Introduction of the "Alaska-Tennessee Plan" Senators to the United States Senate
January 14, 1957
(Source: The Congressional Record - Volume 103, 1957 pgs 466-469)
Mr. HOLLAND. Mr. President, I have long supported statehood for the Territory of Alaska, and shall continue my active efforts in that behalf. My distinguished colleague, the junior Senator from Louisiana [Mr. LONG], has likewise taken that position, and he asked me to express regret that he could not be here this morning and to announce his complete concurrence with the remarks I am about to make for myself and for him.
We are pleased and proud to advise the Senate that the people of Alaska held a constitutional convention last year and adopted a constitution, and likewise elected two Senators and one Representative to serve in the Congress of the United States when Alaska shall become a State of the Union, which I hope will be within the next few months.
At the proper time, in complete accord with the clear precedent established May 23, 1798, in the Tennessee case and followed by the Senate with regard to representatives of the proposed State of Michigan on December 22, 1835, the Senate of the United States will be requested to admit the two "Senators-elect" from Alaska to the floor of the Senate as spectators, in order that they may be present with Members of the Senate during the debate on Statehood for Alaska.
However, at this time, for the information of the Senate, I send to the desk and ask to have read by the clerk, a memorial dated December 9, 1956, from the Alaska Constitutional Convention, signed by the Honorable William A. Egan, president of the convention, and attested by the Honorable B. Frank Heintzleman, Governor of Alaska, and the Honorable Waino E. Hendrickson, Secretary of Alaska.
Mr. President, I ask that my time may be extended 5 minutes, so that I may yield at the appropriate time to the Senator from Montana [Mr. Murray], the distinguished chairman of the Senate Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs, which has Jurisdiction of the matter, to the Senator from California [Mr. Kuchel], the distinguished ranking minority member of the Subcommittee on Territories of the Senate Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs to the distinguished senior Senator from Tennessee [Mr. Kefauver], who wishes to be heard briefly on the subject, and likewise to the distinguished Senator from Wyoming [Mr. O'Mahoney], so that he may make brief remarks. I ask the indulgence of the Senate for 5 minutes, if that time may be granted.
The VICE PRESIDENT. Is there objection to the unanimous-consent request of the Senator from Florida? The Chair hears none, and the Senator is recognized for 5 minutes. (note: presiding at this time was Vice President Richard M. Nixon)
Mr. HOLLAND. Mr. President, I ask that the memorial be read by the clerk.
The VICE PRESIDENT. The memorial will be read.
The legislative clerk read the memorial, as follows:
(text of Memorial to Congress)
Mr. HOLLAND. Mr. President, we are pleased to announce to the Senate that seated in the diplomatic gallery today are the two distinguished gentlemen who were chosen on October 9, 1956, by the people of Alaska to represent them in this body as Senators of the United States when Alaska shall become a State. With them is the distinguished gentleman chosen by the people of Alaska to represent them in the House of Representatives. With these three gentlemen are their families.
I ask at this time that the three gentlemen mentioned, the Honorable Ernest Gruening, Governor of Alaska from 1939 to 1953, Senator-elect; the Honorable William E. Egan, president of the Alaska Constitutional Convention, Senator-elect; and the Honorable Ralph J. Rivers, Representative-elect, may stand in order that the Members of the Senate may extend to them a warm welcome.
[The visitors rose and were greeted with applause.]
Mr. HOLLAND. Mr. President, I now ask unanimous consent that I may yield to the distinguished chairman of the Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs, the senior Senator from Montana [Mr. MURRAY].
The VICE PRESIDENT. The senior Senator from Montana is recognized.
The VICE PRESIDENT. The senior Senator from Montana is recognized.
Mr. MURRAY. Mr. President, I wish to pay tribute to the statesmanship of the distinguished senior Senator from Florida [Mr. Holland] in presenting to this body the memorial of the American citizens of Alaska. His introduction of the outstanding Americans chosen by the people of Alaska is wholly in keeping with the traditions and precedents of the Senate, as well as the able Senator's own spirit of graciousness and courtesy.
At the same time, I believe the people of Alaska should be complimented on their initiative in going ahead and drawing up a proposed State constitution and electing certain provisional officers under it, two of whom are in the Senate Chamber at this time.
