Creating Alaska

Name: John H. Rosswog

City: Cordova

District: 10

Occupation: Merchant

Born: January 13, 1904 - Washington

Death: July, 1982 - Bend, Oregon

Alaska Resident: 1905 - ? Convention Posts:

  • Chair, Committee on Local Government
  • Member, Committee on Rules

Education: High School

Public Offices and Organizations:

  • Board of Directors, Sitka Pioneer's Home - 1957-64
  • Cordova City Council
  • Cordova Municipal Utilities Board

Quote from the Constitutional Convention:

BARR: Mr. President, I have two questions I would like to ask from any member. I don't particularly like the word "borough"; I don't like the sound of it, and I think it's confusing to some people; as a matter of fact, if they don't know how to spell it, they might confuse it with another kind of burro, which is a donkey. I have nothing against donkeys, I think it is a great American symbol myself, but I do believe in standardization and simplicity. I would like to ask what other words were considered as names for this local government and why could we not use the word "county" but still have our own form of county government?

ROSSWOG: Mr. Barr, this term and the name came under considerable discussion in the Committee. We did not come out with any name that we were completely satisfied with. We did think that "borough" was possibly the best we could come up with at this time, probably because of the definition which is a town or place organized for local government purposes. It did not hold it to any particular size. We had considered "county" and felt that the feeling against the general definition of "county" was bad, that most people did not like it. We did consider a lot of names and I would be glad to have them read here and the delegates could hear the different names that had been suggested...

BARR: I don't believe it is necessary to read all of them, but I would like to know which ones you seriously considered.

ROSSWOG: Well, we did go through these names and as we felt that they could not be used we cut them out until we had gotten down to possibly, if I can pick them out here, the last we considered were "county", "township", "rural municipality", "division", "district", and a few other names of that type. We thought that most of them had definite meaning in Alaska or a good many of them were used in other places in Alaska and would be confusing there. We finally settled down to "county" or "borough", and we decided upon the name of "borough".

-Delegates John H. Rosswog and Frank Barr, Day 58 of the Constitutional Convention, discussing the form of local government proposed for Alaska in the state constitution. Alaska and Louisiana are the only two states that do not use the county form of government. Alaska is divided into boroughs, organized and unorganized, that serve as the layer of government between cities and the state. The name "borough" was a controversial part of the plan. Today, Alaska has sixteen organized boroughs, stretching from Ketchikan to the North Slope to the Aleutian Islands.