Creating Alaska

William W. Knight

Name: William W. Knight

City: Sitka

District: 3

Occupation: Merchant

Born: March 26, 1889 - London, England

Death: March 1971 - Sitka, Alaska

Burial Location: Pioneer Home Cemetery - Sitka, Alaska

Alaska Resident: 1919-71

Convention Posts:

  • Member, Committee on Administration
  • Member, Committee on Ordinances and Transitional Measures

Education: Through Seventh Grade in English School System

Public Offices and Organizations:

  • US Commissioner, Sitka - 1938-46
  • Collector of US Customs, Sitka - 1961-65

Further Information: The personal papers of Delegate William Knight, including his papers from the Constitutional Convention, are held by the Sitka Historical Society

Quote from the Constitutional Convention:

"I would like to say a few words on this question. In 1938 the salmon pack for Alaska was roughly nine million cases; in 1955 it had decreased to less than three million cases. I can recall in 1923 at Ketchikan when large scows came up the coast and about 12 inches of crushed ice would be put on the floor of the scows, and truck tenders would come up and unload their fish, probably three feet deep, and an additional 12 or 18 inches of ice would be placed on top of the fish, and they moved up to the cannery site waiting to unload. In 1941 at Sitka, I can recall the 12 seine boats operating at that time for the canneries were ordered to take their gear ashore, as the story went, because the traps were supplying the canneries with more fish than they could handle. In 1954, I have been told, that there were 11 million fish caught in the Fraser River where there are no traps. Now, I also have been told that in the last 5 years about two hundred people have been compelled to leave Petersburg because they could not make a living fishing; also that some families have been compelled to leave Ketchikan and Metlakatla for the same reason. The families have gone to Seattle and the Puget Sound country where they do have a chance to make a living. So, there is no doubt in my mind that this is a very serious economic condition we have to face..."

-Delegate William W. Knight, Day 69 of the Constitutional Convention, speaking about the economic effects of overfishing in Alaskan waters, and the repercussions on communities reliant on fishing.