Before this time, Alaska was given territorial status and thereby granted certain rights and privileges of self-government. However, Alaska and its residents fought hard for statehood. Congress was reluctant to grant statehood because a state had not been admitted to the Union since 1912.
After much effort from Alaska's residents, on June 30,1958, Congress finally approved the Alaska Statehood Act. Alaska officially became the 49th state on January 3, 1959.