Q. Who were the framers of your state constitution? How many of them are still alive? Thanks, Larry
A. What a question this was! I had to do some digging; but then, that’s what I’m here for, eh? Here’s what I found:
55 men and women composed the constitution. The process took 4 months, beginning in November 1955. Alaska had been part of the United States for 88 years already, when the delegates met to frame a constitution. Two years and two months after the constitution was ready, we were admitted into the union of states.
The delegates to the constitution convention came from all walks of life. The professions represented were: Pilot, Clergyman, Lawyers, Merchants, Businessmen, Bankers, Fishermen, Two Housewives, a Hotel Manager, a City Planner, Journalist, Photographer, Builder, Teacher, Miner, Newspaperman, and a Pharmacist.
If they were all alive today, they would range in age from 81 to 133. I didn’t find out for you how many are still alive (not quite sure how to do that) but anyway, I would guess not many because I know that only 10 of them would be less than 90 years old today. I personally know that two of them are still alive and that would be Victor Fischer, who is now 82 and John B. Coghill, who is now
Jack Coghill was mayor of Nenana for 22 yrs and served the state as both a representative and a senator. He was also Lt. Governor from 1990 – 1994. He is still serving the public as a councilman for Nenana, where he lives.
Victor Fischer has served the state faithfully also, as a representative and senator, and on the faculties of both U of A Fairbanks, and U of A Anchorage. He has done a lot in the study of native issues also.
The delegates used the U. S. Constitution of 1787 as a model. Also, since Alaska is the 2nd youngest state, we had the advantage of studying the constitutions of other states, as to what worked and what didn’t.
It was tough, but rewarding, to compose the wording that would shape the state into the future, when so many things weren’t known at the time. We didn’t know about the vast oil field we would find, didn’t have 747’s, didn’t know that Anchorage would become a hub of international air travel. We didn’t have a University. It is very much to the credit of those framers of the constitution then that it has worked so well for us. There have been only 20 amendments; and some of those were merely political. A few were very important though, such as the right to privacy and non-discrimination as to gender.
There are probably things you are still wondering, Larry, and if so I’d like to direct you to a good book written by Victor Fischer himself! It is called Alaska’s Constitutional Convention and you can probably get it from your local library, or they could order it for you on inter-library loan program. Thanks for writing! -Bonnie J.