discuss their experiences in print and at lectures during the 1830s. After the diplomatic kerfuffle of the 1820s, New England merchants began to tell of their adventures on the commercial frontier of the Pacific Northwest. William Dane Phelps, who traded in Pacific sea otter furs in 1820s, was perhaps the first American to document the history of the trade. H is unpublished manuscript, Solid Men of Boston in the Northwest , had a profound impact upon subsequent histories of the region and Boston maritime history. But more importantly, as maritime historian Barry M. Gough of the Boston mariners in the Pacific and on the Northwest Coast as part of an imperial and cultural destiny whereby on the North Pacific shores from the Gulf of California to the Bering Sea would be extended a civilization, energetic and advancing, annou ncing a new age of progress." 22 In 1822, William Sturgis ukaz of 1821 in his article Examination of the Russian Claims to the Northwest Coast of America . 23 Sturgis defended American actions along the coast and took great except ion to Russian claims lectured and wrote a great deal about his time in the Pacific. He urged a more nuanced understanding of the natives along the Pacific coast, long m aligned by other Americans 21 Russka i a a merika i p rovozglashenie d oktriny m onro in Istoriya r usskoi a meriki 1732 1867, t om II , 396. 22 Busch and Gough, Fur Traders , 11. 23 401.
269 that traveled to the region. Such stories of the early Yankee fur trade gained popularity in the mid nineteenth century. These tracts competed with edited natural historical literature from voyages of exploration and trade; as well as with harrowing (and often fictional) stories of those held in captivity by native populations in North America and Africa. Americans that visited the North Pacific produced all three types of literature. John Rodgers Jewitt, who spotted the Juno in 1802 while being held in captivity by Maquinnah near Nootka Sound, wrote a play and a book about his experiences and traveled t hroughout America to sell it. J eventually rescued Jewitt and used the tale to boost his own popularity. Thus, even as Yankee participation in the events along the Pacific Northwest diminished in the 1820s and 1830s, cultural memory of their exploits continued to be produced through lectures, newspapers, nove ls, scientific treatises, and plays. These Manifest Destiny gained traction. They played a fundamental, though underemphasized, role in the assumption that America was d estined to reach across the continent; because it had already sailed around it to trade and explore. Alaska continues to serve as a frontier for Americans today. In 2012, conservative activists and bloggers accused the Obama administration of secretly ced Russia. The accusation centers on ambiguous claims to the islands from the late nineteenth century and the fact that while no American administration has specifically claime d the islands, they have not rejected American claims either. The failure to ratify
270 a maritime border treaty between the Soviet Union and America in 1990, which recognized the islands as Russian based upon Russian settlement, exploration, and geographic p osition, reinforced the idea that the islands could be claimed by America. While diplomatically, the islands have never really been in contention, the inherent instability of maritime borders reinforces conceptions of Alaska as a frontier that can be expa nded or given away, rather than an integral part of the national body. Domestically, this instability often manifests itself humorous way. Sarah Palin tapped into this sense of uncertainty when she cited the proximity of Russia to Alaska when asked abou t her foreign policy e xperience. In March The posting of the petition coincided with the Russian annexation of the Crimea, and was likely wri tten by a Russian patriot, who wrote in broken English: Groups Siberian russians crossed the Isthmus (now the Bering Strait) 16 10 thousand years ago. Russian began to settle on the Arctic coast, Aleuts inhabited the Aleutian Archipelago. First visited Alaska August 21, 1732, members of the team boat "St. Gabriel Â»under the surveyor Gvozdev and assistant navigator I. Fedorov during the expedition Shestakov and DI Pavlutski 1729 1735 years Vote for secession of Alaska from the United States and joining Ru ssia. The petition received 30,000 required for an official White House response. But it was picked up by major news outlets, reinforcing the idea that Alaska is a potential frontier in diplomatic co nflicts between Russia and the United States. Similarly, in 2014 several visual memes made their rounds on social media detailing Russian interest in Alaska. One shows President Vladimir Putin crossing objectives off a list that include s the Central Asia n Games, the
271 Olympics, the Paralympics, annexation of the Crimea, and, finally (still unchecked) Alaska. What is intriguing about these circulated images is the unconscious connection between international conflict and anxiety over the status of Alaska as a frontier both in America and in Russia. imagined frontier. The growth and popularity of reality shows about Alaska on channels like the Discovery Channel, The Learning Channel, and even The Home and Garden Channel present audiences with various ways this frontier beyond our continental borders is exploited, colonized, and domesticated. Alaska is often portrayed on these shows as the last refuge of self reliance, where hard work can potentially turn tremendous profit by exploitation of natural resources an idea that was popular among wrote in 1921, Maritime commerce was the breath of life fo r Massachusetts. When commerce languished, the commonwealth fell sick. When commerce enough to permit a ratification of the Federal Constitution... The Yankee mind, engrossed in the s truggle for existence, neglected things spiritual and intellectual during the Federalist period of its history; and the French Revolution made thought suspicious to a commercial community. Yet thought there was... the thought that opens up new channels of trade, sets new enterprise on foot, and erects a political system to consolidate them. By such thought, no less than the other, the grist of history is ground. 24 Thus for America, as a nation founded upon the primacy of commerce, it is perhaps necessary t o have a frontier like Alaska; even if it is an imagined one. 24 Samuel Eliot Morison, The Maritime History of Massachusetts, 1783 1860 (Boston: 1921), 41 42.
