Judge Tom Stewart was interviewed on October 25, 2002 by Margaret Russell in Anchorage, Alaska. In this interview, he talks about the Alaska Constitutional Convention and delegates, establishment of the state court and judge appointment systems, selection of the state’s first judges, the Boundary Commission, natural resource article in the constitution, amending the constitution, and Alaska statehood and the Alaska/Tennessee Plan, serving in the Alaska State Senate, establishment of the Judicial Council, establishment of the state’s first superior and supreme courts, the Alaska Court/Alaska Bar Association fight, serving as court administrator, and some of the early judges he worked with. Judge Stewart was also interviewed by Margaret Russell on September 20, 2002 in Anchorage, Alaska (tape number Oral History 2012-02-12).
Digital Asset Information
Project: Judges of Alaska
Date of Interview: Oct 25, 2002
Narrator(s): Judge Thomas Stewart
Interviewer(s): Margaret Russell
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Mood of the delegates convening for the Alaska Constitutional Convention
Organization, committee set-up, and procedural rules of the convention
Officers of the convention
Article on Native people and Native rights
Committee work and plenary sessions at the convention
Bill of Rights Committee
Setting up the executive branch of state government
Setting up the state judicial system
Establishing the system for selection of judges
Being selected to be a judge
Representation of communities and number of delegates
Committee on local government and establishment of cities and boroughs
Establishment of the Boundary Commission to resolve conflicts
Natural resources provisions in the state constitution
Committee on Initiatives and Referendums
Subsistence and needs of Alaska Natives
Referendum on subsequent constitutional conventions
Amendments to the state constitution
Delegate Bob Robertson not signing the constitution
Delegate Victor Fischer
Governance of unorganized boroughs
Alaska/Tennesse plan and lobbying Congress for statehood
Objection to statehood
Alaska's provisional delegates to Congress
Transition from territory to state
Establishment of state courts and conflict with federal court system
Role of fish traps in the struggle for statehood
Signing of the constitution
Adjournment of the convention
Role of the public at the convention
Congressional approval of Alaska's statehood
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MS. RUSSELL: This is the second installment of the oral history of Judge Thomas B. Stewart of Juneau.
The date is October 25, 2002. I’m Margaret Russell.
Judge Stewart, we -- in our first interview talked about the foundations that you laid
for the constitutional convention in Alaska, which was held in 1955 and ‘56, I believe.
JUDGE STEWART: Correct.
MS. RUSSELL: You talked a little bit about the compilation of the documents
and your efforts to contact consultants
and your obtaining assistance in preparing the documents that were given to the delegates.
Could you tell me when the delegates who were elected convened in Juneau,
what kind of was the mood of the participants,
what kind of were the -- is the attitude or concerns of the participants at that point?
JUDGE STEWART: Let me first correct you. They did not convene in Juneau.
MS. RUSSELL: In Juneau.
JUDGE STEWART: They convened at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks.
I think the mood was very much I would call upbeat.
I think those people came not only dedicated to doing the best they could to write a constitution for
what was not yet the state of Alaska and
it was only an anticipation that it would be a state some day,
nobody knew when, and that they wanted to prove that we were capable of managing a state
by writing a constitution that would demonstrate that.
And I think they were generally optimistic
and they quickly became a very congenial, unified group that worked well together.
The mood was great.
MS. RUSSELL: And that optimism prevailed throughout the convention?
JUDGE STEWART: Even built when they were -- when the realized they were about to accomplish what they had set out to do.
MS. RUSSELL: Do you -- would you like to give us a little idea of the organization of the convention,
the committees that were set up and, you know, what the plenary sessions were like?
JUDGE STEWART: Well, let me tell you first about how the organization was arrived at.
I think I mentioned to you before that one of the principal consultants was a man named John Corcoran,
who represented Public Administration Service, who had directed the
preparation of the pre-convention studies that were handed to the delegates in a three-volume set
when they arrived so that they would have
a broad introductory background to what state constitutions were all about.
And John and I were sharing a hotel room in Fairbanks at the time.
Two or three days before the convention assembled.
And he said, you know, they should have a set of rules.
And I said, John, I’m not prepared to write a set of rules. He said, I’ll write it.
So he sat down and wrote a complete set of procedural rules out of his head.
He was a very capable man. He had done this kind of work,
not only for other states and for cities that were writing charters,
but for other governments. Brazil for example.
And so he was very familiar with this and he sat down and wrote a complete set of rules,
which we offered to the convention when they organized.
Not only that, he wrote 11 motions to be used by the delegates to get the proceedings off the floor as it were;
a motion for the election of a temporary president.
The convention had been convened by Governor Heintzleman,
but he of course was not a delegate.
So they had to first elect a temporary president,
temporary vice president, temporary secretary,
and then they had to establish a committee on rules,
to adopt a set of rules under which the convention would operate. And --
MS. RUSSELL: Was that just a temporary committee -- JUDGE STEWART: Yes, just -- MS. RUSSELL: -- for that purpose only?
JUDGE STEWART: Just to begin, just to get started.
And John Corcoran provided them with a draft.
And my recollection is that they didn’t use it verbatim, they edited it,
but it was a very well-prepared document and it got them started
right away. Instead of floundering around wondering what to do, here they had an outline.
MS. RUSSELL: And can you tell us who the initial officers were or -- I assume they were the same officers.
JUDGE STEWART: Well, yes, I think the temporary president was Mildred Hermann.
Mildred was a lawyer from Juneau.
She was the first woman lawyer in the Bar in the Territory of Alaska.
She took the bar three times, and the Bar Committee failed her the first two times.
But she wrote such an excellent paper the third time that they couldn’t -- they couldn't dismiss her.
There was no other woman member of the Bar, this was the first one.
And I wouldn’t say that the committee was basically chauvinistic, but --
MS. RUSSELL: It’s possible.
JUDGE STEWART: -- but there was prejudice against women in the Bar that stemmed from the long history of the bars across the nation.
Anyhow, she was the temporary president and I can’t remember who the other temporary officers were.
And then -- and John had prepared these 11 motions to get things started.
And we had handed them -- you know, I had handed them out to people that we identified were experienced with parliamentary procedure
and with rules and with the organization of bodies, like the Senate and the House of the Territory.
And they were not controversial things, but they were essential things to get the proceedings started.
And so the convention as a consequence of having these materials quickly got off the floor,
or got of the ground, and they were underway
and proceeded to the election of a president, Bill Egan.
There was a contest about that.
There was a man who thought he was going to be the president.
Victor Rivers was his name.
He was an engineer from Anchorage and had been very active in the statehood movement.
And his brother, Ralph Rivers, was a former attorney general and they both ran for president of the convention.
And they sort of cancelled each other out.
And Bill Egan was a dark horse that sort of came in between after the contest over the two Rivers brothers.
MS. RUSSELL: So there were just the three candidates and --
JUDGE STEWART: Yeah, right. And so the convention officers were elected.
And there was a committee on committees appointed.
And this was one of the motions, to select a committee on committees,
and they worked on establishing the committee structure.
Now, I think maybe I spoke before and -- about the preparations for the convention.
I had been sent to Hawaii to talk with the delegates to the Hawaiian convention of 1950, that preceded us by five years, about their experiences.
They had made an old-fashioned wire recording,
it was before the days of magnetic tape recordings, and -- critiquing the convention.
And one of the things they told me was do not have too many committees,
because every committee will want to produce an article,
and you will get articles into your constitution that really don’t belong there that should be statutory matter.
So the committee took that advice to heart, and they kept the number of committees to a minimum.
And if you look at our constitution, the outline of the articles,
those are the committees that essentially had to deal with basic fundamental constitutional matters.
MS. RUSSELL: So there was one committee for each article that --
JUDGE STEWART: One committee for each article that would be dealt with.
The committee on committees -- I didn’t attend their meetings, but they did the work --
all of that organizational and preparatory work was completed within the first week of the convention,
which might not have happened if these preliminary materials had not been provided to them.
If they hadn’t had the information about organization of committees.
Now for example, in Hawaii there’s an article on Native peoples.
There is no such article in the Alaska constitution, because at that time the emergence of Native leaders and leadership had not yet occurred that has since occurred.
And I would think that that might be a proper subject for an amendment to our constitution,
to deal with the rights of the original people of Alaska.
It’s not there and one of the reasons is because didn’t feel that it was a significant issue at the time.
MS. RUSSELL: There were no Native American delegates I assume?
JUDGE STEWART: Well, there was one. MS. RUSSELL: Oh.
JUDGE STEWART: Frank Peratrovich from Klawock was a full- blooded Tlingit.
And he was a Democratic Party leader.
He had been president of the Territorial Senate, and he was an effective leader.
But he was not -- he was a parliamentarian
and the Tlingits are good at that parliamentary procedure, and he was.
But he was not an outspoken advocate of Native rights.
He viewed, and I’m sure -- I talked with him about this later --
he viewed Native rights as part of the rights of everyone.
The Natives should not be treated any differently than anybody else.
And there were others of those early Native leaders that felt the same way and were really not sympathetic what’s --
with what has emerged as a sort of an independence movement for Natives.
MS. RUSSELL: Sovereignty.
JUDGE STEWART: I’m not saying that there -- that the modern movement isn’t right.
There’s no question but what the Natives have been severely discriminated against in our history.
When I was a young person in Juneau, there was direct discrimination against Natives.
There were signs on the bars, "No Natives Allowed." On the hotels, "No Natives allowed."
They were not allowed into the school system, in the elementary schools.
The Bureau of Indian Affairs had a separate school system for Native elementary school students.
Very few Natives went on to high school.
Now, I went to high school in Juneau and there were Natives in the high school,
but only a small handful that had emerged from the elementary school system as qualified to be coming -- to go into high school.
So there’s a long history of discrimination against Natives,
which can’t be justified by any measure in my judgment.
And the later agitation by Natives for something they call sovereignty, I’m not sure I agree with that.
I think like Frank Peratrovich and Frank See, who was the Hoonah mayor for many, many years,
that they shouldn’t be distinguished from the non-Native peoples in Alaska,
but they should be recognized as the original inhabitants
and rightfully respected for the culture, their culture, which is a beautiful one. But anyhow, that’s --
UNIDENTIFIED VOICE: Can I interrupt you for just a moment. The microphones that you have are very, very sensitive. And each time that you move the paper, I can hear it.
JUDGE STEWART: Oh, it rustles in the paper, yeah.
MS. RUSSELL: Are you following it or would you just as soon give it up?
