Alaska, the Golden Land of the Midnight Sun.

Chicago: Published by the Author, 1901.

The author spent three years in Alaska and hopes his general account “would be accepted by readers with appreciation of the spirit in which it was written—the desire to tell the truth about a region which has not hitherto been favored in this regard, and, for the benefit of such as may be interested in this part of our country, to supply, however imperfectly, the information which he felt greviously the need of when such interest was first aroused in him (p. vi-vii).” The book does include sections on Russia and Siberia.

p. 138-39: In an historical work published but a few years ago, it was proclaimed among other similar things that “Alaska, the unorganized Northwestern Territory of the United States, is desolate and cold to the last degree and can never become very populous, or of any economic value, until the plane of the ecliptic changes, and what is now an Arctic climate becomes torrid or at least temperate.”

Such a description of the vast territory and its vaster possibilities, reckless as it is, fairly illustrates the treatment accorded Alaska by writers and speakers since the day she came into the possession of the United States unto the present time.

The author of the words quoted, like many others, in the absence of information, drew the materials for his statements and predictions from unadvised and prejudiced political speeches, and from the reports of explorers who sailed along our coast and then wrote books as unreal and misty as the hills and mountain ranges they seemed to see. In assigning Alaska forever to hopeless inertness and solitude, he was not aware of the premonitory signs of life that were even then manifest. For hundreds of years neglected, and apparently in the icy grasp of death, Alaska has only been sleeping. It has needed but the kiss of civilization to make the tingling blood of progress and development leap along her arteries and veins and to cause her to awaken in her true character of a resourceful, helpful, even kindly Queen of the North.

p. 170-71, on education in Alaska after annexation: In 1841 a theological school was established at Sitka, which in 1849 was advanced to the grade of a seminary. At the time of the transfer of Alaska from Russia to the United States the teachers were recalled to Russia and the schools were suspended; but with the change of government came a new people; the majority of the Russians left the country and their places were taken by Americans. Two months after the transfer a petition, signed by forty-nine persons, was presented to the Common Council of Sitka asking for a citizens’ meeting to empower the Council to establish a school. In the spring of 1868 the school was opened, and kept up for five years, when it was suspended.

The first permanent schools in Alaska were established by Rev. Sheldon Jackson, D.D., who, in 1877, acting for the Presbyterian Board of Home Missions, established a school at Fort Wrangell, and the following year one at Sitka. In 1881 schools were started at Haines, Hoonah and Jackson. These schools were all supported by the Presbyterian Board of Home Missions. Largely through the work of Dr. Jackson, in 1884, Congress made a small appropriation of $25.000 for education in Alaska, and in 1885 he was appointed “United States General Agent of Education in Alaska.” The schools previously established by the churches were turned over to the government and new schools were started at Juneau, Douglas, Kadiak, Unalaska, Bethel, Carmel, Anvik, Metlakatla and Koserefsky.

In 1890 schools were opened among the Eskimos at Cape Prince of Wales, Point Hope and Point Barrow. The position of Superintendent of Schools for the Nome district was created in 1900.

p. 193, on hope of domestic reindeer: The first importation of the domestic reindeer into Alaska from Siberia for the purpose of furnishing food to the starving natives was made in 1892. During the year previous a large number of natives along the coast of Bering Sea and Arctic Ocean had perished for the want of food, and to prevent the recurrence of the ghastly scenes of that year, an appeal in behalf of the destitute and dying aborigines was made to the Rev. Sheldon Jackson, General Agent of Education for the Territory, located at Washington. The matter was taken up promptly by Dr. Jackson and after a careful investigation had been made he concluded that the only “way to save the remainder of the natives from starvation is to educate them to raise, train and use the rein deer.” He therefore appealed to Congress, but the destitute wards of the government received no relief from that quarter. But not to be baffled in a righteous cause he appealed to the people through the medium of the newspapers. The hearts of the “generously good” were touched by Dr. Jackson’s plain statement of the poor Indians’ condition; their pocketbooks were opened to the cause of suffering humanity, and money poured into the good man’s lap to provide food for the hungry men, women and children of the polar zone.

p. 261: The city has made certain reservations for public purposes, notable among which is Block 29, for city buildings; Block 33 for public schools and school fund; Block 55, for hospital, church and free reading room, and Block 70, for charitable purposes.

p. 55, on the Bering Sea: The sun set that night at 10:30 and rose the next morning at two. It was twilight in the interim, and from the deck of the vessel one could see to read common print at any hour during the night. The fact is, we had no night in the literal meaning of the word. We were nearing the latitude of the Midnight Sun, where “the night shineth as the day,” and where “darkness and light are both alike.”