100 Years of Alaska's Legislature
"From Territorial Days to Today"


Juneau, Alaska

23rd Territorial Legislature

Alaska Statehood Act Passes


Death Penalty Abolished

Statehood bills had been before the U.S. Congress almost continuously since 1943. At last, on June 30, 1958, the U.S. Congress approved the Alaska Statehood Act and President Dwight Eisenhower signed the Act into law on July, 7, 1958. Ernest Gruening and Bob Bartlett were elected as the first U.S. Senators and Ralph Rivers as the first U.S. Representative from the State of Alaska.

The 23rd Territorial Legislature introduced 376 bills and enacted 187. Measures enacted by this Legislature

  • Put in place the Alaska Highway and Public Works Act of 1957, which created the Alaska Highway and Public Works Department and the Public Works Board and set forth the duties and responsibilities of each entity;
  • Abolished the death penalty;
  • Prohibited employment discrimination on the basis of race, religion, color or national origin;
  • Revised laws for business corporations; and
  • Provided uniform procedures in levying and collecting taxes for school and municipal purposes.

Beyond the Legislature

Atlantic Richfield discovers oil at Swanson River field on the Kenai Peninsula, which becomes Alaska's first commercial production site for oil and gas.

Elizabeth Peratrovich dies on December 1, 1958.

The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics launches the satellite Sputnik and along with it, the "space age."

The Wham-O Company produces the first Frisbee.

Richard Greuel

Victor Rivers