Mr. President, it is highly significant and particularly gratifying to note that while our fellow American citizens in Alaska have displayed such initiative energy, and foresight, in this seeking to further their cause, they have at the same time carefully stayed within the bounds of tradition and precedent and tradition running back to the very beginnings of our Union of States. As has been pointed out so ably by the Senator from Florida, the action taken by the people of Alaska, and by the distinguished Americans they sent here, is squarely on all fours with that taken by the people of Tennessee in 1798. The precedent thus established by Tennessee in writing their own constitution and electing officers under it was followed by the peoples of Territories that have become five other great States of the United States. These are Michigan, California, Oregon, Kansas, and Iowa. It should be pointed out that these areas were at that time far more remote from Washington than is Alaska today with respect to communications and accessibility.
This great tradition and this well-established precedent has now been followed by the people of Alaska, and the action taken by the distinguished Senator from Florida here today is but the latest step in the historic tradition.
I am proud to associate myself with the Senator in this matter.
Mr. HOLLAND. Mr. President, I certainly appreciate the kind words of the distinguished chairman of the Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs. I have been glad to join with him previously, and am pleased to join again in the introduction in this session of a bill to give statehood to the Territory of Alaska.
I now should like to yield, if I may, to the distinguished junior Senator from California [Mr. Kuchel], the ranking minority member of the Subcommittee on Territories of the Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs.
Mr. KUCHEL. Mr. President, I thank my kind friend from Florida. This is an historic occasion. The distinguished senior Senator from Florida has presented a memorial from the people of the Territory of Alaska, which has been read to the Senate.
All of us will now look forward to an early opportunity, through the legislative process, of considering the petition which the memorial represents.
I join with the distinguished chairman of the Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs, the senior Senator from Montana [Mr. Murray], in congratulating my friend from Florida.
I believe that the people of Alaska and, I will add, the people of Hawaii, will look forward to having their Territories, during this Congress, join the 48 States of the American Union as the 49th and 50th states.
It is rather interesting to note that the State which I have the honor in part to represent, California, similarly, through representatives, came to the Capitol in 1850 and asked Congress to permit the Republic of California to become a member of the American Union. Congress in that year acceded to the request of the representatives of the Republic of California.
Therefore I say to my good friend from Florida, "You are, in my opinion, speeding along the day when the people of the Territory of Alaska will be represented in the Senate and in the House of Representatives by men or women not from a Territory, but from the new State of Alaska, in the Government of the United States."
Mr. HOLLAND. Mr. President, I thank my distinguished friend from California. I now ask that I may yield to the distinguished senior Senator from Tennessee [Mr. Kefauver].
Mr. KEFAUVER. Mr. President, I wish to join in commending the distinguished senior Senator from Florida [Mr. HOLLAND] for the action he has taken here today, and to say that I wholeheartedly join with him and with the senior Senator from Montana, the chairman of the Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs, and other Senators, in presenting the cause of Alaska for admission as a State of the Union.
As a Senator from Tennessee I should like to review briefly the "Tennessee plan" and express the hope that Alaska, which I have visited often and which in all justice and fairness should be granted statehood, will be successful in being admitted into the Union as a State under the plan proposed as was my own State of Tennessee.
Angered and impatient over the failure of the Nation's first three Congresses to award them statehood, the rugged frontiersmen of the Tennessee area held a constitutional convention in 1796. The historic document drafted by that body was highly praised by Thomas Jefferson. He described it as "the least imperfect and most republican of any state." Into it was written a simple clause that fixed a date on which all Federal and State officials were to be elected.
Because the Federal Constitution at that time provided for the choosing of United States Senators by the State legislatures, Tennessee's Senators were selected by the Tennessee General Assembly on March 28, 1798.
The Tennessee Legislature elected William Cocke and William Blount, and shortly after their designation as Senators-elect they departed for Washington with their credentials. The United States Senate, as is the practice today, refused to seat them prior to Tennessee's formal admission to the Union, but the two "Senators-elect" presented their State's cause so well that Congress, which previously had refused to consider an enabling act for the Territory of Tennessee, completed passage of an admission bill on May 31, 1798; and the Senators-elect were given the privileges of the floor during the debate. President Washington signed the bill the following day, and thus my home State of Tennessee became the 18th State, less than 4 months following the spirited action of these pioneer Americans who themselves set into motion the events that brought them statehood.