JUDGE STEWART: No, not really. MS. RUSSELL: Okay.
JUDGE STEWART: I’m -- it’s helpful to have it, but I’ll be careful not to rustle it.
Well, anyhow, I brought back the concept and discussed it with the committee on committees
the desirability of keeping the number of committees to a fundamental -- to fundamental constitutional issues.
And my recollection is that when John Corcoran wrote that rule draft,
that he did include a list of proposed committees that would reflect the structure of a proper state constitution.
MS. RUSSELL: Was a great deal of the work of the convention done in the constitution -- I mean in the committee -- ?
JUDGE STEWART: By far, the greatest amount of work was done in committees.
You see, the convention assembled in November, and through November and December until the Christmas recess,
the holiday recess, Christmas and New Years,
the committees were hard at work on their proposals.
And there was relatively little in the way of plenary sessions, as I recall.
I frankly did not attend very many of the plenary sessions.
My job was an administrative one upstairs on the top floor of Constitution Hall,
and it wasn’t my business to sit and listen to what was going on.
MS. RUSSELL: What did go on in the plenary sessions? Was it --
JUDGE STEWART: Well, when the -- when a committee would report a proposal, that proposal would be discussed.
And, for example, there was some mention in a little meeting that we attended today of the Bar history committee
about an individual, unique individual delegate named Yule Kilcher.
Yule was from Homer, and he had it in his mind that we ought to have an unicameral legislature,
rather than a bicameral legislature.
And the only unicameral legislature in America is in Nebraska,
and they’ve had a pretty successful experience with a unicameral legislature.
Yule was determined that that should happen, so the convention set aside a full day
to debate whether there should be a unicameral legislature or a bicameral legislature.
And they eventually determined there ought to be a bicameral legislature.
I’m not going to go into the merits of that. I was not a delegate and I didn’t debate it,
but you asked what the plenary session did.
That’s the kind of thing they did. And then --
MS. RUSSELL: Was it normally focused on one committee’s report at a time?
JUDGE STEWART: Yes, I think so.
On the language offered by a committee, which would be brought by the chairman of the committee to the floor as a proposal.
And then, of course, towards the end of the session, as you heard,
George Sundborg, the chairperson of the Committee on Style and Drafting,
they had the difficult job of taking those proposals and editing them, so there would be a consistent language pattern
for what was going to be referred for legislative review.
MS. RUSSELL: So would the committee report then go to the plenary session and be decided upon in substance before it went to the drafting committee?
JUDGE STEWART: Before it went to the Committee on Style and Drafting.
The Committee on Style and Drafting, after they brought back a completed report on the work of one -- the proposals offered by one committee,
would give their recommendations.
And there was heated debate about it because those committees were probably rightfully
jealous of the work that they had done.
They didn’t like to be tampered with.
And George Sundborg and his committee had to persuade them that the meaning was not changed,
the meaning that the committee had offered was there.
But the language stylistically was brought into concurrence with the language in other articles, as well.
MS. RUSSELL: Was the committee’s report to the plenary session done in a written report style to be considered?
JUDGE STEWART: I think so. I think I told you before, there are no
assembled records of the committee’s work that I know of.
MS. RUSSELL: No minutes? JUDGE STEWART: No minutes of the committee’s work that are --
that -- from which it can be obtained what the thinking of the committee was.
There are -- there's a complete verbatim account of the debates about their proposals in the plenary sessions,
not only a stenographic account, but there was a recording.
We paid a radio station in Fairbanks to record all of the debates in the plenary sessions.
And even today, our Supreme Court, when they want to examine the history of an article and determine what they --
ought to be interpreted as the meaning, they go back to all those original records
and the tape is a significant part of it.
Because, you know, meanings derived from the inflections of the voices of people talking about the subject that they’re treating,
and if you’re going to draw accurate meanings, you need to know that.
MS. RUSSELL: And there were not significant written notes of any kind or anything that came out of the committees to your recollection?
JUDGE STEWART: Not to my recollection, no.
However, I want to caution that that really -- really, that’s a question that really should ask --
be asked of the chairpersons of the committees.
Because as I reiterated, I was not on the floor.
I was upstairs in an office doing the administrative work, overseeing the administrative work.
And there may have been documents there that -- of which I’m not aware.
MS. RUSSELL: Let’s talk about some of the individual committees, some of the important committees and their --
who their chairmen were and the consultants that worked for those.
We can start anywhere you like. I think we talked about Shelden Elliott had worked for the -- JUDGE STEWART: Judiciary -- MS. RUSSELL: -- drafting committee.
JUDGE STEWART: Well, I think you first ought to look probably at -- MS. RUSSELL: Oh, at the --
JUDGE STEWART: -- at Article I, the Bill of Rights.
I don’t remember for sure, but I know that a significant member of that committee was a woman, Katherine Nordale.
And Katherine had been a school teacher, but very much concerned about individual rights.
And the Committee on the Bill of Rights was a significant one
and I can’t remember for sure whether she was its chairperson or not.
She might have been.
But, of course, the Bill of Rights is a kind of a reflection of the Bill of Rights in the United States Constitution,
but there are things about it that are uniquely addressed to the Alaskan scene.
And for -- and the interpretation of that article, for example, I think has produced the Supreme Court opinion about the right of privacy.
The right for people to smoke marijuana in their own homes.
MS. RUSSELL: The Ravin decision.
JUDGE STEWART: Which is private. The Ravin decision.
And I think that came from an interpretation of the Bill of Rights.
And then, of course, the execu -- the article on the executive branch.
I can’t remember who it was -- as I recall, the chairman of the committee on the legislative branch was Steve McCutcheon,
who had a lot of -- who had been a senator for several years
and his father before him
and his brother, Stanley McCutcheon, was a leading legislator, and he had a lot of background in legislative work.
And I think Steve was the chairman of that committee.
And the consultant for that committee was a man named Dayton McKean.
And I think Dayton McKean came from Colorado.
I’m not certain of his background now, it’s too far back in my memory.
But they structured the legislature.
And the -- and as far as the executive branch is concerned, of course,
significant debate in the organization of the executive branch was about the governor being the only elected official,
which meant that he was accountable for all the actions of the executive branch.
Instead of having other elected officials over departments, which the territorial government had had.
And that divided accountability,
and you couldn’t really determine who was responsible for executive action. MS. RUSSELL: Could you give (indiscernible) --
JUDGE STEWART: Some of them were even -- like the Department of Education had a committee head,
and it was difficult to hold that head of committee accountable for what they did.
MS. RUSSELL: They were basically independent of the governor.
JUDGE STEWART: They were basically independent of any central control.
MS. RUSSELL: Can you give me a couple other examples of elected --
JUDGE STEWART: Well, probably the outstanding example is the attorney general.
And the attorney general was elected
and the governor, if he didn’t like what the attorney general did, there was nothing he could do about it because he was independent.
And that’s a terrible thing.
The executive branch has to have reliable legal advice,
and it has to be sympathetic with the governor’s political position as the head of the executive branch.
Otherwise, his policy-making authority is diminished.
And you have competing heads of the work of the executive branch, and the work of the attorney general spreads across all the departments,
because he gives legal advice to each department of whether you can, you cannot do something that they may wish to do.
MS. RUSSELL: Was that a divisive issue at the convention?
JUDGE STEWART: Well, at -- I think it -- I think the delegates quickly recognized that that system didn’t work.
We had had it for the years of territorial status,
1913 until they were considering this in 1955.
For 42 years, we’d had a divided executive branch of the government.
And I think the delegates recognized that that was not right.
And certainly the consultants who were there were advising them that this would cause major problems.
And it denied accountability to the people for who was responsible for what decisions.
And what they came up with is this -- a single executive who has responsibility for the entire executive branch and can be held accountable.
If the people don’t like what’s going on, they can point their finger right straight at the governor,
because he's responsible for the operation of the executive branch.
And so I think they rather quickly realized -- although, again, since I didn’t sit in the plenary sessions, I can’t tell you how the debate unfolded.
But I can tell you what the result was.
The result was the executive branch article that makes it very clear that there is a single,
responsible, accountable head of the executive branch.
And as far as the judiciary is concerned, they had the benefit of the advice of Shelden Elliott.
Incidently, his name is S-h-e-l-d-e-n, which is an unusual spelling for it.
And he had been -- I think I said to you when I -- in our prior interview that
he had been a next personal advisor to Chief Justice Arthur T. Vanderbilt of New Jersey,
who had written you might call the Bible of court administration at the time.
A large book called "Modern Judicial Administration."
And Shelden Elliott had been a principal assistant to him in the preparation of that document.
And so he brought to the convention -- he was also the head of the Institute for Judicial Administration,
which was a leading independent body in studying
what courts ought to be and how they should be organized, located in New York.
And he was the head of that institute, and so he was very familiar with the operation of the courts.
In many states, and this was true of New Jersey, the courts were splintered.
Each county had its own court.
No responsibility to the Supreme Court of the state other than in appellate decisions.
But administratively totally independent.
Poor counties had poor courts, and wealthy counties had wealthy courts, well appointed, well equipped.
So there was a very uneven picture of the operation of the judiciaries around -- within states.
And this article provides an unified system.
It’s all under the administrative direction of the chief justice, and the Supreme Court.
And the budget for all courts in the state, all lower courts,
local courts -- now, what we -- our system of magistrates and of district courts
and of the general trial courts, the Superior Court, all of that is under one unified administration.
And this was a picture that was painted at the convention that -- on which the delegates were persuaded.
Now, another aspect of it was the selection of judges.
You -- even today, you have many people, even in Alaska, that advocate for the election of judges.
Well, it was not hard to discern that states that do elect judges have major problems.
They have to go out and campaign. They have to raise money.
They become beholden to the contributors.
I think in Alaska since our courts began in the fall of 1959,
so it’s basically more than 40 years, that there has not been a single known instance of corruption in our judiciary.
Now, compare that with Texas where five of the Supreme Court members were indicted, because of favoring a litigant that provided them with money.
And that’s what happened. And you get -- when you have an elective system, you get
judges that may or may not be qualified professionally.
MS. RUSSELL: Was that a contentious issue, the election of judges, at the convention?
JUDGE STEWART: Well, I don’t think it was too contentious, because we didn’t have a court system of our own.
The courts were provided by the federal government to the Territory of Alaska.
And the judges were appointed by the president of the United States.
And they often were partisan political operatives.
The last judge in Juneau before statehood was a very good judge,
but he had been an unsuccessful candidate for governor in the state of Michigan.
