Russian-American Company

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Russian-American Company


a trading company established in Russia on July 8(19), 1799, for the purpose of developing Russian America and the Kuril and other islands.

The Russian-American Company’s board of directors, initially located in Irkutsk, was moved to St. Petersburg in 1800. The company received exclusive rights to all natural resources within the lands under its authority. It also received the right to organize expeditions, settle newly discovered lands, and trade with neighboring countries. It established a number of permanent settlements in Russian America, as well as shipyards, workshops, and other enterprises. From 1804 to 1840, with the assistance of the Russian government, it organized 25 expeditions, including 15 circumnavigations (for example, by I. F. Kruzenshtern and Iu. F. Lisianskii); it explored Alaska and helped colonize the island of Sakhalin and the Amur River region.

From 1824 the Russian-American Company’s board of directors was located at 72 Moika in St. Petersburg. The Northern Society of Decembrists often held its meetings here. K. F. Ryleev, the company’s director in 1824 and 1825, also lived in this building.

Throughout its existence, the Russian-American Company sponsored geographic and ethnographic studies of Russian America—for example, by M. D. Teben’kov, V. S. Khromchenko, A. K. Etolin, A. F. Kashevarov, L. A. Zagoskin, and I. G. Voznesenskii. It helped introduce grain and vegetable cultivation and cattle breeding in several areas. Its activities were complicated by competition with English and American entrepreneurs over control of local markets. The Russian-American Company was dissolved in 1868 in connection with the sale of Russian possessions to the United States.


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