Among the delegates to the Tennessee constitutional convention of 1798 which blazed this trail was a spirited young lawyer, who later became the State's first Representative in Congress and the Nation's seventh President, Andrew Jackson.
Mr. President, I wish to congratulate the Senators-elect from Alaska today. They are able men, worthy to be Members of the United States Senate. The Representative-elect is an able man, who will make a very good Representative from his State.
Although these gentlemen have not yet been granted the privilege of the floor. I hope that we can give speedy consideration to the bill making Alaska a State, and that, before many days, as in the case of Tennessee, these gentlemen will join us here in the Chamber as Senators.
I hope that, following the Tennessee plan, the Senators-elect from Alaska may have the privilege of the floor of the Senate until the statehood bill shall be acted on.
Mr. HOLLAND. Mr. President, I am grateful to my distinguished friend, the senior Senator from Tennessee. I now yield to the distinguished Senator from Wyoming [Mr. O'Mahoney].
Mr. O'MAHONEY. Mr. President, I am very thankful to the senior Senator from Florida for permitting me to associate myself with him in the welcome we are extending to the gentlemen who have been elected by the people of the Territory of Alaska to submit to the Congress their petition that the Territory of Alaska be admitted to the Union as a State.
Mr. President, several years ago, when I had the privilege to serve as chairman of the Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs, the effort to bring Alaska into the Union as a State came within an ace of success. The bill, H. R. 331 - as I remember the number - of the 81st Congress, introduced by the distinguished Delegate from Alaska, Mr. Bartlett, who was then and still is the Delegate from the Territory of Alaska, was passed in the House of Representatives on the 3rd of March 1950.
It came to the Senate and was referred to the Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs. Dr. Gruening, now Senator-elect from the State of Alaska - if I may use that term - was then Governor of Alaska. He gave us the invaluable support of his great abilities and his widespread knowledge of the facts upon which the petition of the people of the Territory of Alaska to be admitted to the Union as a State was based.
The committee on interior and Insular Affairs held open hearings over a considerable period of time, but not overly long, and in June 1950 - the exact date, if I recall correctly, was June 29, I had the honor of reporting to this body the first bill ever reported to the Senate of the United States advocating the admission of Alaska to statehood.
Because of certain circumstances which developed later in that session of the Congress and because some Members of the Senate then had differing opinions, it was impossible for us to bring that bill to a vote.
I should like to say, in associating myself with the gracious and able Senator from Florida, that the prospective Senators and Representatives now seated in the gallery may hope to see the time speedily arrive when Bob Bartlett's bill shall pass both the House and the Senate and become a law.
Mr. President, I cannot take my seat without complimenting Mr. Bartlett for the magnificent work he has done in and out of Congress to make statehood a reality for Alaska. Alaska is the outpost of continental America. It is separated from Siberia by scarcely 50 miles. Not only as a matter of justice to the people of Alaska, but as a matter of defense for the people of the United States we should place Alaska upon the map as a sovereign State of the United States.
Let us pass the Alaska statehood bill. I shall do my part to bring about that desirable result.
Mr. CAPEHART, Mr. President, will the Senator from Florida yield?
Mr. HOLLAND. Mr. President, I should like to be equally considerate to all the distinguished Senators who wish to speak on this matter. I have been requested by the Senator from Oregon [Mr. Neuberger] and the Senator from Minnesota [Mr. HUMPHREY] to yield to them briefly in this same connection.
Mr. CAPEHART. Will the Senator from Florida yield to me?
Mr. HOLLAND. Yes. I shall be very glad to yield to all the Senators who wish to speak on this subject, but I ask permission now to yield to the junior Senator from Oregon [Mr. NEUBERGER], who, I understand, is the ranking majority member of the Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs.
Mr. NEUBERGER. Mr. President, I am merely one of the majority members of that committee. The junior Senator from Washington [Mr. JACKSON], who is likewise an ardent advocate of statehood for Alaska, is the ranking majority member.
Mr. President, I wish to join with the distinguished Senator from Florida in urging that the Senate consider favorably statehood for Alaska.
Today the United States is doing a great deal of preaching about democracy to the people overseas. Some of our preachment has been directed to the British Empire, urging that it grant dominion status or self-government to some of its possessions.
