On Jan. 3, 1959, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed Proclamation 3269, admitting the territory of Alaska as the 49th and largest state in the union. The signing took place in the Cabinet Room of the White House in the presence of Senators-elect E. L. Bartlett and Ernest Gruening, Representative-elect Ralph J. Rivers, Acting Governor Waino Hendrickson, Michael A. Stepovich, former Governor of Alaska, and Robert Atwood, Publisher of the Anchorage Daily Times. Vice President Richard Nixon and House Speaker Sam Rayburn sat on either side of the president.
The president made these remarks immediately after signing the proclamation:
Gentlemen, I think that all of us recognize this as an historic occasion. Certainly for myself I feel very highly privileged and honored to welcome the forty-ninth State into the Union.
Such a ceremony has not taken place in almost half a century, so at least I have the feeling of self-gratification that I am not just one of a group in this kind of ceremony.
To the State itself, to its people, I extend on behalf of all their sister States, best wishes and hope for prosperity and success. And to each of you gentlemen elected to high office to represent your new State, in both State and Federal offices, my congratulations, my felicitations, and my hope that we will all work together to the benefit of all forty-nine States.
Certainly, I pledge to you my cooperation in that effort.
And now, as far as these pens are concerned, I hope there’s one for each of you people who has worked so hard to bring this about.
The new 49-star flag, which would become official on July 4, was unfurled the same day.