Alaska had been settled by the Russians since the 1790s, thinking they could make money from fur trapping. When they realized this wasn't making them much money, they tried to sell the territory to the United States in the early 1860s. At the time, the United States was fighting the Civil War and did not have time to consider the purchase. Then, in 1867, Russia once again offered it to the U.S. who finally agreed to purchase it. The Alaska Purchase took place on August 1st, 1867. It officially became a U.S. Territory in 1912.
After becoming a territory in 1912, Alaska when through many administrative changes. Residents were tired of not being recognized as a state and began to rally for statehood. Finally, after fighting with congress for decades, they approved Alaska for statehood on July 7, 1958. It was officially made a state on January 3rd, 1959.