The gold rush focused national attention on Alaska. Congress started to deal more seriously with Alaskan problems. It appropriated funds for the U.S. Geological Survey to begin a survey and exploration of Alaska, and it extended federal coal mining laws to the district. The U.S. Army built posts at Eagle, Nome, Haines, and Tanana.
Congress also enacted three pieces of legislation dealing with the economy and the political system. The first, passed in 1898, enabled railroad builders to obtain a right-of-way and extended the homestead laws to Alaska so that settlers could now get title to land. In 1899 Congress enacted changes to make the Oregon Code more responsive to Alaskan conditions. At the same time it levied taxes on businesses. The revenues collected went into the U.S. Treasury to pay for the cost of governing Alaska. And in 1900 Congress added two new judicial districts, moved the capital from Sitka to Juneau, and provided for incorporation of towns.
The gold rush era brought to a head a long-standing boundary dispute with Canada. The portion of the Russo-British treaty of 1825 that was intended to define the limits of British and Russian possessions south of 60° north latitude was ambiguous. Several times since the 1867 purchase, disputes had arisen and suggestions were made, mainly by the Canadians, to settle the controversy. But neither side was willing to pay for a survey.
By 1898 Canada claimed ownership of Skagway and Dyea, which would have given Canadians in the Yukon Territory direct access to the Pacific Ocean without having to pass through American territory. President Theodore Roosevelt condemned Canada’s claims as lacking any merit. Eventually, a tribunal of six jurists, three from each side, examined the controversy.
By a vote of four to two, with Richard Alverstone, Lord Chief Justice of Britain, siding with the United States, the Canadian claims were rejected except for two small islands in Portland Canal. The decision, in 1903, soured relations with Canada for a time, but the boundary was now clearly defined. "USA" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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