272 CHAPTER 8 E PILOGUE: THE CURIOSLY LONG LIFE OF A SHORT LIVED SHIP On June first, 2010 Andrei Voznesensky died in Moscow. In the West, Voznesensky was one of the best known dissident poe ts from the post Stalinist thaw. During the height of his popularity i n the 1960s, poetry hearkened back to the Russian futurists . His verses challeng ed Socialist Realism with brief, vibrant stanzas . The American press noted his frequent s in the late 1960s, a feat presumed to be possible only because of his association with international figures like Arthur Miller, Allen Ginsberg, and Robert Kennedy. 1 In his 1970 poem Avos , Voznesensky interspersed sta nzas of poetry with quotes the world journey from St. Petersburg to the Russian American colonies, and then onwards to Spanish San Francisco. Voznesensky heard about the Rezanov Concepcion love story while on a historical documents and metered poetry in Avos impresses upon the reader a simultaneous sense of tragic reality and romance. Although named after the vessel that was built while Rezanov was in the Russian colonies, the Avos did not actually take part in the expedition to Spanish America. Voznesensky was delighted by the name (best translated in English as a mixture of possibility and hope ). He playfully use d it in his opening stanzas to capture a sense of the adventure, hope, and tragedy that 1 Boston Globe , June 3, 2010 New York Times , June 2, 2010.
273 Voznesensky drew upon a rich poetic and historical cannon about Russian America while composing Avos . In the forward t o the second edition of Avos , translated in English under the published name Story Under Full Sail , Voznesensky illuminated Rezanov as a friend of great statesmen and poets in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Derzhavin was certainly fam iliar with Rezanov, Khvostov, and headed Admiral Alexander Shishkov, founder of the literary cir cle Beseda Liubitelei Russkago Slova , similarly tried his hand at memor ializing Khvostov and Davydov. In the adventurers. He also included a poem by sentimentalist poet Anna Volkova, an honorary member of his literary circle. But, for Voznesensky, Davydov and Khvostov were more like Rosencrantz and Guildenstern than heroes of the Russian Empire. Their parts in Avos cut away from the main story Voznesensky depicts them as fi ghting, drunken gossip mongers. While they successfully navigated Rezanov to San Francisco, they were nevertheless an embarrassment for the Rezanov presented by Voznesensky. They were a mouthpiece xpand Russian operations in suddenly disappear from the story. But, when the Russia tragic death in March 1807, we learn: They were fascinated. Pondered. Branded him. Pondered. Rewarded him. Exalted him.
274 Pondered. Burned with jealo u sy. Forgot him. God bless us all! And Davydov and Khvostov? They went to the lockup. The Juno on Stage At one point in his career, Voznesensky read poetry to packed stadiums. But he is perhaps best known today for his collaboration with Alexei Rybnikov on the rock opera Yunona i Avos . His libretto to the opera connected Russians with their American past in a way that few others managed. Soviet historians such as S.B. Okun and N.N. American colonies, including the ones used by Voznesensky. But unlike historians, memory of an American legacy with modern, American theatrical and musical styles. The brash message of the opera a sincere call for a de escalation of US Soviet ho stilities also resonated with audiences. Disregarding the advice of colleagues in ybnikov and Voznesensky crafted their opera based upon American style rock music, a nd used modern tilted Plexiglas stage accentuated by the bow of the Juno hanging overhead along with scandalous choreography (by Soviet standards). A Time Magazine article entitled covered the July ninth, 1981 including a Multimoog synthesizer rarely used before in the USSR. T he opera is a bold blend of hard rock
275 rhythms, shimmering folk melodies and traditional Russian Orthodox 2 Initially, the production ran afoul of Soviet cultural bureau crats, who held up release of the album version for over a year. But it was an instant success with audiences, and choreography, staging (with the bow of the Juno overhead in the ba ckground), and message ha ve changed little since the premier, transitioning from the Soviet to the post Soviet era without losing its relevance among Russian audiences. The tragedy of Rezanov death on March 1 , 1807, while traveling through Siberia on the joining a convent, became for Voznesensky an allegory for the estrangement of Russia musical score thrusts R ezanov and Conchita into the role of a modern Romeo and Juliet. But Voznesensky took the additional step of casting the US and the Soviet Union was the basis of the final musical number Hallelujah to Love , he wrote, Residents of the twentieth century Rushing towards the end of the millennium Still without an answer to the question all people share? Two souls, traveling through space, A hundred and fifty years alone, We implore you to come together, , 2 Time Magazine , July 1981.
