But Seward had wanted to buy Alaska for a long time. Alaska is so large that the addition of this land would increase the size of the U.S. by nearly 20 percent. Russia had established a presence in Alaska in the early 18th century and offered to sell it to the United States during President James Buchanan's administration. But the Civil War stalled negotiations. After the war, it was not easy for Seward to convince the Senate that Alaska would be an important addition to the United States. The Senate ratified the treaty that approved the purchase by just one vote. Was buying Alaska a good move?