Mr. de Stoeckl to Mr. Seward

Mr. Secretary of State: I have the honor to remit to you herewith copy of the instructions given to Captain Pestchouroff, commissioner of the Imperial government for the transfer of the territory which formed the Russian colonies of the northwest of the American continent.

Please accept, Mr. Secretary of State the assurance of my very high consideration.


Hon. William H. Seward, &c., &c., &c.

Translation of instructions given to Captain Pestchouroff, commissioner on the part of the Imperial Russian government, for the delivery of the Russian American colonies to the government of the United States.

1. Captain Pestchouroff has been directed to proceed to Washington and enter, through the medium of the Secretary of State and the Russian minister, into communication with the commissioner appointed by the United States government to receive the said colonies, for the purpose of establishing an understanding as to the said transaction.

2. On the arrival of the two commissioners at Sitka, Captain Pestchouroff will proceed, in. the first place, to the formal transfer of the territory under mutual national salutes.

3. All the forts and military posts are to be delivered at once to the American military forces that may follow the United States commissioner. Captain Pestchouroff will take the necessary steps to send home the Russian troops as early as convenient, and deliver the barracks to the use of the American soldiers.

4. Public buildings, such as the governor’s house, the buildings used for government purposes, dock-yard, barracks, hospitals, schools, public grounds, and all free lots of ground at Sitka and Kodiac, will be delivered by Captain Pestchouroff to the American commissioner as soon as practicable.

5. All the houses and stores forming private property will remain to be disposed of by their proprietors. To this same category belong smiths, joiners, coopers, tanners, and other similar shops, as well as ice-houses, flour and saw mills, and any small barracks that may exist on the islands.

6. The two commissioners, after making the division between the property to be transferred to the American government and that left to individual proprietors, will draw up a protocol, and the American conunissioner, on the documents furnished by the local Russian authorities, will deliver legalized certificates to the owners of the said property in order to enable them to possess that property if they remain in the country, or to dispose of it.

7. The churches and chapels remain, in accordance with the stipulations of the treaty, the property of the members of the Greco-Russian church. The houses and lots which were granted to these churches remain their property.

8. As the Russian American Company possess in the colonies large stores of furs, provisions, and other goods, at present distributed in Sitka, Kodiac, and different other stations on the continent and islands, they will require a certain lapse of time to collect, sell, or export their property. For that purpose the company will leave an agent or agents charged with the duty of settling finally their affairs.

It is hoped that the federal government will allow the Russian American Company to settle finally their business in the colonies without subjecting their property or their agents to any taxes for a period of 18 months or at least one year, considering that the same property has never been taxed heretofore, and that the company, under the present circumstances, will have to dispose of their property at a great loss.

9. In the settlement of all the affairs in connection with the transfer of the territory, Captain Pestchouroff is directed to proceed in the most amicable way, and the imperial Russian government hopes that the authorities of the United States will be guided by the same liberal views, in order to avoid all difficulties and to complete this transaction in the spirit of the friendly relations existing between the two governments.