276 Without harmony, there is no meaning in life Hallelujah Love! Hallelujah! Yunona i Avos premiered during a tumultuous year. The assassination attempts on Pope John Paul II and Ronald Rea gan, along with the killing of Anwar Sadat made the international diplomatic environment tense. 3 In addition, the election of Ronald Reagan brought a new freeze in US Soviet relations that was unforeseeable while the s message of hope and unity through love was well received by Muscovite audiences. By 1983, the musical had caught the eye of Yunona i Avos to his avant garde Espace Cardin Theatre in Paris, where it was also well received. Six years after its Moscow debut, plans were being made to perform the opera in America. Its American debut proved to be far less successful. In a February 1987 article, the New York Times reported that attempts were being ma de by Joseph Papp to perform the opera in New York with a mixed US and Soviet cast. 4 Papp argued at the time that there was no flourishing drama movement on Broadway, and hoped that Juno and Avos would offer something different to theatre goers. 5 Ultimately, it was Pierre Cardin that brought the musical to New York for a month long run in January February, 1990. It played 6 Cardin told the AP in 3 Leonid Parfenov, Namendi: Nasha Era 1981 1990 (Documentary), Moskva: Kolibri, 2010. 4 New York Times , February 27, 1987. 5 Newsday Long Island, N.Y. , Aug 19, 1987. 6 Central Opera Service Bulletin 29 no. 4 (Fall/Winter 1989 1990).
277 rical cry for more mutual US 7 New York did not prove a particularly hospitable environment for the opera. foreign productions ... [But] the whole Russian cast and crew of 86 will be there. This is a great moment. Americans have seen Russian ballet, folklore, and the circus. But they've never seen anything like this." Nevertheless, the New York Magazine lambasted the production watch the competition come to grief, especially if they are making the same mistakes you have made. So it is d elightful to see our Soviet friends come over with a rock Musical, Junon [sic] and Avos: the Hope, that evokes the awfulness of American rock Rather than appreciating the revolutionary notion of a Soviet rock opera promoting US Soviet connections, American reviewers saw the opera as mel odramatic troupe set to a score that was 15 years past its prime by American standards. Critics how subver sive the message and production were in 1981. As John Andrei Voznesensky, the Russian poet, and the Lenin Komsomol (Lenkom) Theatre 8 While the New York Times review was a little m ore positive, it also 7 Bangor Daily News (from Paris via AP), Oct 9, 1989. 8 New York Magazine , January 22, 1990.
278 noted that the rock 9 After the sale of Alaska to the United States in 1867, Russia seemed to forget its plans for hegemony in the North Pacific. But Stalin revived interest in Russian America during the 1920s. According to Grinev, in 1927 Stalin asked a Soviet official who was heading to America to research Russian America if the opportunity arose. 10 Soviet inte rest in the lands of the Russian empire persisted throughout the Soviet period. As A.E. Sokol pointed out, L.S. Berg, the president of the All Union Geographic Society in gave anyone its authorization to dispose of territories discovered by Russian seamen." 11 While such brash statements might seem like posturing, the idea of a Russian connection to her former colonies in the North Pacific persisted. One interesting manife station of this phenomenon is the persistent Russian myth that Alaska was actually leased to the United States rather than sold outright. This urban legend is still prevalent today, and occasionally comes up in relation to negative feelings towards the Un ited States for failing to give it back. A popular song by the Russian band Ne Valyai Duraka, Amerika somewhat playful, the song re quests the return of Alaska, since it is as much a part of 9 Stephen H New York Times , January 8, 1990. 10 America of Recent Years." Pacific Historical Review 79 no.2 ( May 2010): 268. 11 A.E. Sokol, "Russian Expansion and Exploration in the Pacific." American Slavic and East European Review 11 no.2 (April 1952): 85.
