Historica Wiki

Thomas Riggs Jr..jpg

Thomas Riggs Jr. (17 October 1873-16 January 1945) was the Democratic Governor of the Alaska Territory from 12 April 1918 to 15 June 1921, succeeding John Franklin Alexander Strong and preceding Scott Cordelle Bone.


Thomas Riggs Jr. was born in Ilchester, Maryland in 1873, and he worked as a newspaper reporter in Tacoma, Washington and worked for his family's lumber business in Bucoda before joining the Klondike Gold Rush in 1897. He prospected for gold near Nome, Alaska and Dawson City, Yukon until 1901, after which he worked as a mining engineer in Idaho, Montana, and Utah. He went on to survey the United States-Canada border from 1906 to 1913, was appointed to the Alaska Railroad Commission in 1914 (overseeing the Fairbanks division), and served as Governor of the Alaska Territory from 1918 to 1921. Under Riggs, Alaska was a leading state in the sale of war savings stamps and Liberty Bonds, but his plan to establish a fleet of transport ships and begin a territorial shipping service to deal with the lack of accessible transportation in the territory was blocked by the US Congress, and he exceeded authorized funding levels in his spending on medical supplies, maintaining the quarantine, and providing relief efforts during the Spanish flu. He left office in 1921 and moved to Millbrook, New York and then to New York City, and he served as United States Commissioner to the International Boundary Commission in 1935. He died in Washington DC in 1945.