Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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BARANOFF, Alexander Andrevitch, governor of Russian America, born in 1746; died at sea, near Java, 28 April 1819. In early life he was a merchant in Siberia, but in August 1790, he went to the island of Kodiak and opened trade there with the natives. In 1796 he established a trading-post at Bering strait. In 1799 the Russian Company was formed, by the consolidation of all the companies in the territory, and established a line of forts and trading-posts on the coast. With its assistance, Baranoff, overcoming many natural obstacles, took possession of the largest of the Sitka group of islands, now known by his name, and the Emperor Alexander gave him a title of nobility. After losing, and again recovering, in October 1804, the fortress at Sitka, he built a factory there, and traded with Canton, Manila, the Sandwich islands, New York, Boston, and California, and even founded a colony (of which no traces remain) near San Francisco, then a Spanish mission. As his life of hardship began to affect his health, he applied to the government for leave to return to Russia; but this was not granted him until 1818, and he died in the vessel that was carrying him home.
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