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Divide Alaska into 3?


    Every since Alaska was purchased by the United States in 1867, there have been attempts to increase the political impact of the region. In 1911, it was argued that dividing the vast territory into 3 would effectively triple the voice in Washington. The article below is reprinted exactly as it originally appeared, including a scan of the newspaper headline.


Dawson Daily News       Saturday, September 9, 1911

Congressman Wants to Cut Alaska into Three Territories


    KETCHIKAN, Aug. 10 -- Secretary Fisher, President Taft's personal representative, met his first Alaskans on their native hearth at this point last night. Governor Walter Clark had come down from Juneau to meet Mr. Fisher, and with representative citizens, escorted him to the different points of interest.
    An informal reception, followed by a public meeting, was held in the largest hall, and a big crowd of Ketchikan people turned out to honor the visitors.
    Mayor Thomas Torry introduced Governor Clark, who in turn introduced Secretary Fisher. The latter created a favorable impression in the minds of his hearers by his very plain statement of the fact that he had come North to hear and not to be heard; that he was glad to be in Alaska, a place he had long desired to visit, and was proud to meet so sturdy, intelligent folk with whom he had shaken hands. Continuing, he pledged himself to do all in his power to bring about the relief he believed was necessary for the territory's welfare, and could assure his hearers that the president would leave no stone unturned in his efforts to have the territory opened up as it should be.
    At the conclusion of Mr. Fisher's talk, Hon. William Sulzer, member of congress from the tenth district, New York, was introduced and said in part:
    "I am in favor of granting the Alaskans true territorial government. I would divide Alaska into three territories, as she is divided by nature.
    "I would make Southeast Alaska a territory comprising all from Cape Chacon to Mt. St. Elias. This would have a population of 20,000 persons, most of whom have lived in its confines for over a year. I would call this territory Sumner, in honor of the great senator from Massachusetts, whose prophetic speech in congress made the purchase of the territory possible. Its capital, of course, would be either Ketchikan or Juneau.
    "I would make Southwestern Alaska, comprising all the district south of the Yukon and west of the international boundary, another territory, and I would call it Seward after the secretary of state who initiated the purchase. Its capital would be the city of Seward, and within the lives of those before me tonight it will become as prosperous a country as Norway and Sweden combined.
    "I would make all the district north of the Yukon, to the frozen Arctic, another territory, and I would call it Alaska, because it will be always cold and sparsely settled, and its name would harmonize with the general conception of Alaska in the minds of most persons.
    "These three territories would each have a delegate in congress. They would each have a local legislature capable of enacting local laws, and a territorial form of government similar to that of other territories of the Union. It would be an economical government. It would cost the taxpayers of the United States nothing, and law and order would be conserved.
    "Here tonight in the presence of the secretary of the interior, the governor of Alaska, and the people of Ketchikan, I promise as a member of congress, to do my utmost to bring about in the next session of congress these desirable reforms, and to that end I invoke the cordial support of the government officials here assembled and of every true friend of Alaska, at home and abroad.


Political Development in Alaska