And he had been the national president of the veterans organization -- what’s the major --
MS. RUSSELL: VFW or -- JUDGE STEWART: No, no, the other one.
My poor aging brain doesn’t summon up names.
But in any event, it was -- the national organization of veterans.
And he had been a supporter of Eisenhower, who had been elected to be the president.
And the man who had been a judge in Juneau died.
George Folta, for whom I clerked, had a heart attack when he was out on a hunting trip.
And so the appointment was this man,
who was someone who had never been in Alaska, knew nothing about it.
His name was Kelly, Judge Kelly.
And I practiced before him in the years after he came in 1955.
And he was a good, fair, and I believe totally honest judge.
But some who had been appointed were not.
There were scandals in the federal court system, especially back in the early days
before the Territory, when we were District of Alaska.
There’s a famous scandal involving a judge in Nome who favored a man who had staked valuable mining claims and there was a contest over those claims.
And this judge was, because of his determined favoritism in that litigation, was eventually prosecuted for his dishonesty.
Nothing like that has ever happened in the state system. MS. RUSSELL: So you -- the --
JUDGE STEWART: But anyhow, it was -- I was saying as a territory we didn’t have a judicial system,
and so we set out to -- these delegates set out to construct a system that reflected the best principles of modern judicial administration.
And they had the advice of Shelden Elliott. And George McLaughlin,
who was the chairman of the committee, was very sympathetic to the pattern, which basically was the pattern in New Jersey.
New Jersey had had a terrible court system.
And Arthur Vanderbilt was a strong leader who modernized the New Jersey system.
They had a constitutional convention in 1946,
where they completely rewrote the constitution of the state of New Jersey.
And they put in a judicial article that reflected Vanderbilt’s views.
And they established a court system after which ours is fundamentally modeled.
And so much so, that when our judges were appointed in the fall of 1959,
they went as a group and spent a week or two in New Jersey
looking at the system there and understanding how it should be implemented --
our system which was modeled after the one from New Jersey.
MS. RUSSELL: Did you go on that trip as well?
JUDGE STEWART: I was not a judge.
MS. RUSSELL: No, you weren’t. I thought you might have gone anyway, but you didn’t.
JUDGE STEWART: No. And incidentally, this is personal, a very personal matter,
the first Judicial Council included a member named Dr. William Whitehead, who was a physician in Juneau.
And he came to me and said, "I’d like to put your name in for a judgeship."
And I said, "Bill, I’ve never aspired to be a judge, but I’ll accept. But only in Juneau."
At that time in my life, my wife and I had six children, and a seventh was soon to come.
And we simply -- and we had our home that my parents had built, was very comfortable. I still live in it.
And we simp -- and our older children were in the school system in Juneau, and we simply didn’t want to move from Juneau.
So I didn’t -- I told Bill Whitehead that he could put my name in as a candidate, but only for Juneau.
Well, what happened was they nominated two persons for each of the nine judgeships
that were first established under our state constitution.
There were -- I think were to be two in the First Judicial District,
which was basically the same judicial district as had obtained in the Territory.
One in the Second Judicial District, which basically was Nome, Kotzebue, Unalakleet.
And there were five, I think, in the Third Judicial District.
And two in the Fourth. I think that adds up to nine. MS. RUSSELL: It does -- or 10.
JUDGE STEWART: And they submitted 18 names and Bill Egan was the governor.
And I got a call from Bill Egan.
I went to his office, and he said, "I want to appoint you to be the judge in Ketchikan."
And I said, "Governor, I’m very reluctant about that for the reasons that I have expressed,
but I’ll go home and talk with my wife and I’ll come back within the hour and give you my answer."
And so I did, and we decided we didn’t want to move the family to Ketchikan.
Ketchikan is a wonderful community, I had many friends there, but we didn’t want to move.
And I had not aspired to be a judge.
So I came back and told the governor, "No."
I really believe that he held that against me the rest of his life.
He thought that I had a public duty to accept the appointment, since I had allowed my name to be considered.
And the judge that was appointed was Jim von der Heydt.
And he appointed a man named Walter Walsh to this bench in Ketchikan.
And so I remained practicing in Juneau for a couple of years until I was appointed to be the court administrator.
The first court administrator was a man named David Luce from California, who had a background in court administration.
And his wife didn’t like it in Alaska, they lived in Anchorage.
And she said, "I’m going back to California. If you want me you’ll have to come."
And at that point, the chief justice, Bill Nesbett, and Justice Dimond, who was a dear personal friend,
approached me and said would you be the court administrator?
And I said, "Yes, I -- I’ll accept that."
MS. RUSSELL: And I do want to get back and talk to you about establishing the judicial --
JUDGE STEWART: Yeah. Well, I’ll talk -- MS. RUSSELL: -- system, too --
JUDGE STEWART: I’m getting off -- MS. RUSSELL: -- as we get -- JUDGE STEWART: -- that point. MS. RUSSELL: -- to that.
JUDGE STEWART: But anyhow, the judges were selected in -- I think in August or early September of 1959.
And all nine of them went to New Jersey,
and got an education and in the operation of their courts and came back and set to work.
MS. RUSSELL: And of the committees we’ve talked about then, we’ve talked about the three branches --
JUDGE STEWART: Well, there was a committee, for example, on apportionment.
And the delegates had been very favorably impressed with the fact that
in the legislation that we wrote calling and structuring the convention, we had to set up special election districts,
so there were -- there was a delegate from almost every community in Alaska that had a thousand or more people.
MS. RUSSELL: How many communities were there, do you recall?
JUDGE STEWART: Well, the ones that were represented were Kot -- that had delegates,
Kotzebue, Nome, Unalakleet, Dillingham, Kodiak, Cordova, Valdez, Palmer,
of course Anchorage, Fairbanks, Ketchikan, Wrangell, Petersburg, Juneau, Haines.
Skagway didn’t have one.
Sitka, and many of those communities had never had legislative representation.
As was discussed at the luncheon today,
the last territorial legislature had all of its members from Anchorage for the Third Judicial District.
In Juneau, of the five -- of the six members, five were from -- in southeast, were from Juneau.
There was one from Petersburg, none from Ketchikan, none from Wrangell, none from Sitka,
none from Haines, none from Skagway, none from Yakutat.
So we had established that apportionment that assured representation for the smaller communities. Now --
MS. RUSSELL: Do you remember who was the chairman of that committee?
JUDGE STEWART: I think it was Douglas Gray.
MS. RUSSELL: And that was essentially their sole mission was the apportionment issue?
JUDGE STEWART: Was the apportionment for the legislature.
Now, what the -- what they came up with had to be abandoned after the Supreme Court decision in Baker v. Carr,
or its follow-up, the other case that I cited today at our luncheon,
because the United States Supreme Court said it was unconstitutional for legislative bodies to be apportioned other than by population.
MS. RUSSELL: So after Baker v. Carr, the apportionment that was accomplished under the constitution had to be revised by amendment; is that --
JUDGE STEWART: That’s right. MS. RUSSELL: -- what happened?
JUDGE STEWART: That’s right. MS. RUSSELL: Okay.
JUDGE STEWART: And I might say that if there were to be another convention,
you couldn’t get representation for many communities
unless the convention were more than doubled or tripled in size,
because as you know from apportionment of the legislature today,
there is the Island District that includes Klawock, Craig, Sitka, Cordova,
and a whole strip of -- along the coast of fishing communities that have some similarity in their economic activity,
but they don’t have any -- the people in them don’t know the people in the other communities.
But the population’s so small compared to the population in the Anchorage basin
that with 55 delegates, you could never get one from many of those communities.
And that was a very significant factor in the success of our convention on the good feelings that
came not only amongst the delegates themselves, but the people that they represented,
because almost every community of significant size had somebody there.
And when they went home at Christmas-time and said here’s what we are doing, here are the proposals that are being considered,
they had a chance to talk with their constituency in a one-on-one fashion.
Couldn’t do that unless you -- as I say,
probably tripled the size of a convention in order to get down to a number where
small communities could have somebody to go.
So that was a -- the Committee on Apportionment was very important. But --
MS. RUSSELL: There was also a special committee for local government, I understand, Vic Fischer’s --
JUDGE STEWART: Yes, and that was extremely significant, and Vic did a --
Victor Fischer at the luncheon today gave a good job of outlining their concerns.
But I think there’s more to be said about it.
The first sentence of the first section of the article on local government said the purpose of this article is to provide the maximum local govern --
self-government with the minimum of governmental units.
And this was to avoid what he described as Chicago having 2,000 entities with separate budget taxing authorities within the greater Chicago area.
And there were some models that were --
San Francisco city and county had consolidated, but the prime example was Miami, Dade County,
where they had consolidated all these multiple, you know,
sewer district, water district, education district.
You name it, there were dozens of independent or semi-independent bodies that didn’t have any central coordination.
And Dade County in Miami was one that first established and unified greater county area.
And the borough concept was one that wanted to expand the boundaries beyond little cities.
In Juneau, for example, the boundary was at a place called Norway Point, which is about one mile from the capitol in Juneau.
Now, the population in Juneau today is 12 miles out.
And those people under the old scheme didn’t have a town, didn’t have their own government.
Now, the idea of the borough was that you would establish the boundaries to the extent where people lived out from the center of local population.
And all of that would be in one government
and everybody living in that area would be responsible to pay taxes for the services that were provided to them
proportionally. If they didn’t get -- if they got water but didn’t get sewer, their taxes would be less.
But everybody that got the maximum services would pay the maximum tax rate.
But they would all be included in the structure.
And so the design of the boroughs was to be inclusive of that.
They didn’t want to abolish cities, so they made a provision where there could be a city and a borough.
But it didn’t require that that should be the case.
And, for example, I went back to Juneau after the convention --
after statehood and the convention was -- the constitution was adopted.
And I said, look, you don’t have to create a borough and a city government.
You don’t have to have two governments in the same area,
because the first sentence says the maximum local self government with the minimum of governmental units.
And you should always only have one.
But Juneau created a city and a borough.
And when I became a judge there in 1966,
one of the first strenuously argued cases that I had was the borough against the city or vice versa.
They each had their own lawyer, and they each had their own agenda, and it was divisive.
And as the judge, I’d sat on that case.
That is, literally I set it aside and I didn’t make a decision, because there was pending a question before the voters in the whole area;
shall the government of the borough and the city be consolidated.
And in fact, the voters did consolidate it, and the issue of that case became moot.
