Ludwig von Hagemeister

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Ludwig August von Hagemeister (Russian: Лео́нтий Андриа́нович Гагеме́йстер; Leontij Andrianovic Gagemejster;[1] 1780 Drostenhof, Governorate of Livonia, Russian Empire – December 24, 1833) was a Baltic German that held the rank of Captain of the 1st rank in the Imperial Russian Navy. He was maritime explorer of Alaska and the Pacific Ocean, and served as the second chief manager of the Russian-American Company.

Career in the Navy[edit]

Hagemeister began his service in the Russian naval forces in 1795 as a volunteer midshipman. Along with a group of fellow junior servicemen, he joined the British Royal Navy in 1802 on board the HMS Argus.[2] In 1806 he was directed to take the Neva with provisions needed at Russian America, the first of three circumnavigations in his career to New Archangel.[1] Departing on 20 October 1806 from Kronstadt, the Neva began to cross the Atlantic Ocean. After passing the Cape of Good Hope, Hagemeister and his subordinates were the first Russian crew to visit the Australian mainland; reaching the port of Port Jackson on 4 June.[2]

Reaching New Archangel on 13 September, Hagemeister was stationed on Kodiak Island for most of 1808. He was ordered by Chief Manager of the Russian American Company (RAC), Aleksandr Baranov, to secure needed provisions from the Kingdom of Hawaii on 30 November 1808 and perhaps find a suitable location for a Russian colony there.[2] Hagemeister explored portions of the North Pacific and met with King Kamehameha I in early 1809. Amicable conversations were commenced with the monarch and Hagemeister purchased a cargo of salt.[2] Delivering the salt to New Archangel, he later departed for Saint Petersburg in 1810 on the Neva. Hagemeister reached Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky on 28 May and began the overland trek through Siberia. His circumnavigation was received favorably by Russian authorities at St. Petersburg, as he was promoted to Captain lieutenant and awarded the Order of St. Vladimir 4th class.[2] He was chairman of the Admiralty of Irkutsk from 1812 to 1815, in which capacity Hagemeister was responsible for the building of the first ships for crossing Lake Baikal.

Vasily Golovnin encouraged him to plan another journey to New Archangel, and worked for his appointment to a RAC ship. Besides delivering more needed provisions, Hagemeister was given authority to replace Baranov as Chief Manager if he felt it necessary.[3] Commanding the Kutuzov, Hagemeister started his second circumnavigation in 1816. Hagemeister arrived at New Archangel during 1817. Before examining Baranov's financial records however, Hagemeister was employed in formalising relations with the Kashia Pomo people of California. He was the principal negotiator with authorities of the local Pomo band, and obtained the privilege to establish Fort Ross. A treaty was signed on 22 September 1817, with tribal officials reported to have said that "They are very pleased to see Russians occupy this land, for they now live in safety from other Indians who used to attack them from time to time. This security began only from the time of Russian settlement."[4] The agreement was made by REC officials as a part of schemes aiming at the seizure of Alta California from the Spanish Empire.

Returning to New Archangel, Hagemeister and other naval officers spent the winter examining the financial records of the RAC. A discrepancy in the amount of supplies listed in accounting records. On 11 January 1818 Baranov was, "in a most arrogant way",[1] removed by Hagemeister from office.[3] Hagemeister soon changed payment methods to promyslenniki workers, by giving currency for salaries and abandoning the share system in favor of provisions.[1] Relations with the Hawaiian Kingdom were improved, then still damaged from the Schäffer affair. The outlawing of trade with non-Company European descendants proved to be a lasting directive issued by Hagemeister.[5] This stance was contained Ukase of 1821, a decree from the Imperial Government that extended Russian land claims south and banned all non-Russian Europeans merchants. Hagemeister departed from New Archangel in October with his direct subordinate, Semyon Ivanovich Yanovsky, deputed as the next chief manager.[3]

In 1828–1829, Hagemeister made his final circumnavigation on the ship Krotky. During this journey, he surveyed the Menshikov Atoll (Kwajalein) in the Marshall Islands, plotting it on the map and specifying the location of some other islands. His diaries are composed in several European languages, including German, Russian, French, Portuguese, English and Spanish.[1] An island and a strait in Alaska bear Hagemeister's name.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Baltic, Alix. The Baltic Connection in Russian America. Jahrbücher für Geschichte Osteuropas, Neue Folge 42, No. 3 (1994), pp. 321-339.
  2. ^ a b c d e Pierce, Richard A. Russian America: A Biographical Dictionary. Kingston, Canada: The Limestone Press. 1990, pp. 185-187.
  3. ^ a b c Borneman, Walter R. Alaska, Saga of a Bold Land. New York City: HarperCollins. 2003, p. 73.
  4. ^ Spencer-Hancock, Diane, William E. Pritchard and Ina Kaliakin. Notes to the 1817 Treaty between the Russian American Company and Kashaya Pomo Indians. California History 59, No. 4 (1980/1981), pp 306-313.
  5. ^ Black, Lydia T. Russians in Alaska, 1732-1867. Fairbanks, AK: University of Alaska Press. 2004, p. 197.
Government offices
Preceded by
Alexander Andreyevich Baranov
Governor of Russian Colonies in America
Succeeded by
Lieutenant Semyon Ivanovich Yanovsky