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As a commercial venture, the colony was a failure. The Russians overexploited the sea mammal population which declined rapidly in the late 1810s and 1820s. The forests which the Russians were harvesting for shipbuilding stock yielded wood which weathered quickly, requiring ships to undergo major repairs within six years of construction. And a political agreement with Mexico, which would have made expanded agricultural development possible, faltered. In 1839, the Russian-American Company secured a supply agreement with the Hudson's Bay Company for wheat and beef and three years later sold the fort.




The colony's history as an experiment in multi-ethnic cohabitation is nevertheless interesting. The Russians who founded Fort Ross brought with them Native Alaskan laborers who were expert fishermen and sea mammal hunters. Native Californians, eager to avoid Spanish, and later Mexican political control, also joined the colony as employees in exchange for Russian protection. Eventually, the Native Alaskan men began marrying Native Californian women, leading to certain cultural blending and innovation


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