Commander Rezanov
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§ N. P. Rezanov in Russian America

In 1805 N. P. Rezanov moved from the sloop the “Hope” to the “Maria Magdalina”, whose commander was a lieutenant Rostislav Mashin. Grigory Langsdorf, a researcher and naturalist, who had been sailing on the “Hope”, accompanied him. The officers N. A. Khvostov and G. I. Davidov were sailing as passengers on the board of the “Maria Magdalina” too. N. P. Rezanov, as a “master” of the Russian-American company, interfered into all the details of management. On the way to Novo-Arhangelsk the “Maria Magdalina” called at the Island of St. Paul, Unalashka, came to Kadiak, and everywhere Rezanov familiarized himself with the state of affairs. In Sitkha, where there were a lot of shortcomings, he was impressed by a fighting spirit of Baranov`s friends; tirelessness and efficiency of Baranov himself. But there were so many hardships: they were running out of food and therefore they were afraid of coming famine; the soil was infertile, they had neither enough bricks for building, nor mica for windows; copper was a big rarity, while it was impossible to equip a ship without it.

Rezanov himself in the letter from Sitha wrote: “The houses where we are staying up are overcrowded; but the owner of these places lives even worse: in a board hut, damp to such extent that every day mustiness has to be wiped off, and when it is raining hard, the hut is leaking like a sieve from all sides. A wonderful person! He cares only about quiet arrangement of others, but he is so careless to himself, that once I found his bed swimming and asked him, whether a wind had torn off a plank from the side of his hut. “No, — he answered quietly, — it seems to have leaked to me from outside, — and he went on with his orders.”

Dog team in Alaska The population of Russian America, as Alaska was called, was growing very slowly. In 1805 there were about 470 of Russian colonizers, besides, and there was a considerable number of Indians depending on the company, (by the census of Rezanov on the Kadiak island there were 5200 of them). People, serving in establishment of the company, were on the whole violent, that’s why Nikolai Rezanov called Russian settlements a “drunk republic”.

At that time there was serf system in Russia, and the dependence of peasantry from the landowner’s will deprived Russian America of reliable working hands. Rezanov offered several alternatives to the solution of this problem, including the selling-out of peasants by the company. However, the proposal didn’t get the support of the government.

Nikolai Rezanov did a lot of useful things for the improvement of people’s life. He renewed the work of the boys’ school neither limiting pupils’ number nor taking into account their family status. He also ordered to send them by tens to Irkutsk, and then, after having been vaccinated against smallpox, they were sent either to Moscow or St-Petersburg for studying sciences, skills and crafts. After five years he suggested that these boys return back to America, and then replace them with other boys.

There was established a girls’ school, known as “Maria’s Blessing Kindness” charitable house, where one hundred girls including sixteen creoles had been studying. Four pupils were sent to Russia for studying housekeeping and needlework. After N. Rezanov had established educational institutions in the settlements, he founded a hospital, which could be attended both by the Russians and natives.

The court which was called “The Punishment of Russian settlers and Americans” was established. The court had to investigate all disputable lawsuits between the Russian settlers, including the complaints for insults, oppressions, tumults, deceit, debt claims and, at last, litigations between the natives and Russians. In the structure of court there were two Russians and two natives under the chairmanship of one of the superior officers serving in the company. The natives had to be present only in cases, concerning their own cases.

The commander himself said the following about the work of the given establishment: “At that very time I made an example of one court case as a severe justice over a petty bourgeois Kulikalov who was escorted from island Atha for brutal beating of a native woman and her baby. The criminal was put in irons at the presence of (”in assembly of“) the Taens, the Americans, Russian sailors from the ships, and sent to Irkutsk with the next transport to treat him according the laws, thus showing to all islanders, that for your Imperial Majesty all citizens are equal, and to industrial Russians, that their first murder will be so severely punished”.

Rezanov insisted that all the Russians, living in settlements, should study the language of the natives. He made up the dictionaries of Russian-Cadiak and Russian-Unalashka languages issued by the Academy of Sciences, as well as the Russian-Japanese dictionary, composed earlier.

Having familiarized himself with a state of affairs in Russian America, Rezanov came to the right decision for the problem: to establish the trade with California and found the Russian settlement which would supply Russian America with bread and dairy products. For this purpose Rezanov and Baranov took drastic measures. To relieve the population of Russian America of famine (and by census of Rezanov, made in Unalashka and Cadiak departments, where were 5234 men), it was necessary to sail to California immediately.

For the fastest realization of the voyage to California it was decided under the Baranov’s offer to buy the ship of the Englishman Wolf — one of two arrived to Sitkha for routine repairs of English ships. The deal was done: they decided on 68 thousand piastres for the ship with all cargo. The part of money was repaid by the goods for the sum of 31250 piastres, and Wolf might receive the rest in St. Petersburg at presentation of the bills. Besides, this sum also covered the cost of the “Ermak”, which was given to Wolf for good for transportation of furs to the Sandwich islands, and the “Rostislav”, which was leased for transportation of the crew and Wolf himself to Ohotsk. The English ship “Juno” was taken under the command of N. Khvostov, his long-time assistant G. Davydov.

Under the Russian flag the “Juno” sailed for California on February 26, 1806.