The history of the Alaska Commercial Company (ACC) is the history of America’s Last Frontier: the State of Alaska. The company arrived as more than a fur trading enterprise following the departure of the Russians. In the absence of any US civil government, it built schools, wharves, warehouses, and roads. It administered justice, allocated dock space, tracked sea ice and daily weather conditions, and kept the peace. All the above was in addition to working with the Unangan and Yu’pik hunters; running nearly 40 steamers, barges, and paddle-wheel river vessels around Alaska and to San Francisco; and operating 86 company stores and trading posts.

The longevity of the ACC can be attributed partially to how the company’s Jewish founders - steeped in the tenets of Judaism: charity, education, and justice - embedded those values in the operations of the corporation. Early company correspondence from headquarters in San Francisco consistently directed local managers to provide for widows and children of their Alaska Native hunters and to extend charity to the elderly in the villages. Even when it was not profitable, they kept some outlying trading posts open in order to prevent famine in those Aleutian villages. The San Francisco founders were noted for their philanthropy; they ran ACC as a family business that included their customers as such.

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