Juneau was the first to consolidate.
Anchorage followed the example, and they consolidated the city and the borough government.
There are still some places out there like Ketchikan, Fairbanks,
where they have two governments overlapping in the same area and their --
the division of authority is unclear and causes dissension.
I think it’s -- people didn’t understand that the purpose of the article was to make one government
in all of the area that’s locally populated by people that are -- that focus on the center.
MS. RUSSELL: They had a consultant as well, the Local Government Committee?
JUDGE STEWART: Oh, they did indeed. They had more than one.
John Bebout was one.
John, as it was discussed in the meeting today,
was from the National Municipal League, which was --
has a different title now, but it’s the national organization that represents local governments all over the nation.
And he worked for them and he was very concerned about the nature of local government.
And there was another gentleman.
He was from New Jersey and I’m sorry, at the moment I cannot remember his name,
but he was a particular student of local government.
And I took him, for example, to Kotzebue, so he could see the Natives handled the --
the Eskimo Natives handled their local government.
Now, Kotzebue was sort of a unique situation.
Kotzebue was not an aboriginal Native village.
The Native villages were up along the Kobuk River, strung out along the river, small fishing villages.
And then Kotzebue began to develop and people from the villages came into the center.
And they had a city council, but the individuals owed their allegiance back to their village of origin.
And so the council was a sort of a supernumerary.
They made decisions, but they really looked back to their village of origin.
So there were unique patterns of local government across Alaska,
and I traveled with this gentleman whose name I’m sorry I don’t recall.
And they got a picture of that and when they consulted with the delegates,
Vic Fischer who was from Anchorage and who was very keen to arrive at the best design, they put together this thing.
They didn’t want to abolish cities per se,
but they wanted the local government boundary to be out beyond -- to get the people that lived in the hinterland of the old city boundaries.
And it was unfortunate in a way that they felt constrained to do that, because
it didn’t get the larger governmental unit that drew --
that included within its boundaries people that lived outside the old city boundary
that resisted paying taxes, even though they used the services provided by the city.
MS. RUSSELL: So they were using city services and only paying borough taxes basically?
JUDGE STEWART: Not paying any.
MS. RUSSELL: Or not paying any. Okay.
JUDGE STEWART: Before the creation of the boroughs. MS. RUSSELL: Oh, uh-huh.
JUDGE STEWART: So when you created the boroughs, then they began to be included.
But it still had two different entities managing the budgetary and operational affairs within that prescribed area.
For example, in Juneau the borough boundary is a hundred miles long,
because the southern boundary includes the hydroelectric plant,
which is 50 miles south of Juneau,
that generates the electricity, and the northern boundary is the end of the road system.
MS. RUSSELL: And did the Committee on Local Government establish those boundaries --
JUDGE STEWART: No. MS. RUSSELL: -- during the convention?
JUDGE STEWART: No. That had to be done locally.
The local governments, the borough and the city, had to establish their own charter.
And there is in the constitution the Local Boundary Commission
that determines what the boundaries ought to be.
And right today, for example, there’s a big case -- I say big, relatively for our small area of Skagway.
And they want to establish a borough boundary that includes the city of Skagway,
and they want to get a borough government established in that area,
and not be swallowed up by the borough that’s created for Haines, which is 15 miles away.
MS. RUSSELL: Does the constitution provide for any means to resolve those issues?
JUDGE STEWART: The Boundary Commission resolves it.
MS. RUSSELL: And that’s established in the constitution?
JUDGE STEWART: That’s established in the -- MS. RUSSELL: I see. Okay.
JUDGE STEWART: -- constitution, the boundary -- the organization called the Boundary Commission.
And they make the rulings about what the boundaries are going to be for the local governments.
And they have ruled that Skagway doesn’t meet the standards for the creation of a separate borough.
And Skagway is now in the courts -- are preparing a court appeal from that decision.
Saying, yes, we do meet the standards, and we are entitled to a separate borough.
I don’t have an opinion about that, but that’s the way -- MS. RUSSELL: That’s the way it works. JUDGE STEWART: -- those kinds of issues are resolved.
MS. RUSSELL: What about the natural resources provision in the constitution? What committee --
JUDGE STEWART: I think I told you -- MS. RUSSELL: -- handled that?
JUDGE STEWART: -- that that was -- it's unique.
And I think in the discussion today in the Bar History Committee, I’ve forgotten whether it was --
which delegate it was that discussed it, whether it was Vic Fischer --
MS. RUSSELL: Vic Fischer, I believe. JUDGE STEWART: -- talking about --
MS. RUSSELL: Was he on that commit -- he was not on --
JUDGE STEWART: He might have been -- MS. RUSSELL: -- that committee. JUDGE STEWART: -- on the committee.
He was chairperson of local -- of the Local Government Committee. But --
MS. RUSSELL: But there was a separate committee for natural resources?
JUDGE STEWART: Oh, there was indeed. And they had mining men.
My father was on the committee. He was the territorial commissioner of mines.
He had retired from the position of commissioner of mines, but he -- and there was a man named John -- Jack Boswell,
who was with the Fairbanks Exploration Company that had the big dredges in the Fairbanks area. MS. RUSSELL: Uh-huh (affirmative).
JUDGE STEWART: He was a mining man. Eldor Lee was on, he was a fisherman.
He was in the film that you showed today talking about the abolition of fish traps.
And there were -- Burke Riley was on it. And I think Burke was a lands man.
He had been on the governor’s Alaska development -- resource development board.
Anyhow, they were having a hard time, because there was no model from other states of an overall natural resource article.
And I remember very clearly what happened.
They had a very fine consultant. His name is Vincent Ostrom, O-s-t-r-o-m.
He’s a retired -- he’s a professor emeritus at the University of Indiana.
He’s recently been working with Wally Hickel on questions of resource development.
And the committee met and I -- I was not a member of the committee, but I met with them
on a Sunday morning in a church basement in Fairbanks.
And Vince Ostrom was at the blackboard.
And they had each delegate talk about his or her area of expertise,
and literally on the blackboard outlined a unified article treating of natural resources.
And if you look at the article, read it, it’s Article VIII of the constitution.
It’s the product of that -- basically that meeting after they worked all day together,
and came up with the initial draft of an unified article on natural resources.
MS. RUSSELL: Were the areas of expertise mining, fishing, is that how they were divided up?
JUDGE STEWART: Roughly so. MS. RUSSELL: Uh-huh.
JUDGE STEWART: Roughly so. Although I can’t -- without looking at the names of the members,
and I don’t remember them out of my head, I can’t tell you that -- MS. RUSSELL: Uh-huh.
JUDGE STEWART: -- how precisely that was the case, but roughly they did represent different areas of natural resource experience and expertise.
But they built the article on that blackboard that day, the outline of it.
And then they went back into committee sessions elsewhere during the week.
This was on a Sunday that they did this as I recollect, and I was there in the room when they did.
They went back and edited and expanded and perfected it,
and ultimately came up with what you see as the finished draft, which was worked over by the Committee on Style and Drafting as well,
before it was ultimately adopted.
But it’s unique. There’s no other state constitution that has an article that deals so completely with the natural resources of the state,
which in Alaska particularly was of huge significance,
because of the basis of our economic life is the natural resources and how they’re to be used.
MS. RUSSELL: Were there any other committees we haven’t talked about that you thought were especially important to the convention’s success?
JUDGE STEWART: Well, for example, there’s a Committee on the Initiative and the Referendum.
MS. RUSSELL: Do you remember who chaired that?
JUDGE STEWART: I really don’t.
I can’t remember which committee John Hellenthal was on. John was an outspoken delegate,
a lawyer with a lot of experience,
had been in the legislature or was later. I’ve forgotten exactly his timing as a legislator.
But I view that as something of a failure.
It’s too easy for groups to draft initiatives.
The initiative process avoids the debate and discussion and amendment
and revision that occurs in the halls of the legislature.
When there’s a statute to be proposed, it gets debated by the committee that it’s assigned to, or the committees.
It gets debated on the floor of the House, and the whole process goes on again in the Senate.
And there’s a whole lot of public discussion, critical evaluation.
None of that happens with a -- when somebody proposes an initiative.
MS. RUSSELL: All or nothing?
JUDGE STEWART: It’s all or nothing and it comes out of the whole cloth from somebody’s head -- MS. RUSSELL: Uh-huh.
JUDGE STEWART: -- that has a pet peeve.
The newspapers can’t adequately analyze, criticize, evaluate, and there can’t --
there’s no public process for tailoring it where there are shortcomings.
And in my judgment, and this is my personal view, you get bad legislation from initiatives.
You get things that haven’t been adequately reviewed.
You know, America and state governments, we are a republic,
which means that we trust governmental decisions to our representatives who can thoroughly study them,
review them, analyze them, criticize them, accept them, reject them.
You can’t have -- we aren’t a democracy in the sense that all the citizens of the United States can gather in one great hall and debate.
In a sense, the New England town meeting does that.
But there isn’t a tradition in other states -- and you can’t have a town meeting in New York City or San Francisco or Los Angeles.
So we have to depend -- we are a republic, we have to depend on our representatives.
And if we don’t like what they do, the answer is throw the bastards out.
Get somebody different to represent you.
But the initiative isn’t reached by that process, and if fails
to meet the needs of the people. In my view, it’s a bad way to legislate. And I think our initiative process is too easy.
I would be perfectly happy if it didn’t exist at all,
but I think that it should be amended to make it much more difficult -- MS. RUSSELL: Okay. And --
JUDGE STEWART: -- to put an initiative on the ballot. MS. RUSSELL: Right.
JUDGE STEWART: You get bad law from the initiative.
MS. RUSSELL: Before we move on from committees, I want to go back for just one second to the Natural Resources Committee we were just talking about.
Was there any consideration or recognition of any issue with respect to the subsistence needs of rural inhabitants and -- or Natives in particular at the time?
JUDGE STEWART: I will hazard the guess no.
Because there were not repre -- there was only that one Native there,
and he was interested in the Native community becoming a full partner in the white community.
MS. RUSSELL: You did have rural represent -- rural delegates though, right --
JUDGE STEWART: Yes, there were rural delegates -- MS. RUSSELL: -- and -- JUDGE STEWART: -- as I said Dillingham -- MS. RUSSELL: Uh-huh (affirmative).
JUDGE STEWART: -- Maynard Lundborg who was there today from Unalakleet.
