Ernest Gruening was born in New York City, February 6, 1887. He attended Drisler School and Sachs School; graduated from Hotchkiss School in 1903, Harvard College in 1907, and Harvard Medical School in 1912. Gruening gave up the practice of medicine to enter journalism, working as a reporter for the Boston American in 1912. After a variety of jobs with several newspapers, Gruening became managing editor of the New York Tribune in 1917. He served in the Field Artillery Corps in 1918. After the war, he was editor of The Nation (1920-1923) and the New York Post (1932-1933).
Gruening served as an adviser to the United States delegation to the Seventh Inter-American Conference, Montevideo, Chile, in 1933. He was 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), and a member of the Alaska International Highway Commission (1938-1942). Gruening was appointed Governor of Alaska by President Franklin Roosevelt in 1939 and was reappointed twice, serving until 1953. He was elected to the United States Senate October 6, 1965, from the Territory of Alaska as an advocate of Alaska statehood but did not take the oath of office and was not accorded senatorial privileges.
Gruening is known as “the father of Alaska statehood” and was elected as a Democrat to the United States Senate on November 25, 1958, and upon admission of Alaska as a State into the Union on January 3, 1959, in the classification of Senators from that State. His four-year term began on that day and ended January 3, 1963. He was reelected in 1962 and served from January 3, 1959, to January 3, 1969. In 1968, he was defeated for renomination.
Following his political career, Gruening became the president of an investment firm and a legislative consultant. He died in Washington, D.C., June 26, 1974. He was cremated and his ashes scattered over Mount Ernest , north of Juneau, Alaska.
Sources: Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Photo U.S. Senate Historical Office.