In 1867, Russia sold the territory of Alaska to the U.S. for $7.2 million. A mere 50 years later, the Americans had earned that amount back 100 times over.

How could the imperial officials have given up such a choice parcel?

A petition calling for Russia’s annexation of Alaska that was posted on the White House website gathered more than 35,000 signatures before it was canceled Many people still think that the Americans either stole Alaska from the Russians or leased it and did not return it.

Despite the widespread myths, the deal was an honest one, and both sides had valid reasons to make it.