There was John Cross from Kotzebue, and there were lots of rural delegates. MS. RUSSELL: But they didn’t urge any --
JUDGE STEWART: But there was not -- MS. RUSSELL: -- kind of --
UDGE STEWART: -- there was not the debate about that. MS. RUSSELL: Uh-huh.
JUDGE STEWART: In the first place, Fish and Game, which is what subsistence deals with, was the province of the federal government.
The Territory didn’t have any regulatory authority.
We had a Department of Fish and Game, but it was restricted to research, to studying.
They developed techniques for estimating what the return of the salmon was going to be in the next season.
And made available those studies.
But they couldn’t regulate the fishery.
That was all done by the Federal Bureau of Fisheries.
And the Federal Department of -- I’m not sure what the title was, but dealt with game.
Game Department. It was all federal. So the --
MS. RUSSELL: That has since -- that changed -- JUDGE STEWART: Pardon?
MS. RUSSELL: That changed after that, did it not?
JUDGE STEWART: Well, the statehood changed it. MS. RUSSELL: Uh-huh (affirmative).
JUDGE STEWART: We became responsible for our own resources.
This was a major reason for statehood, that we could take that over.
And this legislature did provide for subsistence.
The subsistence issue has really become a controversy after our Supreme Court’s decision in the so-called Erickson case about 10 or 12 years ago.
There’s a provision in the constitution dealing with the fisheries.
I’d have to get my copy to tell you exactly what it is,
but it says that the fish and game resources shall be shared equally by all people.
But there’s a little provision down at the end, subject to the right of the legislature to determine preferential uses.
Now, in the Erickson case, there were five justices on the Supreme Court.
Four of them said that the laws that Territory -- that the state legislature had passed
providing for subsistence preference by rural peoples was unconstitutional.
It violated that basic principle that all people had equal access.
Justice Rabinowitz hung his decision in dissent on that phrase, "subject to preferences."
And he felt that the legislature had been authorized by the constitution to establish preferences,
which would have -- and then they had done so when they wrote the subsistence --
the laws that gave rural peoples or Native, I don’t remember exactly how the statutes were framed,
but they -- it provided a rural preference.
MS. RUSSELL: Do you remember any discussion at the convention about adding that preferential language?
JUDGE STEWART: Again, I was not at the plenary sessions. MS. RUSSELL: Right.
JUDGE STEWART: You would have to ask one of the delegates. MS. RUSSELL: Okay.
JUDGE STEWART: But I don’t think -- it was not an issue at that time.
They hadn’t -- they had a subsistence preference.
Nobody was interfering with their subsistence lifestyle.
And it wasn’t until the Erickson decision that there was an interference with their subsistence rights.
And since that time, as you know, recent history in our legislature,
there was a small group of senators that have not allowed an amendment to clarify this issue to go on the ballot -- MS. RUSSELL: Right.
JUDGE STEWART: -- even though there’s -- the polls show very strong, something like 80 or 85 percent of the voters wanting to give the rural peoples a preference.
And I’m hopeful that the next legislature might relax that problem.
But at the time of the convention, it simply, in my judgment was not an issue.
MS. RUSSELL: Another article that brings the constitution to recurrent attention is the article providing for a referendum
on having a successive constitutional convention.
Can you tell us what the background was for that article?
JUDGE STEWART: Well, to an extent I’m guessing.
But I’m pretty certain that they had been shown in other state constitutions and in the history of constitutional --
state constitutional law that was revealed in the studies done by the PAS people and by the people who were --
like John Bebout and Kim Owen.
And there’s another name that I haven’t mentioned, a man named Emil Sady, S-a-d-y.
And Emil had come to us from the Brookings Institution.
He basically was dealing with the administration of the convention.
He set up the file structure and helped me particularly in the administration.
But somewhere along the way, I’m sure those people made known to the delegates, if they didn’t already know it,
that in many states there were real problems in reapportioning.
Legislatures were not apportioned by population.
The House of the state legislature generally was, but the Senate was not.
It was done on a geographic basis, like Alaska was at the time.
There were four judicial districts, each judicial district had four senators.
And Nome, the Second Judicial District, which was the smallest population-wise in the old Territory
had the same representation in the Senate as the Anchorage basin that had many, many more people even then
than out in the boonies, you might say.
And the -- this situation obtained throughout the states and states, like New York, and California, and Illinois, and Michigan.
Big states could not get more representation in their Senate body,
because those bodies were apportioned on a geographic basis. MS. RUSSELL: Which gave the rural --
JUDGE STEWART: Which gave the rural people a dominance,
and they would not allow an amendment nor a convention to occur
for fear that their strength would be diminished and diluted.
And so this was a frustration for the major population centers that they couldn’t get adequate representation in their state legislatures.
And I think it was the state of Tennessee where the Baker v. Carr issue was raised.
Now, Baker v. Carr really dealt -- I read it recently,
I hadn’t read it for a long time -- with jurisdictional issues.
Does the Supreme Court of the state of Tennessee have the authority to deal with this issue of apportionment.
And in the Baker v. Carr decision, the United States Supreme Court said yes.
And they sent it back to the state of Tennessee, because they had said no, they did not have jurisdiction to deal with it.
And there was a subsequent case, and I have it in my notes, but I don’t have it in front of me,
about two years later where the substantive issue was dealt with.
And the United States Supreme Court said it’s unconstitutional
to have any representation other than by population. MS. RUSSELL: So the subject that the --
JUDGE STEWART: The subject that -- MS. RUSSELL: -- successive conventions -- JUDGE STEWART: -- that -- MS. RUSSELL: -- was addressed --
JUDGE STEWART: -- precipitated that provision in our constitution that there should be a question on the ballot every
10 years, shall there be a convention, really had become moot -- MS. RUSSELL: Uh-huh (affirmative).
JUDGE STEWART: -- about five years after statehood when the Supreme Court issued that decision.
So the source -- I think the -- I personally believe, although I wasn’t present at the debates,
but looking at the record of the convention, I believe that that provision probably would never have been put there,
except from the information that had been brought to the delegates by the consultants, and by their own historical knowledge of what went on elsewhere
of this frustration of the major population centers with mal-apportionment.
And that issue was removed when those -- when the Supreme Court came down with that decision.
But still, I think many delegates would have -- would have been appealed to by the provision that the people should decide --
MS. RUSSELL: That they would continue to have that opportunity.
JUDGE STEWART: -- whether there should be a constitutional convention. MS. RUSSELL: Right.
JUDGE STEWART: It ought not to be left to the legislature to decide.
And, therefore, every time there’s a census, a federal census, every 10 years, they can look at the issue afresh, is there a need.
But the basic source of it is gone.
MS. RUSSELL: And your view of the need is what?
Of whether there ought to be another convention?
JUDGE STEWART: I don’t see that at all. MS. RUSSELL: Okay.
JUDGE STEWART: It’s frustrating, especially to the Native peoples, that they have not been able to get an amendment
on the subsistence issue to clarify what the Supreme Court opined in the Erickson decision.
But there’s going to be a new legislature and many of the people in the Senate,
of the 10 people that stood in the way of authorizing an amendment, won’t be there anymore.
MS. RUSSELL: So in your view, the amendment process is sufficient,
and a preferable way of dealing with individual issues rather than having another --
JUDGE STEWART: Yes. MS. RUSSELL: -- constitutional convention.
JUDGE STEWART: I think so.
And I think there’s another possibility that’s out there, and that is a revisiting of the issue through the court system,
because only one of the justices that made that Erickson decision is still on the Court.
It’s a whole new court, except there’s four new members on the Court.
And they will be able to see how divisive the results of that decision were,
and they could reevaluate the Rabinowitz dissent.
So I think it’s quite possible that the subsistence matter could be resolved judicially. MS. RUSSELL: Right.
JUDGE STEWART: I -- the attorney general, Bruce Botelho, whom I know well,
and the governor, too, considered the possibility of doing that.
But the present governor’s term is about to expire,
and they determined not to try to launch something that couldn’t be followed through while they held the authority and the responsibility --
the accountability for doing something of that kind.
But that’s one of the possi -- there are other ways to meet the subsistence question than by opening up the whole document.
MS. RUSSELL: Which would have problems in itself?
JUDGE STEWART: Which would be a big problem in itself.
And as I said today at the luncheon, there was not big money behind the resolution of political issues -- MS. RUSSELL: During the original --
JUDGE STEWART: -- in ‘55, which there is now.
And that big money, oil industry primarily, determines the outcome of elections.
So that who might be elected to be a delegate?
It would be expensive to run.
MS. RUSSELL: And they wouldn’t have the independence that the delegates --
JUDGE STEWART: They wouldn’t have the -- I don’t believe they would have the independence that the people in ‘55 did have.
They didn’t have any of those kinds of pressures.
MS. RUSSELL: And you had virtually no lobbyists, is that correct, at the initial convention?
JUDGE STEWART: The only lobbyists that came to -- well, almost the only lobbyists were the school people.
And what they lobbied for did not happen.
MS. RUSSELL: Do you recall what they were lobbying for that didn’t happen?
JUDGE STEWART: They were -- they had a detailed, three- page article on education that dealt with
all kinds of things that are properly left to the statutes
or to the regulations of the executive branch.
MS. RUSSELL: But you did end up with some --
JUDGE STEWART: And basically the article is -- on education is about one paragraph with about three sentences;
the state shall provide free public education to all people.
MS. RUSSELL: And the rest is left for statute or -- JUDGE STEWART: Yeah.
MS. RUSSELL: Looking back on the convention, and I do want to turn to the ordinances before we wrap up this segment,
but just I think we’d have some interest in hearing your views of some of the most interesting and effective participants.
Maybe starting with Bill Egan. You’ve talked about him a little bit,
and some of the others who maybe haven’t come up in the conversation heretofore.
JUDGE STEWART: Well, without having a list of the delegates in front of me, it’s hard for me to say.
And again, I must caution that I was not usually attending plenary sessions.
I did attend some and listened to some debates,
but there were 12 lawyers and the lawyers generally were more outspoken than other delegates.
MS. RUSSELL: Do you remember who some of those lawyers were and -- JUDGE STEWART: Well, Bob -- MS. RUSSELL: -- perhaps the most outspoken?
JUDGE STEWART: -- Robertson, who ultimately resigned, but there -- as a delegate and he did not sign the constitution
when everybody else -- but he did so.
Eventually before he died, he came around.
After statehood was achieved, he came around to support it and did sign it.
The other lawyers were Seaborn Buckalew, John Hellenthal, Maurice Johnson from Fairbanks,
Bob McNealy from Fairbanks, Burke Riley.