279 Russia as banyas, vodka, and accordians. Grinev attributes the persistence of these myths to (1) gaps in Soviet and Russian historiography of Russian America, and (2) myth creation on the part of some Soviet researchers. popularity in Russia is thus a recurrence of the trend of re criticism over historical accuracy from both tabloids an d academic jo urnals. In August 2006 , Moskovskii Komsomolets ran a full the Russian State Library written by Rezanov that revealed the de ep dissension between himself and the military personnel and sailors aboard the Nadezhda on the way from St. Petersburg to Japan. Instead of a tragic Russian romantic, Rezanov e document, Anna Surnik, believed that there was little chance for an actual heartfelt romance. Instead, she thought that Rezanov and Conchita were far more calculating in their desire for marriage, with the former hoping to cement Russian Spanish relatio ns in the Pacific Northwest, and the latter looking to escape the Spanish backwater that was San Francisco in 1806. 12 article in the December 2006 edition of Mezhdunarodnii Zhizn , wherein he attempted to describe the real life Rezanov as opposed to the one depicted in Yunona i Avos . 13 Faced with uncertain 12 i a L i Moscovskii Komsomolets , August 11, 2006. 13 Viktor Lopatnikov, "Yunona i Avos," Mezhdu narodnaia zhizn' , no. 12 (December 2006).
280 trading prospects in Europe due to the Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars, Rezanov f Foreign Affairs archive to show that Rumiantsev wanted Rezanov to depict Russia as a strong country capable of balancing power in Europe, Persia and Turkey, while incorporating several Asian kingdoms into its dominion. When Rezanov arrived in Russian Am erica, desperate circumstances forced his voyage to San Francisco aboard the recently purchased Juno. But attempts to correct Russian perceptions of Rezanov or Russian America are an uphill battle. As we have seen, Russians now seem to have a fondness for particular remembrances of their colonies in the New World regardless of the actual events. Russia. 14 Istoriya Russkoi Ameriki , Vladimir Ponomarev argued that study of the sale of Alaska to the United States was more or less deliberately avoided during most of Soviet history. Such willful ignorance of the subject, he argued, greatly contributed to the spread of the myth of a 99 year lease that Americans allegedly failed to honor by returning Alaska. 15 14 In a May 10 , 2010 issue of Ekspress Gazeta , author Vladimir Kazakov wrote an that we are owed, we would be the richest country detailed Alaska, for which the author claimed Russia was never paid. See Vladimir Eksprecc Gazeta, May 10, 2010. 15 Istoriya r usskoi a meriki: 1732 1867, Otechestv ennaia Istoriia , 5 (October 2003): 163 the Russian Historiography of Russian America of Recent Years." Pacific Historical Review 79 no.2 (May 2010): 268.
281 The yearning for, and memory of, Russian America cuts across imperial, soviet, and now post soviet history and culture. A t first glance, these memories of Russian America appear to be a hodge podge of historical anachronisms and half truths. But they might be better understood as a desire to unite nineteenth and twentieth century Russian cultural memory. Yunona i Avos appealed to its audience precisely because it prominently fea tured traditional Orthodox chants, modern Russian dance, and Western Ne Valyai Duraka, Amerika similarly merged cultural memory by fusing traditional Russian musical instrumentation with Sovie t military anthems and rock and roll. The lease myth itself seems to rest on the idea that a deal struck with Imperial Russia should be valid under subsequent regimes. Eurasianist historians might view this phenomenon as further evidence of perial, as opposed to national, culture. Russian America was an intellectual and literal frontier that represented the potential for personal and cultural growth. It was the furthest point of Russian imperial expansion , unique because the colonies were l iterally detached from the Russian mainland. For Voznesensky, the Juno (and poetically, the Avos become for Rezanov Russian Americ a also held out the potential for US Russian reconciliation: a common bond that could unite the countries in the twenty first century. This is why the theme of Russian America recurs in literary, historical, and cultural memory. Poets, authors, and music ians laud the heroes that traveled to and from the New World. Historians have
282 Russians seem to have a cyclical interest in their American past. These factors routinely co mbined with impressions of freedom and liberty associated with the New World to periodically rekindle Russian interest in its American past.
283 Figure 8 1 . Putin.
284 Figure 8 2 . Russian meme that circulated on social media shortly after the Crimean annexation shows that Russians had similar thoughts about the annexation and Russian connections to Alaska
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300 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Tobin Shorey has long been interested in Russian history. He r eceived his BA (with Highest Honors) in 1997 from the University of Florida. His undergraduate thesis examined the conflict between Karl Marx and Mikhail Bakunin in the First International As a full time University employee, Tobin completed his MA in 2003 with a major in entitled The Kronstadt Rebellion: the Struggle for Self Representation and the Boundaries of Bolshevik Discourse . From 1998 University Registrar. In 2012, he became the Director of Curricul um Monitoring and