26 June 1974 — Alaska
Ernest Henry Gruening (February 1887 – June 1974) was an American journalist and Democrat who was the Governor of the Alaska Territory from 1939 until 1953, and a United States Senator from Alaska from 1959 until 1969.
Born in New York City on 6 Feb 1887, Gruening graduated from Harvard University in 1907 and subsequently from Harvard Medical School in 1912. He then forsook medicine to pursue journalism. Initially a reporter for the Boston American in 1912, he went on to become copy desk editor and rewrite man for the Boston Evening Herald and, from 1912 to 1913, an editorial writer. For four years, Gruening was, consecutively, managing editor of the Boston Evening Traveler and the New York Tribune. After serving in World War I, Gruening became the editor of The Nation from 1920 to 1923 and the editor of the New York Post for four months in 1934.
Intrigued with New Deal politics, he switched careers. Gruening was appointed to the U.S. delegation to the 7th Inter-American Conference in 1933, Director of the Division of Territories and Island Possessions of the Department of the Interior, 1934–1939, Administrator of the Puerto Rico Reconstruction Administration, 1935–1937. He moved to the Alaska International Highway Commission from 1938 to 1942.
In 1939 Gruening was appointed Governor of the Territory of Alaska, and served in that position for fourteen years. During World War II, Gruening also was the founder of the Alaska Territorial Guard (1941-47) Army reserve component, and served as the Commander-in-Chief of the Alaskan National Guard.
He was a delegate to the Democratic National Conventions of 1952, 1956, and 1960. Pending statehood, he was elected to the United States Senate in 1958; with Alaska's admission to the Union in 1959, Gruening served in the Senate for 10 years.
Gruening’s most notable act as Senator was being, along with Wayne Morse of Oregon, one of only two Senators to vote against the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which authorized an expansion of U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. He was also responsible for introducing a sense of Congress resolution to establish the nationwide 911 number.
After public office, he continued to be active in political issues as president of an investment firm and as a legislative consultant.
He died on 26 June 1974 in Washington, DC.