There were 12 lawyers altogether and many of those people, as well as others, had been legislators.
I didn’t -- when I was asked by the Bar to tell them -- Deborah O’Regan asked me to tell them how many were lawyers and I gave her the names.
But I think another analysis would be how many of them had experience as legislators,
because those people, the lawyers and the former legislators, were more likely to speak out.
And to speak up about the propositions than people who didn’t have that kind of experience in their background.
For example, the delegate from Nome, Mike Walsh.
He was a respected old-time resident of Nome.
My recollection, he was arrested by -- he was elected by three votes,
because the man who was running for delegate got a federal position and dropped out.
And his three votes were write-in votes, and he became a delegate.
I think my recitation of that is an accurate one.
MS. RUSSELL: And what was his occupation?
JUDGE STEWART: He had a curio store.
He had the best, maybe the only shop in Nome that carried Eskimo ivory carvings. A beautiful shop.
And he had two or three sons that were prominent in Alaska’s history.
I don’t think any of them live there anymore.
MS. RUSSELL: And would the -- you didn’t go to the plenary sessions, but at the committee level, were the attorneys on the --
attorney delegates more influential. Did you have that sense?
JUDGE STEWART: I really would have to establish guess work.
MS. RUSSELL: Uh-huh. You didn’t attend the committee sessions very often; is that correct?
JUDGE STEWART: No. MS. RUSSELL: Okay. JUDGE STEWART: I told you I just -- I was there -- MS. RUSSELL: Okay.
JUDGE STEWART: -- for that one of the -- that I remember distinctly of the Natural Resources Committee. MS. RUSSELL: Uh-huh (affirmative).
JUDGE STEWART: But, for example, a very influential delegate was Vic Fischer. MS. RUSSELL: Uh-huh (affirmative).
JUDGE STEWART: At that point, he had not been a legislator,
but he was active in local government circles in Anchorage.
And he was the chairman of the Committee on Local Government, not a lawyer.
But I’m sure he spoke out and was very influential in arriving at the decisions that were made by the Committee on Local Government.
And I think he said today, and I would echo what he said,
if I remember correctly, that there -- the article was not well understood, and it has not been effectuated in my many ways.
And one of the significant ways is there is -- there are the boroughs.
And all of the -- all of the area of Alaska that is not within an organized borough is the unorganized borough.
And the legislature is supposed to be the government for the unorganized borough.
Now, they -- as far as I know, they have never written, you might say, regulations or law for the unorganized borough.
MS. RUSSELL: So basically they’re only covered by Alaska statute, is that correct?
JUDGE STEWART: Well, yes, but they could very well have a measure of local government, a tax system -- MS. RUSSELL: Uh-huh.
JUDGE STEWART: -- on enterprises.
For example, the North Slope Borough reached clear out to Prudhoe Bay to tax the oil business.
And the North Slope Borough was a tremendously wealthy one, because of that.
But the Eskimos in Barrow who were the core of the North Slope Borough
never had anything to do with Prudhoe Bay aboriginally -- MS. RUSSELL: Uh-huh.
JUDGE STEWART: -- or otherwise. It’s 200 miles away.
It was beyond their abilities with the dog sleds and their whale hunts to deal with it.
Now, the legislature could have established a segment of the unorganized borough -- MS. RUSSELL: Uh-huh (affirmative).
JUDGE STEWART: -- and put a tax structure in place for the whole oilfield business,
and all that revenue could be coming to the benefit of the entire state,
If they had taken action to exercise their constitutional authority to legislate for the unorganized borough.
So there are -- in my judgment, there are ways in which neither the executive branch nor the Legislative Branch
has ever fully implemented its powers under the local government article.
MS. RUSSELL: Let’s turn to the ordinances. The first ordinance set up the voting to approve the --
JUDGE STEWART: Yeah, it was -- MS. RUSSELL: -- constitution, right?
JUDGE STEWART: -- the question shall the constitution as promulgated by the convention be adopted for the future state of Alaska.
MS. RUSSELL: And that was the basis for the election that was held -- JUDGE STEWART: In April. MS. RUSSELL: -- after that.
JUDGE STEWART: April of 1956.
MS. RUSSELL: And then the second ordinance, could you talk a little about the Alaska/Tennessee plan?
JUDGE STEWART: Yes. It -- the germ of the idea came from a gentleman named George H. Lehleitner, L-e-h-l-e-i-t-n-e-r.
George Lehleitner was a prominent businessman in New Orleans.
Had no background whatever with relation to Alaska.
He was a lieutenant commander or commander in the Navy during World War II, assigned in Honolulu.
And during his tenure there in the Navy,
he became acquainted with the delegate to Congress from Hawaii and his wife,
and became acquainted with the advocacy in Hawaii of statehood for Hawaii.
And he had powerful political connections in the Congress.
He was a friend of Earl Long, who was the United States senator from Louisiana,
brother to Huey Long, who was governor of Louisiana.
And through his contact with Senator Earl Long, he got the Legislative Reference Service of the Library of Congress
to research the admission of states, territories into statehood.
And what he discovered was that the last seven states admitted beginning with Tennessee,
the last seven territories admitted to statehood beginning with Tennessee,
each of them had elected a provisional delegation to the Congress.
Two provisional senators and a provisional House member who were authorized and enabled financially by the Territory
to go to Washington and lobby for statehood for their territory.
And he viewed their function as be -- in effect going to each senator, each congressman, and saying,
"Look, I’m the duly elected senator, provisional senator or House member from the Territory of Tennessee,
and if you vote to admit us as a state, you can be sure that I will vote for a proposition that you want."
And this is the way legislative bodies operate, they trade votes.
You support my proposition and I’ll support yours.
And George Lehleitner, I know from many discussions with him personally,
viewed that as the mechanism to help Alaska and Hawaii get statehood.
So he took this idea that he had learned from the research from the Legislative Reference Service
to Hawaii when they had their convention in 1950.
And he met with delegates to the Hawaiian convention to persuade them to do this.
And they decided not to do it.
And their statehood bill failed.
MS. RUSSELL: What was their reasoning?
JUDGE STEWART: I think probably, as with the opponents of it in Alaska when it was done,
they thought it was kind of a cheap shot.
That it would be viewed by the congressmen and by the senators as a -- MS. RUSSELL: Unseemly?
JUDGE STEWART: -- sleazy device.
He didn’t know anybody in Alaska, but through the Hawaiian to Congress, his name was Joseph Farrington,
he became acquainted with Bob Bartlett, who was the Alaska delegate.
And Bartlett was a very popular figure in the House of Representatives and he --
and Lehleitner went to him and said I want to go to Alaska.
And when he learned that we were going to have a convention, and meet with the people that were going to be delegates, and offer this idea to them.
And my first knowledge of George Lehleitner was he came to Juneau with an introduction to me from --
and I was chairman of the Democratic Party in Southeastern Alaska at the time.
He came with an introduction to me and saying he wanted to put to the people who were going to be delegates this proposition.
So I gathered I think about 14 or 15 people in my living room one evening,
and this was probably in August of 1955 when the candidates for delegates had filed for office.
And I think I invited all of the people in the local community who were candidates, they hadn’t yet been elected.
And he spent the evening outlining this plan.
Well, it was totally novel. Nobody had ever heard of such a thing before in that group.
And George was quite persuasive, but it was such a new idea that nobody was ready to act on it.
Now, he did the same thing in Anchorage and Fairbanks.
He had contacts in both communities that had been given to him by Bartlett, and assembled meetings to talk about it.
Then he went back home to New Orleans.
And then when the convention assembled in November, I can’t remember the exact date, but sometimes later in November or early December,
he came to Fairbanks and took and apartment and stayed for the remainder of the convention,
and buttonholed each delegate to try to sell them on his -- this idea.
And through that mechanism, he was only partially successful,
but I remember very clearly attending a meeting of some of the leading delegates.
One of whom was Barry White from Anchorage, who had been I think the president of Operation Statehood,
which was an actively outspoken coterie of people here in Anchorage and elsewhere that joined them supporting statehood.
It was in Barry White’s apartment. and there were probably 12, 15, maybe 20 people in the room.
And I think George made a presentation and left, because I think it was discussed out of his presence.
And I was involved in the discussion, because I had been a statehood leader as it were, one of many, whether we should do this or not.
And there was a strong voice there that said no, it’s a cheap shot, don’t do it.
And that was Hugh Wade, who was the secretary of Alaska and a very close friend of Bob Bartlett’s.
And as I recall, he reported that Bob Bartlett was not in favor of it.
He didn’t think it was a good idea.
But that group, which was -- consisted of chairpersons of committees and leader --
outspoken voices of -- among the delegates, took a little -- kind of a straw vote that night and decided yes, we should do this.
And so they prepared Ordinance Number 2 to provide for it.
And the convention accepted it.
And they provided that there should be an election of two provisional senators and a provisional congressman,
and they should be sent back to Washington and lobby for statehood -- MS. RUSSELL: Was that --
JUDGE STEWART: -- because one of the thrusts of the whole convention was to get us moving towards statehood.
MS. RUSSELL: And that could -- was that election held simultaneously with the ratification election?
JUDGE STEWART: No, it was not because there wasn’t any money for it.
There wasn’t money until the next legislative session. MS. RUSSELL: Oh.
JUDGE STEWART: And the next election of legislators took place in October of 1956,
about six months, five months after that original election.
The question of whether this should happen was voted on in April and the people said yes.
And as a matter of fact, the opponents of statehood had said there was not an up to date referendum
expression of the people supporting statehood.
And one of the reasons for that ordinance was to get a vote of the people
on whether we should be a state or not, because newspapers like the Juneau Empire and the Ketchikan Daily News opposed statehood.
I don’t remember the position of the News-Miner.
I think the News-Miner, Bill Sneddon, who was the publisher and editor of the News-Miner supported it,
and Bob Atwood fervently supported it with the Anchorage Times, which was the major paper in Anchorage in those days.
MS. RUSSELL: What was the objection to statehood by the newspaper?
JUDGE STEWART: Well, the objections came largely from the fishing industry that was owned outside of Alaska,
and they had very influential position with the United States Bureau of Fisheries and the United States Department of Game.
And they sort of ran -- they had a very effective lobbyist named Bill Arnold in Washington
who kept tabs on the whole thing.
And Bill Arnold was an outspoken opponent of statehood.
