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Alaska Historic Figures

Captain James Cook
1728-79: Navigator, born in Marton, North Yorkshire, N England, UK. He spent several years as a seaman in North Sea vessels, then joined the navy (1755), becoming master in 1759. He surveyed the area around the St Lawrence River, Quebec, then in the Endeavour carried the Royal Society expedition to Tahiti to observe the transit of Venus across the Sun (1768-71). He circumnavigated New Zealand and charted parts of Australia. In his second voyage he sailed round Antarctica (1772-75), and discovered several Pacific island groups. Thanks to his dietary precautions, there was only one death among the crew. His third voyage (1776-79) aimed to find a passage round the N coast of America from the Pacific; but he was forced to turn back, and on his return voyage was killed by natives on Hawaii.
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Ernest Henry Gruening
1887-1974: U..S. senator; born in New York City. He graduated from Harvard Medical School but then proceeded to write and edit (1912--34). He edited the Nation (1920-23) and was territorial governor of Alaska (1939-53). He worked to get Alaska accepted as a state, writing The State of Alaska (1954), and became one of the new state's first two U.S. senators (Dem., Alaska; 1959-69). He cast one of the two votes in opposition to the Gulf of Tonkin resolution (1964) that committed the U.S. to pursuing the war in Vietnam, and he opposed U.S. policies there to the end. Alaska placed his statue in the U.S. Capitol.
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Ferdinand Petrovich, Baron von Wrangel
1794-1870: Explorer, born in Pskov, Russia. Wrangel travelled in Arctic waters and on Siberian coasts, and made valuable surveys and observations. The reported island in the Arctic Ocean he nearly reached in 1821 was sighted in 1849, and named after him in 1867. He was Governor of Russian lands in Alaska (1829-35) and naval minister (1855-7).
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William A. Egan
1914-84: Governor; born in Valdez, Alaska. Owner of the Valdez general store, he served in the territorial house of representatives (Dem., 1941-43, 1945-56), sponsoring Alaskan statehood. President of the constitutional convention (1955-56), he drafted the state charter, lobbying for congressional approval afterward. Alaska's first governor (Dem., 1959-67, 1971-75), he worked to harness the state's vast natural resources.
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