Sheldon Jackson

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Sheldon Jackson (1834–1909) was a Presbyterian missionary who also became a political leader. During this career he travelled about 1 million miles (1.6 million km) and established over 100 mission and church in the Western United States. He is best remembered for his extensive work during the final quarter of the 19th century in the massive, rugged and remote U.S. territory which in 1959 would become the 49th state, Alaska.

Youth, education, early career

Sheldon Jackson was born in 1834 in Minaville, Montgomery County, New York. His mother Delia (Sheldon) Jackson was a daughter of Speaker Alexander Sheldon.

Jackson graduated from Union College in 1855, and from the Presbyterian Church's Princeton Theological Seminary in 1858. He became an ordained Presbyterian minister.

As he began his extensive missionary career, Reverend Jackson first worked in the north-central and western United States, which were still vast and lightly populated areas during the American Civil War (1861–1865) and in the years soon thereafter. His work there helped establish dozens of new congregations churches. However, an area of the United States even more challenging awaited him.

North to Alaska

Reverend Jackson found his major life's work in the new territory of Alaska. In 1867, US Secretary of State William H. Seward, during the administration of President Andrew Johnson, had negotiated the Alaska Purchase from Russia. The huge territory, with 20,000 miles of coastline, was initially...
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