And the mining industry was opposed. Both of those, which were the major industries of the Territory of Alaska
feared additional taxes, because the Territory did not have a sufficient tax base to operate a state government.
They -- in 1949 under the leadership of Ernest Gruening the legislature had passed an income tax,
which remained on the books until we began to get oil revenue, long after statehood. MS. RUSSELL: Uh-huh (affirmative).
JUDGE STEWART: But otherwise, they feared the imposition of taxes on the work of those industries that would be expensive for them.
And so that’s where an opposition came from.
MS. RUSSELL: And when the provisional delegates to the Congress eventually were elected, do you remember who they were and what was their success and --
JUDGE STEWART: Of course. MS. RUSSELL: -- their endeavors?
JUDGE STEWART: Of course, I do. But first there had to be a legislative session,
because the constitutional convention had no authority to appropriate territorial funds. MS. RUSSELL: Right.
JUDGE STEWART: There had to be a legislative session to appropriate money to operate an election.
To operate the offices of the persons who were elected.
And so that was -- that session took place in January and February and barely into March, because the Territory legislature was restricted to 60 days.
But then in the session of 1957, they passed the legislation to implement what the people had dictated
when the people in April of ‘56 voted to approve Ordinance Number 2.
So the money was appropriated, and an election was held.
And, for example, Bob Atwood was a candidate for provisional senator.
The ones who were elected were Bill Egan, who had been the president of the convention,
and Ernest Gruening, who had been the governor.
And probably he and Bartlett are truly the outstanding advocates of statehood.
Those two were elected as provisional senators, and Ralph Rivers, who had been the elected attorney general
was elected as the provisional house member.
And they went back to Washington I think late March or early April -- MS. RUSSELL: Of ‘50 --
JUDGE STEWART: -- after they had money in hand.
MS. RUSSELL: In ‘57 would this -- now -- JUDGE STEWART: ‘57. MS. RUSSELL: -- we’re talking? Okay.
JUDGE STEWART: And went to Washington to set up offices and did exactly what Lehleitner contemplated. Called on every senator, many of them more than once,
and every House member, and presented themselves, "I’m the duly elected provisional senator from Alaska.
If you give us -- if you vote for statehood, you can be sure that I will vote for a proposition that you want."
This was their address to each member of the Congress that they called upon. And --
MS. RUSSELL: And since they were making this offer, that means that as a provisional senator that they would automatically become the senator?
JUDGE STEWART: No, no, but they --
MS. RUSSELL: But they assumed that they would be elected?
JUDGE STEWART: But assume that they would be. MS. RUSSELL: I see.
JUDGE STEWART: That they would run for that. Now, when it actually did they actually did get statehood,
Bill Egan didn’t run for the United States Senate.
He ran to be the governor and was elected.
But Gruening ran and he was elected.
And Bartlett ran because he was -- his function as a delegate to Congress ended on the day that statehood became -- was proclaimed.
So he was elected and he was chosen to be the senior senator among the two. MS. RUSSELL: Uh-huh (affirmative).
JUDGE STEWART: But Rivers ran and he was elected.
He was our official House member in the election that took place in the Fall of 1958.
You see, the Congress passed the bill authorizing statehood on the 2nd of July, 1958.
The people had to vote to accept -- the electors of Alaska had to vote to accept the provisions of the statehood legislation,
which they did in August of 1958.
And that meant that we were on the -- technically were on the way.
But there had to be an interim study done of the transition from the territory to the state.
And that study took place in the months August, September, October, November, December of 1958.
MS. RUSSELL: Who conducted that study?
JUDGE STEWART: Again, we hired Public Administration Service. MS. RUSSELL: Oh.
JUDGE STEWART: And they sent a leader up, not the same one that had been there before.
The leader up -- I had -- I worked closely with him, because I had been elected to the State Senate in November of 1958.
And I worked closely with those people with whom I was acquainted,
because of my earlier relationship with Public Administration Service when they had done the pre-convention studies.
And they came and helped us to draft the legislation that would establish the executive branch,
the legislative branch, the judicial branch, and other things that the constitution called for.
And in that first state legislature, we enacted the creation of the executive branch,
creation of the legislative branch, creation of the court system.
We didn’t expect to implement the court system.
We thought it would take two or three years to do that.
But there was a case pending in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
There was a criminal defendant in Anchorage by the name of Parker.
Mr. Parker was represented by a lawyer in Anchorage named Wendell Kay.
And he had been convicted in the federal trial court before January 3rd, ‘59.
And he took an appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
And the appeal came up in the Ninth Circuit after January 3rd, ‘59.
And we knew the pendency of this case. I was on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which was chaired by Ralph Moody.
And he and I worked very closely together in the Senate Judiciary Committee in establishing the legislation to create the judicial branch.
MS. RUSSELL: That committee was appointed by the legislature?
JUDGE STEWART: Yes. MS. RUSSELL: Okay.
JUDGE STEWART: It was the Judiciary Committee of the Senate, and we did the primary drafting of the legislation that established the judiciary.
But we knew the pendency of Parker v. Alaska.
Well, in about May, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals came down and said we’re sorry,
but we do not have the jurisdiction to hear appeals now from the former federal court.
It was an oversight by the Congress when they established the jurisdiction of the interim courts
not to give the Court of Appeals jurisdiction to hear this.
And they said we do not have the authority.
So Mr. Parker was in effect denied the right of an appeal from the trial court that had convicted him.
And so we determined -- our committee determined,
the Judiciary Committee of the Senate, and worked with the parallel House committee, that we had to move immediately
to implement the judicial article, and create the Alaska Supreme Court and the Alaska trial courts,
so that people that were out in limbo like Mr. Parker could get their day of justice. But --
MS. RUSSELL: Before we get further into the court system, which I want to move to next,
would you just explain a little bit about how fish traps became Ordinance Three and --
JUDGE STEWART: Yes. MS. RUSSELL: -- what the purpose was for including that?
JUDGE STEWART: It -- you can -- I can point the finger directly at Eldor Lee. Eldor Lee, who appeared in the video today --
MS. RUSSELL: And where was he from?
JUDGE STEWART: Petersburg. And he was a prominent commercial fisherman in Petersburg.
And the individual commercial fisherman who had fishing boats,
primary trolling boats that caught salmon, were hurting badly because the salmon industry --
in those days salmon was canned and they were big -- to preserve them.
And there were big canneries.
Ketchikan was the center of the canned salmon industry,
and there were canneries in Wrangell and Petersburg and Sitka, Juneau and up in --
I don’t know what all existed in Cordova and Kodiak and fishing places in the west.
But the fish traps operated by the absentee owners.
San Francisco and Seattle, who owned the canneries and owned the fish traps,
and essentially manipulated the regulation of the fishery through their powerful lobby in Washington, DC.
People like Eldor Lee viewed them as the enemy.
The fish traps caught the bulk of the fish,
and denied the opportunity of individual fisherman to contribute to the extent that they felt they should in the catching of the salmon.
And so Eldor promoted this Ordinance Number 3 to provide for the abolition of fish traps.
And there was another reason for it besides the actual protection of the individual commercial fisherman.
And that is that they were concerned that the vote, the electors wouldn’t turn out to support the constitution itself.
And that this ordinance provided a very popular issue that would call out people that otherwise might not go to the polls.
MS. RUSSELL: A little economic motivation?
JUDGE STEWART: Sure. And they were right, because that ordinance got a much stronger vote than the other ones did.
Anyhow, that’s the source of that -- and of course, when it was done in 1956,
when the constitution was signed, it had no effect whatsoever on the fishery because we weren’t a state.
The control of the fishery was still in the hands of the federal government.
So it wasn’t until January 3rd, 1959 that it took any effect, and even then it couldn’t really be effectuated until the legislature
passed laws to implement the abolition of fish traps.
And today there are no fish traps in Alaska, except in the sole Indian reservation that exists in Alaska,
and that’s the one outside of Ketchikan on Annette Island.
The Natives in that community have the right to operate fish traps and they do
offshore, within the three mile limit, offshore of Annette Island.
Metlakatla, this is Metlakatla, the Metlakatla Indian Reservation.
MS. RUSSELL: Let’s talk about the execution of the drafts of the constitution once it was finally drafted and the copies that are extant.
And you also mentioned about Bob Robertson not signing the constitution. Could you kind of --
JUDGE STEWART: Yes. Bob Robertson -- MS. RUSSELL: -- lay that out?
JUDGE STEWART: -- was a old-time lawyer.
There's a prominent firm with offices here in Anchorage, as well as in Juneau, and I think they have a Washington, DC office.
It’s titled Robertson, Monagle, and Eastaugh.
And Bob Robertson and Mike Monagle were the sen -- were the forming partners and they were in Juneau,
and they represented the canned salmon industry, elements of it.
There were other law firms that represented other cannery owners.
But they -- that was among their clients.
And Bob also was dedicated to the proposition that Juneau, his home, should remain the capitol,
and that, therefore, the constitution should have a provision within the constitution itself that designated Juneau as the capitol of Alaska.
And he also was concerned about the initiative and referendum provisions.
He thought they were too easy and that bad legislation would develop, as I’ve told you was my view.
These were three issues and he wrote a letter about four or five days before the convention adjourned
to the president tendering his resignation, because he objected to the Ordinance Number 3 abolishing fish traps, which were owned by his clients.
He objected to initiative and referendum.
He objected to the placement of Juneau designated as a capitol in what was called the schedule of transitional measures.
MS. RUSSELL: Instead of as an actual --
JUDGE STEWART: Instead of a regular article of the constitution.
And so he left. And he -- the letter came through my hands as the secretary.
I passed it on to Bill Egan.
And Bill Egan made a deliberate decision, I didn’t discuss this with him, this was something that he determined in his own mind,
he never presented that letter to the delegates.
So the delegates never accepted the resignation.
MS. RUSSELL: I assume they were aware of it?
JUDGE STEWART: Even if they weren’t aware of it. MS. RUSSELL: Uh-huh (affirmative).
JUDGE STEWART: Some of them I’m sure were. They knew that Bob had left,
gone back home to Juneau. MS. RUSSELL: Uh-huh (affirmative).
JUDGE STEWART: But it was never presented on the floor, it was never debated.
Who’s to say whether it was legally necessary.
It might have been effective on the face of it.
It might have required endorsement by the delegates.
But who knows.
But that was the circumstance.
Now, Bob began to fail in health, I don’t know, five, six, eight years after statehood.
