Britain and Russia Establish Their Boundary
The Anglo-Russian Treaty fixing the boundary between British and Russian possessions on the North American continent was signed in St. Petersburg on 28/16 February 1825, the second date according to the Julian calendar still in use in Russia. 1 Signatories were Count Nesselrode, Russia's foreign minister, Pierre de Poletica, formerly Russian ambassador to the United States, and Stratford Canning, Britain's ambassador to Russia. The boundary description, given in Articles III and IV of the treaty, continued unchanged when the United States purchased the Russian possessions in 1867 and Canada took over the British possessions in 1870 and 1871. Years later, differences between the United States and Canada over the 1825 description of what is now the Alaska Panhandle culminated in the Alaska Boundary Tribunal of 1903.
Need for an agreement between Britain and Russia went back to Tsar Alexander's Ukase of 1821 closing the North Pacific Ocean. 2 Under it foreign ships were prohibited from approaching within 100 nautical miles of the coast in a huge arc that swept from 51° North Latitude on the North American coast, north around the Bering Sea and along the Siberian coast almost to the Japanese Islands. Any ship seized was to be taken to Petropavlovsk on the Kamchatka Peninsula of Siberia where it and its cargo could be confiscated and disposed of. Crews would be sent overland to the Baltic Sea, and, after the expenses of the trip had been deducted, the proceeds were to be divided with a one-fifth share for the Russian government and the remainder going to the captors, either the Russian- American Company or officers of the Russian Navy.