Russian-American Company
The Russian-American Company (officially: Under His Imperial Majesty's Highest Protection (patronage) Russian-American Company; ) was a state-sponsored chartered company
Chartered company
A chartered company is an association formed by investors or shareholders for the purpose of trade, exploration and colonization.- History :...

 formed largely on the basis of the so-called Shelekhov-Golikov Company of Grigory Shelekhov and Ivan Larionovich Golikov (after Shelekhov's death managed by his widow Natalia Shelekhova, with heavy involvement from Shelekhov’s son-in-law Nikolai Rezanov
Nikolai Rezanov
Nikolay Petrovich Rezanov was a Russian nobleman and statesman who promoted the project of Russian colonization of Alaska and California. One of the ten barons of Russia, he was the first Russian ambassador to Japan , and participated in the first Russian circumnavigation of the globe ,...

 until the latter’s death in 1807).

Chartered by Tsar
Tsar is a title used to designate certain European Slavic monarchs or supreme rulers. As a system of government in the Tsardom of Russia and Russian Empire, it is known as Tsarist autocracy, or Tsarism...

 Paul I in 1799, it was Russia's first joint stock company
Joint stock company
A joint-stock company is a type of corporation or partnership involving two or more individuals that own shares of stock in the company...

, and came under the direct authority of the Ministry of Commerce of Imperial Russia. The Minister of Commerce (later, Minister of Foreign Affairs) Nikolai Petrovich Rumyantsev was a pivotal influence upon the early Company's affairs. In 1801 the Company's headquarters were moved from Irkutsk
Irkutsk is a city and the administrative center of Irkutsk Oblast, Russia, one of the largest cities in Siberia. Population: .-History:In 1652, Ivan Pokhabov built a zimovye near the site of Irkutsk for gold trading and for the collection of fur taxes from the Buryats. In 1661, Yakov Pokhabov...

 to St.Petersburg and the merchants who were initially the major stockholders were soon replaced by Russia's nobility and aristocracy. Count Rumyantsev funded Russia's first naval circumnavigation under the joint command of Adam Johann von Krusenstern
Adam Johann von Krusenstern
Adam Johann Ritter von Krusenstern , was an admiral and explorer, who led the first Russian circumnavigation of the globe.- Life :...

 and Nikolai Rezanov in 1803-1806, and later funded and directed the voyage of the Riurik's circumnavigation of 1814–16, which provided substantial scientific information on Alaska's and California's flora and fauna, and important ethnographic information on Alaskan and Californian (among others) natives. Rumyantsev (Bodega
Bodega is a Spanish word that may refer to:* a winery, wine cellar or wine bar* a convenience store specializing in Hispanic groceriesPlaces:* Bodega, California, town in Sonoma County, California...

) Bay in northern California was named in his honour during the Russian-California period (1812–42) of Fort Ross.


The 20-year renewable charter and accompanying ukase
A ukase , in Imperial Russia, was a proclamation of the tsar, government, or a religious leader that had the force of law...

 (edict) granted the company monopoly over trade in Russian America
Russian colonization of the Americas
The Russian colonization of the Americas covers the period, from 1732 to 1867, when the Tsarist Imperial Russian Empire laid claim to northern Pacific Coast territories in the Americas...

, which included the Aleutian Islands, Alaska
Alaska is the largest state in the United States by area. It is situated in the northwest extremity of the North American continent, with Canada to the east, the Arctic Ocean to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the west and south, with Russia further west across the Bering Strait...

, and the territory down to 55° N latitude. Under the charter, one-third of all profits were to go to the emperor. A further ukase
Ukase of 1821
The Ukase of 1821 was a Russian proclamation of territorial sovereignty over Northwestern America, now present day Alaska. It declared that the Russian Empire prohibited "all foreign vessels not only to land on the coasts and islands belonging to Russia, [...] but also to approach them within less...

