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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

The major national party nomination process this year has generated more than the usual comments on our quadrennial exercise in political theater. On one side is the potential re-election of America's first black president and the question of who the vice presidential pick will be. On the other, there is the most volatile jostling for attention and votes in the history of modern American politics, the Republican Party having been captured by the radical right, much to the consternation of its centrist-tending older leadership. Few are ready to predict who will be on the national ballot in November, and what the results will be...

Steve Haycox

America had a three-day weekend at the start of this week, established by Congress in 1968. Many people think it is a celebration of Abraham Lincoln and George Washington's birthdays combined; but it's not. When the holiday was created, both presidential birthdays were under consideration, Lincoln's on Feb. 12, and Washington's on Feb. 11 (Old Style) or Feb. 22 (New Style). But the solons could not agree on how to combine them, so made the act a commemoration of Washington's alone. Strangely, the holiday can never fall on his actual birthday: the day off must occur each year on the Monday between Feb. 15 and 21...

Steve Haycox

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