Mr. Seward to General Rousseau
General: You will herewith receive the warrant of the President, under the great seal of the United States, appointing you commissioner on behalf of this government to receive from a similar officer appointed on behalf of the imperial government of Russia, the territory ceded by that government to the United States, pursuant to the treaty of the 30th of March last. You will consequently enter into communication with Captain Pestchouroff, the Russian commissioner now here, and arrange with him in regard to proceeding, as soon as may be convenient, to the territory referred to, in order that your commission may be fulfilled. On arriving at Sitka, the principal town in the ceded territory, you will receive from the Russian commissioner the formal transfer of that territory under mutual national salutes from artillery, in which the United States will take the lead. Pursuant to the stipulations of the treaty, that transfer will include all forts and military posts and public buildings, such as the governor’s house and those used for the government purposes; dockyards, barracks, hospitals, and schools; all public lands, and all ungranted lots of ground at Sitka and Kodiac. Private dwellings and warehouses, blacksmiths’, joiners’, coopers’, tanners’, and other similar shops, ice-houses, flour and saw mills, and any small barracks on the islands, are subject to the control of their owners, and are not to be included in the transfer to the United States.
The respective commissioners, after distinguishing between the property to be transferred to the United States and that to be retained by individuals, will draw up and sign full inventories of the same in duplicate. In order, however, that the said individual proprietors may retain their property as aforesaid, or, if they should so prefer, may dispose of the same, you will, upon the production of the proper documentary or other proof of ownership, furnish the said proprietors with a certificate of their right to hold the same.
In accordance with the stipulations of the treaty, the churches and chapels in the ceded territory will continue to be the property of the members of the Greco-Russian church. Any houses and lots which may have been granted to those churches will also remain their property. As it is understood that the Russian-American Company possess, in that quarter, large stores of furs, provisions, and other goods now at Sitka, Kodiac, and elsewhere on the mainland and on the islands, it is proper that that company should have a reasonable time to collect, sell, or export that property. For that purpose the company may leave in the territory an agent or agents for the purpose of closing their business. No taxes will be levied on the property of the company now in the territory until Congress shall otherwise direct. It is expected that in the transaction of the important business hereby intrusted to you, it will be borne in mind that in making the cession of the territory referred to, his Imperial Majesty, the Emperor of all the Russias, has been actuated by a desire of giving a signal proof of that friendship for the United States which has characterized his own reign and that of his illustrious predecessors.
It is hoped, therefore, that all your-intercourse with the Russian commissioner will be friendly, courteous, and frank. This department understands from the President that upon the conclusion of the business with the Russian commissioner you will have command in the territory, to be exercised under the orders of the War Department.
I am, general, your obedient servant,
Brigadier General Lovell H. Rousseau.