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Steve Haycox

In what must be considered one of the more remarkable developments of modern American life, the U.S. seems on the high road to demolishing its system of public education. Throughout the late 19th and much of the 20th century, American public schools were the envy of and model for national education programs across the globe. They reached a far greater portion of the population than any other national system, had a comprehensive and flexible curriculum, were gender neutral, and increased the literacy rate far beyond even the most advanced countries, including Britain and Germany whose systems were rooted in an elitist conception of access to education...

Steve Haycox

When Congress authorized creation of the Alaska Territorial Legislature in 1912, it brought to Alaska the final phase of the territorial system that had been implemented in all the other territorial acquisitions of the United States since the beginning of the nation, with just a few exceptions. That process began with the presidential appointment of a governor, judge and minor civil officials, as authorized by Congress, whenever the solons determined the time was right...

Steve Haycox

One hundred years ago next month, President William Taft signed the congressional enactment authorizing the biennial election of a territorial legislature in Alaska. This was the third major element of the territorial system Congress had established for newly acquired lands at the beginning of national government, in the 1780s. This column treats the first element.

That was congressional authorization of presidential appointment of a governor, a judge and marshals, recording clerks and others. Congress took this action in 1884, 17 years after the Alaska purchase. Until that time, law and order were maintained in Alaska first by the U.S. Army, then, briefly, the Customs Office, and finally the U.S. Navy...

Steve Haycox

2012 marks 100th anniversary of the establishing of Alaska's bicameral Territorial Legislature. While Congress passed the legislation earlier that year, President William Taft signed the act on Aug. 24 that year, the birthday of Alaska's lone delegate to Congress, James Wickersham. For the first time, Alaska citizens would have some direct effect on their civil circumstances by voting for their territorial representatives. Some background will establish context for this signal development...

Steve Haycox

For 14 years, the Center for Media and Learning of the City University of New York and the Center for History and Media at George Mason University have maintained a website called "History Matters" (.com ). It's a history resource and learning tool for college and high school teachers and students packed with primary sources and aids for analyzing historical evidence. The assumption behind the site is that knowing, and not knowing, history makes a difference in how we understand the present and plot the future...

Steve Haycox

It's a civic blessing for Anchorage to have the vigorous opinion and editorial section of the Anchorage Daily News where one still can read independent local writers with diverse points of view and styles of expression. Not every daily paper in the country would provide space for an exchange of arguments on equality in America. Gratitude is surely proper...

Steve Haycox

Income inequality is abroad in America today as at no time since the 1920s. It is a result of relaxation of government regulation and oversight of financial and investment institutions that began with the 1980s conservative Reagan revolution, resting on faith in supply-side economic principles and an exclusionist view of individuals in society. Supply-siders sold a willing government on the idea that freeing money from constraint, particularly for the wealthy, would generate capital investment and create jobs. While it may have in the short term, it was a freedom too easily abused, which led to reckless risk-taking without accountability, and, in the long run, to deep recession...

Steve Haycox

Last Sunday was the anniversary of the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. Repeated polls of historians have named Lincoln the most important and influential American ever because he led the crusade to end slavery and successfully defended democracy...

Steve Haycox

2012 marks the 100th anniversary of the establishing of the Alaska Territorial Legislature. In 1912, Congress passed a new civil organizing act for Alaska, creating a bicameral legislature with an eight-member Senate and a 16-member House, the whole elected in even-numbered years to sit for 60 days in odd-numbered years. The first Alaska Legislature met on March 3, 1913.

Alaska's governor would continue to be appointed by the president, until statehood. But with an elected legislature, Alaskans began to control fundamental aspects of their civic life previously managed by federal bureaucrats in the numerous agencies that had jurisdiction in the territory...

Steve Haycox

It's an arresting experience to walk into Peterskirk, Leiden, Holland, and see there the signature of Thomas Francis Blossom, 12th generation ancestor of U.S. President Barack Obama. It stops one in his tracks.

Peterskirk is the church where Pastor John Robinson preached his sermon telling the Separating Puritans who had fled from England to Leiden to escape persecution for their exclusivist religious beliefs that they would never find peace in Holland, and that they should migrate to America. To stand beneath the imposing, elevated pulpit in that architecturally spare but elegant church and imagine the English Pilgrims listening to the fateful message that would help define the American experience is to feel the full weight of history...

Steve Haycox

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