Creating Alaska

Ralph E. Robertson

Name: Ralph E. Robertson

City: Juneau

District: 6

Occupation: Lawyer

Born: October 18, 1885 - Sioux City, Iowa

Death: February 28, 1961 - Seattle, Washington

Alaska Resident: 1906 - 1960

Convention Posts:

  • Member, Committee on Judiciary Branch
  • Member, Committee on Resolutions and Recommendations

Education: Omaha Commercial College, Michigan College of Mines, University of Washington

Public Offices and Organizations:

  • Mayor, City of Juneau - 1920-23
  • President, Juneau School Board - 1924-47
  • Trustee, Alaska Agricultural College and School of Mines (Univ. of AK) - 1925-33

Quote from the Constitutional Convention:

"Mr. President, I am a little resentful of my old friend, John Hellenthal, accusing me of being a hypocrite but I have been accused of a good many things, and I can take it. I explained to the Committee that my purpose was not to get a right of a strike breaker. I was simply trying to protect the very right which, if I correctly understood Mr. Hellenthal, he was quoting from Secretary Mitchell, he said it was an inalienable American right. That is the right I am trying to protect through this bill of rights. There is no hypocrisy about it whatsoever. It would meet the very conditions that Mr. Londborg spoke about at Unalakleet. There are hundreds of those conditions existing in Alaska, at least during the seasonal work, where people are denied the right to work because the control is in a union from the states and a person here in Alaska is not permitted to join. Most all our boys, even when they get to be over 16, when they can work, between the ages of l6 and 18, many times they are not permitted to join the union. Now that is a denial of the right to work. I claim that is one of the causes of our delinquency among our youth today, it is the labor unions preventing our young men going out to work when they are well able to, and I submit to you that this ought to be passed, and I hope it will."

-Delegate R.E. Robertson, Day 45 of the Constitutional Convention, speaking on his proposed amendment to the Bill of Rights to include a "right to work" clause. The amendment failed overwhelmingly. Delegate Robertson was the only member of the convention not to sign the constitution. He left Fairbanks the day before the signing ceremony, announcing his opposition to the document's proposed ordination for the abolition of fish traps, lowering the voting age to 19, future reapportionment of the legislature based on population, annual meetings of the legislature and the absence of a "right to work" clause.