 (edict or proclamation) by the Tsar in 1821, asserted its domain to 51° N latitude but this was challenged by the British and the United States, which ultimately resulted in the Russo-American Treaty of 1824 and the Russo-British Treaty of 1825
Treaty of Saint Petersburg (1825)
The Treaty of Saint Petersburg of 1825, also known as the Anglo-Russian Convention of 1825, defined the boundaries between Russian America and British claims and possessions in the Pacific Northwest of North America at 54 degrees 40 minutes north latitude, which had the year before been established...

 which established 54°40′ as the ostensible southward limit of Russian interests. The only attempt at enforcement of the ukase of 1821 was the seizure of the U.S. brig Pearl in 1822, by the Russian sloop Apollon. The Pearl, a vessel of the maritime fur trade
Maritime Fur Trade
The Maritime Fur Trade was a ship-based fur trade system that focused on acquiring furs of sea otters and other animals from the indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast and natives of Alaska. The furs were mostly sold in China in exchange for tea, silks, porcelain, and other Chinese...

, was sailing from Boston to Sitka. On a protest from the US government the vessel was released and compensation paid. A later lease to the Hudson's Bay Company
Hudson's Bay Company
The Hudson's Bay Company , abbreviated HBC, or "The Bay" is the oldest commercial corporation in North America and one of the oldest in the world. A fur trading business for much of its existence, today Hudson's Bay Company owns and operates retail stores throughout Canada...

 of the southeastern sector of what is now the Alaska Panhandle, as far north as 56° 30' N, followed in 1838 as part of a damages settlement due to treaty violations by the Company's governor, Baron Ferdinand von Wrangel
Ferdinand von Wrangel
Baron Ferdinand Friedrich Georg Ludwig von Wrangel – May 25 , 1870) was a Russian explorer and seaman, Honorable Member of the Saint Petersburg Academy of Sciences, a founder of the Russian Geographic Society...

, in 1833.

Under Alexandr Baranov
Alexandr Baranov
Alexander Andreyevich Baranov , sometimes spelled Aleksander or Alexandr and Baranof, was born in 1746 in Kargopol, in St. Petersburg Governorate of the Russian Empire....

, who governed the region between 1790 and 1818, a permanent settlement was established in 1804 at Novo-Arkhangelsk (today's Sitka, Alaska), and a thriving maritime trade was organized.

The company constructed settlements in what is today Alaska, Hawaii, and California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

. Fort Ross, on the California coast in Sonoma County just north of San Francisco, was the southernmost outpost of the Russian-American Company. Though on supposed Spanish and then subsequently Mexican territory, the legitimacy of these claims was contested by both the Company and the Russian Government until the sale of the settlement in 1841, basing the legitimacy of their claims on prior English (New Albion
New Albion
New Albion, also known as Nova Albion, was the name of the region of the Pacific coast of North America explored by Sir Francis Drake and claimed by him for England in 1579...

) claims of territorial discovery.
It is now partially reconstructed and an open-air museum. The Rotchev House is the last remaining original building. Fort Elizabeth
Russian Fort Elizabeth
Russian Fort Elizabeth is a fort on the island of Kauai in Hawaii. It was the last remaining Russian fort on the Hawaiian islands, built in the early 19th century by the Russian-American Company as the result of an alliance with High Chief Kaumualii to gain influence in Hawaii...

 was built in Hawaii
Hawaii is the newest of the 50 U.S. states , and is the only U.S. state made up entirely of islands. It is the northernmost island group in Polynesia, occupying most of an archipelago in the central Pacific Ocean, southwest of the continental United States, southeast of Japan, and northeast of...

 by an agent of the company.

But from the 1820s onwards the profits from the fur trade began to decline. Already in 1818 the Russian government had taken control of the Russian-American Company from the merchants who held the charter. The explorer and Naval Officer, Baron Wrangel, who had been administrator of Russian government interests in Russian America a decade before, was the first president of the company during the government period. The company ceased its commercial activities in 1881. In 1867, the Alaska Purchase
Alaska purchase
The Alaska Purchase was the acquisition of the Alaska territory by the United States from Russia in 1867 by a treaty ratified by the Senate. The purchase, made at the initiative of United States Secretary of State William H. Seward, gained of new United States territory...

 transferred control of Alaska to the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 and the commercial interests of the Russian American Company were sold to Hutchinson, Kohl & Company of San Francisco, California
San Francisco, California
San Francisco , officially the City and County of San Francisco, is the financial, cultural, and transportation center of the San Francisco Bay Area, a region of 7.15 million people which includes San Jose and Oakland...

