Alaska’s Declaration of “Independence”?   Leave a comment

My next several posts are exerpts from Ernest Gruening’s speech at the 1955 Alaska Constitutional Convention — “Let Us End American Colonialism”.

Gruening was, like many Alaskans, a transplant. He was the appointed governor of the Territory of Alaska under Roosevelt. He served nearly 20 years in that capacity. To his credit, he fell in love with Alaska and spent the rest of his life working in what he felt were our best interests.

I don’t think Gruening was naive. He was a Harvard educated physician and former journalist and he had an extensive history in politics and the federal government before becoming territorial governor. Unlike many others who pursued statehood, he wasn’t operating in ignorance. I think he believed statehood was Alaska’s only option. It’s why he believed it that I don’t get. I have often wondered what secrets he took to his grave. Did he know more about the political mechanizations than anyone else? We’ll never know.

I present this speech because it does a really good job of explaining why Alaskans wanted statehood so badly. I will also present exerpts from Joe Vogler’s never-presented speech before the UN, to show the other side of the story.

This speech has often been called Alaska’s Declaration of Independence, but Gruening was clear that Alaska didn’t want independence. We wanted to break the chains of colonial DEPENDENCE. Unfortunately, we never achieved that.

Ernest Gruening was a great man, but like so many of his generation, he failed to do due diligence and assure that Alaska would become a full state of the union rather than remain a colony.

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