The Role of State in the Formation of the Russian-American Company

The question of State influence of the private enterprise and their interaction is one of the pivotal and most debatable in New and Contemporary History. This is a problem one could hardly avoid while studying the history of Russia's first monopolistic joint-stock trading company – the Russian-American Company (RAC).

The point of view of S. B. Okun, Soviet historian, is considered by many Soviet-Russian historians consider to be traditional. The core of this conception is that the State took the initiative of creating the Russian-American Company in order to begin the great plan of expansion in the Pacific region, and to stop foreign (American, English and Spain penetration) in that area. The formation of the RAC was a direct challenge to the foreigners. The State, in the person of such organizations as of Commerce-College, College of Foreign Affairs came to this idea gradually after scrupulously analyzing the situation. Another view is stated in certain publications abroad, mainly in the USA, where the authors try to define how the Russian government influenced the North Pacific market. They bring into light some important factors, that were somehow avoided by Russian-Soviet historians. So, C. A. Manning is certain that the struggle between State bureaucracy and laser fair was the primary reason of the company's formation. A. G. Mazaur thinks that such a phenomenon of the joint-stock company in the monarchical government, where serfdom was in its height and semifeudeal aristocracy ruled supreme, was inconceivable. M. E. Wheeler thinks that the State started to play active role by trying to stop a bitter rivalry among the merchants after the death of G. I. Shelikhov.

Having analyzed literature and sources of the problem it is possible to suggest the following comments. The initiative in forming monopolistic company belonged solely to the Russian merchants. They used the State in their interests and not visa-versa. the I. L. Golikov-G. I. Shelikhov company steped forward among Among many fur-trading companies. It became the leader in the Pacific fur trade. These merchants came to market with some crucial innovations: organizing permanent settlements in Alaska, creating the company not for a season but for 10 years, developing a system of selling furs – buying goods on Chinese and Russian markets.

Katherine II rejected the proposal for the monopoly. From 1781 till 1796 the State was in the neutral or negative position towards the domination of one particularly company in the North Pacific. There were a certain contradictions inside the I. L. Golikov-G. I. Shelikhov company, which were revealed after the death of Shelikhov. His widow managed to save the capitals by united them with a new merchant company. She and her son- in-low N. P. Rezanov were the authors of many documents, signed by Commerce-College. Those documents formed the basis of the Charter of the Russian-American Company. The Commerce College and other State organization did not designed the constituent documents of United-American and later Russian-American Companies. They just followed Shelikhov's family ideas without their adequate analysis. By way of illustration Natalia Shelikhova's proposal of certain rules and privileges for the company in her “Memorial” that were simply copied in the final documents of the RAC. The result was that state officials missed obvious mistakes, for example, the wrong calculation of shares.

Up to the formation of the Russian-American Company the State neither had interest in the land in the North Pacific, nor plans to occupy California and Hawaii islands. Katherine II was not sure about the merchant discoveries and wrote that no one had proven them. She indicated that the State interests were in the South and not in the far East. Already in the XIX century, according to the Convention of 1824-1825 Russia made a certain concessions to the USA and England by giving them the right to trade and fish in the State.

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