Saturday, June 27, 2015

Three States of Alaska

This post is an extension of the timeline created by Allen W. McDonnell in his "Alaska Provision added to the Immigrant Act of 1929" on Today in Alternate History, in which the Last Frontier's gates are opened to a new generation of immigrants escaping the coming war in Europe.

January 3, 2009, celebrated the semi-centennial anniversary of the third state created from Alaska Territory to enter the Union. Two had already been created in the south, which was quickly populated after the 1937 "Opening of Alaska" to immigrants eager to flee increasingly fascist Europe. Valdez had exploded from a town of one thousand to one hundred thousand, and the efforts of hardworking immigrants with little property were combined with a large population of wealthy Jewish immigrants who readily invested in their new home. The maritime climate proved suitable for farming, reinvigorating the "160 acres" American dream that had settled the West.

Many Americans in the Lower 48 were suspicious of the influx of foreigners (even installing restrictions that immigrants remain in the Alaska Territory until they become citizens, although children born there were granted immediate citizenship), but the Alaskans proved their loyalty in the Battle of Dutch Harbor in June of 1942. The naval base there, along with the Army's Fort Mears, were well warned by fishermen (the largest industry in what would become known as Kodiak) before they came under the assault of two Japanese aircraft carriers along with support cruisers and destroyers. Over the following months, militia joined US troops in the Aleutian Campaign, which reversed the Japanese gains on the islands and threatened their empire's northern flank. Attention to Alaska competed with headlines of Guadalcanal, where newsmen nicknamed Alaska the "icicle in Tokyo's side."

After the war, the more peaceful eastern part of southern Alaska, now well populated for a decade, organized itself into America's 49th state in 1946. Thanks much to the military boosts in its economy during the reconstruction of the Pacific and increasing military standing against the Soviet Union, Kodiak gained statehood in 1949.

Cold War politics arguably rushed Seward to statehood, too, in 1959 despite being thinly populated. Few were dismissive, however, at seeing Seward's great natural resources better supported as a state than as a territory. The center of learning that had built up in the fittingly named College, near Fairbanks, featured physicists such as Enrico Fermi and Leo Szilard, who championed the construction of a particle accelerator built on cheap land under a reindeer ranch. Seward proved itself invaluable to the energy requirements of the nation not only through experimental nuclear power and the established hydroelectric dam in Rampart Canyon, but also in the extensive oilfields discovered first in Prudhoe Bay and then throughout the North Slope.

Through the efforts of hardworking Americans who carved out a new life in a new world, his words proved true when U.S. General Billy Mitchell stated to the U.S. Congress in 1935, "I believe that in the future, whoever holds Alaska will hold the world. I think it is the most important strategic place in the world."

No comments:

Post a Comment

Site Meter