ANNOUNCEMENT (Historic Information)
The knowledge, exploration and invasion of Alaska during the past twelve years has at last successfully revealed its true condition and future possibilities.
The fur-seeking Russians made no accurate maps and little recorded history; the land-grabbing English explorers and navigators only cruised along its shores, naming everything in sight; the gold-seeking Spanish found no fable fountains or glittering gold and hardly left their mark.
All made extravagantly pessimistic or mythical reports and exaggerated guesses or prophecies.
Thousands of adventurers, searching for the Northwest Passage, for Sir John Franklin, for fur, fish or gold, lost their lives on its ocean or river shores. Of them history is as silent and unknown as their graves.
After over a hundred years of ownership, the Russians at the time they sold it (1867), were ready to abandon it as worse than worthless.
Had it not been for the debt of gratitude due to Russia the Congress and people of the United States would never have acquiesced in its purchase.
For the fiirst ten years the United States made only a formal military show of authority, with no government, and the following seven years abandoned it, providing no law, officers or protection.
No reliable general history has yet been written of Alaska. Numerous reports and histories of a local nature have been written, however, mostly by persons officially engaged in or simply passing through the country; and while, as a rule, they are perfectly reliable as to a particular locality or subject, they are very unreliable and inaccurate as to the remainder of that country.
Authors residing at Sitka for a year or less, or making a tourist's trip on the Inside Passage, or doing a little missionary work at one or two places, or passing down the Yukon within a month or two, or spending a summer at Nome, are very numerous. Their tales of death, starvation, Arctic winter, pitch-dark, endless nights, insanity-making mosquitoes, bloodthirsty Indians, lands, mountains and rivers of ice and general wail of calamity and terror, followed by novels of several authors so full of exaggerations and untruthful or mythical statements, have created a false impression in the minds of the people which now is very hard to correct.
They are largely to blame for the government's tardy and scant attention to the needs and laws of the country, for the delays in settling it, utilizing its resources and wrongfully giving it an unjust history and lamentably untrue reputation.
The author has devoted three years to diligently seeking information, and in person or by assistant has visited or investigated as far as possible all parts and subjects of Alaska.
The important matter collected would fill a half dozen large volumes. It all seems necessary. We have nevertheless summarized it for the purpose of making a convenient volume for the student, tourists and Alaska miners, as well as for the general reading public. We hope two years later to present a more complete history of Alaska than has yet been published from the data for which this book has been compiled. Although we have brought this publication down to 1909, events so rapidly succeed each other that we will hardly be off the press before some portions will seem behind the times.
We hope that the information herein, with such as will be imparted through the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition now ready to open at Seattle, will go far to show Alaska in a true light, and correct the errors and misapprehensions so generally prevalent now.
Seattle. U. S. A.
JOHN W. BROWN.