JMC faculty partners Forrest A. Nabors and James W. Muller respond to Mark Pulliam’s essay from Law and Liberty about Alaska’s frontier virtues.
Professor Nabors and Professor Muller direct the Union League of Anchorage, an academic center connected with the University of Alaska Anchorage. The Union League is one of JMC’s newest partner programs in its Pacific Northwest Initiative.
Alaska: A Response to Pulliam
By Forrest A. Nabors and James W. Muller
From Law and Liberty
We appreciate the attention that Law and Liberty gave our state in Mark Pulliam’s Thursday post, “Alaska: America’s Last Frontier.” We commend Mr. Pulliam for visiting our state, talking to Alaskans, and reflecting on our situation. As he points out, Alaska is big, almost a fifth as large as the lower 48 contiguous states. Americans who live elsewhere often forget that Alaska is a state; that, unlike Hawaii, it is one of the continental, though not the contiguous, United States; and that it is the farthest west as well as the farthest north in the Union. He writes a useful primer for those who have never seen Alaska with their own eyes, pointing out features that might surprise many. We certainly hope that, should he succumb to his temptation to travel here again, he’ll look us up.
There is something true in the old argument of Frederick Jackson Turner that the frontier shaped the practice of American citizenship. Pulliam saw signs that sometimes it still does in Alaska. For example, our polar bears enjoy eating human garbage, and if you do not arm yourself properly, they might eat you. Hence our efforts to keep garbage out of the reach of bears. Just this summer, however, a grizzly bear attacked and killed a hiker near a well-known trailhead in the municipality of Anchorage, then attacked and almost killed a member of his search party. The persistence of some frontier conditions here reinforces Alaskans’ devotion to their right to keep and bear arms under the Second Amendment.
Pulliam is right to point out the limitations of our current system of internal transportation. Alaska’s state railroad was built with federal funds and is important for commerce, summer tourism, and year-round access to rural areas, but it is not connected to other North American railroads. Alaska’s state highway numbers go only from 1 to 12. Except for the unpaved Dalton Highway, stretching north from Fairbanks across the Arctic Circle toward Prudhoe Bay on the Arctic Ocean, roads that connect the state to Canadian and U.S. highways are only in the southeastern part of the state. Nor can residents of the major population centers in south-central Alaska drive to our capital city. Juneau, built on a mountainside next to an icefield, is accessible only by plane or ferry.
Forrest Nabors and James Muller are faculty partners at the University Alaska Anchorage’s Union League. JMC’s partnership with the Union League is part of JMC’s Pacific Northwest Initiative: Advancing Education in America’s Founding Principles and History. Thanks to the generous grant from MJ Murdock Charitable Trust, JMC is working with faculty to organize exciting campus events in the region. The Initiative also provides programs, conferences and other opportunities for professors in the PNW—all to help them make a difference in the education of their students.
JMC’s current PNW partner programs are on campuses including Linfield College, the University of Alaska-Anchorage, Carroll College, George Fox University, the University of Montana, and Boise State University.
Forrest Nabors is a JMC faculty partner. He joined the Department of Political Science at the University of Alaska at Anchorage in 2011. He has taught American government and political philosophy at Oregon State University and the University of Oregon. His current scholarly research is focused on the changing character of American government leading up to the Civil War and Reconstruction.
Prior to becoming a professor, Dr. Nabors was a high technology business executive in Portland, Oregon. He has remained actively engaged in supporting economic and civic development in his communities.
Dr. Nabors is from Fair Haven, New Jersey.
James Muller is a JMC faculty partner and a Professor of Political Science at the University of Alaska Anchorage. He is the author of “Churchill’s Understanding of Politics,” in Educating the Prince: Essays in Honor of Harvey Mansfield (New York: Rowman and Littlefield, 2000) and “The Political Economy of Republicanism,” in Montesquieu and the Spirit of Modernity (Oxford: Studies on Voltaire and the Eighteenth Century, 2002). He earned his Ph.D. in Political Science from Harvard University. His dissertation was “Liberty in the Political Philosophy of Montesquieu: Considerations on England and Rome.”
Want to help the Jack Miller Center transform higher education? Donate today.