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Delegate Thomas Cale of Alaska, photograph by Case & Draper, 1906

Frank H. Waskey, originally from Minnesota, and Thomas Cale, who had worked in Wisconsin, both sailed to Alaska in the 1898 gold rush and settled there. In his short term in Congress, Waskey introduced legislation to protect Alaskan wildlife, regulate placer mining, and support road construction. Cale was a strong advocate for Alaska’s territorial status and home rule.

Alaska State Library, Case & Draper Photo Collection, Case & Draper, ASL-PCA-39-0118

Delegate Thomas Cale of Alaska, photograph by Case & Draper, 1906

Alaskan Delegates to Congress

Congress narrowly approved the purchase of Alaska from Russia in 1867. It largely ignored the region until 1884, when it passed an Organic Act defining Alaska as a federal district with fewer privileges than a territory. When gold was discovered there in 1898, Alaska’s population swelled, and its residents pressed for territorial status and congressional representation. Congress responded in 1906 by authorizing the election of a nonvoting Alaskan delegate to the House of Representatives. Congress granted Alaska territorial status in 1912 and statehood in 1959.

My efforts and my wishes, and I might say the wishes of the people of Alaska, are for a Territorial legislature.

Delegate Thomas Cale of Alaska, Territorial Government for Alaska, U.S. Congress, 1908