A look back at the original Alaska Purchase

(CNN)As the deadline to pass their health care plan looms, Capitol Hill Republicans are looking anxiously to Sen. Lisa Murkowski. The Alaska senator was one of three in her party to vote against legislation to dismantle Obamacare during the GOP's last attempts, and could again decide the fate of her party's latest repeal-and-replace effort.

Alaska has the nation's highest health insurance premiums, and could stand to lose out under the Graham-Cassidy bill, which calls for eliminating federal funding for Medicaid expansion and the subsidies that help many enrollees pay for premiums.
However, Politico and IJR have reported that the bill is undergoing changes aimed at wooing Murkowski by exempting Alaska from certain cuts.
The possibility of sweeteners in the bill have been dubbed by some as the "Alaska Purchase."
    The original Alaska Purchase, however, occurred 150 years ago and eventually led to the creation of the 49th state.
    Russia began exploring the Alaskan coast in the mid 1700s, according to the State Department's Office of the Historian. The land was sparsely populated and resource-rich, and became a site of competition between Russian and American settlers in the early 1800's. However, Russia did not maintain major settlements or military outposts on the land, according the the Office of the Historian.
    In 1859, Russia offered to sell Alaska to the United States in an attempt to snub their rival, Great Britain, but the sale of the land was delayed by the US Civil War.
     Secretary of State William Henry Seward (1801 - 1872).
    In March 1867, Secretary of State William Seward negotiated a deal with Russian Minister to the US Edouard de Stoeckl to purchase "Russian America" for $7.2 million -- or $113 million in today's dollars, according to Smithsonian.com.
    The two signed the Treaty of Cession on March 30, the Senate approved it on April 9 and President Andrew Johnson signed it into law on May 28. The land was officially transferred to the United States on October 28, 1867, marking the end of Russia's efforts to expand trade to North America's Pacific coast and increasing the size of America's land holdings by nearly 600,000 square miles, according to the National Archives. However, the appropriation of funding for the purchase was not approved until 1868 due to opposition in the House of Representatives, according to the Library of Congress.
    Critics of the deal nicknamed it "Seward's Folly," "Seward's Icebox," and Johnson's "Polar Bear Garden." They panned the use of government money for land they perceived as worthless.
    "Ninety-nine hundredths of Russian America are absolutely useless," the Holt County Sentinel wrote at the time.
    "Unfortunately for our treasury and our tax-payers, there is no diplomatic glory to be got out of accepting" Alaska, it was written in the New York Tribune.
    Settlement on the land was slow, and a civil government was not established there until 1884.
    It was not until the discovery of gold in the Yukon in the late 1890s and subsequent Gold Rush that the population and value of the area grew. Alaska was granted territorial status in 1912.
    It voted in favor of statehood in 1912, adopted a state constitution in 1959, and officially became a state in 1959.