, who then renamed their company to the Alaska Commercial Company
Alaska Commercial Company
The Alaska Commercial Company is a company that operated retail stores in Alaska during the early period of Alaska's ownership by the United States. From 1901 to 1992, it was known as the Northern Commercial Company . In 1992, it resumed business as the Alaska Commercial Company under the...


Chief managers of the Shelikhov-Golikov Company

Prior to 1799, the Shelekhov-Golikov Company held a charter in Alaska and were founded by Grigory Shelikhov
Grigory Shelikhov
Grigory Ivanovich Shelekhov Grigory Ivanovich Shelekhov Grigory Ivanovich Shelekhov (Григорий Иванович Шелехов in Russian; (1747–July 20, 1795 (July 31, 1795 N.S.)) was a Russian seafarer and merchant born in Rylsk....

 (1747–1795) and Ivan Golikov (1729–1805). Baranov served both under the Shelekhov-Golikov Company and the Russian-American Company, but he is not generally called a governor, as that title began to be used by foreigners only after the company was transferred to the rule of the Russian Navy on January 11, 1818.
No. Name Term
1 Grigory Ivanovich Shelekhov (1747–95) 1784–86
2 Konstantin Alekseevich Samoilov (fl. 1780’s) 1786–87
3 Evstratii Ivanovich Delarov (ca. 1740–1806) 1787–91
4 Aleksandr Andreyevich Baranov (1746–1819) 1791–99

  • Sources:
    • Piotr A. Tikhmenev: A History of the Russian-American Company (1978).
    • Richard A. Pierce
      Richard Pierce (historian)
      Richard Austin Pierce was an American historian and publisher who specialized in the Russian era of Alaska’s history...

      : Russian America: A Biographical Dictionary. Alaska History no. 33, The Limestone Press, Kingston Ont. & Fairbanks Alaska.
    • Lydia T. Black: Russians in Alaska, 1732–1867 (2004).

Chief managers of the Russian American Company

Below is a list of the general managers (or chief managers, usually known in English as governors) of the Russian-American Company. Many of their names occur as place names in Southeast Alaska. Note that the English spelling of the names varies between sources.
No. Name Term
1 Alexander Andreyevich Baranov (1747–1819) July 9, 1799 – January 11, 1818
2 Captain
Captain (naval)
Captain is the name most often given in English-speaking navies to the rank corresponding to command of the largest ships. The NATO rank code is OF-5, equivalent to an army full colonel....

 Ludwig von Hagemeister (1780–1833)
January 11, 1818 – October 24, 1818
3 Lieutenant
A lieutenant is a junior commissioned officer in many nations' armed forces. Typically, the rank of lieutenant in naval usage, while still a junior officer rank, is senior to the army rank...

 Semyon Ivanovich Yanovsky (1788–1876)
October 24, 1818 – September 15, 1820
4 Matvey Ivanovich Muravyev (1784–1826) September 15, 1820 – October 14, 1825
5 Pyotr Igorovich Chistyakov (1790–1862) October 14, 1825 – June 1, 1830
6 Baron
Baron is a title of nobility. The word baron comes from Old French baron, itself from Old High German and Latin baro meaning " man, warrior"; it merged with cognate Old English beorn meaning "nobleman"...

 Ferdinand Petrovich von Wrangel (1797–1870)
June 1, 1830 – October 29, 1835
7 Ivan Antonovich Kupreianov
Ivan Antonovich Kupreianov
Ivan Antonovich Kupreyanov , also spelled in English as Kupreanof, was the head of the Russian-American Company in Russian America from 1835 to 1840. He built the famous residence, library and museum in Sitka called Baranof's Castle by early American settlers, who assumed that it had been built by...

October 29, 1835 – May 25, 1840
8 Arvid Adolf Etholén (1798–1876) May 25, 1840 – July 9, 1845
9 Vice Admiral
Vice Admiral
Vice admiral is a senior naval rank of a three-star flag officer, which is equivalent to lieutenant general in the other uniformed services. A vice admiral is typically senior to a rear admiral and junior to an admiral...

