Geography Assignments

The Drive For Statehood In Alaska

The journey to Statehood for Alaska was a long and hard one. There were many struggles that they needed to overcome, but when the people of Alaska all pulled together, they accomplished great things. All of their hard work paid off though, when the territory of Alaska finally became a State and was admitted into the Union on January 3, 1959.

Before the grant for Statehood, Alaska did not have much legislation or representation in Congress. In 1884 Congress established the First Organic Act in Alaska. This act provided only the bare necessities of law and order. It stated that the President would be responsible for appointing a governor for the territory and he would then be responsible for making sure that Alaska followed the laws according to the State of Oregon. During the early years of Alaska, Congress only provided what was absolutely necessary for the land. In some ways, Alaska was not even considered part of the United States. For example, a woman name Margaret Rutledge decide to attend the inauguration of President Dwight D. Eisenhower. She was stopped in the Seattle airport and had to go through immigration policies just to get through to the States. Margaret was quoted as saying, “A degrading influence had robbed me of the thing I value most–my birthright as an American.”

One of the earliest supporters for Statehood was William H. Seward, he believed that ultimately Alaska would become a State, or many states. While many Alaskans had lobbied Congress trying to get Alaska to become a State the turning point began with the first Constitutional Convention. This Convention was in November of 1955 and the purpose was to draft a constitution for when Alaska did eventually become a State. Delegates ran for seats in this meeting, and everyone was represented in some way. There were a couple of people from each class of citizens; miners, business men, and fisherman etc. The territory of Alaska used something that they called the “Alaska-Tennessee Plan” in order to gain admittance to the Union. They followed the strategy that Tennessee had used to become a State. Alaska voted on two unofficial senators and one delegate to be sent to Congress to lobby their efforts on behalf of the territory of Alaska. On January 3, 1959 Congress officially granted statehood to Alaska; all of that hard work had not been in vain.

Alaska’s journey to Statehood was a long and arduous one. However, by pulling together for the good of all, Alaska’s was able to pull through and gain the recognition that they deserved as a State of the United States of America.

-Shiphrah Brueckner

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