Intrigued with politics, he switched careers. Gruening was appointed to the U.S. delegation to the 7th Inter-American Conference in 1933, Director of the Division of Territories and Island Possessions of the Department of the Interior, 1934-1939, Administrator of the Puerto Rico Reconstruction, 1935-1937, and a member of the Alaska International Highway Commission from 1938 to 1942. In 1939 Gruening was appointed Governor of the Territory of Alaska, and served in that position for fourteen years. He was also a delegate to the Democratic National Conventions of 1952, 1956, and 1960.
Pending statehood, he was elected to the United States Senate in 1958; with Alaska's admission to the Union in 1959, Gruening served in the Senate for 10 years. Although not renominated in 1968, he continued his active political involvement as president of an investment firm and as a legislative consultant. He died on June 26, 1974.
Copyedited and wikified from biography courtesy National Statuary Hall.