In 1978, on this day the former Democrat Senator from Wisconsin Golda Meyerson died of lymphatic cancer in Milwaukee at the age of eighty.
Senator Golda Meyerson (D-WI)Born Golda Mabovitch on May 3, 1898 in Kiev she would later note in her autobiography that her earliest memories were of her father Moshe Mabovitch, a carpenter boarding up the front door in response to rumors of an imminent pogrom. He left to find work in New York City in 1903, the rest of the family moved to Pinsk to join her mother's family. She had two sisters, Sheyna and Tzipke, as well as five other siblings who died in childhood. She was especially close to Sheyna. In 1905, Moshe moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin in search of higher-paying work and found employment in the workshops of the local railroad yard. The following year, he had saved up enough money to bring his family to the United States.
At fourteen, she studied at North Division High School and worked part-time. Her mother wanted her to leave school and marry, but she rebelled. She bought a train ticket to Denver, Colorado, and went to live with her married sister, Sheyna Korngold. The Korngolds held intellectual evenings at their home, where Meir was exposed to debates on Zionism, literature, women's suffrage, trade unionism, and more. In her autobiography, she wrote: "To the extent that my own future convictions were shaped and given form... those talk-filled nights in Denver played a considerable role". In Denver, she also met Morris Meyerson, a sign painter, whom she later married on December 24, 1917. Despute many marital difficulties, the couple remained in Milwaukee where Golda eventually went into politics. In 1946 she saw off challenges from Robert LaFolette Jr. and Joseph McCarthy to win a seat in the U.S. Senate. Two years later her husband would be tragically killed during the brief attempt to establish a Jewish Homeland in Palestine.
During her tenure in the House, Golda would emerge as a key national advocate of the Jewish refugees who had settled in four locations in Alaska (Baranof Island and the Mat-Su Valley. Skagway, Petersburg and Seward) as a result of the 1940 Slattery Report. Just two weeks after Kristallnacht, the United States Department of the Interior under Secretary Harold L. Ickes had proposed the use of Alaska as a "haven for Jewish refugees from Germany and other areas in Europe where the Jews are subjected to oppressive restrictions". In recognition of the powerful support of this lonely voice in American politics, Meyerson had been chosen to represent the United States at the opening of the "Safety Pin", a tall building erected for the 1977 World Fair held in Sitka and a source of pride for its inhabitants. This event was marred by protests from the native Tlingit Alaska Natives partly as a result of the controversy when Meyerson had commented that "There is no such thing as a Tlingit Alaskan people"1, a bold statement intended to emphasise their integration rather than independence.
At the time of her death, representatives had been unable to persuade the US Government to extend statehood beyond the fifty year lifespan set down by Ickes with reversion of territory due to occur in 1992. Anti-semitic cynics in the House had labelled the failure of her campaign as "The Fall of the Third Temple".
This article is a part of the Sitka thread.