On This Day 75 Years Ago, The Jones Act Was Discriminating Against Alaskans

Seventy-five years ago today, the Alaska legislature passed HJM 4 to proclaim to Congress how bad the Jones Act was to our state, and to ask for reform. It’s still true today that the Jones Act is bad for Alaska, and even more evident during these times of supply chain disruptions. The “Aid to Alaska” that was promised in the Anchorage Daily Times  on April 19, 1947 has never arrived. Alaska is still very dependent on goods delivered via ship and thus we must persist with urging reform of the Jones Act.



WHEREAS, Section 27 of the Jones Act (Merchant Marine Act of 1920, 48 U.S.CA. Secs. ‘ 861 to 889) is grossly discriminatory against Alaska in that it requires all shipments originating in the Eastern United States and carried across the continent in bond by Canadian Railway to be carried North in American flag ships, although similar shipments destined for Pacific Coast ports in the States may be hauled South in Canadian bottoms; and,

WHEREAS, the original purpose of protecting Puget Sound shipping interests to foster an American coastwise merchant marine as — necessary for the national defense” has been clearly superseded by the present involvement of the national interest in the growth, and development of Alaska; and,

WHEREAS, the strategic importance of Alaska was demonstrated in the last war so that development of Alaska into a strong buffer state is now indispensable to the national interest, and the Territory cannot become a bulwark of strength unless its · development be treated as a matter of national policy; and,

WHEREAS, the discrimination of the Jones Act in favor of a few rundown Puget Sound ships, is blocking movement of goods and passengers to Alaska in derogation of the Territory’s development and the national security; and,

WHEREAS, high freight rates have obstructed Alaska’s development for over thirty years, notwithstanding which substantial increases are proposed to bail out the present monopoly of the port of Seattle at the further expense of the industries and consumers of Alaska, and at the cost of sacrificing the otherwise inevitable development of the Territory which is of paramount importance to the nation as a whole; and,

WHEREAS, restoration of Alaska’s so-called lifeline which broke down as a result of long-time shortsightedness and as a consequence of intensive war use and employer-employee controversy, should not be undertaken at the sole expense of Alaskans in the guise of increased rates, especially since the ruinous effect on the Territory would be a serious detriment to the national interest; and,

WHEREAS, freight rates under free competition would open up hauling of cargo from the eastern United States to the port of Prince Rupert, B. C., and thence in Canadian bottoms to Alaska coastal points at two-thirds of the existing rates from Seattle; and,

WHEREAS, the “Territory declines to be browbeaten, and does propose to fight increased freight rates with all weapons at its disposal ·with the view that the problem should be solved on the national level with temporary relief forthcoming as a sensible, foresighted investment which would pay off many fold in the years to come, and as the only solution compatible with the national interest;

NOW, THEREFORE, we, your Memorialists, do respectfully pray that Section 27 of the Jones Act be amended to remove the present discrimination therein contained against the Territory of Alaska.


Passed by the House February 20, 1947,

Passed by the Senate February 27, 1947.

Approved by the Governor, March 7, 1947.