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Ernest Henry Gruening Edit Profile

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Ernest Gruening, United States senator, editor, author. Recipient Hadassah award, Geo. W. Norris award, Herbert H. Lehman award, Margaret Sawyer award; decorated Order of Aztec Eagle, Mexico, Member Phi Beta Kappa. member Alaska International Highway Commission 1938-1942. Governor of Alaska, 1939-1953.


Gruening, Ernest was born on February 6, 1887 in New York City. Son of Emil and Phebe (Fridenberg) Gruening.


Graduate Hotchkiss School, Lakeville, Connecticut, 1903. Bachelor of Arts, Harvard, 1907, Doctor of Medicine 1912. Doctor of Laws, University Alberta, 1950, U. Alaska, 1955, Brandeis U., 1958.

Doctor of Humane Letters, Wilmington College.


Based on his experience as a reporter during medical school, he decided to become a journalist. He worked for the Boston American SLS a reporter; for the Boston Traveller as copy reader, city editor, and managing editor; for the New York Tribune as managing editor (1916-1920); and as managing editor of The Nation (1920-1923).

During World War I he served as an artillery officer and worked for the bureau of imports for the War Trade Board. In 1924 he was national publicity director in the presidential campaign of Senator Robert M. La Folette, Sr.

In 1934 he became editor of the New York Evening Post, but left the same year when he was appointed director of the federal Division of Territories and Island Possessions. This position, which he held until 1939, included supervision over Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. In Puerto Rico, where he was also relief and reconstruction administrator from 1935 to 1937, he was responsible for a longterm reconstruction program. In 1939 he was appointed governor of Alaska and remained in that position until 1953. He advocated Alaskan statehood and, after Alaska became a state, was elected a U.S. senator in 1958. He was reelected in 1962, but lost his third campaign in 1968, his advanced age and his position on Vietnam contributing to his defeat.


  • After spending two years in Mexico, he founded the Portland, Maine, Evening News in 1927. In his position as editor, which he held forfive years, he campaigned against giving control of Maine water resources to a power company, as well as initiating many state reforms.


He was particularly active in opposing U.S. exploitation of Latin America. As editor of The Nation, a post to which he returned in 1933, he uncovered details of the U.S. occupation of Haiti and Santo Domingo, as well as doing extensive research on the Cuban sugar industry. He also served as general adviser to the U.S. delegation to the seventh Pan-American Conference at Montevideo.


Member Alaska International Highway Commission 1938-1942. Governor of Alaska, 1939-1953. Clubs: Harvard (New York).


Married Dorothy E. Smith, November 19, 1914. Children: Ernest (deceased), Huntington Sanders, Peter B. (deceased).

Emil Gruening

Phebe (Fridenberg) Gruening

Dorothy E. Smith

Ernest Gruening (deceased)

Huntington Sanders Gruening

Peter B. Gruening (deceased)


  • Ernest Gruening: Alaska's Greatest Governor In 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed Ernest Gruening governor of territorial Alaska. What followed were twenty historic years that changed the face of North America when Alaska became a state in 1959.