With the population influx, residents pushed for statehood. James Wickersham had introduced the first statehood bill in 1916, but it did not receive a hearing. In 1943 Senator William Langer of North Dakota and Congressman Anthony J. Dimond of Alaska both introduced Alaska enabling bills. Congress did not consider either measure, but Dimond’s successor, E.L. “Bob” Bartlett, continued introducing statehood bills. In 1946 Alaskans voted on statehood in a referendum, with 9,630 votes in favor and 6,822 against. Congress held the first hearing on an Alaska statehood bill in 1947, and the House passed a statehood measure in 1950. The Korean War (1950-1953) intervened, however, and the measure was set aside. In 1955, impatient with congressional delays, the territorial legislature authorized a convention to draft a state constitution. Alaskan voters ratified the document in 1956.
Alaskan voters elected as U.S. senators Ernest Gruening, who had been territorial governor from 1939 to 1953, and William A. Egan, who had presided over the constitutional convention. For U.S. congressman they elected Ralph J. Rivers, a former territorial attorney general. Although Congress did not seat them, they lobbied hard for statehood. Finally, on May 26, 1958, the House passed the Alaska statehood bill by a vote of 210 to 166; the Senate followed on June 30. President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the measure into law on July 7, 1958, and on January 3, 1959, he signed the proclamation admitting Alaska as the 49th state of the union. Under the statehood act, Alaska also received 41,824,000 hectares (103,350,000 acres), to be selected from vacant, unappropriated public lands within 25 years after admission.
In 1959 Egan was elected as Alaska’s first state governor, and Alaska’s first voting delegation was seated in Congress: Gruening, Rivers, and Senator E. L. “Bob” Bartlett. The Alaska delegation soon speeded passage of the Omnibus Bill for the new state, an afterthought to the statehood act. It not only put Alaska on an equal footing with the other states, but also granted $27.5 million in transitional grants over a five-year period. "USA" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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