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The Russian-American Company (RAC) traded in furs and was Russias first and
greatest overseas venture, as well as the first government-charted joint-stock company.
The book focuses on how the Russian-American Company grew from a small operation
into a large business, comparable to the Hudsons Bay Company. The RAC was very
innovative in conducting its commercial activities, and furthermore, this company was
able to involve the State in the struggle for the land in the North Pacific.
The initiative in the process of forming the RAC belonged solely to the Russian
merchants, and the government only followed their recommendations. The history of
RAC is inseparable from the key persons during the formation process. The most impor
tant matter discussed is the interaction of the Shelikhov family with the government dur
ing the reigns of Catherine II and Paul I. Close attention is paid to the role of
Natalia Shelikhova, who was a founder of the RAC and of the first Russian business
woman. During that process, the dominant activities of Shelikhovs relatives within gov
ernment circles, and throughout the market places were revealed. The tendency of the
Russian State to support, or even join, the largest of companies that was acted in Alaska
is revealed in this interplay.
The book investigates how the Russian-American Company came under govern
mental control, and whether this transformation supported or hindered the companys
affairs. The book analyzes in detail how different governmental institutions affected the
commercial activities of the market. In addition, financial data such as the balance of
payments, bills of exchange and figures for market activities of the Company are con
sidered. The RAC was formed during the establishment of trade and diplomatic relations
between Russia and the United States, so the study of this company and era is essential
to a better understanding of our current relationship in this time of renewed interaction.
The book is based on extensive research from more than 40 different document collec
tion in 17 Russian and American archives, many of which are unpublished. The vast bib
liography within a multi-disciplinary framework has been used in the research.
The author would be grateful for all comments and suggestions on the book. Please
send them to the following address: Center for North American Studies, Institute of
World History, Russian Academy of Sciences, Leninskii Prospect 32-A, 117334
Moscow, Russia, or to e-mail address:
117334 , . 32-, , :
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