In all the excitement of the 4th of July, the importance of the 30th of June in Alaska's state history is often overlooked.
On June 30, 1958 the United States Senate voted 64 to 20 in favor of Alaska statehood. The bill had passed in the House of Representatives two days earlier, but the Senate was a different matter.
"Nobody thought it would pass," John Venables said.
Venables does a traveling historical program, called "Journey to Statehood - Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Alaska's Statehood." In the show, he dresses up as three important figures in Alaska Statehood history: Judge James Wickersham, William Henry Seward and E.L. "Bob" Bartlett.
Venables stresses Bartlett's role in getting the statehood bill passed. Bartlett served as one of Alaska's territorial delegates to Congress, where he fought hard for the passage of a statehood bill.
The passage of a statehood bill was a long struggle, the first proposed bill came from Wickersham in 1916 and in 1947, Bartlett proposed another bill that was never voted on. In 1950, a statehood bill passed the House by 40 votes, but died in the Senate.
Finally, on June 30, 1958, due to Bartlett's perseverance and popular support, the Statehood bill finally passed both chambers of Congress.
Venables will be performing his historical re-enactment program tonight at Centennial Hall starting at 7 p.m. and admission is free. You can also catch him dressed as Bartlett in the Juneau 4th of July Parade.