On several occasions I have been in the vast Yukon Territory. On one of those occasions, Mrs. Neuberger and I were in the company of a famous officer of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. He mentioned to us the fact that we Americans talk a great deal of democracy. He told us that only 15,000 persons in the Yukon Territory have full voting representation in the House of Commons of the Canadian Parliament at Ottawa. Then he called attention to the fact that just across the line, in Alaska, 200,000 Americans did not have any actual voting representation at all in the Capital at Washington, D. C. Then he said, "What do you Americans have to say about that?"
Of course, we had very little to say about it, because the facts were accurately stated.
I hope, Mr. President, that the Senate of the United States and the House of Representatives and the distinguished President of the United States will give that brave Canadian mounted policeman the answer in the very near future by making Alaska a State of the Union.
I wish to thank the able senator from Florida for taking the lead on this historic occasion, and I desire to join in the tribute which the distinguished Senator from Wyoming [Mr. O'MAHONEY] paid to Delegate E. L. Bartlett, who has been a leader in the cause of statehood and who unselfishly stepped aside for this delegation of two Senators and one Representative to come to Washington if and when Alaska becomes a State. I believe Delegate Bartlett, when Alaska becomes a State - as I am confident it will - will share a great deal of the credit which is due to all who have worked in this cause. Delegate Bartlett has been a valiant and pioneer advocate of statehood under the dome of our United States Capitol.
Mr. HOLLAND. Mr. President, I thank my distinguished friend from Oregon. Now I yield to the distinguished Senator from Minnesota [Mr. HUMPHREY].
Mr. HUMPHREY. Mr. President, I wish to thank the distinguished senior Senator from Florida not only for his courtesy in yielding to me, but more importantly for what he has done here today to focus public attention, and particularly the attention of the Congress of the United States, on the urgent importance of the consideration of statehood for Alaska.
The Senator from Florida has stated his deep concern in this matter on previous occasions, and today he has had associated with him the good friend of the people of Alaska and of the people of the United States, the able chairman of the Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs [Mr. MURRAY], the former distinguished chairman of that committee [Mr. O'Mahoney], and our friend from California [Mr. KUCHEL], the Senator from Tennessee [Mr. KEFAUVER], the Senator from Oregon [Mr. NEUBERGER], and other Senators who will speak.
I wish to associate myself with the desire for statehood for Alaska. I think it is long overdue. I desire to commend those who have carried on the battle over the years. I could not help but remember, as I looked to the galleries and saw our friend, Governor Gruening, that year in and year out he has fought the good fight for statehood for Alaska, and I join in paying tribute to him, as I do to Delegate Bartlett, who has been with us in connection with every one of the efforts for statehood for the great Territory of Alaska. When that event finally takes place it will be an advancement not only of our own democracy but of our objectives in our foreign policy.
Mr. President, I should like to ask unanimous consent to have printed in the RECORD at an appropriate place the address delivered by Governor Gruening at the last constitutional convention in Alaska.
Mr. HOLLAND. Mr. President, I ask that the document mentioned by my distinguished friend from Minnesota may appear at the end of the discussion on Alaska.
The VICE PRESIDENT. Without objection, it is so ordered.
(See "Let Us End American Colonialism" by Ernest Gruening)
Mr. HOLLAND. Mr. President, I yield to the distinguished Senator from Indiana [Mr, CAPEHART].
Mr. CAPEHART. Mr. President, I take pleasure in joining with other Senators in their efforts looking to the admission of Alaska as a State of the Union.
Mr. HOLLAND. Mr. President, I yield to the distinguished Senator from Maine [Mr. PAYNE].
Mr. PAYNE. Mr., President, I simply desire to associate myself with the remarks made by my distinguished colleague, the able Senator from Florida [Mr. HOLLAND], and other Senators, because, dating back to 1949, when I was privileged to become a member of the National Governors Conference and had the pleasure of sitting with my friend, the Governor of Alaska, I have had occasion to support consistently the admission of both Alaska and Hawaii as States of the Union.
Maine is very much pleased indeed at the recognition which has been given to Ernest Gruening, because he was once one of our most distinguished citizens whom Maine gave up so that he could go to the great northwestern section of North America. Even though we come from the northeastern section, we are certainly going to look forward to the day when Alaska will achieve full statehood, when the Representatives she has elected may have an opportunity to sit upon the floor of this body as well as of the House of Representatives.
