The Statehood question for Alaska and Hawaii loomed large in the 1950s.
The Statehood question for Alaska and Hawaii loomed large in the 1950s.

. . . or click on the link here for Audio Player – NBC Radio – Listen To Washington: Alaska-Hawaii Statehood Question – March 1, 1955 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection

It was a question on everybody’s minds for a very long time. Ever since Alaska was purchased from Russia in 1867, the question of Statehood arose – and kept getting put on the back-burner. The first Alaska Statehood bill was introduced in 1916.. Same with Hawaii.

In 1955 a bill was introduced, again. This time it was being taken seriously. Eventually it would pass and both states would achieve Statehood in 1959. But in 1955 it was still a sales-pitch, and the hard sell was on.

During this interview on the NBC Radio Program Listen To Washington, Alaska delegate E.L. Bartlett is asked about the delays in getting Statehood, the percentage of people in Alaska wanting Statehood, the political considerations (Alaska was perceived as being overwhelmingly Democratic, while Hawaii was perceived as being overwhelming Republican). But the questions were countered by an optimism that, whatever the drawbacks were the in past, they wouldn’t be an issue during this Congress.

In case you were wondering when Alaska and Hawaii became states – that whole “I can see Russia from my back porch” analogy and the strategic importance of both territories, here is that interview with E.L. Bartlett from March 1, 1955 – 60 years ago.

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