Alaska is the name of all that portion of ^ the northwest extremity of this continent, which, until 1867, was known as Russian America.
It is only a matter of conjecture how long this region would have remained a terra incognita had not the Imperial government at St. Petersburg sent Vitus Bering, a Dane -fey birthr, on a voyage of discovery. The year 1728 ‘saw him in command of an expedition whose object was to find, if possible, new lands, and whose course led through the waters east of Siberia until he arrived in the great closed sea that now bears his name.
In 1 741 Bering again set sail with two vessels. Severe weather and heavy fogs caused them to drift apart; one of them attempted a landing at Cook inlet, but the Indians attacked and killed a number of the party, and caused the remainder to put to sea and make their way homeward as fast as possible.
The uncompleted work of Captain Cook fell upon the shoulders of a worthy successor, and the surveys which Vancouver commenced about 1792 covered his name with glory. The remarkable care and ability with which he executed the work begun by his old commander are, even in this day of improved facilities of maritime science, held in honor; for his charts are closely followed, and in the main found reliable.
The United States purchased Alaska- from Russia in 1867, paying the sum of S7, 200,000 for the same. At the time of the purchase this was generally looked upon as an extravagant expenditure; but ridicule at the action of Secretary Seward in this transaction has been changed to a sentiment that credits him with shrewd diplomacy in thus securing this great territory.
In 1890 the lease of the fur seal islands to the Alaska Commercial Company expired, and at that time Alaska may be said to have emerged from a mantle of gloom and desolation. By this, we mean, that the great barrier in the way of its development was removed wheu this industry passed into other hands.
By the terms of the lease it was liable at any moment to be annulled for neglect or mistreatment of natives, and this would “destroy the goose that laid the golden egg.” Knowledge of the business methods of these men will effectually dispel any suspicion that they would, by word or deed, commit an offense that would destroy the source of so vast a revenue.
About the year 1S80, the white residents of Southeast Alaska began to discuss the feasibility of securing some sort of civil government for the territory. And in the summer of 1881, a convention was held at Juneau, which resulted in the selection of Mottrom D. Ball as a delegate to Congress, The following winter he appeared in Washington, presented his credentials, and asked to be recognized as a delegate from the territory of Ala.ska. Further than to attract some attention to the condition of its aifairs, Mr.Ball’s visit to Washington was of no great value, for he was not permitted to take his seat. Still the wedge had been applied to the encasement of the difficulties that encompassed Alaska, and the light of intelligent investigation was dawning on her horizon. During the next session of Congress, various bills were introduced looking to the passage of laws that would give to Alaska some semblance of a civil government.
From the earliest settlement of Russian America down through the 3’ears since the purchase by the United States, the liquor question has overshadowed every other, and the sturdy miners and those following other pursuits, and especially the missionary people have been in constant anxiety as to the effect unexecuted liquor laws would have upon the native population. While they are practically a dead letter, yet there has been greater security felt since the appointment of the present incumbent as district judge, who seems to be able to grapple with the evil, and confine it within the least possible unwholesome limits.
In the fall of 1889 the Republicans organized and held a convention at Juneau, and adopted a memorial to be presented to members of Congress. The author of this book who drafted the memorial was delegated to proceed to Washington and present it to both houses of Congress. He was also chosen a member of the National Republican Convention from Alaska.
Today Alaska stands alone among the great territories of the west with- out a representative upon the floor of Congress, and we deem it unjust that a longer denial of the rights accorded other portions of our country should be imposed upon us.