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Governor Bone: Presidents and Alaska

In his book,

Bone, Scott C. 1925. Alaska, its past, present, future. [Juneau, Alaska?]: Issued by the Governor’s Office.

Governor Bone summarizes the treatment of Alaska by US Presidents as he sees it on pages 14-15:

In the years since Alaska was purchased from Russia, thirteen administrations at Washington have come and gone.  From only a few of these has Alaska received more than perfunctory and intermittent consideration.

Harrison (1889-93) turned his attention to this Northland and betrayed an interest, but Samoa, Chile and Hawaii diverted him and Alaska had to wait.

McKinley (1897-1901) was not unmindful of the Territory, nor indifferent to its needs, but the war with Spain intervened and again Alaska had to wait.

Roosevelt (1901-1909) had vision and high aims, and, guided by ultra-conservationists, he reserved much of Alaska, as the first step toward opening and developing it; but Colombia, Panama, and the Canal and the making of a Russo-Japanese peace intervened and, in a worse fix than before, again Alaska had to wait.

Taft (1909-1913), practical-minded, started to open the Territory, but a season of insurgency and insensate political strife set in and , bottled up, again Alaska had to wait. (Surveys of the proposed government railroad meritoriously survived this tragic political chapter.

Wilson (1913-21) turned his “single-track mind” Alaska-ward most helpfully and championed the railroad measure and help put it through Congress, but legislation to place the Territory on a basis of possible development was withheld and, hopelessly handicapped by red tape and strangled by bureaucracy, the population dwindled under adverse conditions, and again Alaska had to wait.

Alaska history buffs, does this characterization seem fair to you? If not, what does?

Alaskans today – In terms of what they have done for Alaska, do you have a favorite President? I’m not sure that I do, probably because I don’t have enough experience here in Alaska. Obviously, we have a debt to Eisenhower, the President that we got Statehood under. I’d also give a nod to Richard Nixon, who signed the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA), which cleared the way for building the Alaska Oil Pipeline. President Nixon also appointed an Alaskan, Governor Wally Hickel, as Secretary of the Interior.

Who do you think was best for Alaska?

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