 Mikhail Dmitrievich Tebenkov (1802–72)
July 9, 1845 – October 14, 1850
10 Captain
Captain (naval)
Captain is the name most often given in English-speaking navies to the rank corresponding to command of the largest ships. The NATO rank code is OF-5, equivalent to an army full colonel....

 Nikolay Yakovlevich Rosenberg (1807–57)
October 14, 1850 – March 31, 1853
11 Aleksandr Ilich Rudakov (1817–75) March 31, 1853 – April 22, 1854
12 Captain
Captain (naval)
Captain is the name most often given in English-speaking navies to the rank corresponding to command of the largest ships. The NATO rank code is OF-5, equivalent to an army full colonel....

 Stepan Vasiliyevich Voyevodsky
Stepan Vasiliyevich Voyevodsky
For the Russian minister of the Navy, see Stepan Arkadyevich VoyevodskyStepan Vasilievich Voyevodsky was an admiral of Imperial Russian Navy, Governor of Russian America in 1854–1859 and military governor of Astrakhan in 1860s....

April 22, 1854 – June 22, 1859
13 Captain
Captain (naval)
Captain is the name most often given in English-speaking navies to the rank corresponding to command of the largest ships. The NATO rank code is OF-5, equivalent to an army full colonel....

 Ivan Vasiliyevich Furugelm
Johan Hampus Furuhjelm
Johan Hampus Furuhjelm, was a Finnish-Russian vice-admiral and explorer, commander of the Russian Baltic Fleet, Governor of the Russian Far East, Taganrog and Russian America.-Early years:...

June 22, 1859 – December 2, 1863
14 Prince Dmitri Petrovich Maksutov
Dmitri Petrovich Maksutov
Prince Dmitry Petrovich Maksutov was an Imperial Russian Navy rear-admiral who was the last Governor of Russian America . He has streets dedicated to his memory in Sitka and Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky....

December 2, 1863 – October 18, 1867


  • Fort Elizabeth
    Russian Fort Elizabeth
    Russian Fort Elizabeth is a fort on the island of Kauai in Hawaii. It was the last remaining Russian fort on the Hawaiian islands, built in the early 19th century by the Russian-American Company as the result of an alliance with High Chief Kaumualii to gain influence in Hawaii...

     near Waimea, Hawaii
    Waimea, Kauai County, Hawaii
    Waimea is a census-designated place in Kauai County, Hawaii, United States. The population was 1,787 at the 2000 census...

  • Fort Alexander near Hanalei, Hawaii
    Hanalei, Hawaii
    Hanalei is a census-designated place in Kauai County, Hawaii, United States. The population was 478 at the 2000 census. Hanalei means "lei making" in Hawaiian...

  • Fort near Nuchek on Hinchinbrook Island, Prince William Sound 1791
  • Fort Archangel Saint Michael near Sitka 1799
  • Fort near Yakutat, Alaska 1796
  • Fort (New) Alexandrovsk at Bristol Bay 1819
  • Fort near Nulato, Alaska 1834
  • Fort near Kolmakov, Alaska 1844
  • Redoubt Saint Dionysius
    Fort Stikine
    Fort Stikine was a fur trade post and fortification in what is now the Alaska Panhandle, at the site of the present-day of Wrangell, Alaska, United States...

     near the mouth of the Stikine River 1833 (today's Wrangell, Alaska
    Wrangell, Alaska
    Wrangell is a city and borough in the U.S. state of Alaska. At the 2000 census the population was 2,308.Its Tlingit name is Ḵaachx̱aana.áakʼw . The Tlingit people residing in the Wrangell area, who were there centuries before Europeans, call themselves the Shtaxʼhéen Ḵwáan after the nearby Stikine...

  • Fort Ross, California
    Fort Ross, California
    Fort Ross is a former Russian establishment on the Pacific Coast in what is now Sonoma County, California, in the United States. It was the hub of the southernmost Russian settlements in North America in between 1812 to 1841...

Source: Russian American Company in Hawaii

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