Mr. THYE. Mr. President, will the Senator from Florida yield in order that I may speak briefly on the subject of statehood for Alaska?
Mr. HOLLAND. I shall be glad to yield for that purpose.
Mr. THYE. Mr. President, I commend the distinguished Senator from Florida, and I also wish to associate myself with his remarks and with the remarks of my colleagues who have spoken on the same subject.
I believe Alaska should be granted statehood. That objective has had my support in years past, and I shall continue to give it my support. I shall continue to urge that Alaska as well as the Hawaiian Islands be given their position as States ill the American Union.
Mr. WILEY. Mr. President—
Mr. HOLLAND. Mr. President, does the Senator from Wisconsin wish me to yield on this matter?
Mr. WILEY. Mr. President, I have a number of matters which I wish to discuss, but at this time I am very happy to associate myself with the very sane and sensible remarks made by my colleagues with reference to the admission of Alaska as a State of the Union. Because of its significance to the defense of America, it seems to me the proper thing to do is to permit Alaska to have representation in the Congress of the United States by admitting it as a State of the Union.
Mr. MORSE. Mr. President, I wish to speak briefly on the question of statehood for Alaska.
I highly commend the Senator from Florida [Mr. HOLLAND] for taking the leadership today in presenting the memorial from the Alaska constitutional convention, which I sincerely trust will lead to the admission of the Territory of Alaska Into the Union as a State.
Mr. President, I commend also the people of Alaska for the policy they have followed in seeking to obtain for themselves statehood, and I compliment them on the election of the Honorable Ernest Gruening, and the Honorable William A. Egan, as Senators-elect, and the Honorable Ralph J. Rivers as Representative-elect.
Mr. President, in 1950, as a member of the Committee on Armed Services, I participated over a period of time in some investigations and studies in Alaska. Although I was in favor of Alaskan statehood prior to that investigation, I came away from my stay in Alaska an ardent supporter of Alaskan statehood.
Mr. President, I not only wish to pay tribute to Ernest Gruening for his great work on behalf of the Territory of Alaska at the time of his governorship, and since then in his work in the committee rooms of Congress on behalf of statehood for Alaska, but I wish also to pay tribute to the Delegate from Alaska [Mr. BARTLETT], who year in and year out has worked conscientiously and ably in behalf of the people of Alaska in connection with the statehood issue, and also in connection with many other Alaskan problems which have confronted Congress.
Today I say to the people of Alaska: "You have been ably represented by Delegate Bartlett. Without his services you would not be in as good a position as you are today, which I hope will lead in this session of Congress to statehood for Alaska."
Mr. President, having mentioned Alaska, I wish to say a word also on behalf of Hawaii. The people of Hawaii are likewise and equally entitled to statehood. I certainly hope that before this session of Congress is over we will add not 1 star but 2 stars to our flag, and not 2 Senators but 4 Senators to the United States Senate.
I say that because I am convinced that Hawaii likewise is entitled to statehood. As a Representative of a great State on the Pacific coast, and keeping in mind the concern of our country about Middle East problems - and very properly so - I believe we should also be concerned about Pacific problems. I happen to believe that probably nothing we could do would contribute more to strengthen American Interests in the Pacific than would statehood for both Alaska and Hawaii.
Mr. President, I also wish to point out, as was stated earlier today, that the admission of Alaska and Hawaii would be a very good answer to some of the vicious propaganda we hear from the Communist segment of the world with regard to our allegedly not living up to our professions about first-class citizenship. I believe that the admission of Alaska and Hawaii to statehood would answer that kind of vicious propaganda which Russia so improperly spreads in those areas of the world where the fight for freedom must still be won.
Mr. HOLLAND. In the first instance, I deeply appreciate the courtesy of the majority leader, the minority leader, and other Senators in allowing time for the completion of this series of statements.
In concluding these remarks, which I have made for myself and the distinguished junior Senator from Louisiana [Mr. Long], I ask that the text of the certificates of election of the Honorable Ernest Gruening and the Honorable William A. Egan be printed at this point in the body of the RECORD as a part of my remarks.