Mr. Clay to Mr. Seward
Sir: You were not, perhaps, aware, when you made the Russian treaty of cession, that the Russian American Fur Company kept soldiers and defended the territory of Russian America. So the words, “fortifications, barracks, &c, not private individual property,” would convey nothing to us, although no doubt you intended to buy all of those. I write now to inform you that there has been an understanding between the Russian government and the Russian American Company, and it is expected that you will claim all military posts, &c, and this they will grant, I doubt not, if insisted on. The other franchises of the Russian American Company had expired by time in this year, and were not renewed. As a matter of fact, I believe the Russian American Company kept soldiers at every place of occupation, saw-mills, ice-works, &c, but these could hardly be construed to be “fortifications or barracks,” in equity.
My object is simply to give you some idea of the facts, which may be of use to you in settling with the commissioner of the Russian government, who will deliver over the property to us.
I am, sir, your most obedient servant,
Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of state, Washington, D. C.