And a group of delegates led by Katherine Nordale, who lived in Juneau,
by John Hellenthal, who was an old-time lawyer and grew up in Juneau in the house next door to mine,
Burke Riley, who was the Juneau delegate, and four or five others, I don’t know exactly how many involved,
went to Bob five or six years after statehood.
Why don’t you sign the constitution?
So he did. He signed their copies.
He didn’t sign all 55 because they weren’t available.
I think he signed the one I described at the meeting today, the handwritten -- MS. RUSSELL: Sheepskin.
JUDGE STEWART: -- beautiful calligraphy rendered on sheepskin.
MS. RUSSELL: I’d like you to go over that again, too, when you (indiscernible).
JUDGE STEWART: I think he signed that one. I haven’t seen it, so I don’t know.
MS. RUSSELL: You mentioned there were 55 copies of the --
JUDGE STEWART: Fif -- each delegate was to get a copy.
MS. RUSSELL: Okay. And there were other copies as well?
JUDGE STEWART: There were five other copies -- there were six other copies.
One was the one that was done later by the calligrapher in California.
I took the copy down to him and he used to render this handwritten, beautiful parchment piece.
The other five, one went to the president of the United States.
I think one went to the president of the Senate of the Congress.
One went to the speaker of the house.
One went to the governor of Alaska.
And one went to the secretary of Alaska, who kept the archives as it were, the records.
MS. RUSSELL: And there was another signature page that went with the sheepskin?
JUDGE STEWART: Yes. There were 61 signature pages signed. 55 for the delegates themselves.
Five for distribution to the Congress and to the governor of Alaska.
And the secretary of Alaska.
And the 61st one was the parchment one that ultimately become the one rendered in calligraphy.
MS. RUSSELL: And that is presently where? JUDGE STEWART: Pardon?
MS. RUSSELL: And where is that copy? JUDGE STEWART: That’s in the museum in Juneau.
There was a 25-year reunion of the delegates in Juneau, and they were entertained by the then governor, I can’t remember which governor it was,
and he brought that document up to the governor’s mansion so the delegates could see it.
But it’s kept in a humidity controlled circumstances at the museum to preserve its integrity.
MS. RUSSELL: What was the scene like at the signing of the constitution?
JUDGE STEWART: Well, it was -- I would -- it was I would say controlled jubilance.
As an interesting little facet of that, one of the delegates was Muktuk Marston, Colonel Marston of the Alaska National Guard.
And Marston is credited with discovering Jade Mountain up in the Seward Peninsula.
I think he was led to it by Eskimos in his troop of the National Guard, who didn’t recognize its value.
But it’s the source of most of Alaska jade, literally a mountain of jade.
He caused a lamp to be made of jade and silver, solid silver.
He had a real estate investment here in Anchorage and he had made quite a lot of money.
So he paid for this lamp, which has a solid jade base, flat base, a column of jade,
and a shade of jade, four sides with a silver joining of those jade shade elements.
And he presented that to the convention, and it was set on the table so that the other --
the other pages had been signed before, but as I recall, for a ceremonial occasion,
there was a page held out for the delegates to sign under that lamp on the last day.
I don’t remember that detail accurately, but I’m fairly certain. I think in the video today there was a picture -- MS. RUSSELL: Oh.
JUDGE STEWART: -- of that taking place.
MS. RUSSELL: Do you know where that lamp is now?
JUDGE STEWART: No. It’s probably in the state museum.
It may even be in the Anchorage Museum.
His son lives here and his daughter-in-law,
and they are the one that would have firsthand information, and be able to tell you where that lamp is.
MS. RUSSELL: So you had 61 copies laid out and everyone signed it all on one day. Iis that what happened?
JUDGE STEWART: Yeah, they were lined up alphabetically and they walked down the table, long tables, and they went around the table.
All these sheets were laid out, signature sheets were laid out, and they each one signed their name.
MS. RUSSELL: And there’s -- and did the convention adjourn immediately after that or were there closing remarks?
JUDGE STEWART: I think it was a day or so before the actual adjournment. MS. RUSSELL: Okay.
JUDGE STEWART: The actual adjournment was a ceremonial occasion that was lighted by the jade lamp.
MS. RUSSELL: And who spoke at the ceremonial adjournment?
JUDGE STEWART: I can’t tell you. You’d have to look in the journal.
MS. RUSSELL: But there were a number of speakers who gave closing remarks?
JUDGE STEWART: I think. There have been major addresses given by Ernest Gruening,
who was a major, major advocate of statehood,
and had been the governor in 1949 when the Statehood Committee was created.
There was a major address by Bob Bartlett, ostensibly was written by one of the consultants
whose name was Ernest Bartley, B-a-r-t-l-e-y, who was a professor emeritus from Florida State University.
And he was -- I’m not certain whether he worked on Natural Resources or which article,
but he’s credited with drafting Bob’s speech for him.
And there was an address by Bob Atwood, who was the chairman of the Statehood Committee.
But those addresses took place fairly early on in the convention.
They were sort of a prompting the delegates on their job -- MS. RUSSELL: Uh-huh (affirmative).
JUDGE STEWART: -- as I recall. MS. RUSSELL: Were --
JUDGE STEWART: There probably was something at the end, I don’t know. MS. RUSSELL: Okay.
JUDGE STEWART: For the meeting today, you handed me some language, and I thought the time had run out and I shouldn’t dwell on that.
Somebody admonishing that this a gift to the children of Alaska.
I don’t know who wrote it, probably would be reflected in the journals.
MS. RUSSELL: And the minutes -- JUDGE STEWART: But that person --
MS. RUSSELL: The tapes probably would include --
JUDGE STEWART: Yeah, that person might have spoken. MS. RUSSELL: -- that information as well.
JUDGE STEWART: I think -- you know, I think numbers of delegates might have gotten up and had something to say. MS. RUSSELL: Right.
JUDGE STEWART: But I’d have to look at the journal to know.
MS. RUSSELL: And were members of the public included in any of the opening addresses that you talked about --
JUDGE STEWART: Well, not to participate -- MS. RUSSELL: -- or at the end?
JUDGE STEWART: They were witnesses. MS. RUSSELL: But there were witnesses there?
JUDGE STEWART: I think that the signing took place in the gymnasium at the university,
and there was a large crowd assembled that witnessed the closing session.
MS. RUSSELL: And were the plenary sessions open to the public?
JUDGE STEWART: Oh, yes.
MS. RUSSELL: And what about the committee meetings?
JUDGE STEWART: Not many people came to them -- MS. RUSSELL: Uh-huh.
JUDGE STEWART: -- because, you know, they were taking place at odd hours,
and there was not public notice published that there was going to be a session or this thing.
I -- you’d have to ask the chairman of one of the committees like Vic Fischer.
I think members of the public -- members of the press, for example,
I think did attend committee sessions.
And certainly members of the press attended the plenary sessions, both --
or I should say the media members, newspapermen and radiomen.
TV wasn’t operational then.
MS. RUSSELL: Okay. I think we have covered the convention pretty well unless there’s anything you want to add before we take a little break here.
Before we move on to other topics.
JUDGE STEWART: I don’t think of anything.
Let me look at your outline.
I hope I’m not making too much noise with paper. UNIDENTIFIED VOICE: You’re okay. (Indiscernible).
JUDGE STEWART: You have down on your outline closing, who made remarks, their tenor and most memorable. MS. RUSSELL: Yeah.
JUDGE STEWART: I can’t answer that.
MS. RUSSELL: I think we’ve covered that well enough. And actually, these next two parts probably --
JUDGE STEWART: The election -- MS. RUSSELL: -- we’ve already --
JUDGE STEWART: -- to ratify. MS. RUSSELL: Uh-huh (affirmative).
JUDGE STEWART: I told you about -- MS. RUSSELL: I think we’ve covered that.
JUDGE STEWART: -- that and the people that were elected.
The approval of Congress, of course I wasn’t there.
It took place in -- on the 2nd -- the final approval by the Congress took place on the 2nd of July, 1958.
A little anecdote about that.
I think I said to you maybe in the last interview that the committee sent me to Hawaii to meet with the Hawaiian delegates.
And when I got off the airplane, their whole statehood commission, which was called Alaska -- I mean, Hawaii Statehood Commission,
ours was called the Alaska Statehood Committee, the whole commission was there to greet me and they hung with leis and very cordial.
But they were quick to say, you’re not trying to get ahead of us, are you?
Because they thought they were going to be the 49th state.
And I assured them as far as my observation was concerned, that no, we were not trying to get ahead of them.
We would be delighted if they got statehood first, because we would no doubt follow if they did.
MS. RUSSELL: Was there any negative reaction from when it turned out that Alaska did go first?
JUDGE STEWART: I don’t know, I wasn’t in Hawaii at that time. MS. RUSSELL: Okay.
JUDGE STEWART: But as far as the approval of the Congress is concerned, I gave you the date.
Ultimately it was July 2, 1978 --
MS. RUSSELL: Was there great celebration in the state of Alaska?
JUDGE STEWART: Oh, there -- indeed there was, great big bold headlines on the Anchorage Times, "We’re in."
MS. RUSSELL: And was there partying going on or do you --
JUDGE STEWART: There was a lot of partying going on.
I don’t remember the exact timing of it. I think it was --
I think it might have been right after that in July.
In Juneau, for example, there’s a liberty bell, a replica of the American Liberty Bell,
with a black line to denote the crack of the original Liberty Bell.
And they invited those of us who -- some of us who had been involved, legislators,
and I was -- I’d been a legislator writing the bill, to come and ring the bell.
There were seven of us, and we were to ring it 49 times because we were going to be the 49th state.
So each of us was to ring the bell seven times.
Well, the six that preceded me, and I can’t remember who all they were, in my judgment were timid.
They rang the clapper timidly.
And when my turn came, I laid into that clapper and rang that bell.
It could be heard through the whole town. So --
MS. RUSSELL: Good for you.
JUDGE STEWART: -- that was a part of a local celebration. MS. RUSSELL: Right.
JUDGE STEWART: And I think -- I can’t remember, I think it was in the July 4th parade of 1959
after President Eisenhower had signed the proclamation on January 3rd, ‘59 declaring Alaska to be a state,
I think it was the 4th of July parade in July 4, ‘59 when there was a --
the biggest parade that we ever had.
And there was a whole cadre of horsemen from Contra Costa County in California
that brought their horses and came up and participated in the parade. Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Posse.
MS. RUSSELL: I wonder how that happened?
JUDGE STEWART: And some of those people still live in Juneau.
They stayed, and they became real estate developers.