In June 1804, the first Russians arrived at Hawaii in the sloops Nadezhda and Neva, during a series of round-the-world explorations. One of the aims of these voyages was to locate both supply points for Russia's holdings on the Pacific (including Alaska), and markets for the products of those areas. Expedition leader Lieutenant Ivan Fedorovich Krusenstern missed meeting King Kamehameha, who was invading Oahu at the time, but did talk to King Kaumualii on Kauai. Kaumualii asked the Russians for protection from Kamehameha's armies, but the Russians had neither the manpower nor the firepower to offer assistance, even if they had wanted to. Word about the expedition's primary purposes apparently reached Kamehameha, though, and in 1806 he sent word to Alexander Baranov, the Manager of the Russian-American Company, offering to send a ship to Sitka once a year for the purpose of trading food including swine, salt and sweet potatoes, for sea otter pelts. The following summer, the Nikolai brought the first cargo of food from Hawaii to Sitka.(read more...)
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