AUGUST 19, 1949
HYDE PARK, Thursday—I was in New York City for the day yesterday and it seemed strange to be finished with recordings. The radio program I do with my daughter will be ended before long. But the trip to the city gave me an opportunity to see two or three people and to do a few errands that I hadn't been able to get done before.
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There is a bill in Congress—regarding statehood for Alaska—that everyone thought would pass this session, since both Republican and Democratic platforms endorsed the idea. Now the action of the Rules Committee makes it highly doubtful whether this bill will pass even in the next session of Congress.
It seems extraordinary that an area of North America as important to our country as Alaska is should not be admitted as a state. I understand one Congressman objected on the ground that a population of 100,000 was not sufficient to make Alaska ready to be admitted to the union. His memory of history must be short, for many of our states came into the union with a smaller population than that. The people of Alaska are a hardy people and they need the sense of belonging that they would get from actual voting representation in the Congress.
From the point of view of defense, Alaska is one of our most important possessions. Once admitted to the union there is very little question that Alaska would grow fairly rapidly. The country abounds in natural resources and if it became a state these would be developed more rapidly. When I was in Northwest Canada last year I realized what the Alcan Highway meant in drawing Canada and the United States closer together.
A trip to Alaska, which seems far away, is really not a long one to undertake. Only today a friend of mine said that she was planning to leave on Monday next with her mother, who is far from young, to take a train to Seattle and go from there by steamer through the inland waterways up into Alaska. If you choose to fly you could be there in almost no time, and even in winter transportation by air is quite possible.
Years ago my brother, as a young man, spent a winter in Dawson City in the Yukon. He and his wife found it at that time a very fascinating world in which to live. It has changed today, of course, and has become "nearer" to the rest of the world, which is the case of almost every place one knows.
That makes it all the more important that it should become a state and an integral part of our country. Governor Ernest Gruening of Alaska, President Truman, Secretary of the Interior Julius A. Krug, General H. H. (Hap) Arnold, and the late A. F. Whitney, president of the Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen, have all publicly stated that Alaska statehood would strengthen the nation. Yet, the Congress decided to put it aside in this session without action. One wonders why.