My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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CHICAGO—I have long been wanting to draw to my readers' attention the fact that the U.S., in refusing to accept Hawaii and Alaska as states, is subjecting these two territories to colonialism.

This has been brought forcibly to my attention by reading Ernest Gruening's keynote address at the Alaska Constitutional Convention. He begins by saying:

"We meet to validate the most basic of American principles, the principle of 'government by consent of the governed.' We take this historic step because the people of Alaska who elected you have come to see that their longstanding and unceasing protests against the restrictions, discriminations and exclusions to which we are subject have been unheeded by the colonialism that has ruled Alaska for 88 years."

Later, Mr. Gruening quotes from a governor of Alaska, John Green Brady, who half a century ago contemplated the vain efforts of Alaskans for nearly 40 years to secure a modicum of self–government and said: "We are graduates of the school of patience."

The Alaskans complain of all the things our 13 colonies originally complained of. They have no adequate representation in the Congress which makes their laws, often unjust to the territory of Alaska, and yet they must abide by them.

Alaska has suffered through lack of development of roads and railroads and even in restriction of transport by sea. The ports of the states have been favored to the point where people must find it hard to prosper in Alaska.

Here is a quote from Mr. Gruening's speech: "For example, a shipper from the Atlantic seaboard, or from the industrial cities of the Middle West, of products destined for points to the West could ship these across the country wholly on American railroads or on Canadian railroads, or partly on either.

"And when these goods arrived at their Coast destination, he could send them across the Pacific in either American or foreign vessels, or southward in either. But at that point in the legislation creating this new beneficial arrangement two words had been inserted in Article 27 of the Act. Those two words were, 'excluding Alaska.'

"Now what did those two words signify? They signified that Alaska, alone among the nations or possessions of nations on earth, was denied the advantages afforded all other areas. The same discrimination obviously applies to products shipped from Alaska."

How much longer are the citizens of the U.S. going to feel it is right to have two strategic areas that are important to the defense of our nation so unjustly treated that their people can well feel they have good grounds for a revolution?

We had better face up to our actions as regards these territories. For we are the leaders of the free and democratic world, a symbol to the rest of the world, and this does not seem to be an excellent example of democracy that we are setting there.


(Copyright, 1956, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)

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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, February 16, 1956

Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
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Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University 312 Academic Building 2100 Foxhall Road, NW Washington, DC 20007

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Transcription created from a photocopy of a UFS wire copy of a My Day column instance archived at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.