Join the rest of the Tongass Democrats to celebrate the lives of Bob Bartlett and Ernest Gruening at the 2020 Bartlett-Gruening Dinner!
This year’s event will be on Tuesday, March 31. Our guest speaker is Joelle Hall, the Alaska AFL-CIO’s Director of Operations. Tickets go on sale at the March meeting (Thursday, March 5)! Spaces are limited, so contact Mary at firstname.lastname@example.org to place an advance order.
Read a little bit more about Bob Bartlett and Ernest Gruening under the fold, in a reprint from Chair’s Corner: Honoring E.L. “Bob” Bartlett and Ernest Gruening, published in 2017.
Bartlett and Gruening: helping to create the 49th state
The movement toward Alaska Statehood began in 1884 with the First Organic Act, which allowed Alaska to become a judicial district. Then in 1916, the Second Organic Act made Alaska a U.S. Territory.
In 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed Ernest Gruening, a Democrat, as the seventh Governor of the Territory of Alaska. Gruening served as Territorial Governor for 13-1/2 years, and in 1958 was commissioned as a U.S. Senator prior to statehood.
Also in 1939, President Roosevelt appointed Edward Lewis (E.L.) “Bob” Bartlett, also a Democrat, as Secretary of the Territory of Alaska. In 1945, Bartlett began serving as Alaska’s non-voting Delegate to Congress, where he served until he became Alaska’s first U.S. Senator after statehood in 1959.
Many Alaskans worked tirelessly throughout the 1940’s and 1950’s for statehood, but Bartlett and Gruening were “the powerful one-two punch of the Alaska Statehood fight.”
On July 7, 1958, Congress approved statehood, and on January 3, 1959, Alaska was proclaimed the 49th state of the United States. E.L. “Bob” Bartlett and Ernest Gruening served as Alaska’s first two United States Senators. Without the foresight and dedication of these two Democrats, Alaska would most likely not have become the 49th state!
Fifty-four years after statehood, the Tongass Democrats (an adjunct of the Alaska Democratic Party representing Alaska House Districts 33 and 34) voted to honor these two founding fathers of Alaska – both great Democrats — and renamed our annual fundraising event to the Bartlett-Gruening Dinner.