As Alaska's delegate to the U.S. Congress for 14 years, Wickersham was responsible for establishing the Alaska Territorial Legislature, the Alaska Railroad, Mt. McKinley National Park and the Alaska Agricultural College and School of Mines. Wickersham took advantage of a law providing land grants to states for the support of colleges and universities.
James Wickersham was born at Patoka, Ill., Aug 24, 1857, of sturdy farm parents. He had limited schooling; was admitted to practice law in 1880, passing the Illinois bar examination; married the same year and not long after came to Washington Territory, settling in Tacoma, Pierce County.
Judge Wickersham's first wife, Deborah, died in 1926; later he remarried Grace Vrooman from Juneau.
Wickersham died in Juneau on October 23, 1939. In 1949, the Alaska Territorial Legislature paid tribute to his memory by designating his birthday, August 24, Wickersham Day.