Russian Chain-Mail Vest
Worn by the Russian governor of Alaska
From 1799 to 1818, Alexander Baranov served his czar as Russia's first governor of Alaska. During that time, he often had occasion to wear this chain-mail vest. A ruthless man, Baranov barbarously suppressed the local Native Alaskans, who soon came to consider him invulnerable. At a farewell celebration at the time of his departure for Russia in 1818, Baranov presented his chain-mail vest to the chief of the Sitkas. The vest was passed on over the generations, until it came into the possession of George Kostrometinov, an Alaskan of Russian descent. In 1906, he wrote to President Theodore Roosevelt: "It is my desire Mr. President to present through you to the United States Government this interesting relic." The armored vest has been in the possession of the Smithsonian ever since.
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